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University of Cambridge
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University of Cambridge

Type of Program and Degrees Offered

Ethnomusicology is taught as part of the BA Music and MPhil Musicology programs. There is currently also a separate MPhil program in Ethnomusicology, but this is expected to become a pathway in an integrated MPhil program in Music Studies in the near future. All students studying for undergraduate or graduate degrees in the Faculty of Music have the option to take courses in Ethnomusicology. Students in other Faculties may also take courses in ethnomusicology by special arrangement.

Program Focus

Undergraduate courses vary from year to year. Recent courses have included topics in many different geographical areas with special emphasis on North Africa, Middle East, the wider Mediterranean, and Jewish music (including European and North American). Graduate courses currently focus on the Mediterranean. Both undergraduate and graduate students write dissertations on a wide range of topics spanning all geographical areas. Areas of theoretical focus include musical nationalisms, canonization, history of ethnomusicology including music recording and archives, diasporas, music as sacred expression, Islamic–Jewish encounters, music in conflict resolution. Faculty teaching and research in music cognition overlaps with ethnomusicology.

Special Resources

The Faculty of Music possesses a fine Javanese gamelan, which supports a thriving performing group with opportunities for participation at all levels. The Faculty houses a 500-seat Concert Hall and a smaller Recital Room available for student and professional use. The Center for Music and Science comprises a fully sound-isolated recording studio (linked to the Concert Hall and Recital Room), a computer room and a research room with dedicated facilities for technology-based music research and teaching. The Music Faculty’s Pendlebury Library, the Social Anthropology Library, the University Library, and several College libraries house strong collections of books & journals and audio & audiovisual recordings in world music. The collection of c. 700 musical instruments collected by Laurence Picken is housed in the University’s Museum of Archeology and Anthropology. Dedicated College and University societies support a variety of performing groups and concerts of world and traditional music. The famous College chapels and other University and College performing venues provide innumerable spaces for all types of musical activity. The music Faculty hosts workshops in Klezmer and Middle Eastern music associated with its regular teaching program.

Full-Time Faculty in Ethnomusicology

Ruth Davis. PhD (Princeton, 1986). Faculty of Music. Area interests in North Africa, Middle East and Central Asia, the wider Mediterranean, Islamic and Jewish traditions. For theoretical interests see under Program Focus above.

Affiliated Faculty

Ian Cross. PhD (City University, London). Director, Centre for Music and Science, Faculty of Music. Music cognition.

David Irving. PhD (University of Cambridge). Research Fellow, Christ’s College, University of Cambridge. Globalisation and intercultural exchange in the early modern period.

Carole Pegg. PhD (University of Cambridge). Affiliated research scholar, Faculty of Music. Traditional musics of Inner Asia and the UK.

General Program Statement

Ethnomusicology has a rich, prestigious history at Cambridge, dating from the end of the 19th century when psychologist Charles Myers (founder of the Experimental Psychology Laboratory) joined the 1898 anthropological expedition to the Torres Straits. Myers went on to do pioneering work on perception in non-Western music. In the 1940s, the eminent ethnomusicologist Laurence Picken (also biologist and zoologist) began his research in Chinese, then Turkish music. Picken attracted research students from all over the world, and by the 1970s, Cambridge had become an international centre for ethnomusicology. In 1983, Ruth Davis, then a graduate student at Princeton, joined the Music Faculty as an Assistant Lecturer, becoming the University’s first designated appointment in Ethnomusicology. Since then, music outside the Western canon has formed an integral part of the Faculty’s teaching and research. Ethnomusicology is generally taught in at least two of the three years of the BA Music degree program, whether as a first year foundation course or as second and third year options. Some students choose to write dissertations based on original field work, often supported by College and Faculty travel grants. Ethnomusicology is an option within the MPhil degree program and a number of students proceed to the PhD.

The graduate program has attracted extremely talented research students in a wide range of music cultural areas, with former PhD students taking up college research fellowships and going on to teaching posts in the UK and abroad. Although graduate student intake is limited by the fact that there is still only one designated ethnomusicologist, students frequently benefit from co-supervision by other Faculty members with closely related research interests (particularly in the areas of music cognition, social and cultural history, recording and performance studies).

Financial Support

Scholarships and bursaries are available from the Gates and Cambridge Trusts (for Overseas students), UK Research Councils (for Home and EU students), Colleges, and the Board of Graduate Studies. PhD students are offered opportunities to assist with undergraduate teaching. For information see "Related Websites" below for URL.

Further Information

Dr. Ruth F. Davis, Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge, Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 1RH, UK. Tel. 44 (0)1223 335186; Email: rfd11@cam.ac.uk

For prospective graduates: Beth Wilshin, Graduate Secretary. Faculty of Music, 11 West Road, Cambridge, CB3 9DP, UK. Tel: 44 (0)1223 767883; Email: ea272@cam.ac.uk

For prospective undergraduates: Ruth Hardie, Music Outreach Officer, 11 West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DP, UK. Tel. 44-(0)1223 768927; Email: outreach@mus.cam.ac.uk

Program Website

Faculty of Music: http://www.mus.cam.ac.uk/

Related Websites

University of Cambridge: http://www.cam.ac.uk

Financial information: http://www.mus.cam.ac.uk/applicants/graduate/funding-graduate-study-at-cambridge/

Faculty of Music, Applicants http://www.mus.cam.ac.uk/applicants/

The content for University of Cambridge was last updated June 28, 2010.

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