MUS20080 Musics of the World

Academic Year 2023/2024

In this module, we will examine the nature of music and its place in human life through the study and analysis of musical traditions from around the world. Our inquiries center on both the phenomenology of music ‘itself’ and the role that music plays in culture. Towards this end, our work comprises two main areas: close listening, analysis, and experiences of music, and readings that detail ethnomusicological approaches to these encounters. Rather than attempting to cover the entire globe, we will instead consider both the nature of music and musical thought in three distinct units (Sub-Saharan Africa, the Islamic World, and Indonesia). There will be a practical component in at least one of these units, as students will participate in an introduction to the performance of Javanese gamelan music. Our study of these areas will be complemented by readings that will allow students to gain a basic familiarity with the terms and concepts associated with these musics, with theoretical perspectives that allow us to examine the role of music within these cultures, and finally with frameworks that enable scholars to understand the nature of music’s relationship to human life and society throughout the world. The aim is both to build knowledge of different musical cultures and to sharpen critical thinking for how we engage with music in culture more generally.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

Students will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of diverse musical traditions covered in this course. They will be able to differentiate between different world musical styles and identify basic musical elements, instruments and processes in the musics covered in this course. They will be able to analyse and describe a variety of world musics. They will acquire a vocabulary and conceptual framework for understanding non-Western musics in their wider social and cultural contexts.

Indicative Module Content:

Week 1 – Studying Musics of the World
Week 2 – Definitions of Music in/as/and Culture
1. Blacking, John. “Humanly organized sound.”
1. Wagogo Soothing Song
2. “Goldberg Variations” – JS Bach
3. Inuit Sung Games - Kattajjait about animals
4. Ghanaian postal workers canceling stamps
5. Work song – “Raggy Levy” by the Georgia Sea Island Singers
6. Pachydermically Organized Sound – “Thung Kwian Sunrise”

Week 3 – Understanding Sub-Saharan Africa as a Musical ‘Region’
Locke, “Improvisation in West African Musics.”
1. Shona Mbira: “Nhemamusasa”
2. Ewe Dance Drumming: Gadzo, a theatrical dance
3. Mande Kora music: Ala L’a Ke

Week 4 – Music and the Nation in Zimbabwe and Jamaica
Reading: Turino, ‘Musical Nationalism and Chimurenga Songs of the
1. “Ndanzwa Ngoma Kurira” – Thomas Mapfumo
2. “Jaja Mujuakacha” – Thomas Mapfumo
3. “Munoshusha” – Oliver Mtukudzi
4. “Boogu Yagga Gal” – Chin’s Calypso Sextet
5. “Exodus” – Bob Marley

Week 5 – Musical hybridity in the case of Brass Bands
1. Boonzajer-Flaes. Brass Unbound
1. Listening selections from accompanying CD
2. Brass Unbound Film
**Listening Quiz – on music covered weeks 1-4

Week 6 – Sacred Musical Structures in and out of Worship
1. al-Faruqi, ‘What Makes Religious Music Religious?’
1. Adhan, Egypt
2. Qur’anic Recitation
3. Umm Kulthum – ‘Al-Atlal’
4. Umm Kulthum – ‘Ana Fi’ntizaarak’
5. Umm Kulthum – ‘Salu Qalbi’

Week 7 – Art Music Traditions of the Middle East
1. Nasr, ‘Islam and Music: The Legal and Spiritual Dimensions’
1. Radif of Nour-Ali-Boroumand
2. Improvisation based on Daramad of Chahargah
3. Avaz
4. Son Pesrev
5. Hicaz Ayini
6. Ney Taksimi
7. Son Yuruk Semai

Week 8 – Sufism(s) and Sufi Musics
Reading: selected Sufi poetry
1. Qawwali – ‘Chasm-E-Maste Ajabe’ version 1
2. Qawwali – ‘Chasm-E-Maste Ajabe’ version 2
3. Qawwali – ‘Man Kunto Maula’ from shrine
4. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan – ‘Man Kunto Maula’
5. Whirling Dervish performance, Istanbul


Background Reading for Case Study 3: Brinner, Benjamin. Music in Central Java.
*** This is a full-length text with an accompanying CD, which you will be
expected to read and listen to by the end of this case study.

Week 9 – Introduction to Gamelan
**Listening Quiz – on music covered weeks 5-8

Week 10 – Central Javanese Gamelan Workshop

Week 11 – Central Javanese Gamelan Workshop

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
In this module, students learn primarily through the practice of active listening (which we work on both in and out of class), the close reading of specific texts, and lecture/discussion. Lectures are open-ended and questions are encouraged. Students will be challenged to participate in active musical demonstrations, and will receive two training sessions on the Javanese gamelan. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Additional Information:
There are a limited number of elective places available to students who are not studying Music as part of their degree. If this is the case, students do not need to have passed the prerequisite module.

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Examination: Written Exam to be given either online or in person, depending on lockdown measures. 2 hour End of Trimester Exam Yes Graded No


Class Test: Listening Exam 2 (1 hour) Varies over the Trimester n/a Graded No


Class Test: Listening Exam 1 (1 hour) Varies over the Trimester n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment
• Self-assessment activities

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

There will be 2 listening tests, in weeks six and twelve respectively. These will be based on the musical examples covered in the class, and will require not only identification of the musical examples discussed and compiled on the blackboard site, but discussion of the chosen examples’ cultural context and key terms. Prior to these tests, students will be able to practice the identification skills needed and ask questions. The feedback after the first test will help students prepare for the second test. The final exam will be a cumulative exam consisting of essay questions that deal with the large-scale themes and issues dealt with over the course of the semester. The two listening tests and the feedback students receive from these are designed to highlight most of the topics that will be covered on the exam.


Brinner, Benjamin. 2008. Music in Central Java: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
al Faruqi, Lois Ibsen. 1983. “What Makes ‘Religious Music’ Religious?” Sacred Sound: Music in Religious Thought and Practice. Joyce Irwin, ed. Chico, CA: Scholars Press.
Blacking, John. 1973. “Humanly organized sound.” In How musical is man? (Seattle: University of Washington Press): 3-31.
Boonzajer-Flaes, Rob. 2001. Brass Unbound: Secret Children of the Colonial Brass Band. Amsterdam: Royal Tropical Institute.
Feld, Steven. 1996. “Pygmy POP: a genealogy of schizophonic mimesis.” Yearbook for traditional music v. 28: 1-35.
Locke, David. 1980. “Improvisation in West African Musics.” Music Educators Journal, Vol. 66, No.5, pp. 125-133.
Nasr, Seyyed Hossein. 1997. “Islam and Music: The Legal and the Spiritual Dimensions.” Enchanting Powers: Music in the World’s Religions. Lawrence E. Sullivan, ed. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Nettl, Bruno. 1983. “Music and that Complex Whole.” The Study of Ethnomusicology: Twenty-Nine Issues and Concepts. (Urbana: University of Illinois Press): 131-146.
Turino, Thomas. 2000. ‘Musical Nationalism and Chimurenga Songs of the 1970s’ in Nationalists, Cosmopolitans, and Popular Music in Zimbabwe. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

1. Bohlman, Philip V. 2002. World Music: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: OUP.
2. Broughton, Simon and Mark Ellingham, eds. 2000. World Music: The Rough Guide. London: The Rough Guides.
3. Nettl, Bruno, and Ruth M. Stone, eds. 1998-2002. Garland Encyclopedia of World Music. New York: Garland Publishers.
Name Role
Dr Donal Fullam Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Assoc Professor Jaime Jones Tutor
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12 Tues 14:00 - 15:50