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Department of Music

Music Department Research

The Department of Music is the largest centre of ethnomusicology in Europe, offering unique educational and research opportunities. The special character of the Department has attracted excellent ratings for teaching and research.

Staff and students pursue research on a wide range of subjects, mainly but not exclusively focused on the music of Asia and Africa and their diasporas, including both traditional and popular musics. Staff have regional interests in the music of China and Central Asia (Harris), Korea, Siberia, Kyrgyzstan and Zimbabwe (Howard), Indonesia (Gray), India and Nepal (Widdess), the Islamic Middle East (Wright), Israel and the Jewish diaspora (Wood), Cuba and west Africa (Durán) and southern and eastern Africa (Impey). Music is studied as a cultural phenomenon, and also from analytical and historical perspectives.

Disciplinary – and cross-disciplinary – interests shared by staff include music and orality, historical ethnomusicology, composition, shamanism, gender, development, performance, music analysis, urban sound, cognition, recording and broadcasting.

The SOAS library holds a large collection of ethnomusicological publications and sound and video recordings. In addition, postgraduate students of the Department have access to a research archive, and to specialised audiovisual and multimedia facilities, including recording and radio studios. The Department runs and hosts a large number of performance ensembles linked to staff research interests, including Javanese gamelan, Thai classical ensemble, Cuban big band, tabla, kora, Middle East ensemble, klezmer, Korean percussion, Japanese ensemble, the London Gypsy Orchestra, and Chinese silk and bamboo.

These activities are embedded within a thriving research community, comprising staff, research associates and PhD students. We regularly host seminars and conferences, as well as concerts and summer schools.

For six years SOAS hosted the AHRC Research Centre for Cross-Cultural Music and Dance Performance. This encouraged the development of practice-based research and has established a CD and DVD series. The Department initiated and continues to develop the SOAS Musicology Series, now one of the major series of ethnomusicological monographs in the world.

For full details of the MPhiL/PhD programme in Music, see http://www.soas.ac.uk/music/programmes/phd/