In this section of the Music Student Handbook, you will find information about requirements for the music major and minor.
The music major curriculum at Occidental entails courses in music theory and musicianship, music history and culture, electives, applied music lessons, and performing ensembles culminating in a senior project in the student’s final year of study. Since the first year of music theory and musicianship is required for most other courses pertaining to the major, students are strongly urged to begin this sequence in their freshman year.
Course requirements for the music major include a minimum of 46 units of coursework, and majors may choose to elect additional courses in areas of musical study in which they have a particular interest.
Music majors should know that graduate work in music theory, music history (musicology), and classical voice requires a reading knowledge of French and German; a reading knowledge of Latin is also a very good idea.
A basic level of piano proficiency is required of all music majors. Students satisfy this requirement in the musicianship classes attached to MUSC 150, 151, 250, and 251.
Music Theory and Musicianship: 12 units
- Music 151/151A (Music 150/150A is a prerequisite)
- Music 250/250A
- Music 251/251A
Music History and Culture: 16 units
- Music 261
- Music 263
- One 200- or 300-level non-Western or popular music course (280, 285 or 385)
- One additional music history and culture course numbered 200 or above, chosen in consultation with your adviser
One 300-level writing-intensive course and Senior Seminar: 6 units
- Any designated MUSC 3xx-level course, and Music 490
Electives: 8 units. Choose electives numbered 200 or higher in consultation with your adviser.
Ensemble Participation: 2 units
- 2 semesters performing in a faculty-directed ensemble (Music 120-129)
Seniors presenting a solo recital must take at least two semesters of an ensemble in the student’s performing area. At least two semesters of applied lessons must also be in the student’s performance area.
Applied Lessons: 2 units
- 2 semesters individual performance study (MUSA 100, MUSA201-276)
Please consult the timetable in the Appendix for the course of study for the music major.
The Senior Comprehensive: Senior music majors complete a senior project related to the student’s area of interest. All senior projects involve written and oral components. Each component is graded High Pass (HP), Pass (P), or Fail (F).
A final grade of “Passed With Distinction” on the senior comprehensive will be awarded if all components (written, aural, and performance, if applicable) are graded High Pass.
See the section on the Senior Comprehensive for a more detailed description.
Writing: Students majoring in music will satisfy the final component of Occidental's college-wide third-year writing requirement by successfully completing a MUSC 300-level writing-intensive course in the junior year and receiving a grade of B- or better. Students who do not achieve a B- will be required to undertake additional coursework in academic writing during the final two semesters of study (WRD 401), passing the course with a grade of C or better. While the content of MUSC 390 will change from year to year, it will always include a significant writing component. Students should familiarize themselves with the departmental requirement at the time of declaring the major. The rubric we use for assessing the third-year writing requirement can be downloaded here.
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The music minor has a minimum requirement of 20 units. Students may choose to elect additional courses in areas of musical study in which they have a particular interest.
Emphasis in Performance: 20 units, including MUSC 151 and 250, one course from MUSC 261 or 262, and four semesters each of applied music study and ensemble participation.
Emphasis in Ethnomusicology: 20 units, including Music 150, one course from Music 102-105, one 200- or 300-level non-Western or popular music course (280, 285 or 385) , and two additional courses at or above the 200-level agreed upon with your Music advisor. T hese two courses must be related to ethnomusicological approaches and methodologies – courses in sociology, cognitive science, psychology, and linguistics, for example, may be appropriate.
Emphasis in Music History: 20 units, including Music 151 and 250; 261; then either two from 261, 262, 263, OR one from 261, 262, 263 and one music-history elective 200-level or above, agreed upon with your Music advisor.
Emphasis in Music Theory: 20 units, including Music 151, 250, 251; 261; one 200+ elective from Composition, Conducting, Topics in Advanced Analysis, or other course agreed upon with your advisor.
Emphasis in Composition and Media: 20 units, including Music 151 and 250, 257, MUSA100 and MUSC 230, one semester of applied music study or ensemble participation, and one additional course at or above the 200-level agreed upon with your Music advisor. This course may be taken outside the Music Department: Sound Design for Theater, Film, and Multimedia (THEA 248), or Sound Theory and Design (ARTM 240), for example. MUSC 117 would also be a good choice for an additional course.
Students who wish to declare a music minor may do so at any time up to the fall semester of the senior year, provided they have planned a course schedule that permits the fulfillment of the course requirements outlined above. Because it may take a student at least four semesters to fulfill all the requirements of the music minor, students who wish to declare a music minor must plan to begin applied music, ensemble, and music theory/musicianship-music history studies no later than the fall semester of the junior year.
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