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infosheet_ethnomusicology-226pxA world of music

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Why study Ethnomusicology?

Ethnomusicology is sometimes described as the study of people making music, or the anthropology of music. It is the study of music in its broader cultural context that examines music’s uses, meanings, functions and values. It seeks to understand music from the perspective of those who actually make and listen to it. This often entails talking to musicians and audiences, as well as observing and participating in performances.

At Otago, our ethnomusicology courses enable students to put theories and methods into practice through a variety of scholarly and creative activities, including hands-on workshops on Japanese, Indonesian, African and Pacific instruments. Students can also study these instruments through performance pathways.

Ethnomusicology at Otago

Otago University’s Music Department was New Zealand’s first music department, and continues its excellent reputation through the quality and variety of courses offered and the international quality of its staff.

We also offer students the chance to play Javanese Gamelan, Japanese koto, Taiko, Taonga Pūoro, Ukulele and African Drumming as practical studies in ethnomusicology, either as stand alone papers or within a specific area of study.

At the higher levels (4th year and above) students of ethnomusicology undertake research in an area of music that interests them and in which we can offer expert supervision. Areas of staff expertise include Māori, Pacific and Asian musics, popular music, music migration, globalisation and localisation. You can undertake research in ethnomusicology at honours, masters and doctoral level.

A minor in Ethnomusicology

While one or two ethnomusicology papers can be taken to complement a degree, ethnomusicology can also be taken as a minor subject as part of a degree. The minor comprises five papers selected from a number of music and Māori Studies papers. This minor can be included in any Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Performing Arts, Commerce, Theology, Science or Applied Science degree.

Although ethnomusicology is not a major subject, the Department of Music at Otago also offers many other options for studying music, including a Bachelor of Music degree (MusB), or music as a major subject in the Bachelor of Arts degree (BA).

Detailed information about Music papers.

Background required

An interest in studying the musics of the world. No musical experience is required.

Career Opportunities

Many of our graduates have gone on to successful careers in the music industry, and sometimes the type of employment our graduates find is seemingly unrelated to music.

Music teaches, and requires, so many intellectual and life skills, which can be utilised in a variety of ways.