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Columbia University
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Columbia University
Graduate Program in Ethnomusicology
Center for Ethnomusicology

Type of Program and Degrees Offered

We offer the M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology, as one of four doctoral tracks in the Department of Music. We do not have an M.A.-only offering. We offer a B.A. in Music through Columbia College, Barnard College, and the School of General Studies. We offer a B.A. (special major) in Ethnomusicology through Barnard College (only).

Program Focus

We emphasize social scientific theory and methods; program foci include cultural policy, cultural rights, intellectual and cultural property issues, repatriation, Native and indigenous studies, sound studies, music and technology, music and childhood, popular musics, music and human rights, music and violence/conflict, and area emphases on the Americas, and Europe (including Eastern and Central Europe). However, many of our recent Ph.D.’s have also worked in East and South Asia and in Africa. We place strong emphasis on critical applications of ethnographic research to contemporary political and policy debates.

Special Resources

The Center for Ethnomusicology incorporates a digital media laboratory, special library collections, the Laura Boulton sound archives and other audio archives of historically important field recordings, and a field research equipment collection. We sponsor regular colloquia, concerts, and conferences featuring important scholars and performers. Other resources are available through the Columbia Center for Jazz Studies, the Columbia Computer Music Center, the Columbia University Music Performance Program, the World Music Ensembles Program, and the Louis Armstrong Jazz Performance Program. Our setting in New York City provides access to one of the richest and most diverse musical scenes in the world. Columbia's library system is one of the largest in the world, and includes many specialized collections of interest to ethnomusicologists. Columbia University maintains specialized centers and programs in East Asian Studies, South Asian Studies, Slavic and Central Asian Studies, American Studies, African Studies, African-American Studies, Asian-American and Latino Studies, Western European Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, Gender Studies, and many other fields of study. The University also has one of the top Anthropology Departments in the United States. A formal consortium agreement allows Columbia graduate students to take selected courses for credit at The Graduate Center of The City University of New York, New York University, Fordham University, New School for Social Research, Princeton, Rutgers University, Stony Brook University, and The Teachers College. Multi-year fellowship support (described in detail below) is available for approximately two to four entering students per year.

Full-Time Faculty in Ethnomusicology

Aaron Fox. (Ph.D., Anthropology, University of Texas 1995). Associate Professor of Music; Chair, Department of Music. Popular music; working-class cultures; language and music; race, class, and indigeneity; ethnographic theory and method; history of social thought; linguistics; Native American Studies; cultural and intellectual property issues. Author of Real Country: Music and Language in Working-Class Culture.

Lila Ellen Gray. (Ph.D., Cultural Anthropology, Duke University 2005). Assistant Professor of Music. Performance; gender; ethnographic theory and method; poetics; urban cultural studies; place; singing style; fado; Portugal; Europe.

Ana María Ochoa. (Ph.D., Ethnomusicology and Folklore, Indiana University 1996). Associate Professor of Music; Director, Center for Ethnomusicology. Cultural policy, music and armed conflict, intellectual property, history of aurality, Latin American cultural studies, music and globalization.

Christopher Washburne. (Ph.D., Ethnomusicology, Columbia University, 1999). Associate Professor of Music; Director, Louis Armstrong Jazz Performance Program. Jazz; Salsa; Latin American and Caribbean musics; music and identity; performance.

Faculty from other areas of the Music Department and from many other departments at Columbia routinely serve on Ethnomusicology dissertation committees. Please see our website for details.

General Program Statement

The Graduate Program in Ethnomusicology at Columbia University is a transdisciplinary program centered on a critical approach to the study of music and sound. On the one hand, we emphasize the social scientific tradition within ethnomusicology, and therefore keep strong affiliations with the fields of anthropology, cultural studies, popular culture studies, media studies, history, and sociology. On the other hand, we focus on questions central to critical theory and to subjects such as modernity and tradition, nationalism and globalization, indigeneity, cultural rights, intellectual property rights, new media and technology, cultural policy, music and violence, music and gender, among others emphases which strengthen our relationships with other fields in the humanities and the natural sciences. We emphasize rigorous, sustained field research as the basis of the discipline’s unique contribution to musicology and social thought. Our goal is to train students to pursue careers in original scholarly research and university teaching, and to make major contributions to the advancement of critical knowledge in and about music and sound.

Financial Support

Graduate students admitted to the Ph.D. program receive five years of full funding, with teaching obligations in years 2-5. Most students are funded for a sixth year. Almost all students win external grants for field research, and many win competitive dissertation-writing fellowships. Additional support is provided by the Center for Ethnomusicology.

Further Information

Prof. Christopher Washburne, Area Chair for Ethnomusicology, Dept. of Music, Columbia University, MC 1825, New York, NY 10027, USA. Phone: 212-854-9862; Email: cjw5@columbia.edu

Program Website


Related Websites

Department of Music: http://www.music.columbia.edu

The content for Columbia University was last updated July 14, 2010.

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