Master of Arts in Ethnomusicology

The Ethnomusicology Program at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa has a long-standing reputation for excellence in the study of world music, especially the music of Asian and Pacific cultures. The program is distinctive for a number of reasons. In contrast to other institutions, it is situated in a unique geocultural environment that affords direct contact with music as a dynamic process and defines the kinds of studies available at UHM. Honolulu is known for its multi-cultural population and large number of ethnic groups that actively participate in a wide variety of traditional and contemporary musics. Its proximity to Pacific Basin countries and its mid-Pacific location insure frequent contact with musicians, scholars, and institutions from the region. The program is committed to close mentoring of students and helping students to develop a broad network of contacts.

Participant activity, learning music in a manner approaching indigenous transmission procedures, is an integral part of the University of Hawai‘i program, as is the study of theoretical problems such as the relation of music to social change, globalization, identity, diaspora, politics, commerce, dance, and theater. The focus on socio-cultural formation and on musical practice is encouraged by the “living laboratory”. At the University of Hawai‘i, the performance of world musics is a relevant esthetic experience, rather than a museum piece or a bit of exotica.

Another distinctive feature of the University of Hawai‘i is that ethnomusicology is an integral part—both in organization, and in spirit—of the Music Department. The department has a long record of promoting musical pluralism throughout the college music experience and at all levels of music education, as a basis for music composition, and as part of choral and instrumental performance.

The University of Hawai‘i offers exceptional opportunities for scholars with a special interest in Asia and the Pacific. Curricular offerings in the Ethnomusicology Program include survey courses in world music; lecture and performance classes in Asian, Pacific, and American musics; and graduate seminars in ethnomusicological theory, methodology, regional musics, world music pedagogy, and current issues. Specific geo-cultural areas of faculty expertise include: Frederick Lau (China, East Asia, SE Asia), Byong Won Lee (Korea, Japan, Africa), Jane Freeman Moulin (Tahiti & the Marquesas Islands, Polynesia, Japan), Barbara Smith (Micronesia, Hawai‘i, East Asia, South Asia), Hardja Susilo (Indonesia), Ricardo Trimillos (Philippines, Hawai‘i, Japan, SE Asia). Performance classes in recent years have included: Beijing opera music, Chinese ensemble, Hawaiian choral singing, Hawaiian hula and chant, Hawaiian ensemble, Hawaiian slack key guitar, Japanese gagaku orchestra, Japanese kabuki music, Japanese koto, Japanese shakuhachi, Indonesian gamelan (both central Javanese and Balinese), Okinawan uta-sanshin, Samoan music and dance, Sumatran randai, and Tahitian music and dance. Courses in Philippine, Indonesian, Indian, Japanese, and Korean dance complement the offerings of the Music Department.

In addition to courses in Ethnomusicology, students will find strong support in the related fields of Anthropology, Art History, Asian Studies, Cultural Studies, Dance Ethnology, Linguistics, History, Pacific Island Studies, Religion, and Theater and Dance. The Music Department sponsors frequent concerts and lectures by visiting and local musicians as well as Music Department faculty and students. Ethnomusicology also is actively involved in such co-sponsored activities as productions of Beijing opera, Balinese kecak, Javanese dance drama, and Japanese kabuki. These productions afford students an opportunity to study with master teachers from Asia who came for performance preparation to supplement strong local resources.

The Music Department maintains excellent collections that serve as important research and instructional resources for ethnomusicology. These include two complete sets of gamelan instruments, one from Java and one from Bali, and an Ethnomusicology Instrument Collection of over 4,500 musical instruments from around the world, one of the largest teaching collections of non-Western instruments in the United States. The department also supports an Ethnomusicology Archive that contains written documents, theses, and sound and visual recordings related to Asian and Pacific music. The Barbara B. Smith Amphitheater and Ethnomusicology Wing houses an outdoor performance space, instrument collection, gamelan room, transcription lab, seminar room, faculty offices, designated studio and rehearsal space for Asian music, and two excellent dance studios.

Hamilton Library is an on-campus resource known worldwide for its Hawai‘i-Pacific Collection and its Asia Collection. Sinclair Library houses the music collection and the Harry C. and Nee-Chang Wong Audiovisual Center, which has an excellent collection of audio and audio-visual resources from Pacific Basin countries. Various centers in the School for Hawaiian, Asian and Pacific Studies sponsor conferences, lecture series, and interdisciplinary courses that bring well-known Asian and Pacific scholars to the university. The East-West Center (located on the UHM campus) is a major research institution for Asian and Pacific affairs and its Arts Program brings performing artists from these regions to present concerts and lecture-demonstrations. All of these centers also serve as meeting places for the large number of international scholars and government officials that pass through Honolulu and are important resources for information about current events in the region.

The Bernice P. Bishop Museum and the Mission Houses Museum are community resources of importance for Pacific Studies; the Honolulu Academy of Art and the Doris Duke Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art are international centers for Asia Studies. There is a wide variety of on-going community events within Honolulu’s extensive Asian and Pacific Islander communities.

This fellowship is intended to aid in developing ethnomusicological expertise in Asian and Pacific Islands countries by providing support for two years of graduate study to qualified students entering the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Renewal of the fellowship after the first year is contingent upon satisfactory progress in the program.

The fellowship covers living allowance, tuition, student fees, book purchase allowance, and health insurance for one calendar year. Applicant is responsible for round-trip transportation to Honolulu.

No travel funds are included.

The award will be made when funds are available and when applicants meet the highly competitive standards of this Fellowship.


A national of an Asian or Pacific country who demonstrates exceptional potential for contributing to ethnomusicology in his/her home country.

An incoming student who is admitted as a regular student in the Master of Arts or Doctor of Philosophy in Music-Ethnomusicology Program by the Graduate Division of the University of Hawai‘i.

Fellowship Application Deadline

15 January every year

For further information contact:

Chairperson, Ethnomusicology
Music Department
University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa
2411 Dole Street
Honolulu, Hawai‘i 96822, USA

Telephone: 808-956-2177
Fax: 808-956-9657

Ethnomusicology is one of the disciplines supported by fellowship programs at the Centers for Pacific Island, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Southeast Asian Studies (including the Philippines). For information about fellowships, please consult the respective websites:

Two semester courses in non-Western music; the deficiency may be removed by enrolling in 107/407 and/or one other course as determined by the student’s advisor.

Language Requirement
A reading or speaking knowledge of a foreign language relevant to the thesis research (or equivalent competence in linguistics).

Conference Participation
Presentation of a paper in a scholarly conference is required for the MA degree.

Course of Study

601 Ethnomusicology Forum
required every semester of full-time study
661 Bibliography & Library Resources in Music 3
600c Seminar in Ethnomusicology (3 cr) 3
670_ Regional Music (3cr)
(B) Asia
(C) Oceania
678b Advanced Problems in Ethnomusicology: Transcription 3
Ethnomusicology courses (may include 699 Directed Work) 2–5
Related music courses 6–9
700 Thesis Research (V)
A research problem developed and presented in accordance with prevailing standards of scholarship for the field. The RILM form must be completed for the thesis.
Minimum Credits in Music 30