Damascus Kafumbe

Assistant Professor of Music

 Tuesday & Wednesday 1:30 - 3:00 p.m. or by appointment
 Mahaney Center for the Arts 305

Damascus Kafumbe is an ethnomusicologist, teacher, performer, composer, and instrument technician/consultant. A native of Uganda, Professor Kafumbe received his B.M. from Makerere University and M.M. and Ph.D. (Musicology) from Florida State University. He joined the Middlebury music faculty in 2011 to teach ethnomusicology/world music courses, direct the Middlebury African Music and Dance Ensemble, and maintain the College’s Ugandan musical instrument collection.

Professor Kafumbe’s research spans diverse fields, including ethnomusicology, performance, history, politics, ritual, African studies, and social organization. He is working on a book project titled Tuning the Kingdom: Kawuugulu Music, Politics, and Storytelling in Buganda, which the University of Rochester Press will publish in the Eastman/Rochester Series in Ethnomusicology later this year. The book focuses on the Kawuugulu Clan-Royal Performance Ensemble of the Kingdom of Buganda, examining how origin stories define Baganda’s complex sociopolitical hierarchy and serve as a framework for music and dance performances that reinforce this hierarchy. The project also contextualizes the Kawuugulu Ensemble case study in the scene of similar historical and political ensembles in Uganda and Africa. Professor Kafumbe has also published articles, reviews, and interviews in African Music, Ethnomusicology, World of Music, and Yearbook for Traditional Music.

A multi-instrumentalist, dancer, composer, and instrument technician, Professor Kafumbe specializes in East African musical and dance traditions. He is knowledgeable about the construction and maintenance of many of the instruments he plays, and has served as an instrument technician and acquisitions consultant for the Musical Instrument Museum, Tallahassee Community College, Appalachian State University, Wabash College, Florida State University, and Indiana University. Record/production companies such as Deer Pants Productions, Odd Freak Films, Endongo Records, and Sony BMG have released/commissioned his music.

Professor Kafumbe has received recognitions and research awards, including the Mark and Margery Pabst Charitable Foundation of the Arts Musicology Award and a Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship that recently took him to University of Jos (Nigeria) to co-design a B.A. music program. He is also an active member of the Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM), the International Council for Traditional Music (ICTM), the African Studies Association (ASA), and the African Theatre Association (AfTA).





Course List: 

Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

FYSE1484 - World Musical Instruments      

World Musical Instruments
Every culture has musical instruments, and we admire musicians who play them well. Yet, musical instruments can tell us a lot more about a society if we have the tools to analyze their sounds, morphologies, functions, classifications, playing techniques, and scales or tuning systems. In this seminar we will develop critical skills for analyzing these elements through a selection of world musical instruments. We will also have the opportunity to construct musical instruments out of recycled materials. Course activities will include intensive reading, writing, discussions, research, oral presentations, and hands-on activities. No prior musical background is required. 3 hrs. sem. ART CMP CW

Fall 2016

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MUSC0134 - What in the World is Music?      

What in the World is Music?
In this course we will explore global musical cultures in order to better understand both those musical cultures and our own in relation to one another. The course has two goals: to introduce students to unfamiliar ways of listening to and thinking about different elements of music (including – but not limited to – rhythm, melody, timbre, texture, harmony, and form); and to develop skills for appreciating cultural significances of these elements. We will achieve these goals through readings, lectures, discussions, film screenings, listening sessions, workshops, concerts, and hands-on activities. 3 hrs. lect. ART CMP

Fall 2017

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MUSC0234 - Music in World Cultures      

Music in World Cultures
In this course students will develop skills for analyzing music and appreciating its social, economic, and political importance within societies other than their own. We will explore world musical styles through readings, lectures, discussions, film screenings, listening sessions, workshops, concerts, and hands-on activities. Assuming a strong background in music, this course will be open to music majors and others by approval. ART CMP

Spring 2014, Spring 2015

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MUSC0235 - Music Ethnography      

Music Ethnography
In this course we will study various methods and techniques for conducting field research about musical phenomena. Students will learn how to design feasible research projects, document musical activities in human communities, analyze collected data, and present their findings. Class and out-of-class activities will include writing ethnographic notes, making audio/video recordings, conducting interviews, photography, writing research reports, and making oral presentations. Students may have the opportunity to do field research that will involve field equipment and editing software. Some background in reading or writing about music is recommended. ART SOC WTR

Winter 2015

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MUSC0236 - African Soundscapes      

African Soundscapes
This course will introduce students to musical cultures and practices from the African continent with a focus on particular regional styles. Through readings, lectures, discussions, film screenings, listening sessions, concerts, and hands-on activities, we will develop skills for analyzing and appreciating the diversity of African musical practices and their social, economic, and political value in traditional and contemporary contexts. Some background in music may be necessary. AAL ART SAF

Fall 2013

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MUSC0244 / DANC0244 - African Music Dance & Perform.      

African Music and Dance Performance
This course will introduce students to various techniques of performing East African (primarily Ugandan) musical and dance traditions through regular rehearsals, culminating in an end-of-semester concert. As an ensemble, we will learn and master how to play and sing/dance to bow-harps, thumb-pianos, xylophones, tube-fiddles, bowl-lyres, gourd shakers, struck gourds, reed-box rattles, ankle bells, leg rattles, and various types of drums. Some background in performing music is recommended, but prior knowledge of performing African music and dance is not required. 3 hrs. lect./lab AAL ART SAF

Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017

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MUSC0334 - Music in World Cultures      

Music in World Cultures
In this course students will develop skills for analyzing a wide range of music styles and appreciating their social, economic, and political importance. We will explore selected case studies through readings, lectures, discussions, film screenings, listening sessions, workshops, concerts, and hands-on activities. (MUSC 0209 or MUSC 0261) 3 hrs. lect. ART CMP

Spring 2017

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MUSC0400 - Senior Seminar      

Topic is determined by the instructor - refer to section for the course description. ART

Fall 2014

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MUSC0500 - Independent Study      

Independent Study
Admission by approval. Please consult published departmental guidelines and paragraph below.

Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Winter 2016, Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018

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MUSC0704 - Senior Work      

Senior Work
Senior work is not required of all music majors and joint majors. However, students interested in and eligible for departmental honors (see guideline above, in "Departmental Honors" section) may propose one or two-semester Senior Work projects. Projects may be in history, composition, theory, ethnomusicology, performance, or electronic music, and should culminate in a written presentation, a public performance, or a combination of the two. MUSC0704 does not count as a course toward fulfillment of the music major.

Project and budget proposals for Independent Study and Senior Work should be submitted by the previous April 1 for fall and winter term projects, and the previous October 15 for spring term projects. Budget proposals will not be considered after those dates. Project proposals will be considered after the deadline but are more likely not to be approved due to previous commitments of faculty advisors or other scheduling reasons.

Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Winter 2016, Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018

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Department of Music

Mahaney Center for the Arts
72 Porter Field Road
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753