The Division of Musicology draws on historical and ethnographic investigation and various methods of criticism and analysis in the thoughtful consideration of music as both a liberal and a performance art. Coursework and instruction is available in musics from various times and places around the world.


Our faculty’s specialties range from early-modern England to present-day Indonesia, from historical and contemporary African American music to Broadway, and music history to historical performance practice. They variously engage ethnography, historiography, community engagement, and digital humanities.

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The study of musicology draws on a variety of methods, including historiographic, ethnographic, analytic, to consider music in all times and places.The study of musicology draws on a variety of methods, including historiographic, ethnographic, analytic, to consider music in all times and places. Music History has lLong been a part of the conservatory’s curriculum—Edward Dickinson, appointed to the faculty in the late 19th century, became one of America’s first full-time professors in the discipline. Ethnomusicology is newer to the mix, having been added in 1971.

The local ethos of highly engaged teaching in the best liberal arts tradition has been the guiding principle of successive generations in the department, with the counterpoint of our professional research enlivening and sustaining the discourse.

Conservatory students may elect to major in musicology (which embraces both music history and ethnomusicology), or minor in music history or ethnomusicology. College of Arts and Sciences students may elect either minor, or choose a musicology emphases within the College’s Musical Studies major. And while many will choose one of these paths as pre-professional training for graduate study in musicology, many will also elect the major or minor as an enriching part of various courses of study, including the Double Degree Program.


The division sponsors the Richard Murphy Colloquium, which is a forum for lectures by distinguished visiting scholars as well as faculty. Workshops, concerts, and lecture demonstrations are presented with department sponsorship.

Musicology News

Sounds of Change

November 10, 2023

Associate Dean Chris Jenkins wrote the book on conservatory reform.
Chris Jenkins in a panel discussion.

Musicology Facilities

Bertram and Judith Kohl Building

The Bertram and Judith Kohl Building is the home for the conservatory’s jazz studies division and programs in composition, musicology, and music theory, as well as the Clonick Hall recording studio.
exterior image and sign for the Kohl Building

Conservatory Central Unit

The Central Unit is part of the Oberlin Conservatory’s main complex and includes classrooms, rehearsal rooms, studios, and more.
Conservatory Central Unit