Graduate Studies in Ethnomusicology

The approaches taken to the field of ethnomusicology differ widely. Here at Berkeley we try to achieve a balance — between theory and practice of music on the one hand, and between theory and methodology of the field of ethnomusicology and a student’s research specialization on the other. Established in 1975-1976, we are one of the oldest ethnomusicology programs in the United States and are situated in a distinguished music department in the College of Letters and Science. We admit a small number of students, but hope for successful completion by all.

At UC Berkeley, graduate degrees with a primary specialization in ethnomusicology are offered only through the Department of Music. However, it is possible to take “a field” in ethnomusicology as part of the graduate program in anthropology, and ethnomusicology faculty work with students in a number of other degree programs.

Specialization in ethnomusicology begins at the M.A. level. If a prospective student has already achieved an M.A. degree in a specialization with substantially different course work, ethnomusicology study at Berkeley will lead first to an additional M.A. degree, then on to the Ph.D. program. Students with M.A. degrees in ethnomusicology from another institution are also welcome to apply. Each student’s degree program is individually designed in consultation with the advisor. That program consists of courses in our Department, and also courses in supporting disciplines and area studies.

Ethnomusicologists on the faculty of the Department of Music are Benjamin Brinner, Jocelyne Guilbault, and Tamara Roberts. The Central Javanese Gamelan is directed by Midiyanto, Doniel Mark Wilson conducts the Gospel Choir, and C.K. Ladzekpo directs the African Music Ensemble. In addition, artists from the Bay Area offer instruction in various musical traditions, through performance labs for each ethnomusicology lecture course.

In addition to course enrollment, we encourage our students to establish intellectual connections with faculty and with other graduate students on campus through such means as the Townsend Center for the Humanities, area studies centers, such as the Center for African Studies, Center for Eastern European, Slavic, and Eurasian Studies, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Center for Latin American Studies, Center for South Asian Studies, Center for Southeast Asia Studies, Center for Chinese Studies, Center for Korean Studies, Center for Japanese Studies, and centers and programs with particular foci such as the Center for the Study of Sexual Culture, the Center for International Development, and the Institute for the Study of Social Change.

Beyond the campus, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay area is particularly rich in performances and exhibitions of the world’s cultures. The Bay Area’s rich musical life and its diverse array of performing organizations reflects a complete spectrum of musical activity, such as the Ali Akbar College of Music, numerous venues for performance of a wide range of musics from around the world including western classical opera, symphonies, and ballets, as well as a panoply of popular music, folk music, and great jazz venues such as Freight and Salvage, La Peña, and Ashkenaz in Berkeley, Kimball’s in Emeryville, and Yoshi’s in Oakland.