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Awards / Grants

The Frances Densmore Prize

Each year the American Musical Instrument Society awards a prize for the most distinguished article-length work in English that best furthers the Society’s goal of promoting "the study of the history, design, and use of musical instruments in all cultures and from all periods.” The $500 prize is named to honor Frances Densmore (1867–1957), the pioneering ethnographer who recorded musical practices of Native Americans on hundreds of wax cylinders and in important books.

Nominations (including self-nominations) for the 2023 Densmore Prize are invited by this year’s committee, consisting of Stephen Cottrell (chair), Harrison Powley, and Lisa Beebe. Eligible publications will have been published in 2021 and may come from journals, conference publications, Festschriften, or other similar sources. Nominations should be sent to the chair by January 15, 2023. The winner will be announced at the Society's annual meeting and in the AMIS Newsletter. 

Questions or nominations? Contact

2023 Recipient

Jennifer Kyker

The 2023 Frances Densmore Prize is awarded to Jennifer Kyker for "Music under the Ground: Ethnomusicological Research on the Ground-Bow in Africa," Ethnomusicology 65, no. 2 (2021).

Previous Recipients

Amine Beyhom
“Was the Early Arabian ‘Ūd 'Fretted'?" published in Near-Eastern Musicology Online 5, no. 9 (November 2020).
Rachel Beckles Willson
“Orientation through Instruments: The ‘Ūd, the Palestinian Home, and Kamīlyā Jubrān,” The World of Music, new series 8, no. 1 (2019)
Jaime E. Oliver La Rosa
"Theramin in the Press: Instrument Remediation and Code-Instrument Transduction," Organised Sound 23, no. 3 (December 2018): 256–69.
Robert Adelson
“‘A Museum of Its Own’ – The Musical Instrument Collection of Antonio Guatier (1825-1904) in Nice," Galpin Society Journal LXX (2017):5–44
Yuanzheng Yang
“Typological Analysis of the Chinese Qin in the Late Bronze Age,” in the Galpin Society Journal LXIX (2016): 137–151
Allen Roda
“The Tabla Past and Present: Analysis of Materials in India’s Most Iconic Drums,” The Galpin Society Journal LXVIII (2015): 193–214
Megan Rancier
“The Musical Instrument as National Archive: A Case Study of the Kazakh Qyl-qobyz,” Ethnomusicology 58, no. 3 (Fall 2014): 379–404
Lance Whitehead and Jenny Nex
“The Insurance of Musical London and the Sun Fire Office 1710-1779” The Galpin Society Journal LXVII (2014): 181–216
Edmond Johnson
“The Death and Second Life of the Harpsichord” Journal of Musicology 30/2, (Spring 2013), 180-214.
Arnold Myers
"How Different are Cornets and Trumpets?" Historic Brass Society Journal 24 (2012), 113-128.
John Koster
“A Harpsichord by Diego Fernandez?”, The Galpin Society Journal LXIV (March 2011), pp. 5-48.
David Lasocki
"New Light on the History of the Keyed Bugle." Historic Brass Society Journal 21:11-50 (2009) and 22:19-54 (2010).
George S. Bozart and Margaret Debenham, with collaborator David Cripps
"Piano Wars: the Legal Machinations of London Pianoforte Makers, 1795-1806," Royal Musical Association Research Chronicle XLII (2009), 45-108.
Rita Steblin
“Viennese Woodwind Makers in the Classical Era, with Emphasis on Friedrich Lempp’s Request for Protection in 1768,” Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society XXXIV (2008), 26-73.
Patrizio Barbieri
“Roman and Neapolitan Gut Strings 1550-1950.” Galpin Society Journal 59 (2006):147-182.
Robert Howe
"The Boehm Système Oboe and its Role in the Development of the Modern Oboe." The Galpin Society Journal 56 (2003): 27-60.
Stewart Carter
"The Gütter Family: Wind Instrument Makers and Dealers to the Moravian Brethren in America." Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society 27 (2001): 48-83.
Michael Greenberg
"The Double-Bass Class at the Paris Conservatory, 1826-1832,"Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society 26 (2000): 83-140.
Sabine K. Klaus
"German Square Pianos with Prellmechanik in Major American Museum Collections: Distinguishing Characteristics of Regional Schools in the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries," Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society, 25 (1998): 27-80.
Sam Quigley
"The Raffles Gamelan at Claydon House," Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society,22 (1996): 5-41.
Philip F. Gura
"Manufacturing Guitars for the American Parlor: James Ashborn's Wolcottville, Connecticut, Factory, 1851-56," Journal of the American Antiquarian Society (1994): 117-56
Darcy Kuronen
"The Musical Instruments of Benjamin Crehore," Journal of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 4 (1992): 52-77.
Cecil Adkins
"Oboes Beyond Compare: The Instruments of Hendrik and Fredrik Richters," Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society, 16 (1990): 42-117.
Robert S. Winter
"The Significance of Striking Points in the Evolution of the Romantic Piano," Journal of Musicology 6, No. 3 (1988): 267-92.
Bruce Haynes
"Questions of Tonality in Bach's Cantatas: The Woodwind Perspective," Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society 12 (1986): 40-67.
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