Music 150
Thinking Globally About Music

Dr. Carol A. Muller

Course Description
The purpose of this course is to introduce upper-level undergraduate students to the musical and intellectual materials one studies as an ethnomusicologist i.e., one who examines music as a cultural practice, either as a contemporary or historical phenomenon. This particular semester the theme is Music and Spirituality The course has three broad dimensions. First the course exposes students to several musical cultures in the United States and around the world through reading the text, close listening to and analysis of the recorded examples, and extensive viewing of video materials. Second, students are required to experience and write about musical practices from around the world by attending live performances on campus or in the city of Philadelphia. Third, students have the opportunity to engage with hands on research into contemporary musical practices in Philadelphia, by working collectively in the creating documents for gospel music performance and culture in West Philadelphia’s communities of faith. This is a collaborative project with Penn’s Center for Community Partnerships, actively engaged with Arts and Culture projects in the West Philadelphia community. We are slowly building a web-based archive on gospel music in West Philadelphia and your research this semester will be added to that site. (

After the introductory materials covering fundamental ideas about both music and culture, the course will basically cover one musical culture per week through week 10 of the semester. In order to move this quickly through course content, you will be required to have completed all reading and listening assignments for the week before the Tuesday class. We will not be able to go in detail through all the material in the text, but you will be responsible for all of it in examinations. Each week we include written, audio, and video materials. You will not easily make sense of the audio examples unless you are familiar with the written materials so it is extremely important that you keep up with reading assignments and attend all classes. A third of this semester will focus on a group ethnomusicological research project amongst communities of faith in West Philadelphia. You will be required to attend several church services, rehearsals, and interview members of the religious community. You will be given instruction on how to use digital recording technologies, as well as learn how to deliver your projects in web-based formats. The goal is to have all materials posted to the website by the start of Reading Days, and for us to celebrate together with the community you work with, at Penn at the end of the semester. Details to follow.
Download complete Spring 2005 syllabus (PDF)