Ethnomusicology as Interdisciplinary Musicology: A Case Study

Williams, Sean

Ethnomusicologists belong to an inherently interdisciplinary musicology. We often come to graduate work in the field with undergraduate training in Western music and anthropology, and take graduate courses in politics, religion, cultural studies, multicultural literature, and related fields. Like our colleagues in musicology, we learn several languages (at least one local language and often a national or colonial language as well as French and/or German). After graduating with Ph.D.s in ethnomusicology and beginning careers as assistant professors, we are generally expected to teach four or five courses a year, including a Western "classical" music survey course and very often a world music survey course'! Of course, this graduate school track does not apply to all of us, but surely to many. When the moment comes to present survey course material to our students, however, we tend to back away from that interdisciplinary approach in favor of covering as many areas, genres, and musical terms as possible. Greater coverage may be the norm either because it was ordered from the college administration or simply because it reflects the way many of us received survey courses as undergraduates. This article uses the case study of interdisciplinary work in music at The Evergreen State College as a potential pathway to greater depth of understanding at an undergraduate level than one might otherwise achieve.



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January 6, 2015