Music to My Ears: Intro to Ethnomusicology (MUSC1900)


What’s good y’all!? My name is Deionte Appling, sophomore class of 2016 here at Brown, and I’m a music and psychology concentrator. Fun Facts: I sing in chorus, I occasionally perform operas with Brown Opera Productions, and I love Robert Plant! Music to My Ears is the prospective student’s gateway to the life of music at Brown, and I’ll attempt to show you the ins and outs of our music department to the best of my knowledge!

Introduction to Ethnomusicology (MUSC1900) is a class that most music majors at Brown are required to take in order to concentrate in music (except for MEME), but it is also a class that most dread taking and put off until the very last minute. So for me, who’s taking the class now as a sophomore, it is odd to be taking it so relatively soon. And as the semester/class comes to a close, I realize that the class was 1, not that bad at all, and 2, very insightful.

This course requires one to have taken Theory of Tonal Music (MUSC0550-0560) as a prerequisite, but no worries there, there isn’t much music analysis in this class at all.  So I bet you all are wondering exactly what Ethnomusicology is and why it would be relevant to someone in the Theory/History/Composition track. First and foremost, ethnomusicology is the study of different people’s music and musical phenomena in a cultural context. It’s like taking musicology and fusing it with anthropology. This course brings ethics, representation, and ones approach to different styles of music to the forefront and attempts to question and hopefully answer (subjectively) many of the “humanities” aspects of a music concentration. For example, in this course we looked at the argument surrounding the ethics of Paul Simon’s Graceland album, which puts South African music to use for the Western market. The discussions in this class brought people from many different types of diverse musical backgrounds and upbringings to share and defend their ideas in an academic setting.

In terms of personal experience and why I find it an effective course within the development of a music concentration, one of my interests outside of Western music has been classical music of the Middle East. I would love to develop bi-musicality (an ethnomusicology term!!!) and present a high level of understanding of both Western classical and Middle Eastern classical music. And after taking this course, I feel like I can develop a respectable approach to learning and performing Middle Eastern classical music without misrepresentation or appropriation. Hopefully I could incorporate a nice mixture for a possible senior recital!

For those of you tickled by curiosity, would like to express your love for me, or simply want to chat about any and all things music, please feel free to email your questions or comments to and I’ll get back ‘atcha ASAP!

If it ain’t Baroque…


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