Ethnomusicology is the study of all types of music, more specifically its history, uses, and styles. Unlike other types for musical majors, this one takes a multidimensional approach to the study of music focusing on cultural, cognitive, biological, social, and material contexts. For example, musicology is the scholarly study of music, specifically the music history of Western culture. Music theory and composition majors study the process of music creation and arrangement. Performance majors learn about the concepts, methodologies, and skills required in professional performance of a musical instrument. A music education major involves the study of music theory and composition, history, arrangement, orchestration, and conducting for the purpose of teaching in an academic environment.
When compared, it’s not hard to see how ethnomusicology differs from other musical majors. Students studying ethnomusicology get to examine various musical systems and their cultural context and meanings, histories, and societal functions. They may learn about world music and musical cultures like Ghanaian drumming, Javanese gamelan, Western music, Southern Appalachian Mountain music, or Caribbean salsa, soca, and regga. They explore different music styles such as jazz, folk, rock and roll, classical music, and more.
Ethnomusicology curriculum consists of courses like African music and movement, music cultures of the world, music of India, ethnomusicological research, field methods and techniques, ethnomusicology of film, applied ethnomusicology, and ethnomusicology transcription and analysis. Along with course work, students in ethnomusicology programs may have to participate in performance activities. Those graduating with a degree in ethnomusicology have the teaching, research, and performance skills necessary to pursue careers in the performing arts, education, film, and music industries.