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Harvard University
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Harvard University
Ethnomusicology Program
Department of Music

Type of Program and Degrees Offered

Undergraduate and graduate curricula; Ph.D. degree specialization. Affiliated with the Department of Music. Students are encouraged to pursue related studies in Anthropology; Visual and Environmental Studies; Film Studies; Women, Gender and Sexuality; African and African American Studies; Sanskrit and Indian Studies; Near Eastern Languages and Civilization; and other departments relevant to their areas of study.

Program Focus

Emphasis on ethnographic and analytical methods for studying any musical tradition; particular area strengths in regions stretching from the Mediterranean to India, in Africa and African diaspora, and in urban America.

Special Resources

Music analysis laboratory, World Music Archives, special library collections, Peabody Museum, musical instrument collection (India, Iran, Mali, Zimbabwe), extensive sound and video archives. Undergraduate students are admitted under a need-blind policy. Graduate financial aid includes fellowships to support coursework during the first two years of residency, subsequent teaching assistantships and dissertation completion fellowship; a minimum of five years of funding are guaranteed. Fellowships are available from both the Music Department and Harvard Graduate School to support summer research, doctoral research, and write-up period. The Asia Center, Reischauer Institute, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, South Asia Initiative, Committee on African Studies, and several other campus institutions provide additional intellectual resources and funding for student research and language study. Faculty and graduate students hold conferences each year on a variety of topics; artists in residence and visiting artists often enrich coursework and provide opportunities for students to learn to sing or play.

Full-Time Faculty in Ethnomusicology

Ingrid Monson. Quincy Jones Professor of African American Music, Music Department and Department of African and African American Studies. Jazz; Afro-American music; cultural theory.

Kay Kaufman Shelemay. (Ph.D., University of Michigan) G. Gordon Watts Professor of Music and Professor of African and African American Music, Music Department and Department of African and African American Studies. Ethiopia; Middle East; urban US, Jewish music; music and ritual; musical ethnography.

Richard K. Wolf. (Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1997) Professor of Music, Music Department. Music of south and west Asia. South Indian classical (Karnatak) music. Persian classical music. Folk, tribal, and ritual music of India and Pakistan. Music in religion and ritual, especially Hinduism and Islam. Emotion, phenomenology, space and time, semiotics, music and language.

Affiliated Faculty

Virginia Danielson. (Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) Curator, World Music Archives and Richard F. French Librarian of the Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library.

Carol J. Oja. Ph.D., Graduate School of the City University of New York) William Powell Mason Professor of Music and Program in the History of American Civilization. U.S. modernism, African-American music, cross-cultural intersections, Broadway musicals, women and music.

Sindhumathi Revuluri. (PhD, Princeton University, 2007) Assistant Professor of Music, Music Department. Indian popular music and film, global pop, sound studies, media theory, post-colonial theory, music and empire.

General Program Statement

Ethnomusicology at Harvard offers intensive training in ethnographic method as well as study of theories, problems, and approaches relevant to the study of any living musical tradition in its cultural setting. By the end of the second year of study, students select primary and secondary fields of specialization, which may be defined by region (for example, Turkish or West African music); by musical styles (such as jazz or popular music); or by topic or theoretical approach (organology or aesthetics).

Six to eight ethnomusicology courses—four seminars and four proseminars or undergraduate classes—are offered each year as part of the regular curriculum. Graduate seminars explore ethnomusicological methods and theories as they are applied to the study of music, as well as a wide range of issues and materials, while proseminars focus on music styles or distinctive musical settings.

An important aspect of the Harvard ethnomusicology program is that students receive strong training in Western music and its history as well as training in the methods and theories of historical musicology and music theory. A final aspect of ethnomusicological training at Harvard is exposure to other disciplines, with particular emphasis upon anthropology, history, area studies, and linguistic training related to the student’s specialization.

Financial Support

Financial aid is provided to undergraduates on a need-blind basis. All graduate students are funded for the first five years of study. There are additional fellowships available depending on specific area of study. A limited number of Presidential Fellowships are awarded on a competitive basis to outstanding graduate students in any department in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Further Information

Richard K. Wolf. Phone: 617-495-2791; Email:rwolf@fas.harvard.edu

Program Website


The content for Harvard University was last updated July 13, 2010.

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