Overview of Course
No matter where you go in the world, you will find music. It is a universal human phenomenon, existing in every culture on the planet, but with unique systems, uses, and functions that differ greatly among different cultures and communities. Studying a culture’s music can provide a unique lens into the social, cultural, political, historical, religious, and other factors that shape how that music is made and the meanings it can embody. In this course, we will seek to understand the places we visit on this voyage through the cultural expression of music. We will examine the music itself, including the aesthetics, organizing principles, and musical instruments used to create it, as well as musical context in each of our ports in order to understand the people who create and listen to music in these places. We will examine the effects of cross-cultural influence and globalization, and how those forces have influenced the development of music across the globe. What role has technology played in these processes and what is the result? In what ways are these music traditions unique, and what features do they share with others, and why? Through directed reading, listening, and field assignments, we will cover some of the basic concepts of ethnomusicology: the study of human cultures through musical practices, the comparative study of music across cultures, and some of the practical considerations of field work.