Maisie Sum

Associate Professor of Music, Acting Music Chair (Winter 2024)

Maisie Sum

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

General Director, Balinese Music Ensemble (Gamelan) and Grebel Community Gamelan

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

Research Areas:

Music in ritual performance; music, globalization, and identity; music and the diaspora; music and health; music theory and analysis; comparative musicology; music in Morocco; music in Bali


Courses Taught:

MUSIC 100 - Understanding Music
MUSIC 110 - How Music Matters
MUSIC 232 - Music as a Global Phenomenon
MUSIC 233 - Musical Rhythms of the World
MUSIC 334/GSJ 334 - Women and Music
MUSIC 335/PACS 335 - Music, Peace and Conflict
MUSIC 390 - Special Topic: Music and Ritual
MUSIC 390-01 - Special Topic: Music, Health, and Healing

Music Ensemble - Balinese Gamelan

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Maisie Sum is an ethnomusicologist, educator, and performer. Her research and teaching combine a variety of fields, including ethnomusicology, anthropology, music analysis, performance, ritual studies, peace and conflict studies, psychology, and health studies. As performer and general director of the College’s two gamelan ensembles, she shares her passion for Balinese music with a wide audience through concerts, workshops, worship services, and open access recordings. Sum has disseminated her research internationally through publications in scholarly journals including Ethnomusicology, speaking invitations, and presentations at conferences such as the Society for Ethnomusicology, Analytical Approaches to World Music, and British Forum for Ethnomusicology. In 2014 she received the Jaap Kunst Prize in recognition for an article published in African Music, which investigates the interactive network between music, dance, and ritual experience. Recent work includes an experimental research project that explores rhythm and repetition in community healing rituals from a psychological and cross-cultural perspective. Drawing on ethnographic research in Morocco, her current book project investigates music and performance of a Black diaspora community called Gnawa. Her research has been supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the UWaterloo/SSHRC Seed Grant. Sum is a member of the Society for Ethnomusicology, Canadian Society for Traditional Music, and British Forum for Ethnomusicology, and has served on the editorial board of MUSICultures, and as program committee co-chair for the Analytical Approaches to World Music 2020/21 Conference.

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Selected Publications:

Journal Articles


  • “Experimental Methods in Ethnomusicological Research: Informative, Incompatible, Inclusive?” Organized panel session Ethnomusicology and the human sciences: mutually incompatible or mutually informative?, Analytical Approaches to World Music 6thBiennial International Conference, Paris (Virtual), June 9–12 (2021)
  • “‘It's a party, don't call it a Lila’: Commodification and the Misappropriation of Gnawa Cultural Heritage.” The Society for Ethnomusicology 65th Annual Meeting, Virtual, October 22–31 (2020)
  • “The Role of Familiarity and Repetition on the Physiological Response of Listeners Across Cultures.” Organized panel session Music, Mind, and Body: Ethnomusicological Perspectives on the Study of Music Cognition, The Society for Ethnomusicology 64thAnnual Meeting, Indiana, November 7-10 (2019)
  • “Healing on the Margins: Rhythm, Repetition, and Resonance of Gnaoua Music.” Invited speaker for Le Monde Appelle Fou Ceux Qui Ne Sont Pas Fous de la Folie Commune (Ultrasanity. On Madness, Sanitation, Anti-Psychiatry, and Resistance) – SAVVY Contemporary, The Laboratory of Form-Ideas (Berlin, Germany), held in Essaouira, Morocco, June 20–22 (2019)
  • “Wearables in the Field: A New Dimension to Ethnomusicology?” British Forum for Ethnomusicology Annual Conference, University of Aberdeen, Scotland, April 11–14 (2019)

Music performances

  • Gamelan Gender Wayang, gender: “Sekar Gendot.” Spring ­– Balinese Gamelan Concert,t=28:45, Great Hall, Conrad Grebel University College, UWaterloo, March 2022.
  • Gamelan Trio.” Noon Hour Concert Series 2020-21 (Virtual), Conrad Grebel University College, Oct 7 (2020). 
  • Gamelan Semara Dana, metallophone (ugal): “Pendet,” traditional, Anak Agung Gde Mandera, arranger. Grebel Community Gamelan. Humanities Theatre, UWaterloo, November 2018.
  • Gamelan Semara Dana, drum: “Sekar Jepun,” Wayan Gandra, composer. UWaterloo Balinese Music Ensemble. Humanities Theatre, UWaterloo, November 2017.
  • Gamelan Semara Dana, metallophone (gangsa): “Seketi,” traditional, I Made Grindem, arranger. Grebel Community Gamelan. Humanities Theatre, UWaterloo, November 2016.
  • Gamelan Semara Dana, drum: “Gilak,” traditional, I Dewa Made Suparta, arranger. Balinese Gamelan: Noon Hour Concert Series, Chapel, Conrad Grebel University College, UWaterloo, November 2013.
  • Gamelan Semara Dana, metallophone (gangsa): Gamelan Gita Asmara Live. 2008 Live concert recording of Gamelan Gita Asmara830159004051). Record Label: Gamelan Gita Asmara. 
  • Other selected performances with the UWaterloo Gamelan and Grebel Community Gamelan (2013-present), based in Waterloo, ON:

Selected Activities:


  • Council Member, The Society for Ethnomusicology (2021–24)
  • Program Committee, Analytical Approaches to World Music 2022 7th Biennial International Conference, Hybrid – Virtual & Sheffield, UK (2021)
  • Co-chair, Program Committee. Analytical Approaches to World Music 2020/21, 6th Biennial International Conference, Paris (2018–2021)
  • Editorial Board Member. MUSICultures: Journal of The Canadian Society for Traditional Music (CSTM) (2014–2020)

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)