If you’re looking to study BA Music at institutions across the UK, you’ll probably come across modules ranging from classical music to Hollywood musicals via the Baroque period. Here at SOAS, we do things differently – and the people who take our BA Music programmes are not necessarily your traditional music students.
Although there is a place for classical music, BA Music at SOAS provides students with an opportunity to break out from the elitist restraints of classical music, expand horizons and explore non-western music. Students are taught the basic principles of ethnomusicology and survey a variety of Asian and African musics, supplemented with languages, art, history or philosophies – focusing on the same region to create a more holistic view. This is what makes SOAS unique.
The uniqueness of the Music department at SOAS doesn’t end there – it’s the only university in the UK where you can study the West-African instrument, the Kora, from year one. What started out as a regional folk instrument has now become one of the top virtuosic instruments of the world. Resident Kora player Kadialy Kouyate has been at SOAS for 15 years, witnessing the Kora transition into many different musical spheres to collaborate with jazz and pop musicians.
It isn’t just Koras and West-African music at SOAS – try your hands at the Gamelan or the Tabla or immerse yourself into music from the far-flung corners of the earth, such as Cuba, Africa, the Middle East or East Asia. In addition to this, the increased popularity of K-pop – across the globe – has seen Korean language emerge as a desired option to combine with Music, alongside the well favoured choices of Social Anthropology and World Philosophies.
Although SOAS is famed for its commitment to non-western music, it is possible for students to continue their studies in western music from their second year onwards – in partnership with King’s College, London. This long established relationship, dating back to the 1970s, allows SOAS to demonstrate its expertise and specialisations in non-western music, whilst providing further options and flexibility for SOAS Music students. Further partnerships are currently being explored with our neighbours, RADA – just a stone’s throw away from SOAS – where SOAS Music students will be able to gain professional experience in sound design.
SOAS music students can also gain professional experience directly on campus. The Brunei Gallery is home to its own recording studio, the Rotunda, where vocational modules like Presenting World Music on Radio, provide opportunities for students to develop their speech, script-writing and presentation skills and learn about radio as a medium.. The Music department has always been keen to invite speakers from the music industry to meet with students, providing them with an opportunity to network and establish connections across the music business*.
Graduating from SOAS with a BA Music degree truly allows students to believe that the ‘world is their oyster’. The possibilities of future career roles are endless. We have alumni who work at World Circuit Records, as a producer for Somethin’ Else and even in the sound archive at the British Library – just round the corner from SOAS. If further studying is right up your street, then look no further than our MA Music programmes, which have pathways in Development, Ethnomusicology and Performance. It even includes a discount for those who completed their undergraduate degree at SOAS. SOAS has also been the home of Mercury Prize nominees, Georgia, Nick Mulvey and Poppy Ajudha – who featured on BBC’s Jazz 625 this weekend. Could you be the next person to join them on the list? Don’t just take our word for it, come see for yourself what the music department at SOAS is truly about.
*Please note that visits are contingent on Covid-19 restrictions.
Thanks to Lucy Duran for taking the time to chat with us.