World Music

World Music is a vital and integral part of the School of Music and the Ethnomusicology program. 

Ensembles offered cover a broad range of cultural music from Africa to Asia to the Caribbean. Each ensemble is open to all undergraduate and graduate students regardless of musical experience. Explore each ensemble in the drop-downs below!

African Ensemble

The Kent State University African Ensemble was created in the 1980s by University Professor Halim El-Dabh. The repertoire of the African Ensemble includes traditional and modern drumming, dancing, and singing from various cultural groups in Africa and its diaspora.

The group’s 1998 album, "Mchanganyiko wa Muziki wa ki Afrika" (Medley of African Music) includes traditional instrumental pieces from several countries in Africa, a capella music, multilingual songs, and urban pieces using guitar, trumpet, double bass, flute, and saxophone.


Opportunities are given to both undergraduate and graduate students, regardless of major or musical background.


The African Ensemble has performed for events on campus such as the KSU Folk Festival, Festival of Nations, African Night, May 4 Memorial Celebration, Fall for the Arts and the Kent State University African Studies Program Conference. The Ensemble has also performed for events off campus including the Chicago Festival of African Arts, Ohio Music Education Association conference, and the International Society for Music Education conference in Glasgow, Scotland. 


Dr. Janine Tiffe | 330-672-4545

Steel Band

The Kent State University Steel Band (RPM Steel Band) was founded in 2016 by Ted & Tyler Rounds. As the newest of the School’s world music ensembles, the band primarily performs on campus, and has recently participated in the Virtual Steelband II project. The repertoire of the steel band includes numerous forms of Trinidadian and American musics. The steel band is open to undergraduate and graduate students, regardless of major or musical background. 


For more information, please contact Janine Tiffe at

Thai Ensemble

Founded by Terry E. Miller, Ph.D., in 1978, the Kent State Thai Ensemble is one of the few Thai ensembles present in the American academic system.


Opportunities are given to both undergraduate and graduate students, regardless of major or musical background, for the study of traditional Thai music.


This ensemble focuses on piphat music, a classical Thai genre that incorporates xylophones, gong circles, quadruple-reed oboes, and various types of percussion; other traditional Thai genres are offered to students interested in further study of Thai musical culture.


Students in Thai Ensemble perform in Kent State's World Music Concert organized by the Ethnomusicology program each semester, as well as other concerts on and off campus.


For more information please contact Priwan Nanongkham at