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The Ethnomusicology Institute » Ethnomusicology FAQ


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Ethnomusicology Institute


1. What is Ethnomusicology?

Ethnomusicology is the study of music of all types and from all cultures. Ethnomusicologists not only listen to the sounds of music within particular cultures or events but also inquire into people's ideas and beliefs about music. Ethnomusicology explores the role of music in human life, analyzes relationships between music and culture, and studies music cross culturally.

2. What do I learn as a student of Ethnomusicology?

Ethnomusicology students gain insights into the culturally diverse ways people think and act; they also understand human societies from within, develop advanced skills in conducting fieldwork, interviewing, and documentation, and learn how to conduct library research which is then embodied into a comprehensive written form. You will have your hand on the pulse of contemporary society!


3. What is fieldwork?

Ethnomusicology emphasizes fieldwork methods to learn how societies function. Fieldwork involves documenting and learning about people's lives, expressions, and beliefs in context. In the "field," students study art and creativity in everyday life. Through the study of different social groups and cultures, students gain skills in observation, analysis, documentation, reporting, and multicultural understanding. This study taps capacities we possess as human beings, and develops the qualities we need to be informed and responsible people.

4. What professions can graduates of the Ethnomusicology program enter?

Graduates of the Ethnomusicology program at IU work as college professors in universities around the world; in museums, where they conduct research, create exhibits, and develop programs; in arts agencies, where they provide venues for artists and musicians; and in the music industry, where they provide consultant services. They have produced numerous books, festivals, films, documentary videos, CDs, and computer software that present and interpret culture.


Ethnomusicology Institute

1. What kind of students does the Ethnomusicology Institute look for?

We look for students who are passionate about learning, interested in an interdisciplinary course of study. They should be critical thinkers with a strong GPA, and have a creative orientation. We do not expect students to be accomplished performers or have a formal background in Western music theory.

2. What kind of undergraduate courses might I need to take to qualify for your program?

We do not require specific courses to qualify for admission. However, courses taken in cultural anthropology, cultural sociology, world music, ethnic studies, area studies, or specific populations and world areas of interest to you may be helpful in determining the direction you would like to take in your studies at IU.

3. Are there performance ensembles associated with the department?

The ensembles offered in the department depend on the performance expertise of faculty and advanced graduate students. In the past three years we have had a Mariachi ensemble, an African Mbira ensemble and a drumming group. Students can also take performance courses such as the International Vocal Ensemble, Latin American Music ensemble, and more in the School of Music.

4. I am a student in the School of Music who would like to consider transfering to the Ethnomusicology program. Is that possible?

Since the Ethnomusicology program is a part of University Graduate School and not the School of Music, it is not possible to transfer to the department. You will have to apply to the program as per the admission deadlines. Since you are already on campus, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with the director of the Institute to address additional questions.

5. Does the Institute offer MA or PhD programs through distance learning?

No, at the moment we do not offer MA or PhD programs through distance learning.