The Music Major

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The major carries the study of music to an advanced level through the integration of scholarship and performance, involving close engagement with the creation and reception of music across an array of historical, theoretical, and cultural contexts. It is designed to accommodate both students who are oriented toward eventual graduate study or professional work in music and those who wish to take a more general approach, often in conjunction with a major in another department.

Incoming students who intend to major in music should schedule a Pre-Major Advising Consultation during Orientation Week by signing up at the Arts & Science Open House or by emailing the Director of Undergraduate Studies. At this consultation, students will discuss their musical background and demonstrate their level of experience with theory and performance.

Students who decide to pursue the music major after their Freshman Year should contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies to devise a program of study.

All potential majors are strongly encouraged to enroll in MUSIC 1101 – Elements of Music in the Fall semester of their Freshman Year and MUSIC 2201 – Introduction to Music Studies in the Spring. This will maximize flexibility in scheduling the remaining Core Curriculum courses and electives.

MUSIC 2101 – Theory, Materials and Techniques I and MUSIC 2102 – Theory, Materials and Techniques II form a two-semester sequence that will generally be taken in the Sophomore Year. Based on their Pre-Major Advising Consultation and subject to the instructor’s permission, however, suitably qualified students may take MUSIC 2101 and 2102 in their Freshman Year.

Students in the College of Arts and Sciences usually declare their majors during their Sophomore Year. Prerequisites for admission to the major are completion of  MUSIC 2101 – Theory, Materials and Techniques I  and MUSIC 2201 – Introduction to Music Studies with a grade of B or better in both courses. In consultation with the Director of Undergraduate Studies, students must choose an advisor from among the department faculty before applying for admission to the major, which is decided by the faculty as a whole. Once admitted to the major, students design their program of study with their advisors.

Music majors must complete the Core Curriculum plus at least two electives. The electives allow students to focus on diverse topics, such as composition, performance, jazz studies, Western art music, Asian music, vernacular musics, etc. Elective courses are generally numbered 3000-4000 and are 4 credits. A selection of 1000-2000 courses can be enhanced with additional content and an extra credit by combining the course with MUSIC 3901; students should consult the relevant instructor for information on this option’s availability and the extra work it entails. Students intending to pursue graduate study or professional work in music should consult with their advisors about taking further advanced courses in addition to the two required electives.

Degree Requirements

Prerequisite Requirements

The following courses are pre-requisites for the major. A grade of B or better is needed to qualify
Music 2101 – Theory, Material & Techniques I (Fall only)
Music 2201 – Introduction to Music Studies (Spring only)

Core Curriculum Requirements

Majors are expected to meet the following curriculum requirements with a grade of C or better:

  1. General Requirements

One 1/2000-level History & Culture (H&C) or Materials & Techniques (M&T) course
Music 3211 – Junior/Senior Seminar in Musicology

  1. Materials & Techniques

Music 2102 – Theory, Materials & Techniques II
One 3/4000-level Materials & Techniques course

  1. History & Culture

Music 2207 – Histories of Western Music I or Music 2208 – Histories of Western Music II or Music 2209 – Histories of Western Music III
One 3/4000-level History & Culture course

  1. Collaborative Performance

Two semesters of Collaborative Performance in a musical organization or ensemble is required. If the organization or ensemble is not sponsored by the Department of Music, participation must be registered and overseen via a 1-credit independent study with a faculty member. (Courses are typically numbered 3601-3660 and 4601-4651.)

  1. Electives

In addition to the above required courses, majors must take either one further 3/4000-level elective (History & Culture, Materials & Techniques, or a suitable course cross-listed in another department), or 4 credits of Individual Instruction (Music 3511, Music 3512, Music 3513, Music 3514 and/or Music 4501)

When to take Courses

A form is kept in the department office through which music majors and their advisors keep track of the student’s progress through the music curriculum. The ideal sequence of required classroom courses for a music major would be as follows:

  • Freshman Year: 1/2000-level H&C or M&T course (preferably MUSIC 1101 in Fall); Music 2201
  • Sophomore Year: MUSIC 2101 (Fall); MUSIC 2102 (Spring);  Music 2207 or Music 2208
  • Junior Year: Music 3211; one 3/4000 H&C or M&T
  • Senior Year: Remaining 3/4000 H&C or M&T; 3/4000 Elective, if necessary

Courses Fulfilling the Materials and Techniques Requirement (Please Note: Not every course listed is offered every year. Click here for current course listings. Click here for course descriptions.)

MUSIC 1100 - Elements of Musical Notation
MUSIC 1101 - Elements of Music
MUSIC 1105 - Introduction to Music Theory
MUSIC 1466 - Physics of Musical Sound (crosslisted)
MUSIC 2101 - Theory, Materials & Techniques I (taught annually in Fall only)
MUSIC 2102 - Theory, Materials & Techniques II (taught annually in Spring only)
MUSIC 2111 - Songwriting
MUSIC 2112 - Collaborative Songwriting
MUSIC 2201 - Introduction to Music Studies (taught annually in Spring only)
MUSIC 2421 - Computers in Music Performance
MUSIC 3111 - Jazz Theory and Improvisation I
MUSIC 3112 - Jazz Theory and Improvisation II
MUSIC 3121 - Choral Conducting
MUSIC 3122 - Conducting
MUSIC 3160 - Analyzing World Music
MUSIC 3431 - Sound Design (crosslisted)
MUSIC 4112 - Composition
MUSIC 4121 - Advanced Conducting
MUSIC 4181 - Psychology of Music (crosslisted)
MUSIC 4340 - Fieldwork Methods in Ethnomusicology
MUSIC 4360 - The Art of Field Recording: Philosophy, History, Practice

Courses Fulfilling the History and Culture Requirement (Please Note: Not every course listed is offered every year. Click here for current course listings. Click here for course descriptions.)

MUSIC 1201 - European Music from the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Baroque
MUSIC 1202 - European and American Art Music from 1750
MUSIC 1212 - Music on the Brain (crosslisted)
MUSIC 1312 - History of Rock Music (crosslisted)
MUSIC 1313 - A Survey of Jazz (crosslisted)
MUSIC 1320 - Music of Latin America (crosslisted)
MUSIC 1321 - Music of Mexico and the Mexican Diaspora (crosslisted)
MUSIC 1330 - African Music (crosslisted)
MUSIC 1341 - Gamelan in Indonesian History and Cultures (crosslisted)
MUSIC 1350 - Music of the Arab World (crosslisted)
MUSIC 2006 - Punk Culture: The Aesthetics and Politics of Refusal (crosslisted)
MUSIC 2207 - History of Western Music I
MUSIC 2208 - History of Western Music II
MUSIC 2209 - History of Western Music III
MUSIC 2221 - Bach and Handel
MUSIC 2224 - Mozart in History, History in Mozart
MUSIC 2241 - Music as Drama: An Introduction to Opera (crosslisted)
MUISC 2244 - The Music, Art and Technology of the Organ
MUSIC 2260 - Music of the 1960s
MUSIC 2270 - Thinking with Music
MUSIC 2311 - The Art and Craft of Music Journalism
MUSIC 2320 - Latino Music in the U.S.(crosslisted)
MUSIC 2330 - Music in and of East Asia (crosslisted)
MUSIC 2340 - The Beatles (crosslisted)
MUSIC 2350 - Music of the African Diaspora (crosslisted)
MUSIC 2360 - Music and Islam
MUSIC 2380 - Performing Hip Hop
MUSIC 2642 - The Art of Math: Mathematical Traditions of Symmetry and Harmony (crosslisted)
MUSIC 2701 - Music and Digital Gameplay (crosslisted)
MUSIC 2703 - Thinking Media (crosslisted)
MUSIC 3205 - Cultural Studies of Music
MUSIC 3211 - Seminar in advanced Music Studies
MUSIC 3304 - Remixing Hi-Hop History
MUSIC 3314 - Resistance, Reform, and Revolt: Sound and Music in Early Modern England
MUSIC 3480 - Brazilian Culture through Its Music (crosslisted)
MUSIC 3490 - Hip Hop in Global Perspective
MUSIC 4222 - Music and Monstrous Imaginings
MUSIC 4304 - Imaging Music, Imagining Culture in Medieval Persia (crosslisted)
MUSIC 4306 - Historical Performance Practice
MUSIC 4312 - Synthesizing Pop: Electronics and the Musical Imagination (crosslisted)
MUSIC 4333 - U.S. Pop Music & Racial Common Sense (crosslisted)
MUSIC 4345 - Sound, Silence and the Sacred (crosslisted)
MUSIC 4352 - Medieval Cosmologies: Text, Image, and Music (crosslisted)
MUSIC 4454 - Writing on Tape in the 1970s (crosslisted)


Request to become a Music Major form

Independent Study

Independent Study in Music (MUSIC 4901) affords students the opportunity to pursue special interests or research not treated in the regular curriculum. Credit is variable, depending on the nature of the project (1-4 credits), and experience in the proposed area of study is required. A faculty member, who becomes the student’s instructor for the independent course, must approve the proposed study and agree to provide continuing supervision of the work. Students must prepare a proposal for independent study; application form needs to be submitted via Data.Arts.


The honors program in music is intended to provide special distinction for the department’s ablest undergraduate majors. Students who have maintained a GPA of 3.5 in the major, and an average of 3.0 in all courses, may apply to work for music honors in the second semester of their junior year (the deadline is April 5). The music faculty will review the applications and inform applicants if their application is successful. As soon as possible thereafter, but no later than the first day of their senior year, the student forms a committee of three or more faculty members to guide and evaluate the honors work.

In their senior year, candidates enroll in MUSIC 4911-4912, with the chair of the honors committee as instructor.

Candidates are encouraged to formulate programs that allow them to demonstrate their musical and scholarly abilities, culminating in an honors thesis, composition, or recital, to be presented not later than April 1 of the senior year. An oral examination on the honors project will be administered by the candidate’s committee not later than April 20. The level of honors conferred is based primarily on the candidate’s performance in the honors program, and secondarily on the candidate’s overall record in departmental courses and activities.

Honors Symposium

In years where there are at least two May degree students working on honors theses, the Department will hold an honors symposium during spring semester. Each honors student will present his or her project for 20 minutes. Thesis writers may read a paper and show some visuals; students doing a performance project will also make a verbal presentation, bringing in the analytical component of their thesis.


Interested and elegible students should send an e-mail including the description of a proposed project (no longer than 300 words) to the Department of Music’s Director of Undergraduate Studies via the Music Undergraduate Coordinator, Fumi Nagasaki-Pracel ( by April 5, of their junior year.

Career Development

The College of Arts and Sciences Career Services Center is a valuable resource for music students. Examples of music specific services include one-on-one practice interviews, career events, internships and summer programs, job searches, help with resume and cover letter writing, and individual career counseling.

Visit the Career Services website.