MUSI 515 (01) - Music in World Cultures

Music in World Cultures

Durham   Liberal Arts :: Music
Credits: 4.0
Term: Spring 2021 - Full Term (02/01/2021 - 05/11/2021)
Grade Mode: Letter Grading
Class Size:   50  
CRN: 52031
An introduction to musicking (participating in any way, including listening, in musical performance) beyond the Western tradition, this course offers students an opportunity to explore the music and culture of diverse regions from an ethnomusicological perspective. Through listening to and analyzing music, readings, lecture, discussion, and individual fieldwork projects, students discover how music functions within different world cultures and gain understanding of the ways people "make music meaningful and useful in their lives," as, through musicking, they articulate, resist, and transform cultural norms.
Department Approval Required. Contact Academic Department for permission then register through Webcat.
Only listed campus in section: Durham, Manchester
Attributes: World Cultures(Discovery)
Instructors: STAFF

Times & Locations

Start Date End Date Days Time Location
2/1/2021 5/11/2021 TR 8:10am - 9:30am HS 210
Additional Course Details: 

This course is divided into three distinct units —the first introduces  the concept of musicking and the basic elements of music and challenges the common concept of music as a "universal language" through exploration of differences in how basic elements of music are discussed and conceptualized around the world; the second focuses on the music of Ireland and Egypt; and the third and final unit focuses on the music of Central Java and West Africa.

As part of the course work, when not operating under COVID-19 restrictions students usually will need to participate in two different events over the course of the semester and write a reflective response to each (assignment due 7 days after the event): usually in the fall, everyone should plan to attend the NACA Powwow, usually held in the Granite State Room of the MUB on the first Saturday in November, and in the Spring, one of the Trad. Jazz Series concerts,
and, more flexibily, either attend one of the monthly drum circles held at the Waysmeet Center on the first Friday of each month or one of the local contra dances held in the Durham UU Fellowship on Madbury Road or one of the almost weekly Friday gatherings of the Seacoast Set Dancers, also at the Durham UU Fellowship on Madbury Road.

The trailer linked below from the Silk Road Project documentary The Music of Strangers (2017) offers a taste of both our course goals & central ideas the underpin both the course & what can be gained from listening to and studying musicking around the world.

Because this is a world cultures course, you can expect that the content will include a variety of foreign terms and each region that we study will have different terms for concepts related back to the basic elements of music.

Note: Syllabus is the Fall 2019 syllabus; there will be some changes, and in particular, I am evaluating other textbook options at the moment.


Bonnie Wade, Thinking Musically, 3rd edition. Oxford University Press. Dorthea Hast and Stanley Scott, Music in Ireland. Oxford University Press. Scott Marcus, Music in Egypt. Oxford University Press. Three book package Note that the attached syllabus is from Fall 2019 The readings for West Africa and Central Java have been compiled from other sources and made available via Canvas.