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Department of Music, School of Arts

Music and Culture

Course Code:
Unit value:
Year of study:
Year 1
Taught in:
Full Year

Primarily seminar-based, illustrated with audiovisual examples from both the Western and non-Western music worlds. It will be organized around four themes central to ethno-musicology:

  1. Performance and orality (the concept of performance; the relationship of music to other types of performance such as dance and drama; orality as a means of trans-mission; improvisation);
  2. Music structures (aspects of musical organization, such as melody, rhythm, pitch and interval, scale, mode, ensemble structures such as hocket polyphony);
  3. Music and history (including such issues as organology, oral literature, music and identity, music and migration);
  4. Perspectives on the field (including a review of the history of the main body of ethnomusicological literature, the “emic/etic” distinction, and a critical look at the issue of “whose voice”).

Students will write two essays and a concert report, and will also give three to four class presentations, the best two of which are assessed.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

This course will introduce major themes, issues and techniques in ethnomusicology, via case studies and class discussion, covering a variety of musical genres and styles from different cultures.

On this course students will:
  • develop their awareness of the relationship of musical practices to other elements of culture, with reference to a range of musical traditions from around the world;
  • learn about theoretical concepts and approaches used by ethnomusicologists to consider music as a cultural practice;
  • develop academic skills including observational ethnography, the use of library sources, and essay writing techniques.


One hour lecture; one hour tutorial per week

Method of assessment

One 1,000 words Performance Report (worth 25%), one 2,500 words essay (worth 50%), one group seminar presentation (worth 25%)