MA Ethnomusicology

Programme Outline

Autumn Semester

MU5101: History of Ethnomusicology

Students are introduced to contemporary discourse in the field through the development of ethnomusicological theory since the nineteenth century. The contributions and continued relevance of past ‘-isms’ that have had their vogue are considered: cultural evolutionsm and diffusionism, functionalism, structuralism, marxism, and so on. Untangling the complex weave of theory that makes up current paradigms is the primary goal, however. The epistemologies implicit in much of contemporary practice are found in philosophical traditions such as phenomenology, hermeneutics, and semiotics among others. Students are asked to read critically and write analytically, culminating in a substantial thematic essay.

MU5012: Methods in Ethnomusicology

Training in techniques and methods associated with ethnomusicological research. These include bibliography, documentation, transcription, analysis, and ethnography. Emphasis is placed on first-hand experience of fieldwork through the application of these and other techniques in a sequence that culminates in submission of a fieldnote-rich interpretive ethnography based on repeated engagement with an on-going music context throughout the semester. Fundamentals of video recording and editing are introduced.

MU5031: Processes of Change in Irish Traditional Music

The history, theory and practice of Irish traditional music; the development of individual musical instruments; the structure of characteristic musical forms; the development of specific performance contents with special reference to patronage, audience, and aesthetic interest. In addition, students will be encouraged to participate in one of the relevant ensembles resident on campus. The module will appeal especially to those students who have limited knowledge of the topic.

Spring Semester:

MU5022: Anthropology of Music

This module is tailored to suit the musical and academic interests of individual participants and provides an innovative framework for investigating music in its cultural context. Building on the foundation laid in the Autumn semester particular research themes current in the field are explored in more depth. In recent years these have included music and mobile identities, music in diaspora, music and conflict, musical hybridity, musical ‘gendering’, and ecologies of sound. In addition to class readings, an individual thematic essay is usually related to the final project thesis. Students with an interest in dance have been encouraged to attend an Advanced Seminar in Ethnochoreology made possible by EU funding and hosted in Trondheim, Norway.

MU5032: World Music Survey

A study of the musical traditions of the world from an ethnomusicological perspective. The module will introduce students to a selection of contrasting musical systems through particular idioms generally including tarab in the eastern Arab world, Javanese gamelan, classical music of North India, Europe as a music culture area, a west African and a North American idiom. Practical workshops are held in some of these as opportunities permit.

MD 5512: Spring Elective

This module offers students the opportunity to pursue self-directed learning of an academic or performance-based project, under the guidance of the course director and an elective supervisor. The student my wish to use the elective to pursue more specialised study in his/her area of specialisation, or to access the other areas of expertise available at the centre. These currently include Ethnomusicology, Irish/Traditional/Contemporary Dance Performance, Music Technology, Ethnochoreology, Education Music, Community Music, Chant, Ritual Studies, Music Therapy, Irish Traditional Music, Classical String Performance and other specialist research interests of faculty and doctoral researchers at the centre.

MD 5522: Final Presentation

The Final Presentation may take the form of a written thesis of 15,000 to 20,000 words with accompanying media or it may incorporate a final performance together with a shorter written component. Topic proposals are generally finalized early in the Spring semester and investigation of its theoretical perspective undertaken as a part of the Spring semester modules. Students work independently over the summer and the submission is presented in early September.

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