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Kent State University
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Kent State University
Master of Arts in Ethnomusicology

Type of Program and Degrees Offered

The Ethnomusicology program is part of the School of Music in the College of Arts at Kent State University. We offer a Master of Arts in Ethnomusicology, as well as a minor in World Music open to undergraduate students of any major. Students in these programs participate in world music ensembles and classroom activities that include peers in ethnomusicology as well as a variety of other related disciplines, such as anthropology and geography.

The Master of Arts in Ethnomusicology allows for in-depth study of current and/or historical cultural research, as well music analysis and performance. Emphasis on a particular historical period, style or continent leads to both breadth and depth of research skills. The curriculum aims to prepare students for graduate study at the doctoral level, as well as careers in public/private arts programs.

Students receiving assistantships will gain experience as classroom lecturers, music ensemble directors, online instructors, multi-media producers, and/or archival assistants. Exceptional students will be recommended for internships at local area arts programs, such as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum and the Cleveland Museum of Art.

The undergraduate World Music minor exposes students to broad regional studies, as well as popular music and culture. The minor enhances major areas of study, such as music education, anthropology, dance and theatre, international business, and area studies, including Asian, Pan-African, etc. The minor also prepares students interested in further study in ethnomusicology graduate programs and is open to any major across campus.

Program Statement 

The world music program at Kent State University seeks to prepare students for interactions with scholars, musicians, and non-specialists from around the globe. Our courses include regional studies of West, East and mainland Southeast Asia, Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean, and North and South America, as well as international popular music.

The undergraduate World Music minor includes popular music studies, as well as fundamental knowledge of Western music genres with courses, such as Survey of Rock Music History, History of Jazz, America’s Music, Popular World Music, and the Understanding of Music – an appreciation course focused on Western art music. Students also perform in the World Music ensemble and take classes along with graduate students of ethnomusicology as part of their program.

The Master of Arts graduate program requires a broad-based general knowledge of music from around the world, as well as tools of research investigation essential for careers as ethnomusicologists. Fieldwork and theoretical concerns related to ethnomusicology are emphasized along with recognition and analysis of world music styles. Secondary areas of study, such as anthropology, Asian or pan-African studies, geography, linguistics, library science, business, or music education, are encouraged in preparation for continuing education at the doctoral level. Graduate students are expected to perform in the World Music ensembles and may study privately with instructors for research and performance specialization.

Kent State University is located near Cleveland, as well as Akron, Ohio, which offers a multiplicity of opportunities to observe and participate in world music activities. Numerous ethnic communities, particularly from Europe, India, China, and the Middle East are found throughout the area, offering an array of public cultural festivals. African-American and Appalachian populations are abundant as well. Cleveland boasts many quality museums and performance venues, such as The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Severance Hall (home to the Cleveland Orchestra), Cleveland Museum of Art (which hosts the Viva! World Music series), Blossom Music Center, and Playhouse Square Center, the second largest theatre district in the United States.

Special Resources

Kent State’s World Music Ensemble includes study of various performance traditions depending on the specialization of its current faculty and graduate assistants. Current emphases focus on the music of Sub-Saharan Africa (West and Central, primarily Ghana and the DRC), Thailand (Piphat), China (Sizhu), and Trinidad (Steel Drum). Students are encouraged to pursue other performance traditions according to their interests; these may be included in concert performances with the ensemble as well. Students have performed music from Japan, Haiti, Brazil, Scotland, and other countries as well. Kent State’s regional seven-campus system presents many opportunities for the World Music Ensemble to perform. The ensemble also performs for community events throughout northeast Ohio and occasionally travels to surrounding states for public concerts.

The ethnomusicology program at Kent State University is affiliated with the Niagara chapter of the Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM), though students often participate in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic chapter meetings as well. Faculty and graduate students frequently present at the national Society for Ethnomusicology annual conference, and are encouraged to become active in other academic organizations, such as the American Musicological Society (AMS) and College Music Society (CMS).

Graduate students regularly present for the KSU Performance Arts Library Colloquium Series. These present student with the opportunity to win cash awards, as well as have their work published in Kent State’s Digital Commons, which presents its publications globally.

Ethnomusicology students also find opportunities through other KSU grants and programs to conduct fieldwork and participate in workshops and conferences throughout the United States and around the world.

Full-Time Faculty in Ethnomusicology

Jennifer Johnstone is an Assistant Professor of musicology-ethnomusicology. She holds a Ph.D. in musicology-ethnomusicology (2012) and an M.A. in ethnomusicology (2007) from Kent State University. Dr. Johnstone’s research interests include cognitive semiotics, cultural identity, Welsh choral traditions, and U.S. immigrant history. She remains active in presenting her work at national and international conferences, and has published in a variety of peer-reviewed publications, including The Journal of the Polynesian Society and The Journal of Band Research.

Eve McPherson is an Associate Professor of ethnomusicology. She holds a Ph.D in ethnomusicology from the University of California, Santa Barbara and a master's degree in ethnomusicology from Tufts University. Additionally, Dr. McPherson earned a master's degree in vocal performance from UCSB.  Her areas of research interest include Islamic recitation, Turkish classical music, vocal timbre, and contemporary American opera.

Kazadi wa Mukuna is a native of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire) and Professor of Ethnomusicology at Kent State University. Dr. Kazadi received his Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology from the University of California, Los Angeles and a Ph.D. in Sociology from the Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil. Two of his most current research projects are "A Dictionary of Urban Music and Musicians in the Democratic Republic of Congo" and "The Evolution of the Urban Music of the Democratic Republic of Congo".

Priwan Nanongkham, born in Thailand, is an Assistant Professor of ethnomusicology and director of the Kent State University Thai Ensemble. He received his Ph.D. in musicology-ethnomusicology from Kent State University in 2011. Although considered a Thai music specialist, his primary area of interest covers all music of mainland Southeast Asia, as well as East Asia, and South Asia. Other research interests include Asian-American music; Asian religious traditions; Westernization and modernization, and globalization as reflected in traditional, neo-traditional, and popular music.

Denise Seachrist is Interim Dean and Chief Administrative Officer at KSU Stark. She holds the rank of Associate Professor at the Hugh A. Glauser School of Music. Dr. Seachrist received her Ph.D. in musicology-ethnomusicology from Kent State University, and a Master of Music in vocal performance from Youngstown State University. Considered a specialist in the music of both historical and living German religious communities in Pennsylvania, she serves on the board of the Communal Studies Association. She is a member of the editorial board for Pennsylvania-German History and Culture book series published by Penn State Press. Dr. Seachrist is the author of The Musical World of Halim El-Dabh (2003) and Snow Hill: In the Shadows of the Ephrata Cloister (2010).

Andrew Shahriari is an Associate Professor and coordinator of the ethnomusicology program, as well as online course offerings in the KSU School of Music. He earned his Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from Kent State University in 2001. He has published three books, Khon Muang Music and Dance Traditions of North Thailand (2007), Popular World Music (2010, 2e 2017), and World Music: A Global Journey  (2006, 4e 2017), co-authored with Kent State Professor Emeritus, Terry E. Miller. His primary areas of research interest include music of mainland Southeast Asia, East Asia, popular world music, and rock music history, as well as music therapy and autism.

Janine Tiffe is an Assistant Professor of ethnomusicology. She received her Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from Florida State University. She co-directs the KSU African Ensemble and is director of the KSU Steel Band. Dr. Tiffe has performed with Women in Steel and Invaders Steel Orchestra; as a member of Azaguno, she performed for the 2002 FIFA World Cup ceremonies in Seoul, Korea. Her research interests include the African diaspora, particularly the Trinidadian steel band, as well as musical migration, transmission, pedagogy, and education. She has authored articles in Percussive Notes, Musicians and Composers of the 20th Century, and Double Voicing and Multiplex Identities: Unpacking Hegemonic and Subaltern Discourses in the Caribbean. She is an active member of The Society for Ethnomusicology, Delta Omicron, and Percussive Arts Society.

Affiliated Faculty

Sunmin Yoon is an adjunct professor of ethnomusicology at Kent State University, concentrating on general world music surveys and the music of Asia. A native of South Korea, she earned her Ph.D in ethnomusicology from University of Maryland at College Park (2011). She specializes in Mongolian folk songs, with a focus on the long-song (urtyn duu) genre. Her research deals with the role of music and musicians in relation to political change in socialist/post-socialist/postcolonial socio-cultural contexts.  Her further research interests are in music and geography, and analytical studies on the usage of voice and lyrics. She is a classically trained pianist, and studied music theory as well as musicology in Korea.

Financial Support

Financial aid at Kent State University is available to qualified students. The ethnomusicology program typically offers one or more assistantships with a duration of two years. The duties of the assistantship are dependent on the needs of the department at the time of appointment.

Exceptional students are nominated for the Konya World Music Award, which offers a $1000 prize to undergraduate/graduate students of ethnomusicology.

Further Information

For further information on the graduate ethnomusicology program or world music minor for undergraduates at Kent State University, please contact:

Andrew Shahriari, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology
School of Music
Kent State University
Kent, OH 44242
330-672-2172 (main office) 330-672-2830 (faculty office)

Program Website


Ethnomusicology Student Group

The World Music Society is a KSU student organization comprised of both undergraduate and graduate students.  For more information, please contact their student advisor:

Janine Tiffe, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology
School of Music
Kent State University
Kent, OH 44242
330-672-2172 (main office)

Related Websites

KSU World Music Ensembles https://www.kent.edu/music/world-music

KSU M.A. in Ethnomusicology https://www.kent.edu/music/ma-ethnomusicology

KSU Ethnomusicology Overview & Program Requirements http://catalog.kent.edu/colleges/ca/mus/ethnomusicology-ma/#programrequirementstext

KSU Undergraduate World Music Minor http://catalog.kent.edu/colleges/ca/mus/world-music-minor/index.html

Kent State University http://www.kent.edu/

KSU College of the Arts http://www.kent.edu/artscollege/

KSU School of Music http://www.kent.edu/music/


The content for Kent State University was last updated September 18, 2017.

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