Richard Wolf's thematic interests include emotional complexity in ceremonial contexts, the constitutive properties of musical action in rituals, the poetics of non-verbal activities, the musical qualities of languages and the analytic potentials of particular languages for the study of music. Wolf speaks Tamil and draws from his study of several other languages, including Urdu and Persian, in his research and writings. His studies of the Kota language, soon be published, will include a dictionary.
Several publications address issues of music and Islam in south Asia including “The poetics of Sufi practice: Drumming, dancing, and complex agency at Madho Lal Husain (and beyond),” (American Ethnologist 2006). His monograph entitled The Voice in the Drum: Music, Language and Emotion in Islamicate South and West Asia is currently under preparation for the University of Illinois Press. He has also drafted another monograph, provisionally titled Song and Subjectivity in Modern India, based on continuing research on south Indian folk and tribal music. Wolf's interest in sociomusical processes that transcend the borders of South Asia is reflected in the edited volume, Theorizing the Local: Music, Practice, and Experience in South Asia and Beyond (Oxford University Press, New York, 2009).