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ACE2290 Exploring World Music COURSE CLOSED (on UCC Campus delivery only) is a Course

ACE2290 Exploring World Music COURSE CLOSED (on UCC Campus delivery only)

Started Sep 28, 2022

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Full course description

Course Overview

Fifty years ago, critics worried that the global spread of electronic mass media would result in “cultural grey-out”, with massive losses to cultural and artistic diversity. In fact, there have been both losses and gains, as musicians worldwide have both taken up and transformed incoming musical sounds, and as members of each generation and of every society have worked to project their own distinctive voices into the broader global soundscape. On this course, students will encounter diverse music from around the world, with examples new and old drawn from each continent, and from those who have travelled between them. In trying to make sense of this situation, we will get to know some inspiring music from around the world, and will be able to form better understandings of what’s at stake for people worldwide when they make music together. We will discuss issues of tradition and change, looking at the many ways music contributes to our contemporary global lives. We will explore how music helps us form and project beliefs and identities. We study how music plays a continuing role in social interventions, such as those related to education, health care or the environment. We consider the impacts of censorship of several contrasting kinds, and we ask how traditional music of many types is being reframed through tourism and other contemporary efforts at intangible cultural heritage management. We will look at how new technologies are both sustaining and changing the ways we make, experience and share music worldwide. 

The course provides a dynamic introduction to the musical content, theories and study principles that underpin the academic discipline known as ethnomusicology, which is the globally oriented study of people making music. Students will be welcome to share their own musical discoveries in class or via contributions to a course listening site. There will be a small amount of hands-on work with songs and live demonstration of world music instruments (drawing on the skills of graduate students from other parts of the world who are here at UCC). This will allow us to learn by doing in some classes but no prior music performance skill or experience is required and participation will never be obligatory—its fine to be an active listener too! You do not need technical skill or qualifications as a musician to take this course, and we will not be using staff notation or Western music theory when discussing examples. You just need a lively interest in music and curiosity about its many roles and impacts in human society. Classes will include ample opportunity for discussion. If you’re into DakhaBrahka or dastgah, K-pop, katajjaq or Klezmer—or if you suspect you might like to be—this will be the class for you.

Course Schedule

8 weeks, beginning Wednesday 28 September- 16 November 2022, 7-9 p.m. 

Location- Western Gateway Building Room G18

Closing date for applications: Friday 16 September 2022


Week 1: What is “World Music”? Approaching Music Globally. 

This week we study the notion of music as a pan-human phenomenon and the often contrasting ways that it is understood as part of culture in one part of the world or another. We’ll think about the boundaries between music, sound and noise and how these boundaries depend as much on who we are as what it is that we’re listening to. Examples are drawn from cultures worldwide, from quran cantillation to Klezmer. 

Week 2: Blowing Zen, From Monks of the Void to the Musical Avant-Garde 

In this class we listen to music created for the Japanese bamboo flute shakuhachi, following its journey from Buddhist meditational tool to a key sonority in the contemporary art music world. What has been lost and gained in that journey, and what do examples like this reveal about the values and workings of our contemporary musical world more generally? 

Week 3: Bromance, Divinity, Madness and Dance Moves to Die For. 

This class is all about East Asian popular music. We study examples from China, Korea, Japan and Mongolia to explore how different musicians have responded to the rise of various trends in Western popular music and have remade these possibilities in their own ways, some of which have spread back across the globe in turn. 

Week 4: The Music of AIDS: Toward a Medical Ethnomusicology

How does music make a contribution to health care? We look at examples from several parts of Africa where music has been a vital element in campaigns against AIDS and in work to rebuild communities fractured by disease and distrust. We then shine that spotlight back onto our own community in turn.

Week 5: Music and the Environment

We continue the social good focus by listening to music from several parts of the world (particularly, USA and Canada, including music by Indigenous societies) that draws attention to environmentalist issues.

Week 6: Censorship Can music articulate what cannot be spoken in society?

Why do so many politicians find musicians problematic and seek to restrict their efforts? With examples from South America, the Caribbean and elsewhere, we look at different types of censorship and the musical responses to them.

Week 7: Beyond Orientalism Is it right to define different kinds of music (and the people who perform them) by difference?

This class focuses on the problem of how we can recognise and respect different musical resources, aims and values without reinforcing cultural stereotypes. Examples are drawn from West African griot singing, Norwegian folk music, and flamenco, among other genres.

Week 8: World Music in New Screen Media Music is key part of film, TV shows and video games.

In this class, we reflect on how mash-ups of world music sounds such as taiko drumming, Indonesian gamelan, the hurdy gurdy or the Armenian duduk are being used in various Sci-Fi and Fantasy themed entertainments to construct an impression of alien worlds.


Course Lecturer 

Jonathan Stock is Professor of Music at UCC. He is an ethnomusicologist who  specializes in the music in China and Taiwan. He was Associate Dean for Research,  Sydney Conservatorium (University of Sydney) and Professor of Ethnomusicology at  the University of Sheffield, UK before coming to UCC in 2012, where he has served as Head of Department and Head of School.

He teaches courses in Asian music, ethnomusicology and global sounds and carries out research in all these areas.


Entry Requirements

Applicants must be at least 18 years old at course commencement. 


Short courses are not assessed. Students will receive a UCC Certificate of Attendance upon completion.

Contact Details for Further Information