Cover Photo Image

Musicology & Ethnomusicology

The Musicology and Ethnomusicology faculty teach a wide variety of courses in music history, global music, music appreciation, improvisation, and performance practice. As Musicology is best defined simply as “the study of music,” students in these courses encounter studies of sociological, political, ethnographic, theoretical, philosophical and performative contexts to name a few—in short, anything that helps us better understand a given musical tradition. Music students who complete the four-course Musicology/Ethnomusicology survey and additional topic seminars emerge with a clear understanding of how studying, performing, and understanding music are interdependent.

What is Musicology?

Have you heard of J. S. Bach?  Have you seen a performance of The Rite of Spring?  Have you played the piano music of Clara Schumann?  What makes these and most of the other things we do as musicians possible is partly the work of musicologists, who devote their careers to the research, study, and teaching of music in all its manifestations. Some musicologists conduct chemical analyses to date medieval music manuscripts. Others research and write the biographies of composers upon which other musicians rely. Others unearth unknown musical works in library archives around the world and transcribe them into modern musical notation for modern performers to sing or play. Others study the political tensions that gave rise to specific musical traditions. Still others are primarily performers, and examine the intricacies of performing music in a historically-informed manner. What unites these and other musicological activities is a common desire to better understand music and to help others understand it more deeply.

Interesting in pursuing further studies in Musicology or Ethnomusicology?  

Several recent JMU music graduates have gone on to graduate school and successful careers in these fields. Speak to a Musicology/Ethnomusicology faculty member for advice on coursework and other preparations. The earlier you begin the process the better. See the following helpful links:

“Are you considering graduate study in musicology?” (from the American Musicological Society)

Graduate Programs in Musicology (from the American Musicological Society)

Guide to Programs in Ethnomusicology (from the Society for Ethnomusicology)

Musicology and Ethnomusicology Professors and Instructors

Pedro Aponte

Pedro Aponte
Associate Professor, Musicology Area Coordinator
Contact Information

Mary Jean Speare

Mary Jean Speare
Professor, Associate Director of the School of Music
Contact Information

Back to Top