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Ohio State University
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Ohio State University
Ethnomusicology Program


Type of Program and Degrees Offered

The Ethnomusicology Program is located within the Musicology Area of the School of Music at The Ohio State University. The Ethnomusicology Program offers post-baccalaureate and post-master’s doctoral degrees and a terminal master’s degree.

We encourage robust interdisciplinary study within our university’s extensive College of Arts and Sciences, with course offerings in anthropology, cultural studies, folklore, religion, dance, theater, history, linguistics, psychology, music cognition, and philosophy.

Program Statement

Our program’s goal is to provide comprehensive and thorough training in ethnomusicological theory, history, methods, and analytical skills through diverse courses, field and lab research projects, and performance. The program carries a special focus on current developments in ethnomusicology, emphasizing humanistic, social scientific, and cognitive approaches.

Regional expertise of the faculty covers a variety of geographical areas: Africa and its diasporas, northern Europe, North America, China, Southeast Asia, Australia, Madagascar, the Andes, and the Antilles. Faculty research interests include music and devotion; music and emotion; morality, ethics, and aesthetics; cosmopolitanism and Afropolitanism; diasporic social movements and art worlds; phenomenological and existential anthropology; music and politics; music and globalization; cultural diplomacy; transnational indigenous music cultures; music and the brain; music in oral cultures; and musical evolution.

Our program also offers a sub-specialization in Cognitive Ethnomusicology, emphasizing cultural and biological factors of music making and experience. Cognitive ethnomusicology aims to understand how and to what extent cognitive processes in music production and perception are influenced by cultural factors. Studies emphasize affective-emotional factors and the embodiment of musical knowledge, cognition, and experience.

Special Resources

All students are encouraged to enrich their studies through participation in ensembles and workshops on various musical traditions. Current ensembles include the African performing ensembles (kora and West African drums), steel pan band, Andean ensemble, and Afropop ensemble. The School of Music also offers jazz combos as well as the gospel and spiritual choir.

Research facilities for the studies in cognitive ethnomusicology include our own Ethnomusicology Laboratory, as well as other associated university labs (such as the music cognition lab and EEG lab).

Full-Time Faculty in Ethnomusicology

Ron Emoff, Ph.D. University of Texas at Austin, Professor, School of Music (Newark Campus).
Research interests: the evocation, creation, and sustenance of memory through music; spirituality; musical constructions of self and community; colonialism and post-colonialism; and establishing histories through musical production and reception.

Ryan Skinner, Ph.D. Columbia University, Associate Professor, School of Music and Department of African American and African Studies.
Research interests: local and global music cultures of contemporary African and its European and American diasporas; cosmopolitanism and Afropolitanism; morality, ethics, and aesthetics; public piety; cultural politics; intellectual property and piracy; and new social movements in the African world.

Udo Will, Professor, School of Music.
Research interests: music and the brain; music in oral cultures; entrainment; the embodiment of musical knowledge, cognition, and experience; and musical evolution.

Affiliated Faculty

Graeme Boone, Ph.D. Harvard University, Professor, School of Music.
Research interests: Renaissance and American popular music; jazz and rock.

Danielle Fosler-Lussier, Ph.D. University of California-Berkeley, Professor, School of Music.
Research interests: music as a site of international contact and exchange; music and globalization; twentieth-century music; music in American Cold War diplomacy

Michelle Wibbelsman, Ph.D. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Assistant Professor, Department of Spanish and Portuguese.
Research interests: South American indigenous culture; ethnographic studies and ethnomusicology; symbolic and semiotic analytical approaches to indigenous performance, ritual practices and politics; indigenous transnational migration, diasporic, and cosmopolitanism.

Financial Support

Through a significant ongoing university grant to the ethnomusicology program, funding is available to support student field research, offer graduate research associateships, maintain a state-of-the-art research laboratory; and support conferences and residencies of visiting artists and scholars. Other school and university funding opportunities include graduate teaching associateships, graduate administrative associateships, and fellowships and research grants offered by the Graduate School and the university’s regional study centers.

Further Information

Arved Ashby, Professor and Area Head, Musicology, School of Music
101b Hughes Hall, 1899 College Rd., Columbus, OH, 43210

Program Website


Related Websites

School of Music: http://music.osu.edu/

Lectures in Musicology at OSU (directed by Ryan Skinner): https://music.osu.edu/musicology-events


The content for Ohio State University was last updated October 3, 2017.

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