Musicology Curriculum

Program Requirements

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The Division of Musicology offers courses that range from introductory to advanced levels, in concert and popular musics from around the world or arranged around topics and methodologies. 

Conservatory students are expected to develop as writers and communicators as they progress through the first years of the conservatory curriculum, in particular their musicology coursework.

Sample courses

View Musicology Curriculum in Catalog

100-level courses

●     MHST 101 Introduction to the History and Literature of Music

This is a required course of all baccalaureate students in the conservatory, and is generally taken early in their course of study. It is a survey course aimed at providing a fundamental understanding of western music from the Middle Ages to the modern day, chiefly in classical traditions, but with excursions into jazz, popular, and ethnomusicology.

In addition to this focus, the course also provides, in a sense, a valuable introduction to the Conservatory itself, with a substantial slate of guest lecturers drawn from the faculty. Building study, active listening, writing, and library skills is also part of the instructional scheme.

Other music history courses at the 100 level, such as MHST 138 The Broadway Musical, are meant to be overviews of expansive topics, and may be taken for credit by any member of the college or conservatory.

●      ETHN 100 Introduction to Ethnomusicology

This course introduces students to a range of questions, skills, and approaches that concern ethnomusicologists, including ethnographic research practices, social analysis, and analyzing musical structures. We will consider historical precedents before considering the methodological and ethical concerns that currently shape the discipline.

●      ETHN 103 Music as Social Life

Using different case studies from around the world, this course examines the power of music in social life. Rather than diving deep into musical structures, we will explore music in its cultural, political, religious, economic, historical, and/or ecological contexts. Using different case studies from around the world, this course examines the power of music in social life. Rather than diving deep into musical structures, we will explore music in its cultural, political, religious, economic, historical, and/or ecological contexts.


200-level courses

A five-course tier here allows the student to move from the introductory survey level of 101 immediately to in-depth discussion of music under chronologically determined headings:

Music of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance
Music in the Baroque Era
Music in the Classic Era
The Nineteenth-Century Art Music Tradition
The Twentieth-Century Art Music Tradition

In addition, there are numerous courses that present an survey of select topics at the intermediate level, investigating many different styles and genres of music:

American Music

Desire and the Diva

Hip-Hop History and Analysis

Introduction to African-American Music I and II
A Thematic History of Jazz through the Neumann Collection

These courses taken together offer a one-year survey of musical styles and forms cultivated by African Americans. The first semester includes studies focused on the diversity of African musical and cultural continuities in the Americas and its influence on early African American instrumental and vocal expressions foundational to the blues aesthetic. The second semester extends this study of instrumental-vocal music and its creative practitioners within the entertainment industry against the backdrop of ongoing developments in social justice, civil rights, and spiritual movements throughout the 1900s to the present.

Ethnomusicological offerings at the 200-level provide a similar in-depth discourse, with classes devoted to conceptually oriented themes. These include:

Music and Ecology

Decolonizing Ethnomusicology

Building Community Through Music

Doing Musical Ethnography

300-level courses

This tier offers a range of topics at our most advanced level. The topics themselves are often sophisticated and cutting edge, such as a course in music and narratology, ethnomusicology as activism, or various courses in areas including music and race, gender criticism, or specific forms of musical analysis.

Additionally genre courses (the concerto, the oratorio, studies in opera, the history of film music, American popular music), composer courses (Beethoven, Mozart, Bach), and methodology courses for both musicology and ethnomusicology provide a wide range of discourse.


Independent study with a professor takes two forms. First, private readings are offered from one to three hours of credit, and allow students to pursue directed research topics in areas not generally covered in the class curriculum. These private readings generally culminate in a written project. Second, students majoring in musicology or taking the BA in Musical Studies may elect to pursue the Honors Program. This is a yearlong program of intensive study with an individual professor, generally structured around a semester of original, often primary source research and a semester of thesis writing and defense.

Additional Academic Opportunities

Other curricular offerings include the First-Year Seminar Program and direct ensembles through the Applied Studies Program, namely Javanese Gamelan and Collegium Musicum.