Ethnomusicology: Music and Culture


B. Mus., B.A. with a major or minor in music, or B.A. with a major in anthropology with a minor in music. It would also be advantageous (but not required) to have enrolled in my undergraduate course, M328C Introduction to the Study of Ethnomusicology.


This course, entitled Music and Culture, and its companion course, Music and Analysis, are designed to equip you with the intellectual foundation for a career as a practicing ethnomusicologist, either in an academic or free-lance setting. You will learn that ethnomusicology has become a hybrid of musicology and social sciences, with the study of culture and the analysis of music at its core.

The purpose of “Music and Culture” is to explore the issues, controversies and opportunities that comprise the theoretical frames employed by ethnomusicologists. Students will begin with an overview of the historiography of ethnomusicology and then delve into the impact brought about by Critical Theory, Cultural Studies, and postmodernism in general. Then the class will familiarize itself with the foundational work of gender studies, folk music and world beat. The Canadian voice in the international dialogue of ethnomusicology will be reviewed, along with Canada’s distinctive area studies.

The heart of ethnomusicology resides in ethnography and its attendant field work.  Following the collecting of cultural and musical data, the art of ethnomusicology comes into play as you assess and interpret the materials.

Course Requirements

Each class will begin with a lecture devoted to the theme of the lecture (as outlined in this syllabus), supplemented by pre-lecture readings that you will have reviewed before the class meets. The pre-lecture reading list is available online in your UBC Vista website.

Following the lecture, you will participate in a class discussion of two readings, each one summarized by one student and then responded to by another. The list of 26 readings (two per class) is found in the syllabus below. After each pair of presentations, the floor will be open to discussion by the class as a whole, led by the presenters. If you are not a presenter or respondent, you will be expected to have at least 3 questions or comments prepared for the discussion. Therefore, in addition to your pre-lecture readings, you will review the presentation readings as well. When you are assigned a presentation, you will submit a copy of your summary to your respondent a day or more before the two of you present your summaries. Both of you will create documents in point form that will equal three pages.

You will also submit a book review of 300-400 words to a personal Reading Journal. The 13 books (one per week) listed in the syllabus are classic texts that ethnomusicologists often possess in their personal library. Given the extensive nature of each book, your summary will be an overview, supplemented with observations from reviews of the book found in journals. Those reviews should be cited in your presentation or response. After a few readings, you will discover some repetition of key ideas described by each author. Then it will be your objective to detect any variations and new pathways revealed in your assigned reading.

At the end of the week, you will be expected to add your comments about the week’s lectures and discussions to the WebCT online Discussion Board.

Finally, you will complete two project assignments. The mid-term assignment will consist of two mock applications for an imaginary musical ethnography – one for a grant and the other for permission to pursue your ethnography from UBC’s Ethical Review Board. Both projects will give you valuable experience in grant and ethics applications that are a necessary part of your career as a graduate student and practicing ethnomusicologist. The end-of-term assignment is an ethnography that will focus on the listening or music performance interests of your friends or family. Details of both assignments are available on your UBC Connect website.

There will be no exams.

WebCT Connect

All the necessary components of the course including the lectures and listening tests can be accessed online from anywhere via WebCT Connect, using your WCL (Campus Wide Login) password and username.

Lecture outlines
Pre-lecture readings
Presentation Readings and Responses guidelines
Reading Journal guidelines
Ethnography guideline
Trial Grant Application guideline
Trail Application to UBC’s Ethical Review Board guideline
Discussion Board

Your reading journal entries, presentation or response outlines, mock grant application and ethnography assignments will be submitted online via Vista. And you will participate in weekly discussions via the Twitter function of Vista. The marks for each project or assignment will be posted online the minute they are marked. You will be able to see a running record of your marks as the semester proceeds.

Summary of Mark Distribution

Ethnography 21 %
Trial grant application 14 %
Trial UBC Ethics application 14 %
Presentation reading summaries or responses 25 %
Weekly reading journal (13 readings) 13 %
Weekly online discussion forum (13 weeks) 13%

According to the School of Music guidelines, the grades awarded in this course will follow established university-wide practices with respect to both levels and distribution of grades. In addition, students are expected to adhere to the School of Music policy with respect to “Intellectual Honesty,” and “Academic Discipline”. (See the current general calendar.)


Stone, Ruth M. Theory of Ethnomusicology (Prentice-Hall)

Lecture Schedule and Required Reading List 

Week 1 Introductions and Expectations

Judith Becker, (1986) “Is Western Music Superior?” in Musical Quarterly, volume 72, number 3: 341-59

Jonathan Stock (2004) “Peripheries and interfaces: the Western Impact on other music,” in The Cambridge History of Twentieth-Century Music, edited by Nicholas Cook and Anthony Pople, pp. 18-39

Book Review #1

Jennifer Post (2011) Ethnomusicology: A Research and Information Guide (Routledge Music Bibliographies, 2nd edition)

Week 2 The Pioneers of Ethnomusicology

Bruno Nettl, (2010) “Central Issues in a Grand History,” in Nettl’s Elephant: On the History of Ethnomusicology, pp. 3-92

Philip Bohlman, (1991) “Representation and Cultural Critique in the History of Ethnomusicology,” in Comparative Musicology and Anthropology of Music, edited by Bruno Nettl and Philip Bohlman, pp. 131-51

Book Review #2

Helen Myers, editor (1992) Ethnomusicology: an Introduction

Week 3 “How Musical is Man?” 

Dane Harwood (1976) “Universals in Music: A Perspective from Cognitive Psychology,” in Ethnomusicology, volume 20, number 3: 521-33

John Blacking (1974) How Musical is Man? (Especially pp. 3-31, 32-53)

Book Review #3

Helen Myers, editor (1992) Ethnomusicology: Historical and Regional Studies

Week 4 Cultural Studies

Michael F. Brown (2005) “Heritage Trouble: Recent Work on the Protection of Intangible Cultural Property”, in International Journal of Cultural Property, 12, pp. 40-61

Joseph Kerman (1985) “Ethnomusicology and “Cultural Musicology’,” in Contemplating Music: challenges to musicology, pp. 155-81

Book Review #4

Laurent Aubert (2007) The Music of the Other: New Challenges for Ethnomusicology in a Global Age

Week 5 Critical Theories

Edward Said (1989) “Representing the Colonized: Anthropology’s Interlocutors,” in Critical Inquiry, volume 15, number 2, pp. 205-25

Pierre Bourdieu (1980) “The Aristocracy of Culture,” in Media, Culture and Society, volume 2, number 3, pp. 225-254

Book Review #5

Philip Bohlman (2002) World Music: A Very Short Introduction

Week 6 Music and Gender

Susan McClary (1991) Feminine Endings: Music, Gender and Sexuality

Carol E. Robertson (2000) “The Ethnomusicologist as Midwife,” in Pirkko Moisala and Beverley Diamond, editors, Music and Gender

Book Review #6

Nicholas Cook (1998) Music: A Very Short Introduction

Week 7 World Beat

Martin Stokes (2003) “Globalization and the politics of World Music,” in The Cultural Study of Music: A Critical Introduction, edited by Martin Clayton et al., pp. 297-308

Steven Feld (2000) “A Sweet Lullaby for World Music,” in Public Culture, volume 12, number 1, pp. 145-171

Book Review #8

Timothy Taylor (2007) Beyond Exoticism: Western Music and the World

Week 8 Folk Music

Carol M. Babaricki (1991) “Tribal Music in the Study of the Great and Little Traditions of Indian Music, in Comparative Musicology and Anthropology of Music, edited by Bruno Nettl and Philip Bohlman, pp. 69-90

James Porter (1991) “Muddying the Crystal Spring: From Idealism and Realism to Marxism,” in Comparative Musicology and Anthropology of Music, edited by Bruno Nettl and Philip Bohlman, pp. 113-130

Book Review #8

Alan P. Merriam (1964) The Anthropology of Music

Week 9 Ethnography

Thomas Turino (1990) “Structure, Context, and Strategy in Musical Ethnography,” in Ethnomusicology, volume 34, number 3, pp. 399-412

Thomas Procello (1998) “‘Tail’s Out’: Social Phenomenology and the Ethnographic Representation of Technology in Music-Making,” in Ethnomusicology, Volume 42, number 3, pp. 485-510

Book Review #9

Bruno Nettl (2005) The Study of Ethnomusicology: The Study of Ethnomusicology: Thirty-One Issues and Concepts

Week 10 Traditions, Change, Hybridity

Tamara Livingstone (1999) “Music Revivals: Towards a General Theory,” in Ethnomusicology, volume 43, number 1, pp. 66-85

John Baily (1986) “Identifying Processes of Change,” in The Worlds of Music, volume 28, number 1, pp. 3-12

Book Review #10

Henry Stobart, editor (2008) The New (Ethno)musicologies

Week 11 The Canadian View

Beverley Diamond and James Robbins (1992) “Ethnomusicology (of Canada),” in Encyclopedia of Music in Canada (online, with updates)

Fowke, Edith (1997) “A Personal Odyssey and Personal Prejudices,” in Undisciplined Women: Tradition and Culture in Canada, ed. Pauline Greenhill and Diane Tye, pp. 39-48

Book Review #11

Simone Kruger (2009) Experiencing Ethnomusicology: Teaching and Learning in European Universities

Week 12 Ethnomusicology Societies

Dieter Christiansen (1988) “The International Folk Music Council and ‘The Americans’: On the effects of Stereotypes on the Institutionalization of Ethnomusicology,” in Yearbook for Traditional Music, volume 20, pp. 11-18

Leslie Hall et al. (2007) “The CSTM/SCTM (Canadian Society for Traditional Music/La Societe canadienne pour les traditions musicales): Reflections and Future Directions,” in Folk Music, Traditional Music, Ethnomusicology: Canadian Perspectives, Past and Present, pp. 221-263

Book Review #12

Gregory Barz and Timothy Cooley, editors, (2008, 2nd edition) Shadows in the Field: New Perspectives for Fieldwork in Ethnomusicology

Week 13 The Pedagogy of Ethnomusicology 

Heather Sparling (2007/08) “Review Essay: Michael Bakan ‘World Music Traditions and Transformations’, Terry Miller and Andrew Shahriari “World Music: A Global Journey’, Jeff Todd Titon, ed. ‘Worlds of Music’,” in Musicultures, volume 34/35, pp. 128-134

Deborah Wong (1998) “Ethnomusicology and Critical Pedagogy as Cultural Work: Reflections on Fieldwork and Teaching,” College Music Symposium, volume 38, pp. 80-100

Book Review #13

Ted Solis (2004) Performing Ethnomusicology: Teaching and Representation in World Music Ensembles

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