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Program of Study

Core courses

All ethnomusicology students take a core of pertinent courses, paced through the years in the M.A. and Ph.D. programs. This includes an initial set of three courses in which all M.A. students study together: Music 200A, 200C Introduction to Music Scholarship.

  • Music 243 Transcription and Analysis in Ethnomusicology
  • Music 244A Tools of Ethnomusicological Research
  • Music 244B Research Design
  • Music 246 Theory and Method in Popular Music Studies

Additional courses

An additional set of courses, reflecting the research specializations of the faculty, are available in the graduate curriculum.

  • Music 208B Music and Mind. Brinner
  • Music 240 Historical Readings in Ethnomusicology. Wade
  • Music 241 Readings in American Musical Culture. Brinner, Roberts
  • Music 245 Material Culture of Music, Brinner
  • Music 249 Interpretive Theories and Music. Guilbault
  • Music 248A Topics in Asian Music. Wade, Brinner
  • Music 248B Topics in Caribbean Music. Guilbault

Geographically-focused courses

Strengths in geographically-focused studies are found in music courses at both the upper division and graduate level. To prepare for a career in ethnomusicology, students will take a full range of such courses, most of which include instruction in performance.

Changing topical focus

  • Music 139 Topics in Music of the World
  • Music 179 Topics in History, Culture, and Analysis


  • Music 131A Music in India. Wade
  • Music 133A Music of Southeast Asia. Brinner
  • Music 133B Music of Java. Brinner
  • Music 134A Music in East Asia. Wade
  • Music 134B Music in Japan. Wade
  • Music 132 Music of the Middle East. Brinner
  • Music 133 Music and Theater in Southeast Asia, Brinner
  • Music 140 Central Javanese Gamelan. Midiyanto

The Caribbean and Latin America

  • Music 135A Music of the Caribbean. Guilbault
  • Music 135B Music of Latin America. Guilbault

African and African American music

  • Music 130 African American Music. Roberts
  • Music 143 Gospel Chorus. Wilson
  • 148 African Music Ensemble. Ladzekpo
  • 174 Studies in African American Music. Roberts


Because each student’s program is individually tailored, students often enroll for individual tutorials.

  • Music 298 Group Special Studies
  • Music 299 Individual Special Studies
  • Music 601 Individual Studies for Master’s Students
  • Music 602 Individual Studies for Doctoral Students

Other opportunities

Within the Department of Music, qualified ethnomusicology students are welcome in courses offered by faculty in composition and the history and literature of western music. Three examples: David Wessel (Director of the Center for New Music and Audio Technology) offers Music 208A Advanced Music Perception and Cognition, which complements Ben Brinner’s course on cognition; Mary Ann Smart works with ethnomusicology students interested in gender studies; Myra Melford works with ethnomusicology students interested in improvisation. Ethnomusicology students can also work with historians James Davies, Nicholas Mathew, performance studies specialist Tamara Roberts, and composers Ken Ueno and Franck Bedrossian.

Graduate students in ethnomusicology must take courses outside the department of music in other departments that offer courses that complement the student’s specialties. Faculty from all over campus, such as in African American Studies, Anthropology, Art History, Economics, Ethnic Studies, Geography, History, Linguistics, Sociology, and many language/literature departments are receptive to, regularly work with, and serve on doctoral committees of ethnomusicology graduate students. A few examples are Charles Briggs (Folklore, Anthropology), Donald Moore (Anthropology), Stefania Pandolfo (Anthropology), Jeffrey Hadler (South and Southeast Asian Studies) and Percy Hintzen (African American Studies). Adjunct faculty include Andrew Jones (East Asian Languages and Literature) and Mary McGann (Ritual Studies) from the Graduate Theological Union.

The M.A. Comprehensive Examination in ethnomusicology consists of two parts: (1) a short oral examination comprising the analysis of one musical piece given out beforehand, and (2) a three-hour written examination on a topic selected by the candidate in consultation with the advisor.

The PhD. Qualifying Examination is a three-hour exam, with equal time devoted to three topics selected in consultation with the Graduate Adviser and other faculty members.

The Doctoral Dissertation: In ethnomusicology, the dissertation may deal with any aspect of music that lends itself to scholarly investigation. The project is guided by a dissertation committee comprised of three members of the faculty: the Chair and two other specialist readers, one of whom must be a member of the Academic Senate from a department other than music. A formal prospectus is prepared with the guidance of the dissertation committee and presented at a meeting of the committee.

Language requirement: In ethnomusicology two languages pertinent to the student’s research specialization.