Universität Wien

160062 UE Music in the Early Colonial World (2021S)

Continuous assessment of course work


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first served).


max. 30 participants
Language: English


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

This course will be conducted online. If and when it is possible, it will be modified to hybrid teaching (a combination of online and in-person meetings).

Monday 01.03. 15:00 - 16:30 Digital
Monday 08.03. 15:00 - 16:30 Digital
Monday 15.03. 15:00 - 16:30 Digital
Monday 22.03. 15:00 - 16:30 Digital
Monday 12.04. 15:00 - 16:30 Digital
Monday 19.04. 15:00 - 16:30 Digital
Monday 26.04. 15:00 - 16:30 Digital
Monday 03.05. 15:00 - 16:30 Digital
Monday 10.05. 15:00 - 16:30 Digital
Monday 17.05. 15:00 - 16:30 Digital
Monday 31.05. 15:00 - 16:30 Digital
Monday 07.06. 15:00 - 16:30 Digital
Monday 14.06. 15:00 - 16:30 Digital
Monday 21.06. 15:00 - 16:30 Digital
Monday 28.06. 15:00 - 16:30 Digital


Aims, contents and method of the course

How might more ‘globalised’ historical narratives alter conventional music historical narratives and perspectives on the so-called ‘Early Modern’ period? How might we move away from the macro-narrative of Europe-driven modernisation to take account not only of other modernising trajectories, but also coloniality, the constitutive other side without which modernity would not exist? This course brings in perspectives from critical global historiography to consider how musical contacts between European, African, Asian, and American societies in the seventeenth century challenge the Eurocentrism of historical musicology by emphasizing the connectedness of transoceanic music and sound cultures. As a period in which colonial encounter shaped music-making both on the European continent and elsewhere, whether through overseas exploration, conquest, diplomacy, migration, trade and plantation, enslavement, missionisation, or settlement, the seventeenth century marks a critical yet neglected starting point for such an enquiry.

This course will consider how musicians, musical materials, practices, and ideas traveled along oceanic routes of transcultural encounter in the ‘Early Modern’ world through a series of case studies. A variety of primary sources, including travel accounts, music writing, accounts of oral culture and soundscapes, organology and other forms of material culture will be studied, in conjunction with the growing body of secondary musicological literature on the topic, to consider how transcultural paradigms and flows open up aspects of seventeenth-century musical life that have long been ignored or neglected. In addition to gaining knowledge of the theoretical concepts relevant to this topic, students will learn how to work around the limitations of the archive in reconstructing the musics of colonialised people and the indigenous, mestizo, and diasporic lives about which primary sources are so often silent or distorting. Case studies will include music-making in colonial America, Manila, Goa, China, and within the African diaspora, as well as the ways transcultural encounters informed music-making on the European continent.

Assessment and permitted materials

Active participation throughout the course is expected. Students will have weekly readings, discussion board assignments on Moodle, and a presentation of the material (possibly in pairs, depending on enrollment).

Final evaluation will take the form of a written examination.

Since this course will be conducted in English, the ability to read, write, and discuss the material in English is essential. Knowing how to read music notation is advantageous, but not required. This course is thus also open to students outside the musicology department.

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

Regular attendance is expected of participants. In the event of absence due to illness or other exceptional circumstances, written documentation should be submitted, in advance wherever possible.

It is also expected that students participate in the course by taking an active role in weekly meetings and in discussion boards on the Moodle platform. Completion of weekly readings, discussion board assignments, an oral presentation, and the final exam must be completed on time for a positive course evaluation. Final grades will be calculated on the basis of individual performance in the completion of these expectations.

Examination topics

The final exam will be a written one. It will be distributed before the exam deadline for students to complete at home. For this exam, students will be expected to demonstrate their knowledge of the readings assigned throughout the course, and their ability to apply these readings to primary source materials.

Reading list

Baker, Geoffrey. Imposing Harmony: Music and Society in Colonial Cuzco. Durham, NC, 2008.
Baker, Geoffrey, and Tess Knighton, eds. Music and Urban Society in Colonial Latin America. Cambridge, 2011.
Bloechl, Olivia A. Native American Song at the Frontiers of Early Modern Music. Cambridge and New York, 2008.
–––––. ‘Race, Empire and Early Music.’ In Rethinking Difference in Music Scholarship, ed. Olivia Bloechl, Melanie Loew, and Jeffrey Kallberg, pp. 77–107. Cambridge and New York, 2015.
Bohlman, Philip, ed. The Cambridge History of World Music. Cambridge, 2013.
Cabranes-Grant, Leo. From Scenarios to Networks: Performing the Intercultural in Colonial Mexico. Evanston, IL, 2016.
Coelho, Victor Anand. ‘Music in New Worlds.’ In The Cambridge History of Seventeenth-Century Music, ed. Tim Carter and John Butt. Cambridge and New York, 2005.
Goodman, Glenda. ‘“But they differ from us in sound”: Indian Psalmody and the Soundscape of Colonialism, 1651–75.’ The William and Mary Quarterly 69 (2012): 793–822.
Hacke, Daniela, and Paul Musselwhite. Empire of the Senses: Sensory Practices of Colonialism in Early America. Leiden and Boston, 2017.
Irving, David R. M. Colonial Counterpoint: Music in Early Modern Manila. New York, 2010.
Mann, Kristin Dutcher. The Power of Song: Music and Dance in the Mission Communities of New Spain, 1590–1810. Stanford and Berkeley, CA, 2010.
Rath, Richard Cullen. How Early America Sounded. Ithaca, NY, 2003.
Strohm, Reinhard, ed. Studies on a Global History of Music: A Balzan Musicology Project. Abingdon, Oxon, and New York, 2018.
Tomlinson, Gary. The Singing of the New World: Indigenous Voice in the Era of European Contact. Cambridge, 2007.

Association in the course directory

MA: M01, M02, M03, M04, M05, M06, M07, M12, M13, M16

Last modified: Fr 12.05.2023 00:17