Department of History and Culture
Folklore and Ethnomusicology
We are pleased to announce our new 4-year Music Major Program, starting in Fall 2013!
For details please see Degrees and Programs.
What is Folklore?
Folklore is the study of informal culture.
Folklorists are interested in how beliefs, narratives, music, skills, crafts, rituals, customs, and ideologies are transmitted not through structured institutions but through intimate, direct, and interpersonal communication.
Folklorists study traditions of all kinds that help shape an individual, group, or community identity. All groups participate in activities that inform their identity, from customs and rituals (weddings, frosh week, or retirement parties) to costume (kilts, cowboy hats, or low-rise jeans), from dancing (polkas, step-dancing, or moshing) to storytelling (tall tales, jokes, legends such as The Vanishing Hitchhiker, or folktales such as Cinderella), from vernacular language ("skooshing" [jumping on ice clampers] or "LOL" [laughing out loud]) to vernacular architecture (houses, barns, or sheds), and the list goes on.
Folklorists study verbal, customary, and material culture; it is the study of how people adopt and adapt the wealth of culture available to them – whether local, regional, national, or international, whether passed through face-to-face communication, through mass media, or through institutions – and make it their own.
What is Ethnomusicology?
Ethnomusicology is the study of people's musics, and more specifically, the study of the relationship between music and culture. It is about understanding what music means to particular groups of people, and the role of music in their lives... (learn more)
In addition to being the study of people's musics, ethnomusicology specifically is the study of the relationship between music and culture. It is about understanding what music means to particular groups of people, and the role of music in their lives.
Ethnomusicologists study music in order to illuminate issues of politics, gender, identity, aesthetics, and social organization. It is the study of any and all musics, including traditional, popular, and western art musics.
Ethnomusicologists use interdisciplinary approaches – particularly anthropology and musicology, but also a range of other disciplines such as folklore, sociology, linguistics, and education – to study sounds themselves, as well as the people who make and listen to those sounds. Ethnomusicology is the study of the contexts and processes involving the creation, performance, and reception of music.