Ethnomusicology

Ethnomusicology is the study of music in, as, or around culture. In consultation with their adviser, students who study ethnomusicology at Bard develop a curriculum to suit their interests, which can include formal musical analysis, performance, or training in the methodologies and theoretical concerns of the social sciences and humanities. Many ethnomusicology students opt to pursue joint majors with compatible programs in the College—recent graduates have completed joint majors in anthropology, religion, sociology, American studies, and other areal studies. As performers, students have opportunities to participate in a wide range of world music ensembles, including the faculty-led Balinese Gamelan, Samba School, Bard Georgian Choir, and Eastern European Music & Leisure Club. Additionally, student and community-led groups engage diverse students in a range of musical activities, such as “Sacred Harp” singing, the Chinese music club, gospel choir, and much more.

Follow Bard ethnomusicology events on Facebook and Twitter by searching for @bardethno.

Requirements

Before Moderation, students must complete:

  • Introduction to Ethnomusicology
  • 100- or 200-level course in anthropology (recommended: Introduction to Cultural Anthropology)
  • 200-level field methods practicum (offered in anthropology, ethnomusicology, or sociology) (Please note: this course may be taken after Moderation, in consultation with your adviser, in which case another 200-level course should be substituted before Moderation.)
  • One to two semesters of music theory (including one semester of 200-level transcription analysis)

After Moderation, and in consultation with your adviser, five additional courses (at least two must be 300-level advanced seminars):

  • Up to three courses in ethnomusicology
  • Up to two may be in anthropology, sociology, or related fields
  • Up to two may be in music history or history

Two semesters of a performance-based course.

Students interested in postgraduate study are encouraged to study a foreign language up to the 200 level.

Senior Project I and II
Senior Projects in ethnomusicology may have a fieldwork component that will require IRB certification. IRB certification should ideally be completed by the end of junior year, so that fieldwork can take place either over the summer or from the beginning of the senior year. Projects can take the form of a substantial written work, or a performance, film, or other presentation accompanied by a shorter written work.

World Music Ensembles

All of these ensembles can be taken for credit at Bard College. Additionally, many of them welcome community members. Please contact ensemble leaders for information about participating.

Balinese Gamelan
Hudson Valley Gamelans at Bard College practice and perform on a collection of authentic Balinese gamelan gong kebyar instruments composed of gongs, metallophones, drums, cymbals, and flutes. Hudson Valley Gamelans comprises two distinct ensembles: Gamelan Chandra Kanchana (Golden Moon) is made up primarily of Bard College students, while Gamelan Giri Mekar (Mountain Flower) is open to advanced students, community members, and faculty. Popularized in early 20th-century Bali, the gong kebyar repertoire is noted particularly for its explosive dynamics, tempo changes, and intricate interlocking rhythmic patterns. Ensemble members are instructed in the gong kebyar tradition by associate professor and Balinese master musician I Nyoman Suadin. Performances featuring both ensembles and guest Balinese artists take place at the end of each semester. Founded in 1988 by Woodstock Percussion CEO Garry Kvistad and his wife Diane, Gamelan Giri Mekar relocated from its home in Woodstock, N.Y., to Bard College in 1998, when Kvistad made the instrument collection available to the College through a long-term loan. Listen to gamelan performance excerpts on Soundcloud.

Contact: Bill Ylitalo (billylitalo@gmail.com) and Sue Pilla (pillasdp@gmail.com)

Bard Sambistas
Bard’s Samba School, founded in 2011 by Carlos Valdez and Alex Friedman ’11, is an engaging and immersive ensemble course, taking the students through the format of the traditional Brazilian samba school while incorporating elements of Cuban and West African rhythmic influences. Students are drawn to the class due to its fun, high-energy, and communal aspects: no matter the student’s skill set (or lack thereof), there is room for all who are open and willing to participate and contribute to the thrilling musical experience that is the Samba School. Beginning at first with barely 10 students, our numbers now range from 40 to 50, with a beginner’s as well as an advanced class, for those eager to further excel with more demanding material. Both divisions of the class prepare for a final performance during the spring semester, while the advanced class occasionally takes part in activities with the Hyde Park Elementary School as well as parades held in Woodstock, to name just a few. Students who participate in this actively immersive environment leave with a broader sense of non-Western music that they might otherwise not have become open to, not to mention a newfound sense of rhythm and skill in percussion. All are welcome at the Samba School!

Contact: Carlos Valdez (cvaldez@bard.edu)

Bard Georgian Choir
The Bard Georgian Choir is an all-vocal group that studies and performs traditional polyphonic songs from the Republic of Georgia. Most songs are taught orally, and no previous singing experience or music reading skill is required. Special vocal techniques are also explored, including ornamented singing and yodeling. The group performs concerts at the end of each semester. The instructor, Carl Linich, has been a scholar, teacher, and performer of traditional Georgian polyphonic singing since 1990, and is a member of Trio Kavkasia. In recognition of his work to promote and preserve Georgian folk song, Linich has been honored as a Silver Medal Laureate of the Georgian government (1995) and is the recipient of Georgia’s prestigious President’s Order of Merit Award (2009).

Contact: Carl Linich (clinich@bard.edu)

Eastern European Music & Leisure Club
Learn and share tunes from throughout Eastern Europe — klezmer, Roma, Hungarian, Ukrainian, Czech, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Greek, and more. This is open to musicians of any level who are comfortable playing by ear and/or with notation (new tunes will be introduced depending on the leader-of-the-week’s preference). Bard students, faculty, and community members are welcome!

Contact: TBD

Ethnomusicology Faculty

Whitney Slaten

Biography:

BM, William Paterson University; MA, MPhil, PhD, Columbia University. Whitney Slaten earned his doctorate in ethnomusicology. His dissertation, “Doing Sound: An Ethnography of Fidelity, Temporality, and Labor among Live Sound Engineers,” contributed to scholarship about music, technology, and labor studies. He has worked as a recording engineer and as a saxophonist in the New York City jazz and world music scenes, performing with artists including Babatunde Olatunji and Clark Terry. He previously taught or served as part-time lecturer at The New School, Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts, Seton Hall University, William Paterson University, and Columbia University, leading courses such as “Thriller”: Deconstructing Popular Music Production, Recording Studio as Instrument, Progressive Trends in Jazz and Concert Music, Technologies of Global Pop, Music Engineering, Theory of Music, and Masterpieces of Western Music. He has authored articles and reviews that have appeared in Current Musicology, The Diapason, Ethnomusicology Review, and Souls. His discography as a performer includes Expedition, Clark Terry and Louie Bellson; That Holiday Feeling, Ron Foster and Kindred Spirits; Live at Trumpets, Kelvin Quince Quintet; and Live at Marian’s, Clark Terry Big Band. As a producer/engineer, his discography includes Arthur Bird: Music for the American Harmonium, Artis Wodehouse; Creation Story, John-Carlos Perea; and This Little Light of Mine, Courtney Bryan. At Bard since 2018.

student rehearsing on drums
drums and accordion in the ethnomusicology room