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BA in Music: Musicology/HTCC Focus

The BA in Music with a focus in Musicology/HTCC (history, theory, criticism, composition) approaches the study of music as a humanistic discipline, critically examining a variety of musical practices and their histories, ranging from the classical to the popular to the non-western. The program takes an integrated approach to the musicological disciplines of music history, theory, criticism, ethnomusicology, and analysis, bringing a variety of critical, theoretical, and ethnographic perspectives to bear on the study of music. In addition, students may also complete coursework in music composition and conducting as part of this focus.  The structure of the Musicology/HTCC focus is largely elective-driven.  Students work with an advisor to identify their particular interests and learning goals, leading to a final portfolio of scholarly or creative work.

BA in MUSIC DEGREE REQUIREMENTS             45 credits

Every student entering the BA in Music elects to focus in either Music Performance or Musicology/HTCC. Regardless of focus, all majors begin with a set of basic requirements in musicianship, music history, and music analysis, usually completed during the first two years of study.  Students electing to focus in Musicology/HTCC then move onto more specialized, upper-division coursework in history, theory, criticism, ethnomusicology and composition, preparing a portfolio of work in their final year of study.  NOTE: There is no audition, performance, or recital requirement for the BA in Music with a focus in Musicology/HTCC.

BASIC REQUIREMENTS                                                                                
MUSC 139, 140       Piano A and B                                                                       2 credits
MUSC 189, 190       Elements and Musicianship 1 and 2                                 6 credits
MUSC 226, 227       Music in Western Civilization 1 and 2                               6 credits
MUSC 232 or 233   Folk Music in America or Intro. to Ethnomusicology     3 credits
MUSC 236, 237       Music Analysis 1 and 2                                                        6 credits
MUSC 311               Twentieth-Century Music                                                    3 credits
ADDITIONAL MUSICOLOGY/HTCC REQUIREMENTS                                                 
MUSC 439               Portfolio Review                                                                   2 credits
MUSC                       Electives*                                                                            17 credits              
*The elective requirement may be satisfied by upper-division coursework in:
  • Music history, theory, criticism and ethnomusicology (MUSC 315, 330-339);
  • Harmony (MUSC 256/7), Counterpoint (306), Composition (356/7), Conducting (365/6);
  • Students may also count a maximum of 3 credits of Performance Organization (MUSC 160/5); a maximum of 3 credits of applied study; and one 3-credit, 300-level course in another humanities or social science discipline, with an emphasis on theory, subject to department approval, toward the elective requirement.
In addition, Musicology/HTCC majors must take at least one, 3-credit course in non-western or non-canonic music to fulfill the elective requirement.

The BA curriculum in Music with a focus in Musicology/HTCC centers on three broad learning areas: musicianship; critical history, theory, and analysis; and integrated research.  Each area is designed to help students achieve specific learning outcomes.


The first year centers around a year-long course in musicianship, with students receiving instruction in basic solfège, harmony, keyboard, and aural skills.  Prospective music majors take MUSC 139 and MUSC 189 (Piano A and Musicianship I) in their first semester of study, continuing on to MUSC 140 and MUSC 190 (Piano B and Musicianship II) in their second semester.  At the start of their second year, students interested in coursework in composition and conducting, as well as those interested in pursuing the music education track, enroll in Harmony I (MUSC 256), an applied course in basic composition intended to consolidate their musicianship skills while also providing a foundation for upper-division and elective tutorials in harmony, composition, jazz harmony, and conducting.  In addition to written mastery of all music theoretical rudiments, learning outcomes for the first-year musicianship course focus on the development of skills for creative expression in music, as well as both practical and informal reasoning skills.  Students completing the first-year musicianship course will demonstrate:   

  • An ability to sing and transcribe diatonic melodies that modulate to closely related keys;
  • An ability two realize the harmonic implications of a diatonic melody or bass, as well as those that modulate to closely related keys, by singing an appropriate countermelody or bass;  
  • An ability to accompany a simple (i..e root-position) diatonic bass line on sight, at the piano in strict, four-part harmony;
  • An ability to provide a written three- or four-part harmonization of a diatonic melody or bass, as well as those that modulate to closely related and relative keys.
Students completing the second-year course in harmony will demonstrate:
  • An ability sing and transcribe melodies that make use of applied chromaticism;
  • An ability to accompany a bass line, on sight, at the piano that modulates to closely related keys;
  • An ability to provide a written, four-part harmonization of a bass using more advanced techniques for sequences, cadences, chromaticism, and modulations to more distantly related keys.
Critical History, Theory, & Analysis

Students in their second year take three different surveys, introducing them to basic questions and methods in music history, criticism, analysis and ethnomusicology (MUSC 227 and 227; 232 or 233; and 236 and 237). In addition to an increased knowledge of repertory, an ability to identify and describe a range of musical styles and genres, and mastery of basic models for formal music analysis, these courses also provide students with a critical vocabulary for discussing, analyzing, and evaluating claims made about music and its various cultural-historical contexts.  Students completing the second-year survey course will demonstrate:

  • The ability to write a short essay, using appropriate rhetorical strategies, comparing different musical styles, genres, or practices;       
  • The ability to write a short essay analyzing the formal features of a piece of common-practice music;
  • The ability to write a short, critical essay examining the historical, social, or intellectual context of a particular piece, style, genre or musical practice.

Following the second-year survey, students work with their advisor to develop a program of upper-division coursework. Students may choose from courses in a variety of musicological subfields ranging from ethnographic and archival work, to cultural theory and formal analysis.  Students may also choose from a range of practicum tutorials in harmony, composition, improvisation, and conducting.  Upper-division courses in musicology examine the various historical and social processes contributing to the creation of musical practices and meaning.  Upper-division courses aso emphasize engagement with a range of critical and theoretical models from the scholarly literature, and consider the value of theory to musicological inquiry more broadly. Students taking upper division electives will demonstrate:

  • Increased knowledge of specific musical styles, genres, and practices, and an ability to describe them using increasingly sophisticated and critical modes of analysis, beyond those of formal analysis;
  • Engagement with arguments from the scholarly literature and the ability to cite them appropriately;
  • The ability to develop research topics and research questions by engaging the scholarly literature;
  • Proficiency in clear writing and speaking when presenting original work as well as when representing the ideas of others.
The Portfolio: Integrated Inquiry and Research

In their final year, students complete a final portfolio of written or creative work.  Beginning in their junior year, students work with their advisor to formulate a prospectus of guiding questions meant to help students in their selection of course electives as well as to direct their research and creative work as they develop their portfolio in their junior and senior years.  The final contents of the portfolio are determined in consultation with the student’s advisor, though they must include a reflective statement on method as well as a critical evaluation of learning outcomes such as the ones outlined above. A student's portfolio will demonstrate:

  • Detailed understanding of a particular musical style, genre, or practice and the historical and social processes that shaped it;
  • An understanding of a particular theoretical approach or critical model and an ability to bring it to bear on their research;
  • An ability to develop original questions for research through engagement with existing scholarship;
  • An ability to reflect critically on method and articulate its relationship to musicological inquiry;
  • Increased rhetorical sophistication in both written and spoken discourse when presenting original research as well as when representing the ideas of others.
Graduate Study

Students interested in graduate study in a musicological discipline should work closely with an advisor to identify suitable graduate programs as well as to prepare a successful graduate school application.  All students interested in PhD study in music should have advanced proficiency in a foreign language, should possess strong critical reading and writing skills, and should demonstrate an interest in and capacity for independent research.  In addition, students interested in graduate study are strongly encouraged to develop, possibly through pursuing a minor course of study in another discipline, a broad understanding of theory and criticism in the humanities and should demonstrate an ability to bring various models of criticism in the humanities to bear on their studies in music.