Ethnomusicology is a field that aims to promote better understanding of the world through the study of musical practices.

After a century of methodological discoveries and developments, the third millennium is seeing new challenges take shape, an expansion of the field of study and an increase in the potential career openings for ethnomusicologists: the flourishing of the ‘world music’ market, cooperation and cultural diplomacy projects, and the teaching of music from outside Europe - all these things constitute alternatives to the academic world. Deciding to train as an ethnomusicologist means acquiring the means to bring an enlightened form of listening to both European and non-European societies.

Centre for Musical Cultures

The Centre des cultures musicales brings together the activities of the Haute école de musique de Genève (HEM) in the field of music from other cultural realms. A place of teaching, research and mediation, it fits into the long history of Geneva showing interest in traditional forms of music and music from elsewhere, an interest that develops quite specifically at the start of the 20th century, at the time when the League of Nations was founded.

The Centre hosts the teaching of the Master’s degree in Ethnomusicology course, a programme managed jointly with the Universities of Geneva and Neuchâtel.The Centre collaborates closely with two renowned Genevan institutions, the Ateliers d’Ethnomusicologie (ADEM) and the Musée d’ethnographie de Genève (MEG), as well as with non-governmental organisations such as the Aga Khan Music Programme. It houses a Centre culturel de musique chinoise (Chinese Music Culture Centre / 中国音乐文化中心), founded in 2018 in partnership with the Music Conservatoire of Shanghai. Blessed with an instrument collection like no other, including an important Balinese Gamelan, the Centre offers the playing of a diverse range of instruments to students of the HEM.


Oriental Ensemble of the HEM

A group with a large number of musicians, the HEM’s Oriental Ensemble plays a repertoire that ranges from classical Arabic to Turco-Ottoman, Irano-Persian and Central Asian music.    It is formed of 25 to 30 students of the HEM playing Western instruments, together with specialists on specific instruments in the cultural realms concerned.  Conducted by the musician Basel Rajoub, the Oriental Ensemble perform regularly, and often collaborates with the soloists of the Aga Khan Music Programme.

Silk and bamboo ensemble

Founded in 2015, the HEM’s Silk and Bamboo Ensemble plays the traditional repertoire of the region of Jiangnan, south of the Yangtze river.  In addition to the typical repertoire of the Shanghai region, there is the dancing, joyful music of the regions of Guangdong and Chaozhou. The ensemble is formed of students from the HEM playing Chinese instruments from the family of silks (instruments with strings that are plucked or bowed) and bamboos (flutes and mouth organs).  The ensemble benefits from the presence of students from the Department of Chinese Instruments at the Shanghai Conservatoire. It performs regularly in Geneva and further afield.

Balinese Gamelan

Among the numerous gamelans (literally ‘orchestras’) present in Indonesia, the gong kebyar gamelan is currently the most widespread orchestral formation on the island of Bali, where it is associated with dance, theatre and various rituals where music plays a predominant role.  Composed mainly of metallophone percussion instruments, the gamelan makes it possible to look at issues associated with coordination within an ensemble, polyrhythmia and interactions within the playing, and to reflect on the very notion of the orchestra.

Symposium BSI 2024

From 11 to 13 April 2024, the HEM organises a Symposium in Geneva on the promotion of Chinese culture and arts in the decades 1930-1950 by, and around, the Bibliothèque Sino-Internationale de Genève (BSI). Designed and managed by Chinese figures, the BSI was an important library and cultural centre active in Geneva, Switzerland, from 1933 to 1950, then in Montevideo from 1951 to 1993. The BSI aimed to establish better understanding between China and the West.

A detailed programme can be found on the BSI’s website, blog and Wiki page.

Colloquium Musique et Mystique

From 4 to 6 December 2024, a colloquium entitled Musique et mystique will take place at the Haute école de musique de Genève. Based on an idea from the Ethnomusicology Workshops (ADEM, Geneva), it will form part of Les nuits du monde (ADEM), which is focusing on the same topic. As with the colloquium Musique et épopée (ADEM-HEM Geneva, November 2022), the initial motivation for this project was to combine a living show, teaching activities, scientific research and publications. It will be possible to take a sweeping look at all the musical cultures of the world, including classic Western music. A selection of the contributions to the colloquium will later be published in the form of a dossier in the Cahiers d’ethnomusicologie (Vol.   39/2026). 

Detailed information is set out on the ADEM’s website


Teachers of major disciplines

Xavier Bouvier

Head of the Ethnomusicology Program - Professor of Ethnomusicology, Analytical Approaches, and Ethnotheories

Xavier Bouvier holds a Composition Prize and a Diploma in Musical Culture from the Conservatoire de musique de Genève. After two years of studying mathematics at the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, he dedicated himself to music. At the Conservatoire de musique de Genève, he successively held the positions of Professor of Counterpoint and Musical Analysis, Head of the Library, and since 2001, Associate Dean of the administration. From 2009 to 2018, he was the Coordinator of Education at the Haute école de musique de Genève (HEM). He is now a Full HES Professor, a member of the Executive Board, responsible for the HEM's MA in Ethnomusicology, and a project manager. In addition to various special projects, his mandate includes representing the institution on the Music and Performing Arts Domain Council of the HES-SO and on the HES-SO Education Council by delegation from the Domain Head. Former head of the Bologna group of the Swiss Conference of Higher Music Education Institutions, Xavier Bouvier has been a member of the Swiss Accreditation Council since January 2019, a joint body of the Confederation and the cantons for accreditation and quality assurance in the Swiss higher education landscape. A specialist in music theory from a Western perspective and beyond, Xavier Bouvier teaches various courses in the Ethnomusicology program. He conducts a variety of research projects on 18th-century music theory, the issue of musical cultures, cultural diplomacy, and comparative education. He regularly participates in conferences and congresses in Europe and Asia.

Patrik Vincent Dasen

Professeur d'Ethnomusicologie, Séminaire de recherche Master, Atelier musiques du monde

Patrik Dasen est diplômé en ethnomusicologie de l'Université Paris X Nanterre (Maitrise, 1999) et de l'Université de Nice Sophia-Antipolis (Master 2, 2009) où il à également complété (mars 2020) une thèse de doctorat intitulée "Devenir et être facteur de cornemuse irlandaise uilleann pipes : entre déterritorialisation et patrimonialisation." sous la direction du Prof. Luc Charles-Dominique. Ses domaines de recherche s'orientent autour des processus de transmission et de patrimonialisation des traditions musicales. Il a travaillé pendant dix ans aux Ateliers d'ethnomusicologie de Genève en tant que responsable des activités pédagogiques et des relations publiques. Il a également mené, avec une petite équipe, la campagne de catalogage et de numérisation des Archives Internationales de Musique Populaire (AIMP, 2005-2011) de Constantin Brailoiu qui sont aujourd'hui, grâce à cette sauvegarde, intégralement consultables au Musée d'ethnographie de Genève. Il enseigne l'ethnomusicologie et la sociologie des musiques actuelles à la Haute école de musique de Genève depuis 2008. En savoir plus sur Patrik Vincent Dasen

Xavier Bouvier
Patrick Dasen
Teachers of minor disciplines
  • Xavier Bouvier
    Atelier de recherche (master), Ensemble oriental , Musique soïe et bambou de la Chine du sud
  • Timothée Coppey
    Gamelan de Bali
  • Patrik Vincent Dasen
    Atelier de recherche (master), Gamelan de Bali
  • Reinaldo Delgado
    Percussion afro-cubaine
  • Basel Rajoub
    Ensemble oriental
  • Lingling Yu Von Haller
    Musique soïe et bambou de la Chine du sud
Transversal academic functions
  • Noémie Bialobroda
    Professor of Chamber Music with Strings - Coordinator of Chamber Music (GE)
  • Nicolas Bolens
    Head of the Composition and Theory Department - Professor of Counterpoint, 20th-Century Writing, and Practical Writing - Coordinator of General Music Training Modules
  • Guillaume Castella
    Adjoint scientifique
  • Manon Edouard-Douriaud
    Assistante HES
  • Florence Jaccottet
    Responsable du département Musique et mouvement - Professeure d'Atelier d'expérimentation créative - Rythmique Jaques-Dalcroze - Technique et composition du mouvement - Coordinatrice de la préparation physique et mentale
  • Edmée Pasche
    Coordinatrice de la préparation aux métiers
  • Nancy Rieben
    Coordinatrice de l'enseignement
  • Christophe Sturzenegger
    Professeur d'Harmonie au clavier - Harmonie au clavier et improvisation (pour les pianistes) - Piano comme instrument secondaire - Coordination harmonie au clavier et piano comme instrument secondaire
  • Carine Tripet
    Responsables des filières pédagogiques - Professeure en Sciences de l'éducation
  • Johann Vacher
    Professeur d'Atelier de recherche Master - Harmonie au clavier - Piano comme instrument secondaire - Journées thématiques (coordinateur) - Coordinateur de la musique contemporaine
  • Gerardo Gustavo Vila
    Professeur de musique de chambre – Coordinateur de la musique de chambre (NE)

Research projects