MUSV3127 - Ethnomusicological Perspectives on Europe


Lessons are not given in the academic year 2023/2024

Course content

This course examines the musics of Europe through the perspective of ethnomusicological research. While folklorists in the early twentieth century fixated on the cultural core and borders of European nations, two World Wars and the Holocaust led to a violent reordering and new understanding of a European musical heritage. In the post-WWII era, ethnomusicologists remapped the continent through interest in the music of ethnic and religious minorities even as Cold War ideologies upheld regional boundaries, such as ‘East’, ‘West’, ‘Mediterranean’, ‘Nordic’, ‘Balkans’. Ethnomusicologists inspired by globalisation theory in the 1990s began to turn their attention to popular musics of new migrant communities in European metropoles, while others turned to traditions such as Western art music in order to examine the ways in which Europeans imagine their own musical exceptionalism in a global context. In the twenty-first century, ethnomusicologists continue to develop different theories and methods to grapple with the diversity of musical traditions of a rapidly transforming continent.

Through tracing these different historical, political, theoretical and methodological trends, this course will foster critical enquiry into the following questions: What is European music? How have ethnomusicologists contributed to how Europe is defined? How can ethnomusicological research critique and transform how Europe is imagined and how its borders are policed today? During the course, we will explore a diversity of European musical traditions, socio-political issues and theoretical topics. These include: Folk music in Nazi Germany; Arabesk music and Turkish national identity; Flamenco music and Spanish regionalism; Sámi music and Indigenous politics in the Nordic peninsula; music in post-communist Albania; music in the Orange Revolution in Ukraine; Berlin nightlife and techno-tourism; Calypso in London and diaspora; music and refugees. This course will also offer deeper insight into ethnographic methods, such as participant-observation, musical transcription, interviews, and include a short fieldwork excursion in Trondheim

Learning outcome


Students who complete this course successfully will have

  • learned about specific musical artists, traditions, genre and institutions throughout the European continent
  • deepened their understanding of the discipline of ethnomusicology, including its history, its theories and its methods
  • gained insights into important contemporary socio-political debates in European studies.


Students who complete this course will have

  • gained the ability to discuss ethnomusicological texts
  • developed their skills in assessing audio-visual material
  • deepened their expertise in presenting (both orally and in writing) original thoughts on current debates.

Learning methods and activities

This course will consist of mandatory lectures and seminars. Each lecture will address particular case studies and a specific debate on music in Europe from ethnomusicological perspectives; each accompanying seminar will introduce a text from wider interdisciplinary European studies that further deepens discussion of the lecture topic. Within each lecture and seminar, discussion will focus around set texts and audio-visual material as well as various materials prepared by students. It is expected that students will be prepared to discuss these texts and their views on them at each lecture/seminar. Students are also required to keep a journal/diary charting their learning after each class. One week before the submission of semester essays, students will be required to give and receive peer-feedback on assignments.

Compulsory assignments

  • Satisfactory participation in compulsory instruction
  • Journal/diary
  • Assignment peer-feedback

Further on evaluation

Students are required to submit two semester essays. One will be due half way through the semester, the second at the end of the course. Each essay should be 8-10 pages long, with font size 12, line spacing 1.5.

If the course is not passed, the student must only retake the part of the assessment that was not passed. If the candidate retakes the exam, there is no need to retake the compulsory assignments.

Specific conditions

More on the course



Version: 1
Credits:  7.5 SP
Study level: Second degree level



Language of instruction: English

Location: Trondheim

Subject area(s)
  • Music History
  • Musicology
  • Social Studies
Contact information

Department with academic responsibility
Department of Music


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