Issues in Ethnomusicology (Winter 2016)

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short link to this page:
short link to weekly schedule:
short link to eClass site:

Class wiki page (feel free to post/edit as you like)


Music 665: Issues in Ethnomusicology
Meetings: Mondays, 9:00 – 11:50 am, Old Arts 403


Professor Michael Frishkopf
Office: 334D Old Arts Building
Office hours: Wednesday 1:30-3:30, by appointment
Tel: 780-492-0225, email:


Ethnomusicology is "the meaningful social practice of studying music as a meaningful social practice" (Frishkopf 2011) This course aims to catalyze your critical understanding of the field of ethnomusicology, considered as a practice, a discourse, a literature, an intellectual history, and a shifting social network, by cultivating familiarity with its issues, sources, theories, methods, and seminal figures, and its self-positioning in relation to other scholarly domains (especially anthropology and musicology). Together we’ll explore the ways in which ethnomusicology has formulated itself by drawing upon related fields of the human sciences, such as anthropology, folklore, linguistics, psychology, sociology, economics, history, political science, and literary studies, applying a variety of theoretical models to ethnomusicological data. The course also aims to introduce you to ethnomusicology's principal scholarly sources, rapidly traversing a wide array of ethnomusicological literature, while pausing to consider landmark works in greater depth. Finally, this course encourages development of your own research directions in ethnomusicology, and a deeper understanding of the research process, through preparation of an original research proposal.

Requirements and mechanics

This is a seminar course, structured to facilitate critically engaged discussions. Each week we’ll meet for approximately three hours to discuss ideas. It is imperative that you have completed the week’s readings before coming to class. Sometimes readings will be assigned to particular individuals; everyone can expect to receive at least one assignment of this type. When you are assigned a reading, come to class ready to present and critique that reading, and to kindle and facilitate its discussion among your peers.

The following is required of each student:

  • Regular attendance and active participation in class.
  • Using Zotero (or equivalent) to manage and format all your citations
  • Using the wiki to compile information (here's how).
  • Completion of assignments as listed on this course website, by the listed submission date. Except as noted (e.g. if you're to edit the wiki), all assignments are to be prepared in a word processor (use Zotero to insert citations and generate a bibliography), then submitted via the eClass site using the button corresponding to the assignment. Please do not submit assignments in hard copy or via email! Some (shorter) assignments are submitted by copying/pasting text into an eClass form. Others (longer, or potentially including graphics) are submitted via file upload. Please ensure that each file contains one and only one assignment, and that your last name appears at the top of the document, and at the start of the filename. All page counts refer to Times New Roman font, 1" margins, single spaced, 8.5 x 11 pages, and do not include bibliography. Please cite references as needed, using Zotero to do so, and don't forget to add a bibliography at the end. You may use MLA, Chicago, Harvard, or any other reference style so long as you're consistent. Please use author-date style, not footnotes/endnotes.
  • Completion of all assignments on time. All assignments are to be submitted before class on the due date. Thereafter, one quarter point will be deducted, and an additional quarter point for each subsequent day of lateness. (In other words, an assignment due by 9 am that is submitted later that day is downgraded by a quarter point. If it's submitted after 9 am the following day, it's downgraded by a half point.)
  • Coming to class prepared to discuss readings. Often you will have prepared a reading review, but also take notes, mark the (printed or electronic) document, or both.
  • If you are assigned to present a particular reading or topic, coming to class prepared to lead a discussion by writing down a few questions for debate.
  • During weeks 7,8,9,10,11,12, preparation of a reading review for each assigned reading (article, book chapter, or book)
  • Preparation of reading reviews (as noted) which both convey the scope and content of a reading (treated as "reference"), and provide some critical analysis of the reading (treated as "source") by noting its limitations as judged against a broader context (e.g. the author's life, the historical period, contemporary ideologies and debates, etc.) Reading reviews are thus typically in two parts: (a) tell the reader what it's about; (b) show the reader you've thought about what it's about.
  • Research proposal, including (section VI) a literature review: a bibliographic essay or annotated bibliography treating theoretical, methodological, topical, and areal sources relevant to your proposed research (10-15 pages), using the template for Research Proposals in Ethnomusicology as a guide. The bibliographic portion should review at least a dozen well-selected, relevant works beyond those explicitly assigned for the course. You may string a set of individual reviews together, or combine them in a review essay if you prefer. Your research proposal is submitted in three stages: (a) one-paragraph concept (due in Week 2); (b) draft version (due in Week 10); (c) final version (due in Week 16).



Note: In weeks when class is cancelled due to holidays there are still assignments due, so please read the schedule details carefully!

Schedule details and assignments

Evaluation and grading

General participation and class presentations: 25%
Weekly assignments due in weeks 2,3,4,6,7,8,9,10,11,12: 5% per week (50% total)
Research proposal: 25% (emphasis on statement of aim, and application of models)

All weekly assignments are to be uploaded to eClass before class (9 am) on the due date. (This is very important so you'll be prepared for class.) Thereafter, an eighth point will be deducted, and an additional eighth point for each subsequent day of lateness (e.g. 8 days' lateness lowers an A to a B). The final research proposal must be submitted by the end of the day on its due date; thereafter, an eighth point will be deducted for each day of lateness.

Evaluations of each assignment are on a scale from 0 - 100, reflecting the letter grades below. These scores are combined according to the percentages indicated in order to produce a final numeric grade. This grade is rounded to the nearest numeric value in the table below, in order to determine the final letter grade.

  • A+: 4.3 (98)
  • A: 4.0 (95)
  • A-: 3.7 (92)
  • B+: 3.3 (88)
  • B: 3.0 (85)
  • B-: 2.7 (82)
  • C+: 2.3 (78)
  • C: 2.0 (75)
  • C-: 1.7 (72)
  • D+: 1.3 (68)
  • D: 1.0 (65)
  • D-: .7 (62)
  • F: 0 (60)

Official statements

Course prerequisites: none
Course-based ethics approval, Community service learning: NA
Past or representative evaluative course material: see instructor
Additional mandatory instruction fees: No

Policy about course outlines can be found in Section 23.4(2) of the University Calendar. (GFC 29 SEP 2003).

Academic Integrity
“The University of Alberta is committed to the highest standards of academic integrity and honesty. Students are expected to be familiar with these standards regarding academic honesty and to uphold the policies of the University in this respect. Students are particularly urged to familiarize themselves with the provisions of the Code of Student Behaviour (online at ) and avoid any behaviour that could potentially result in suspicions of cheating, plagiarism, misrepresentation of facts and/or participation in an offence. Academic dishonesty is a serious offence and can result in suspension or expulsion from the University.

Learning and working environment
The Faculty of Arts is committed to ensuring that all students, faculty and staff are able to work and study in an environment that is safe and free from discrimination and harassment. It does not tolerate behaviour that undermines that environment. The department urges anyone who feels that this policy is being violated to: • Discuss the matter with the person whose behaviour is causing concern; or • If that discussion is unsatisfactory, or there is concern that direct discussion is inappropriate or threatening, discuss it with the Chair of the Department. For additional advice or assistance regarding this policy you may contact the student ombudservice: ( ). Information about the University of Alberta Discrimination and Harassment Policy and Procedures is described in UAPPOL at

Academic Honesty:
All students should consult the information provided by the Office of Judicial Affairs regarding avoiding cheating and plagiarism in particular and academic dishonesty in general (see the Academic Integrity Undergraduate Handbook and Information for Students). If in doubt about what is permitted in this class, ask the instructor. Students involved in language courses and translation courses should be aware that on-line “translation engines” produce very dubious and unreliable “translations.” Students in language courses should be aware that, while seeking the advice of native or expert speakers is often helpful, excessive editorial and creative help in assignments is considered a form of “cheating” that violates the code of student conduct with dire consequences. An instructor or coordinator who is convinced that a student has handed in work that he or she could not possibly reproduce without outside assistance is obliged, out of consideration of fairness to other students, to report the case to the Associate Dean of the Faculty. See the Academic Discipline Process.

Recording of Lectures:
Audio or video recording of lectures, labs, seminars or any other teaching environment by students is allowed only with the prior written consent of the instructor or as a part of an approved accommodation plan. Recorded material is to be used solely for personal study, and is not to be used or distributed for any other purpose without prior written consent from the instructor.

Attendance, Absences, and Missed Grade Components:
Regular attendance is essential for optimal performance in any course. In cases of potentially excusable absences due to illness or domestic affliction, notify your instructor by e-mail within two days. Regarding absences that may be excusable and procedures for addressing course components missed as a result, consult sections 23.3(1) and 23.5.6 of the University Calendar. Be aware that unexcused absences will result in partial or total loss of the grade for the “attendance and participation” component(s) of a course, as well as for any assignments that are not handed-in or completed as a result. In this course, 10% of your grade depends on regular attendance and energetic participation.

Policy for Late Assignments:
See section on Evaluation, above.

Specialized Support & Disability Services:
If you have special needs that could affect your performance in this class, please let me know during the first week of the term so that appropriate arrangements can be made. If you are not already registered with Specialized Support & Disability Services, contact their office immediately ( 2-800 SUB; Email; Email; phone 780-492-3381; WEB ).

Media Archives and Departmental Broadcasting of Audio-visual Material
Audio or video recording of performances, lectures, seminars, or any other academic or research environment activities are carried out by the Department of Music for archival purposes. These archives may be collected and housed in the Music Library. Recorded material is to be used solely for non-profit, educational, research, and community outreach purposes, and is not to be used or distributed for any other purpose without obtaining the express permission from all parties involved. Please be advised that your solo or group performance may be featured on the University of Alberta's Department of Music website and/or social media platform(s). If you object to this use of audio and/or video material in which you will be included, please advise your instructor or the Department of Music in writing prior to participating in any performance, lecture, seminar or public event held by the Department of Music.