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Boston University
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Boston University
Department of Musicology and Ethnomusicology
School of Music, College of Fine Arts

Type of Program and Degrees Offered

Boston University offers an M.A. in Music with a specialization in ethnomusicology and Ph.D. in Musicology/Ethnomusicology. We are a department of the School of Music in the College of Fine Arts and affiliated with the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. In particular, we maintain close ties to anthropology, area studies, and musicology.

Program Focus

We are committed to a primacy of scholarship, enriched through performance. Faculty specializations include the music and culture of Southeast Asia (specifically Bali, Indonesia), South Asia, Africa, Cuba, and American music. Theoretical interests range from musical discourse to modernization, the music industry to music editions. We offer core seminars in ethnomusicology that introduce the history of the discipline, research methods, and musical ethnographies, and special topics courses that investigate diverse interrelations such as music as social experience, and music, politics and identity. World music ensembles include African dance and drumming, and Balinese gender wayang. We are enriched by our close affiliation with the musicology faculty, who have strong research interests in popular music and jazz.

Special Resources

African drumming and dance ensemble; Balinese gender wayang; Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center with special collections in the Mugar Library (including significant documents for Charles Keil, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat Hentoff, Cab Calloway, Martin Luther King Jr., and many others); BU Center for the Study of Asia (BUCSA); African Studies Library; African Presidential Archives and Research Center (APARC); International Center for East Asian Archaeology and Cultural History; Institute for the Study of Muslim Societies and Civilizations; Editorial Institute; Humanities Foundation; Dakar Senegalese Studies Program for six weeks in summer introduces students to Senegalese culture through West African drumming and dance. There are also numerous study abroad programs throughout Europe that include music. Students enrolled at Boston University may take courses at Boston College, Brandeis University, Hebrew College, and Tufts University via the 1972 Inter-University Cross Registration Consortium.

Full-Time Faculty in Ethnomusicology

Steven Cornelius. Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles. Visiting Professor of Music, School of Music, College of Fine Arts, with an affiliation to the Center for African Studies. African diaspora, the music industry, and American music.

Brita Heimarck. Ph.D., Cornell University (1999). Associate Professor, School of Music, College of Fine Arts, with a joint appointment in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Balinese gender wayang (shadow play music), local discourses, music editions, modernization, music and culture of India.

Affiliated Faculty

Victor Coelho. Ph.D. University of California, Los Angeles. Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education and Professor of Musicology. Sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Italian music, lute music, African-American music, popular music, colonialism and cross-cultural perspectives.

Joshua Rifkin. Honorary Doctorate, University of Dortmund (1999). University Professor in Musicology. Bach interpretation, Renaissance music, ragtime, folk, Scott Joplin.

Andrew Shenton. Ph.D. Harvard University (1998). James R. Houghton Scholar of Sacred Music, joint appointment at the School of Theology; Associate Professor and Director of the Master of Sacred Music Program. Music and religion, performance practice, twentieth-century music, Olivier Messiaen.

Jeremy Yudkin. Ph.D. Stanford University. Chair of the Department of Musicology and Ethnomusicology and Professor of Musicology. Medieval music, Miles Davis, the Beatles, and jazz.

General Program Statement

With the arrival of Professor Heimarck at BU in 2006, the university began to incorporate ethnomusicology courses into their curriculum (world beat, musical cultures, performance practice of Bali, graduate seminars in ethnomusicology). In 2007-08, BU approved the curriculum for graduate students in ethnomusicology as a concentration within the musicology program. In Fall 2008, Professor Cornelius joined the program, teaching courses on Africa, ethnomusicology, and African drumming. Situated within a major research university, we offer an integrated program that benefits from the close relationship with our musicology faculty. Seminars provide intellectual inquiry for ethnomusicology and musicology graduate students, along with peers from diverse disciplines. The ethnomusicology curriculum is supplemented by graduate studies in anthropology, foreign languages, religion, Asian studies, African studies, and other related disciplines. Our graduate degrees are designed to give students the disciplinary grounding, theoretical understanding, applied musical understanding, and research tools needed to become ethnomusicologists of the highest caliber.

BU is an active member of the Boston area ethnomusicology scene and, in collaboration with area colleagues, Professor Heimarck founded the bostonethno.org website to further communication and collaboration between Boston area ethnomusicology programs. Professor Heimarck is currently the President of the Northeast Chapter for the Society for Ethnomusicology (2010-2012).

Boston offers a unique confluence of rigorous academic pursuits combined with diverse arts and culture, making it a rich site for our students to explore the many dimensions of fieldwork.

Financial Support

Our graduate program includes teaching, teaching assistant, and ensemble opportunities. Students receive varying degrees of financial support based on merit and availability.

Further Information

Dr. Brita Heimarck, Associate Professor, Boston University, School of Music, 855 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA, 02215. (617) 358-0832, (617) 378-5591; Email: heimarck@bu.edu; britaheimarck@gmail.com

Program Website


Ethnomusicology Student Group

The Boston University Music Society (BUMS), a graduate student association for academic research in the fields of Musicology, Ethnomusicology, and Music Theory. Website: http://www.people.bu.edu/bums/

Related Websites

Bulletin: http://www.bu.edu/bulletins/grs/item32.html

Boston Ethno: http://www.bostonethno.org

African Studies Center: http://www.bu.edu/africa

Center for the Study of Asia: http://www.bu.edu/asian

Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center: http://www.bu.edu/dbin/archives

The content for Boston University was last updated June 22, 2010.

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