Print Page   |   Contact Us   |   Report Abuse   |   Sign In   |   Join SEM
Boston University
Share |

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

Type of Program and Degrees Offered

At Boston University, ethnomusicology is housed in a standalone Musicology & Ethnomusicology Department in the School of Music of the College of Fine Arts. We offer a BA in Music with concentration in Musicology and Ethnomusicology, an MA in Musicology with specializations in Musicology or Ethnomusicology, and a PhD in Musicology with specializations in Musicology, Ethnomusicology, or Musicology and Ethnomusicology.

Program Statement

The Boston University Department of Musicology and Ethnomusicology is a prolific, supportive, and inclusive department, dedicated to the shared purpose of innovative, engaged, and rigorous scholarship. We are proud that our faculty is balanced in terms of sub-discipline, gender, and ethnicity. Our graduate program provides the disciplinary grounding, critical theoretical tools, methodological breadth and sense of engagement with the world needed to produce ethnomusicologists of the highest caliber. We offer a customizable curriculum including a combined PhD concentration in Musicology and Ethnomusicology.

The faculty at BU’s Department of Musicology & Ethnomusicology includes five full-time ethnomusicologists, five full-time historical musicologists, and three affiliated faculty. We work on music in sub-Saharan Africa, South and East Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe, and the United States, with theoretical focuses including music and racial formations, global queer identities, protest, politics, ritual, violence, technology, sound studies, post-colonial studies, medical ethnomusicology, and modernity.

 Special Resources

Situated within a major research university, our department offers an integrated program that benefits from our close relationship and faculty affiliations with African, African American, Asian, American, and Latin American Studies; the various departments of the College of Arts and Sciences, the Center for the Humanities, Institute for the Study of Muslim Societies, the School of Theology, and Howard Gotlieb Archives (including significant collections for Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat Hentoff, Martin Luther King Jr., and many others). We share a newly renovated building with our partners at the Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground and have collaborated extensively with the BU Arts Initiative, most prominently in the annual staging of the Global Music Festival that has brought artists from across the world to the campus for a free multi-day concert series.

We house a substantial world music collection of instruments: 3 quartets of Balinese gender wayang (paired xylophones); drums and percussion for Colombian currulao and gaita; Cuban batá, rumba, and guiro; Dominican merengue; Ghanaian Ewe drums; Indian classical instruments: bansuri (flutes), harmoniums, deluxe tabla, mridangam, tanpuras; Afro-Peruvian percussion; Persian santur;  Puerto Rican plena; salsa percussion; and Senegalese sabar drums.

BU also has numerous study abroad programs for undergraduates that include music. The Department also offers an annual Spring Break course in Cuba co-administered with African American Studies and open to undergraduate and graduate students across the university. 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

Marié Abe (PhD, Berkeley), Associate Professor, affiliated African Studies, American & New England Studies Program: Japan, Ethiopia, sound studies, music and social justice

Michael Birenbaum Quintero (PhD, NYU), Associate Professor and Department Chair, affiliated Latin American and African American Studies: Latin America, Colombia, politics, historical ethnomusicology, sound studies, race

Brita Heimarck (PhD, Cornell), Associate Professor: Bali, sacred music of India, politics, mysticism

Miki Kaneda (PhD, Berkeley), Assistant Professor:  transcultural music, the avant-garde, sonic arts, race & gender

Gregory Melchor-Barz (PhD, Brown), Professor and Director of the School of Music: Africa, gender and sexuality, music and medicine

Affiliated Faculty

Louis Chude-Sokei (PhD, UCLA—English); Professor of English, George And Joyce Wein Chair and Director of African American Studies: Black Studies, sound, technology, minstrelsy

Victor Coelho (UCLA), Professor (Musicology): early music and performance; popular music (on leave Spring 2020)

Benjamín Juárez (MFA, Cal Arts); Professor of Fine Arts: Mexican music, cathedral music, technology, arts education, management, and policy

Joshua Rifkin (MFA, Princeton), Professor (Musicology): Renaissance, Bach, 20th-Century, ragtime, performance

Eric Schmidt (PhD, UCLA); Asst. Director, African Studies Program: Tuareg music, Niger, music economy

Andrew Shenton (PhD, Harvard), Associate Professor (Musicology/Theology): Pärt, Messiaen, music & theology

Rachana Vajjhala (PhD, Berkeley), Assistant Professor (Musicology): 19th– 20th-c. Paris, dance, music & gesture (on leave Spring 2020)

Jeremy Yudkin (PhD, Stanford), Professor (Musicology): Jazz, Beethoven, Middle Ages

Financial Support

We offer up to 5 years of full funding for Ph.D. students. Tuition in the College of Fine Arts for MA students and undergraduates is 50% the University cost and further funding may be available. Every year, the department usually accepts 2 PhD students and several MA students.

Further Information

Michael Birenbaum Quintero
Chair, Musicology & Ethnomusicology Department
Boston University
855 Commonwealth Ave.
Boston, MA 02215

Program Website


Ethnomusicology Student Group

Graduate Music Studies at BU
Co-chair, Sebastián Wanúmen Jiménez: swanumen@bu.edu
Co-chair, Rachael Fuller: fuller@bu.edu

Related Websites



The content for Boston University was last updated January 27, 2020.

Sign In

Featured News