96426 - Fundamentals of Ethnomusicology

Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: First cycle degree programme (L) in Drama, Art and Music Studies (cod. 5821)

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course the student: possesses knowledge of traditional oral music from different points of view including both the language and the context of the sound event; masters the various theoretical and methodological perspectives used over time by the expert of the discipline in the analysis and research on traditional oral music. The skills acquired concern the structures and functions of ritual apparatuses and mythical systems, with specific in-depth study of musical issues. The ethnomusicology courses help to form anthropological knowledge and skills useful to place the student’s personal and family history in a wider cultural context, in order to reflect on identities in terms of mutual understanding and exchange. They provide specific knowledge about migration processes, also in relation to globalisation. This helps to address the multiculturality of the classes by measuring themselves against cultural differences, promoting integration and interculturality. Ethnocentrism and cultural relativism are specific subjects of the lessons, in addition to the relationship between culture and practical knowledge, and between tradition and creativity. Specific attention is paid to the relationships between marginality and centrality, in terms of social and ethnic identity, but also in terms of gender identity. Issues relating to racism, migration, integration and social cohesion are also covered.

Course contents

Module A: methodological and historical problems of the discipline. Special attention will be paid to the Italian tradition of study and the relationship between oral tradition and written tradition of music.

Module B: students can choose between 2 different in-depth monographs on different aspects of Italian and Balkan music traditions.


Module A:
1. Roberto Leydi, L'altra musica. Etnomusicologia. Come abbiamo incontrato e creduto di conoscere le musiche delle tradizioni popolari ed etniche, Milano, Giunti-Ricordi, 1991.
2. Alan Merriam, Antropologia della musica, Palermo, Sellerio, 1983 (trad. it. da The Anthropology of Music, Evanston, Northwestern University, 1964): pp. 21-80 e 258-316
3. Costantin Brailoiu, "Musicologia ed etnomusicologia oggi", in Costantin Brailoiu, Folklore musicale, Roma, Bulzoni, 1978: vol. i, 79-97.

Module B (at your choice among B1 and B2):
B1: Gypsies and Others: Romania and Kosovo
1. Yury Arbatsky, Beating the Tupan in the Central Balkans, The Newberry Library, Chicago, 1953.
2. Nico Staiti, "The Rose Garden: Against Racism in Ethnomusicology"", in Etnografie Sonore/Sound Etnographies, I, 1 (online, open access)
3. Nico Staiti, "'Noi siamo quelli genti che conosciamo tutta la musica': questioni di identità", Il Saggiatore musicale, in corso di stampa (dattiloscritto disponibile presso la Copisteria Harpo, in via Barberia)
4. Roberto Leydi, L'influenza zingara e turco-ottomana nella musica del Balcani, a cura di e con introduzione di Nico Staiti e Nicola Scaldaferri, Udine, Nota, con 2 CD, 2004
B3: Narrative and improvised songs
1. Albert Lord, The Singer of Tales, Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 2000 (o, a scelta, l'edizione italiana: Il cantore di storie, Argo, Lecce).
2. Giulia Giannini, L'Orlando Furioso ce lo hanno insegnato i nostri padri. Una indagine storica sulle pratiche odierne dei cantori a braccio dell'Alta Sabina, Lucca, LIM, 2017.

Students not specializing in Music may substitute Text 1 of Module B1 with:
Nico Staiti, "Tutto è zuppa? Musica, interculturalità, educazione: una prospettiva etnomusicologica", in Il Saggiatore Musicale, X, 1, 2003.
B2 non richiede specifiche competenze tecniche musicali

Teaching methods

Lectures with audiovisual media.

Assessment methods

The final examination consists of an oral interview. Students will be evaluated considering the skills acquired and their critical capabilities.

Students may take the final examination on any of the scheduled date or, upon reservation one week before, at the teacher's office.

It will be assessed as excellent the performance of those students achieving an organic vision of the course contents, the use of a proper specific language, originality of reflection and familiarity with the ethnomusicology tools. It will be assessed as discrete the performance of those students showing mostly mechanical or mnemonic knowledge of the subject, disarticulated synthesis and analysis capabilities, or a correct but not always appropriate language, as well as a scholastic study of ethnomusicology. It will be assessed as barely sufficient the performance of those students showing learning gaps, inappropriate language, lack of knowledge of the instruments of ethnomusicology. It will be assessed as insufficient the performance of those students showing learning gaps, inappropriate language, no orientation within the recommended bibliography and inability of ethnomusicological analysis.

The exam can be taken during normal sessions or, if booked one week in advance, on a date agreed with the professor.

Teaching tools

Audio files and movies will integrate the lectures.

Office hours

See the website of Domenico Staiti