Syracuse University



Caribbean Music Journey: Dominican Routes

Program Description

What You Need to Know

There's more to Caribbean music than the Buena Vista Social Club! Get beyond the hype while learning to play and dance to uniquely Dominican musical genres you can't hear anywhere else.

This hands-on course is taught and hosted with local musicians at the Centro Leon in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic, a renowned museum and research center. The Centro Leon is our partner and host for this one of a kind program. Students are encouraged to check out the Centro Leon's website:

While in Santiago de los Caballeros, the Dominican Republic's second-largest city and the heart of the music-loving Cibao region, students can visit cockfights, dance to Afro-Dominican rhythms, and study with local masters of merengue tipico, salve, and palos drumming while improving their Spanish skills. The course will combine music-making, collaborative field research, and classroom discussions with leading researchers on hot topics in Caribbean music to give students a well-rounded picture of Dominican musical life as well as the field of ethnomusicology.

Students may have the opportunity to stay on in Santiago de los Caballeros and pursue internships after the program concludes. Potential placements include:

- Translation. Assist with translating museum descriptions, educational materials, and publications from Spanish to English.

- Education. Assist the Centro Leon’s museum education specialist in developing and coordinating activities for children that relate to current exhibitions and presentations. Suitable for students in music education, music history and cultures, art history, museum studies.

- Sound preservation. Assist the Centro Leon’s technicians in digitizing, cataloguing, and preserving the Fradique Lizardo collection of field recordings. Suitable for students in music industry, libraries, museum studies, music history and cultures.

- Event production. Assist the Centro Leon’s activities coordinator in organizing and producing events such as concerts, talks, round tables, film screenings, and more. Suitable for students of public relations, music industry, communications, theater.

- Museology. Assist the Centro Leon’s curators and conservators in developing, organizing, and/or installing museum exhibits. Suitable for students of museum studies, art history, design.

- Music studio production. Assist a Santiago-based music producer in the day-to-day activities of a working sound studio. Suitable for students in music industry, music history and cultures.

Eligibility and Requirements

This program is open to Syracuse and non-Syracuse students at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The language of instruction is primarily Spanish and a strong working knowledge of the Spanish language is a pre-requisite of the program (SPA 201 or above). Please note that at this time, the program does not offer SPA credit.

Travel and Living

Students will arrange and pay for their own round-trip transportation to Santiago de los Caballeros.

Please note that while we encourage students to pursue flight arrangements in advance, we would not encourage you to purchase your airline tickets before confirming that the program will be offered in 2013. Please request written notification from us that you can book your flight. You will have to present this notification if we cancel the program at a later date, and you want to be reimbursed for the cost of the ticket.

Students will be housed in shared rooms in a guest house for the duration of the program. The housing is monitored by 24 hour security. All meals are included in the program fee. Also included in the program fee is group related transportation, including three field trips. Internet is available.


Caribbean Music and Ethnomusicology
(HOM/ LAS 300 3 credits, undergraduate)

This course will familiarize students with Dominican music and culture through classroom discussion and music-making. By playing with local music masters, they will learn to include the perspectives of local culture-bearers in their musical practice and research, and by taking part in a collaborative fieldwork project, they will also gain experience in ethnomusicological research methods. At the end of the three weeks, students will understand the relationship of Dominican and Caribbean music to larger issues like nationalism, migration, transnationalism, and race. They will also understand how music functions as an integral part of social life, religious belief, and identity formation not only in the Dominican Republic but across the region.

In order to apply to this program, please complete the online application:


Dr. Sydney Hutchinson, coordinator, is assistant professor of ethnomusicology at Syracuse University. She produced the CD La India Canela: Merengue tipico from the Dominican Republic for Smithsonian Folkways and wrote an award-winning book on Mexican-American dance. In her spare time, she plays merengue tipico accordion and yodels.

Dr. Martha Ellen Davis, anthropologist and ethnomusicologist, has conducted research the Dominican Republic for over thirty years, specializing in music in folk religion. She is currently advisor to the Dominican National Archives, coordinator of the Social Science Commission of the Dominican Academy of Sciences, researcher at the Dominican public university, and affiliate faculty of the University of Florida. Her book, La otra ciencia, received the National Nonfiction Award of the Dominican Republic.

Angelina Tallaj is a PhD candidate in Ethnomusicology at The Graduate Center of CUNY. Ms. Tallaj researches Dominican music, and her publications include "A Country That Ain't Really Belong To Me": Dominicanyorks, Identity and Popular Music","Llego La Hora: Fighting for a Queer Identity in the Dominican Republic", and "From Bulls to Music: Social, Religious, and Economic Aspects of a Pilgrimage to Nuestra Senora, La Virgen de Altagracia". She is also a concert pianist with special interest in the music of Latin America.


Program begins/ arrival:June 23, 2013
Program ends:July 15, 2013
Application deadline:February 20*

* Applications received after February 20 will be considered if there is still space in the program.


Tuition$3,111 (estimated rate)
Program Fee$1,700
GRADUATE (3 credits)
Tuition$3,882 (estimated rate)
Program Fee$1,700

Please note: All costs are estimated and subject to change.

Additional Financial Information: We estimate that students should budget accordingly for the following expenses:

Air travel: $800
Books & Supplies: $100
Personal: $300
Meals: $100

These figures are for expenses not covered in the tuition or program fee and are paid out-of-pocket.