The ethnomusicology program accommodates interests in the discipline’s wide range of geographic areas and intellectual issues, with critical awareness of the field’s own colonial history.

We strongly encourage performance, close interaction with related disciplines (anthropology, area studies, sociology, linguistics, etc.), and border-crossing within music (composition, theory, and historical musicology).


We accept from one to three new students per year, with preference given to candidates who intend to complete the PhD. Successful applicants will typically be experienced musicians grounded in one or more world traditions, have a polished prose writing style, good facility with music transcription and representation, strong support from referees, and a transcript of high grades. Existing advising loads in the division, available funding, and fit with the current cohort of students also strongly affect admissions—thus a decision not to admit need not reflect on the quality of the application.

Applicants with a previous MA in ethnomusicology (applying to enter the PhD directly) should articulate research goals and familiarity with the field’s literature. Proficiency in one language other than the student’s native language is required at both MA and PhD levels.

Entering the ethnomusicology career path is risky and not for everyone. We seek adventurous people with interesting ideas. Many of our most successful students have taken some time off between university and graduate school to deepen exposure to different music and gain a sharper sense of career direction. Once here, students enjoy the strong sense of community we value and cultivate, including close interaction with faculty and each other.

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Ethnomusicology offices are located in the Old Auditorium (room 206), where seminars are also held, and computer facilities are available. In addition, many classes and ensemble rehearsals are held in room 105 of the Asian Centre, a large, bright, acoustically warm room.

Special resources include books, journals, and recordings; the large Asian Library; an Anglo-Canadian folk music collection; and musical instrument collections, including instruments for the Chinese Ensemble, Korean Ensemble, African Drumming Ensemble, and two Indonesian Gamelan.

The Museum of Anthropology is also home to instrument collections, especially Northwest Coast instruments. Master performers are in residence regularly for the African, Chinese and Balinese ensembles, and the ensembles often include long-standing community members who bring extra cohesion and skill to the experience of participating.


Nathan Hesselink

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