Musicology and Ethnomusicology

Ever wondered about the cultural and social background of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony or Copland’s Appalachian Spring? Ever wanted to learn more about Bach’s life as an artist? Ever wanted to learn about and play music from Cuba, Brazil, Ghana, or Mali? The Afro-Caribbean ensemble is comprised of students who love to make music and explore the sounds and cultures of music from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. It's just one part of a unique academic experience for students who major in Music History and Literature or World Music as they become immersed in the background and development of music from the Middle Ages to the twenty-first century, from around the world, and from America's own popular culture.

Music students who have developed a strong interest in music and have demonstrated a high standard of academic achievement may apply for acceptance as a major in Music History and Literature or World Music before the end of their sophomore year at BGSU.

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Student Accomplishments

Degrees Offered

We offer two Bachelor of Music degrees for undergraduate music study. These focus on Music History and World Music and are intended for students who are interested in the academic study of music and who wish to prepare themselves for graduate work. Qualified students may pursue a double major in music history and music education, composition or performance. The degrees combines a general view of music that includes jazz, popular music and world music. Performative experiences reinforce work done in the classroom through participation in the department's small ensembles, which include the Afro-Caribbean Ensemble, the Balinese Gamelan, the Early Music Ensemble and the New Music Ensemble.

The Master of Music in Music History allows students to pursue detailed work in music history and prepares them for further work in musicology. The program includes courses in performance practice, various eras of classical music history, diverse genres, and specially designed topical seminars.

Two music/ethnomusicology degrees--an undergraduate Bachelor of Music in World Music and a graduate-level Master of Music in Ethnomusicology--are integrated within the Department of Musicology/Composition/Theory (MUCT) and include courses on area studies, the literature of the field, participation in world music ensembles, and interdisciplinary studies. The World Music and Ethnomusicology programs are integrated with departments and programs across the campus to allow for coursework in popular culture, women's studies, Africana studies, dance, art history, or other related fields. We offer several teaching assistantships for Master’s students.

Program strength and uniqueness 

  • Individual attention 
  • Teaching opportunities in the first year 
  • Mentorship in both research and teaching 
  • Excellent record of placing graduates into top Ph.D. programs 
  • Flexible culminating experience—students choose to write a thesis or submit a portfolio of work 
  • Wide-ranging faculty interests 
  • Resources of a large research university 
  • One of the top contemporary music programs in the country

Faculty Specializations

Our ethnomusicology faculty specialize in multiple geographical and theoretical areas of study, including the music cultures of Africa and the African Diaspora, the Americas, the Middle East, Central Asia, and Indonesia. Concentrations include American and global popular musics; music and media; postcolonial studies; women’s, gender, and sexuality studies; organology; voice studies; and disability studies.

BGSU's music history faculty have specializations ranging from early music to the 21st century. Focal points within the department include cultural exchange, religion, and politics; social life within the courts of the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, modern opera, popular culture influences in Western art music, and music in film; and music history pedagogy.

Our students are free to explore these topics and any others of their choosing as they continue through their coursework.

Special Resources

Bowling Green State University features specific library collections in music and popular culture. The Sound Archives contains largest collection of popular music in North America.

The College of Musical Arts houses the Mid-American Center for Contemporary Music, which sponsors the largest annual New Music Festival in the Midwest. Contemporary music is a special strength in the College, which offers a DMA in Composition, Conducting, and Performance tracks.

The Arts Village (AV) is a unique living/learning community dedicated to the arts on the campus. The Arts Village hosts numerous world music events and is strongly interrelated with the World Music and Ethnomusicology programs.

Financial Resources

Resources are available to assist student workshop participation, research, and conference attendance. In addition, several assistantships are offered to Master’s students for graduate study. Check the departmental page listing assistantship opportunities for more information.