World Music Ensemble Now Enrolling for Fall 2018

Nikola Radan
Photo Submitted

Nikola Radan

The Department of Music in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences is happy to announce a new chamber music class focusing on world music traditions. The "World Music Ensemble" (MUEN 1501/2501/3501/4501/5501:022) meets once a week, on Wednesdays from 6-7:15 p.m. in the Billingsley Music Building Room 115. The ensemble is open to all instrumentalists, percussionists, and vocalists interested in the study of non-Western music regardless of major. Registration is now open. 

This fall semester students will actively participate in the following performances:

  • Sept. 21-25: "Africa in the Ozarks"  Students will perform, work closely with, and take a master class with eight master drummers and dancers from West Africa.
  • Oct. 4-8: "Camino de Santiago: Medieval Music from Spanish Pilgrimages." Students will perform and record together with the Schola Cantorum in the Honors College and in Subiaco Abbey, Subiaco AR.  
  • Oct. 19-22: "Oral Tradition in the Medieval Ballads from Portugal, Sephardic tradition and the Ozark Mountains." Students will perform and work closely with an expert in medieval music and soprano Cristi Catt, from the Berklee College of Music and New England Conservatory, Massachusetts.

 For more information please contact Nikola Radan at

Course Description: The World Music Ensemble will study closely music and practices from a variety of musical cultures, while simultaneously acquiring solid grounding in music theory, musicianship skills, music history, and literature.

This wide course of study will allow students to acquire high-level performance skills in both solo and ensemble situations, as well as facility with both notated and oral methods of learning music. The course will also help students become acquainted with the cultural, theoretical, and social aspects of multiple musical traditions.

Unlike traditional ethnomusicology or anthropology curricula, this truly unique course is focused on high-level performance in non-Western traditions. This will be achieved through very close, professor-student instruction, as well as performance projects, supported by relevant theoretical studies, ethnology, and extensive analysis of melody, ornamentation, rhythm, harmony, timbre, tempo, and instrumentation in various music cultures of the world. The course takes an in-depth look at the classification of instruments in each style, how they are categorized by type, body shape, and material, how sound is initiated, and how they are played.

World Music Ensemble can also give students a compositional toolkit of world music concepts and ideas that can be used as a starting point for composing in world styles or for spicing up the music with world flavor. This course will also focus on compositional elements in a variety of genres from around the world, including areas of Scandinavia, the Mediterranean, the Balkans, the Middle East, South and East Asia, Northern Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa, including the indigenous music from the Americas.  

The World Music Ensemble will be an active performing group in various venues in Northwest Arkansas. The students of the World Music Ensemble will have a chance to take master classes with world-renowned professional world music guests and even to perform with them on stage.  

Learning Goals

  • Recognize characteristics of rhythm, melody, ornamentation, time signature, harmony, and instrumentation in different world music styles
  • Identify and classify instruments into major categories and sub-categories, including instrument shape, material, and sound initiation
  • Analyze world music styles using defining characteristics
  • Create a fusion piece using characteristic elements and instruments of different styles.

Fall semester 2018 will feature: Medieval Music and today's Flamenco music from the Iberian Peninsula, American Folk Music, and West African Polyrhythm.


Justin R. Hunter, instructor
Department of Music


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