Music and Culture: An Introduction to Ethnomusicology (MET2136.01)

Joseph Alpar

This course will be a hands-on introduction to ethnomusicology, the study of music in its social and cultural contexts. Ethnomusicologists think about the role music plays in everyday life. How do music and musicians build community, ignite protest and revolution, articulate racial identity, express and complicate gender and sexuality, or affirm faith? Some ethnomusicologists do research halfway across the world, while others study music in their own cities and towns. One of our classes each week will focus on developing applied techniques in research and fieldwork, including preparing questions, giving and transcribing interviews, field recording, music transcription, listening exercises, writing an ethnography of a live performance, and many other activities. In our second session, we will learn about the study of music and culture itself, reading from a range of texts that explore ethnomusicology’s intersections with fields like Anthropology, Black studies, Performance Studies, Indigenous Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and more. What we do in class will also be guided by the interests and backgrounds of our members. For the final project, students will conduct a short music fieldwork project at a local field site of their choice. This course is open to all students.

Learning Outcomes:
By the end of the term students will:
1. Develop critical listening skills in class and through homework assignments.
2. Gain familiarity with—and learn to remember—specific examples of the kind of work done
by ethnomusicologists.
3. Become aware of the key figures—past and present—in ethnomusicology as well as their
4. Examine key trends in the field through specific case studies.
5. Recognize important ethnomusicological resources (encyclopedias, journals, discographies,
databases, etc.) and know where to find them.
6. Study certain technical aspects of fieldwork through a series of assignments on transcription,
developing interview questions, conducting interviews, and listening.
7. Participate actively in class discussions and lead discussion on assigned days.

Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Corequisites: Attendance at relevant music events on campus
Course Level: 2000-level
Credits: 4
M/Th 1:40PM - 3:30PM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 16
Course Frequency: Every 2-3 years

Categories: Advancement of Public Action , All courses , Ethnomusicology , Fully In-Person , SCT
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