Ethnic Music Theory – ETHM 500

CG • Section 8WK • 07/01/2018 to 12/31/2199 • Modified 11/09/2020

Course Description

The study of non-Western theories of music, with an emphasis on both existing systems of art and folk music as well as systems without an articulated theory.

For information regarding prerequisites for this course, please refer to the Academic Course Catalog.


Music is not a universal language. It is a universal expression. This course provides the basis for understanding select music systems that do not equate to Western theoretical structures of pitch, rhythm, or form. This provides the student with foundational understanding of the transcription and analysis of music. This can assist the musician in dealing with issues of contextualization in non-Western ethnic cultures, leading to the use of indigenous music in worship, discipleship, and evangelism.

Measurable Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate awareness that every music in the world is governed by a theoretical system that deals with fundamental elements of music, whether or not these systems have been articulated.
  2. Demonstrate awareness of the range of diversity of the fundamental elements of music in a variety of music systems.
  3. Distinguish between the universal and culture-specific music analysis and understanding.
  4. Demonstrate awareness of analytical methodologies in preparation for transcription and analysis of non-Western systems of music.

Course Assignment

Textbook readings and lecture presentations

Course Requirements Checklist

After reading the Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in Module/Week 1.

Discussion Board Forums (3)

There will be 3 Discussion Board Forums throughout this course. The student is required to provide a thread in response to the provided topic for each forum. Each thread must be a minimum of 250 words and must integrate information drawn from experience and course-related information (books, articles, and presentations). In addition to the thread, the student is required to reply to 2 other classmates’ threads. Each reply must be a minimum of 200 words. Support any assertions with citations. (A, B)

Summary Papers (2)

The student will compose two 3-page Summary Papers. Summary Papers will be a synthesis of assigned weekly readings, comparing and contrasting the approaches toward musical elements offered by each author.

Compositions (4)

The student will compose or improvise music within the theoretical system of 4 different cultures.

Final Project

The student will write a 6-page essay that will synthesize the initial theorizing and later case studies. The essay must be in current Turabian format that focuses on a given topic. (A, B, C, D)