Associate Professor of Music, Undergraduate Officer of Music

Maisie Sum

(519) 885-0220 ext. 24219
Office:  CGUC 1102

General Director, World Music Ensemble - Balinese Gamelan

BEng., McGill University, 1996
MEng., McGill University, 1998
PhD Music, University of British Columbia, 2012

Research Areas:

Ethnomusicology, music and ritual, Moroccan Gnawa music, music of the sub-Saharan diaspora, impact of global forces on traditions and identity, analytical and cross-cultural studies, music and cognition, music and health

Courses Taught:

Music 100 - Understanding Music
Music 110 - Music in Cultural Contexts
Music 232 - Music as a Global Phenomenon
Music 233 - Musical Rhythm in Global Perspective
Music 334/WS 334 - Women, Music and Gender
Music 335/PACS 335 - Music, Peace and Conflict
Music 390 - Special Topic: Music and Ritual
Music 390-01 - Special Topic: Music, Health, and Healing

World Music Ensemble - Balinese Gamelan



Maisie Sum is an ethnomusicologist, educator, performer, and editorial board member of MUSICultures. Recipient of the 2014 Jaap Kunst Prize for her article published in African Music, her research interests include the music traditions of Morocco and Indonesia, music associated with ritual, the impact of globalization on music traditions and identity, music and health, and music and the brain. She was a member of Gamelan Gita Asmara and Gamelan Giri Kedaton, and has performed in Indonesia, the United States, and Canada. A professor at Conrad Grebel University College, University of Waterloo, she teaches courses in world music, music appreciation, music, peace and conflict, and music, health, and healing, and is general director of the UWaterloo Balinese Gamelan. Current projects include a book manuscript based on her fieldwork in Morocco, and a cross-cultural investigaton of music's effect on health and wellbeing. Her scholarly work has been facilitated by the generous support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada, University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Graduate Studies Doctoral Grant, Conrad Grebel University College’s Academic Research and Development Fund, and the UWaterloo/SSHRC Seed Grant. 

Selected Publications:

Peer Reviewed Journal Articles


  • “Music of the Gnawa of Morocco: Evolving Spaces and Times,” Ph.D. dissertation, The University of British Columbia (2012)


  • Gamelan Gita Asmara Live. 2008 Live concert recording of Gamelan Gita Asmara830159004051). Record Label: Gamelan Gita Asmara. 

Selected Conference Papers

  • “Gnawa Music Performance: From Secularization to Sacralization.” Invited speaker at the Musicology, Ethnomusicology, and Theory Research Colloquium, University of Toronto, January 19 (2017)
  • “Healing on the Margins: Rhythm and Repetition in Moroccan Gnawa Music.British Forum for Ethnomusicology (BFE) Annual Conference, Oxford, April 14–17 (2016)
  • “Gnawa Music Performance: A Return to the Sacred?” The Transnationalization of Religion through Music: Laboratoire de musicologie comparée et d’anthropologie de la musique de l’Observatoire interdisciplinaire de création et de recherche en musique (LMCAM-OIRCM) International Conference – Faculté de musique, Université de Montréal, October 16–18 (2014)
  • Guembri Motives in Gnawa Music: The Nuance of Repetition.” Analytical Approaches to World Music 3rd International Conference, SOAS, London, England, July 1–4 (2014)

  • “Imitation, Inspiration, and Creation in the Music of Bali, Indonesia.” Sound in the Land 2014: Music and the Environment Festival/Conference, Conrad Grebel University College, University of Waterloo, June 5–8 (2014)

  • “Constructing the Sacred, Negotiating the Secular: A Structural Analysis of Gnawa Music Performance,” Society for Ethnomusicology 58th Annual Meeting, Indianapolis, November 14–17, 2013.
  • “Modeling Lalla Mimuna: A Paradigmatic and Seriation Approach to Contour, Pitch and Durational Analysis in Gnawa Music,” Society for Ethnomusicology 56th Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, November 16–20, 2011.
  • “Embodying Sidi Musa: Musical Processes and Trance Progression in Gnawa Rituals of Morocco,” British Forum for Ethnomusicology Annual Conference, Oxford, April 8–11, 2010.
  • “Analysis of Sonic Structure in Gnawa Music,” Analytical Approaches to World Music 1st International Conference, University of Massachusetts Amherst, February 19–21, 2010.
  • “Melodies for the Unseen: Exploring Musical Events in Possession Trance Rituals of Morocco,”  Society for Ethnomusicology 54th Annual Meeting, Mexico City, November 19–22, 2009.
  • “Transcription Analysis of Gnawa Music Performances: An Analytical Study of Mimun Rabi L‘afu,” Society for Ethnomusicology 51st Annual Meeting, Honolulu, November 16–19, 2006. 

Selected Activities:

  • Program Committee (2017-2018), Analytical Approaches to World Music 5th International Conference held in Greece
  • Faculty Representative (2015-2017), Grebel Gallery Team, Conrad Grebel University College, University of Waterloo
  • Concert Production Coordinator (2015-2016), Global Mennonite Peacebuilding Conference/Festival, Conrad Grebel University College, University of Waterloo
  • Editorial Board Member (2014-2020), MUSICultures: Journal of The Canadian Society for Traditional Music
  • Noon Hour Concert Series Coordinator (2014-2017), Conrad Grebel University College, University of Waterloo
  • Balinese Gamelan Workshop Leader (2013-present)
  • Organizing Committee (2013-14), Sound in the Land 2014: Music and the Environment Festival-Conference, CGUC/UW, Ontario
  • Associate Editor (2010–2014), Analytical Approaches to World Music Journal (
  • Member of Organizing Committee (2012–2014), Analytical Approaches to World Music (AAWM) Third International Conference, SOAS, London, 2014
  • Production Coordinator (2012), Analytical Approaches to World Music (AAWM) Second International Conference, UBC, Vancouver, May 11–13
  • Project Coordinator (2006), Underleaf (Buk Katah) composed by Michael Tenzer for chamber nonet and Balinese gamelan (25 players)
  • Music study in Bali (2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2013)
  • Fieldwork and music study in Morocco (2006, 2007, 2009)

Music performances

  • With the UWaterloo Gamelan and Grebel Community Gamelan (2013-present), based in Waterloo, ON (selected performances below):
  • With Gamelan Giri Kedaton (2009-2012), based in Montreal, QC
  • With Gamelan Gita Asmara (2004-2008), based in Vancouver, BC

Fellowships and Awards:

  • UW/SSHRC Seed Grant (2016), Project title: Music, Health, and Wellbeing: A Cross-Cultural Investigation
  • Jaap Kunst Prize (2014). “Music for the Unseen: Interaction between Two Realms During a Gnawa Lila.” African Music: Journal of the International Library of African Music 9(3): 151–182 (December 2013)
  • Canada Graduate Scholarship (CGS) for Doctoral Students, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Award (SSHRC) (2006–2009)
University of Waterloo

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