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Ruckert, George, 21M.030 Introduction to World Music, Fall 2006. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare), (Accessed 09 Jul, 2010). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

21M.030 Introduction to World Music

Fall 2006

Closeup of two hands plucking kora strings.
The kora is a 21-string harp-lute used extensively by Mandigo peoples in West Africa. (Photo courtesy of Premasagar Rose.)

Course Highlights

This course features student papers on Samba and Guinean music in the assignments section.

Course Description

This course explores the ways that music is both shaped by and gives shape to the cultural settings in which it is performed, through studying selected musical traditions from around the world. Specific case studies will be examined closely through listening, analysis, and hands-on instruction. The syllabus centers around weekly listening assignments and readings from a textbook with CDs, supplemented by hands-on workshops, lecture/demonstrations and concerts by master musicians from around the world.



Preparation and Participation

Students will be expected to come to class prepared to speak aloud about the current topics, cultures, and assignments, and be ready to present reports orally to the class or lead discussions with fellow-students. The limit to the enrollment will be eighteen. A ready willingness to participate in each class discussion is an integral part of this coursework. This includes individual presentations of listening reports, comments on the reading and video assignments, and a gentle and understanding critique of your classmates' comments. You may be asked to participate in panels, presenting excerpts from the listening assignments in class. Attendance at all classroom meetings will be expected, and comprises a major factor in the course grading.

Performance Sessions

This course includes a weekly performance session. Our performance room is a shoe-free zone, and we sit on the floor for Indian and Balinese music: wear loose clothing and clean socks!


Stone, Ruth. Music in West Africa. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2004. ISBN: 0195145003.

Gold, Lisa. Music in Bali. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2005. ISBN: 0195141490.

Marcus, Scott. Music in Egypt. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2006. ISBN: 019514645X.

Ruckert, George. Music in North India. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2004. ISBN: 0195139933.

Wade, Bonnie. Thinking Musically. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2004. ISBN: 0195136640.

Listening Assignments

Listening assignments are from the recordings included with each book.

Writing Assignments

Students are expected to submit twenty+ pages of writing in all. Assignments include essays described below and concert reports: 1-1/2 to 2-page reports on each of 4 concerts. Turn in tickets, programs, and reviews in an inclusive folder.

As do other HASS CI subjects, 21M.030 requires at least 20 pages of writing, divided into four groups, two concert reports and two project reports. The first essay will be returned to the student for revision and resubmitted. Papers handed in after class due date will be graded down.


A midterm exam will be given. A final exam will be given in the final week of classes.


The essays and concert reports will be weighted roughly evenly with the exams, and impromptu listening tests should always be anticipated.

Course Calendar

1 Unit 1 - Introduction  
2-4 Unit 2 - North India Format paper due beginning of week #2
5-7 Unit 3 - Africa

Concert reports 1 and 2 due beginning of week #7

Essay 1 due in week #7

8 Midterm Exam  
9-11 Unit 4 - Bali

Revision of essay 1 due in week #9

Concert reports 3 and 4 due end of week #11

12-13 Unit 5 - Mid East Project essay 2 due end of week #13
14 Final Exam   Tell A Friend