Ethnomusicology

Ethnomusicology is a tradition of scholarship concerned with the social and cultural study of music, and rooted in ethnography, which is to say the study of musical practice in cultural context based on participant-observation fieldwork. Often, though not exclusively, ethnomusicologists concern themselves with non-western musical cultures, in order to think about cross-cultural difference in music-making. It connects, as a discipline, with earlier (and continuing) traditions of comparative musicology, the anthropology of music, the psychology of music, and popular music studies. Today, ethnomusicologists work on issues such as: modelling musical interaction in jazz and rock; studying the impact of ‘world music’; considering the politics of music-making in migrant communities in the UK; enabling access and creative musical engagement with ethnographic archives in South Africa; analysing Bollywood film music. And, of course, many other things.

Ethnomusicology has been taught in Oxford in the Department of Anthropology and in the Pitt-Rivers Museum, as well as at the Faculty of Music and the Bate Collection, by, amongst others, Gerhard Baumann, Jeremy Montague and Helene La Rue. Currently, ethnomusicology is taught at Oxford in the Faculty of Music, mainly by Jason Stanyek, whose research covers a broad range of theoretical issues, Brazilian hip hop, Pan-African jazz, improvisation and posthumous duets. He is currently completing an ethnographic monograph on Brazilian diasporic performance and is co-editing The Oxford Handbook of Mobile Music Studies and a volume on Bossa Nova in the United States

Professor Georgina Born, one of the world’s leading researchers in music an anthropology. also contributes to graduate research training in ethnomusicology, particularly to the teaching of ethnographic methods. Between 2010 and 2015, however, she is leading a major research programme, funded by the ERC, called Music, Digitization, Mediation: Towards Interdisciplinary Music Studies. The programme represents the cutting edge in ethnomusicology, crossing over into the study not only of non-western musics but western art and popular musics. The research group includes four post-doctoral research associates and one DPhil researcher.

Ethnomusicology research students at Oxford can take advantage of a wide range of relevant expertise and resources (many of unique historical value, including important collections of recordings and instruments) in Anthropology, the Pitt Rivers Museum and the Bate Collection in the Faculty of Music. Students working on specific regions also have access to area studies centres and libraries, the former usually world-ranking research environments in their own right (for instance, the African Studies Centre, The Centre for Middle East Studies, the Nissan Institute).  The Faculty also offers concerts and workshops by performers of various musical traditions, which may be of interest to ethnomusicology students, and runs a seminar in ethnomusicology.