An Introduction to Ethnomusicology, Part II

Dateline: 10/24/97

Last week's column introduced Ethnomusicology as a relatively new social science, one with a very open interpretation, and one that does not have as much online or print resources as other fields.

Even so, Ethnomusicology is growing all the time, with more and more people pursuing scholarly study at the graduate level. Many institutions with graduate programs in Ethnomusicology, offer degrees to the Masters level, usually as an M.A., but sometimes also as an M.Mus. Sometimes degrees are offered in conjunction with departments of Anthropology, since the two fields are so closely linked. I have heard of Ph.D. programs with a joint degree in Anthropology with a focus in Ethnomusicology. Students planning on embarking on such programs should be prepared to spend time out in the field, witnessing performances first hand, making audio and video recordings, and interviewing participants.

Some universities offering programs in Ethnomusicology include Florida State University, and York University in Ontario, Canada. The latter focusses on North American music, such as religious music and urban popular music. For a department to have a particular musical focus is not uncommon, and it is important to choose a program which fits one's interests, and has staff with the knowledge to supervise the dissertation or project. As well, Ethnomusicology is usually a subsection of the Music department, and in order to qualify for a graduate program, one must fulfill requirements which require one to have a certain level of musicianship. The University of Washington is once such institution.

Researching relevant scholarly journals, and indeed, getting one's work published in them, is important in getting known in the field. Some of the major Ethnomusicology publication include Ethnomusicology Research Digest, which is aimed at professionals, graduate students, and librarians in the field, and the British Journal of Ethnomusicology, which is published annually, and features scholarly articles about music from all over the world. As far as Internet publications are concerned, by far the best is Ethnomusicology OnLine, which takes excellent advantage of new media technology, as a peer-reviewed, multimedia Web journal.

Finally, once out in the field, having the support of colleagues can be found by joining a Society. The most famous is the Society for Ethnomusicology, which supports and promotes research of its members. The British Forum for Ethnomusicology holds conferences and publishes a newsletter. Societies indeed provide opportunities for members to expand their portfolios with lectures and published papers. The Finnish Society for Ethnomusicology, often has calls for papers.

If you have any questions about any of the topics I have covered in this two-part introduction to Ethnomusicology, please don't hesitate to email me. There is so much more to learn about this fascinating and ground-breaking field that I hope to write other features about it in the future.

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