The large scale organization of the music history and literature curriculum proceeds from introductory surveys to intensive studies of the individual historical periods from the Age of Antiquity to the present. Specialized and more concentrated topics are dealt with at the more advanced level in courses, such as research methods and bibliography, specific genre and composer studies, paleography, performance practice, and women in music.

One special feature at Queen's is its inclusion of the study of world musics, including non-western art music, jazz, folk and popular music traditions. Students begin their study of music history and culture by examining music as a global activity that is part of all societies.  The Queen's School of Music also houses and displays an impressive collection of early music instruments.

The music history and literature curriculum at Queen's has been developed to generally accommodate and comprehensively prepare students with varied projected goals in the musical field, and, at the same time, is specifically tailored to the needs and interests of individuals intending to pursue graduate and post-graduate studies in historical musicology or ethnomusicology. Our students are competitively trained for the pursuit of advanced degrees in these disciplines at Canadian and American universities as well as educational institutions abroad.


Ethnomusicology is often defined as the study of "music as culture," underlining its emphasis on music’s role in cultural contexts and reflection of human experience in addition to its sound. Ethnomusicology has historically been the study of musics outside of the Western European art music tradition - including, for example: Africa, the Americas (including jazz and popular music), Asia (India, Pakistan, China, Japan, Korea, and Indonesia), Eastern, Southern, and Western Europe, Oceania, Scandinavia among others. Yet, although it is sometimes easier to analyze cultural processes outside of one’s own culture, the theories and methodologies of ethnomusicology can be equally applied to Western art music.

The School of Music curriculum at Queen's stands out within the context of Canadian and American university music programs because of its substantial offerings in Ethnomusicology. For example, students in the Bachelor of Music program are required to take an introductory course in Music in Society in which a broad selection of music cultures is introduced, including Western and non-Western, popular, folk, and classical traditions from around the world. Linking music to human process (i.e. society) provides students with a crucial foundation which allows them to interact knowledgeably with global musical diversity whether as performers, teachers, composers, theorists, musicologists, or ethnomusicologists.

This course leads to a number of related upper level courses in musicology and ethnomusicology in which specialized topics are studied. Area study courses in folk/traditional music, music from India, and North American Native musics are examples, and other topics related to ethnomusicology as a field of enquiry (identity, politics, gender, globalization, westernization, technology, and cultural studies, among others).

Students who are working in other academic programs at the University (e.g., other disciplines in Arts and Science or the Physical Sciences) can also take elective courses in World Music and Popular Music to complement their programs and interests.

Queen's is proud of its Ethnomusicology program and diverse course offerings in World Music, and continues to explore new and innovative ways to make the study of all music an enriching and inclusive experience.