Surfing about Music

This first major examination of the interrelationships of music and surfing explores different ways that surfers combine surfing with making and listening to music.  Tim Cooley uses his knowledge and experience as a practicing musician and avid surfer to consider the musical practices of surfers in locations around the world, taking into account ideas about surfing as a global affinity group and the real-life stories of surfers and musicians he encounters.  In doing so, he expands ethnomusicological thinking about the many ways musical practices are integral to human socializing, creativity, and the condition of being human.


Praise for Surfing about Music:

“Timothy Cooley has written the definitive study on the powerful influence between music and surfing.  His research is comprehensive and daring: from Hawaiian mele to Jack Johnson, Cooley argues that surfers not only express and create identity through music, they need music to express their sense of community.”

Patrick Moser, editor of Pacific Passages: An Anthology of Surf Writing


Surfing about Music is an engaging and in-depth examination of music and surfing that takes us beyond ‘feel good’ Beach Boy tropes and 45 rpm spins to present ethnographies of music practices among actual surfing communities worldwide.”

Ricardo D. Trimillos, ethnomusicologist, University of Hawai’i at Manoa


“A beautifully written and extensively researched study of music associated with surfing and its community.  By way of in-depth analysis of the history of surfing, surf music and movies, Timothy Cooley investigates the links between the cultural practices of surfing and making music.”

Lauren Davies, author, screenwriter, and filmmaker, Lola Cove Films



Timothy J. Cooley is Associate Professor of Thenomusicology and Global International Studies at UC Santa Barbara.  He is the author of Making Music in the Polish Tatras (Indiana, 2006), and co-editor (with Greg Barz) of the ground-breaking Shadoes in the Field: New Perspectives for Fieldwork in Ethnomusicology (Oxford, 1997, 2008).



Elizabeth Cutright,

Marketing and

Communications Manager,

UCSB Music Department,,