Skip to content
ACE2363 Listening to World Music (Evening, UCC on-campus delivery only) is a Course

ACE2363 Listening to World Music (Evening, UCC on-campus delivery only)

Starts Jan 31, 2023

Sorry! The enrolment period is currently closed. Please check back soon.

Full course description

Course Overview

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. Guided listening and discussion will help us get to know some inspiring music from around the world.

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, musicians worldwide have both taken up and transformed incoming musical sounds. Members of each new generation have continued to work their own distinctive voices into new global “soundscapes”.

We will travel around the world as listeners, discussing issues like tradition vs change, or 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. We ask how traditional music of many types is being reframed through tourism and other contemporary efforts at intangible cultural heritage management. We will argue about how new technologies both sustain and change the ways we create, experience and share music worldwide. The course provides a dynamic and practical introduction to ideas that underpin the academic discipline known as ethnomusicology—the globally oriented study of people making music. There will be a small amount of hands-on work with songs and live demonstration of world music instruments (drawing on the skills of international students who are here at UCC) but no prior music performance skill or experience is required and its fine to remain an active listener too! You do not need technical skill or musical qualifications to take this course. 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,  Wednesday 1 February to 22 March 2023, 7-9 p.m.

Location: Western Gateway Building, UCC. Room G08

Closing date for applicaitons Monday 23 Janaury 2023


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

This week we study music as a pan-human phenomenon and the often contrasting ways that it is understood 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 Beethoven and 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 sound in contemporary art music. 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 them in their own ways, some of which are now spreading back across the globe in turn.

Week 4: The Music of AIDS. How does music make a contribution to health care? We take examples from several parts of Africa where music has been a vital element in campaigns against AIDS and helps rebuild communities fractured by disease and distrust. What can we learn from this for use in our own communities 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 so restrict their efforts? With examples from South America, the Caribbean and elsewhere, we look at different types of censorship and listen to the musical responses to them.

Week 7: Orientalism and Beyond This class focuses on 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 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

Prof. 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.

Closing Date for Applications

Monday 23 January 2023

Contact Details for Further Information