School of Music


Master of Arts in Ethnomusicology (MA)


John Benham

Primary Subject Area

Music; History, United States; American Studies; Education, Higher; Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies


Appalachian, Culture, Ethnomusicology, Folk, Irish, Music


American Studies | Cultural History | Curriculum and Instruction | Ethnomusicology | Music | Sociology


The following project establishes a concise, yet multifaceted design for a seminar on Irish musical culture. While it was initially developed as a course for its author to teach in the undergraduate, on-ground classroom, this project provides a framework adaptable enough for use by other instructors and/or for additional music seminars. This project is unique in its two-fold purpose in that the design and resources are directed to assist the instructor with streamlining course curriculum preparation, while the course content specific to the project when utilized offers students in the undergraduate college classroom a better understanding of Irish musical culture and the musical cultures that have been influenced by Irish music, such as folk music in America. This study will round out a comprehensive curriculum for world music and is suitable to enhance an ethnomusicology, anthropology, or music degree program. The structure of this project includes eight modules to correspond with eight weeks or twenty-two hours of study divided into three, fifty-five minute sessions per week but may be arranged differently to suit the needs of an instructor or institution. Interviews, activities, event listings, web links, supplementary material suggestions, and audio visual samples are utilized for reference. The study takes students from developing an understanding of music within Irish culture to the Irish Diasporas resulting from citizen and music migration to other parts of the world. The course then directs students to discussions regarding Irish culture in America followed by a review of folk music in America, with special emphasis on the music of Appalachia. This course might serve well as a pre-requisite to a broader study of folk music in America.