Courses & Requirements

The requirements below apply to those students with a 2019-2020 catalog year. Students are required by college policy to follow the major (and minor) requirements found in the catalog in effect at the time they declared their first major. To find your catalog year, please visit your Grades and Academic Records found in myOxy and access the catalog that matches your catalog year.

Music

Overview

The Occidental Music Department is a community that values and cultivates the creation, performance, and critical study of the world's music. We believe that music, as one of the original liberal arts, is best studied in the context of the liberal arts, and thus aspire for our students to become well-rounded scholar-musicians. Students majoring in Music develop an integrated understanding of music as creative work, cultural and historical expression, and performance. Through the rigorous study of composition, performance, music production, popular and vernacular music, conducting, music theory, musicianship, and music history, Music majors acquire a complete set of skills that they can apply to their own area of musical expertise.

In addition to offering courses requiring a knowledge of music theory, the Music Department offers private lessons from world-class performance faculty, as well as a wide array of courses in subjects including popular music, jazz, opera, and music from various world traditions. Students collaborate with local arts organizations, pursue for-credit internships in the music industry, and routinely attend lectures, master classes, and live concerts by renowned musical artists.

Because of the quality, breadth, and depth of Occidental College's liberal arts curriculum, the Music major enables students to pursue music professionally or begin careers in a wide variety of other fields. Recent alumni have gone on to careers in conducting, film composing, music publishing, arts management, music education, and singing, to name a few, as well as in medicine, geology, classics, and law.

The development of musical craft and artistry requires time as well as effort. Students considering a major or minor in Music are urged to begin taking music theory courses and private lessons in their first year. New students who are undecided about majoring in Music may begin their music studies in their second year and still complete the major. However, students planning to study abroad in their third year must begin their music theory studies during their first year. Students study, practice, and perform in Booth Music Hall (including our Music Library) and Thorne Hall, with an electronic music studio and 24-hour access to practice rooms.

Major Requirements

MAJOR

All students pursuing a Music major must complete the following courses:

Required Courses:

MUSC 151Theory and Practice of Music I

4 units

MUSC 250Theory and Practice of Music II

4 units

MUSC 490Senior Seminar

4 units

In addition to these 12 units required of all Music majors, students majoring in Music must pursue one of the following concentrations: Music Production, Music Composition, Instrumental Performance, Vocal Performance, Ethnomusicology/Popular Music, Musicology, or Music Theory & Analysis. 

Music Production

Music business instruction will be provided through academic advising, internships, and our music production guest speaker series.

MUSC 113Learning to Compose

4 units

MUSC 148Introduction to Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)

4 units

MUSC 248Advanced Production: Sampling and Synthesis

4 units

MUSC 249Recording Techniques

4 units

MUSC 348Mixing and Mastering

4 units

MUSC 351Theory and Practice of Music III

4 units

MUSC 263Western Music and Culture in the 20th Century

4 units

One 4-unit production elective (two, if they pass out of MUSC 148)

One MUSC 200-level or above popular or non-Western music course

4 units

Two semesters of piano study (if new to the piano, the first semester will be MUSA 102, for which declared majors will receive funding)

2 units

Two units of ensemble participation (MUSC 120-130)

2 units

Students may pass out of MUSC 148 after receiving the permission of the instructor of the course. If they do so, they must take an additional production elective.

Music Composition

MUSC 148Introduction to Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)

4 units

Four semesters of MUSC 257

16 units

MUSC 261Western Music and Culture: 1600-1789

4 units

MUSC 272Instrumental Conducting

2 units

MUSC 351Theory and Practice of Music III

4 units

One MUSC 200-level or above popular or non-Western music course (must satisfy Second-Stage Writing)

4 units

Two semesters of ensemble participation (MUSC 120-130)

2-4 units

Instrumental Performance

MUSC 113Learning to Compose

4 units

MUSC 261Western Music and Culture: 1600-1789

4 units

MUSC 272Instrumental Conducting

2 units

MUSC 351Theory and Practice of Music III

4 units

One MUSC 200-level or above popular or non-Western music course (must satisfy Second-Stage Writing)

4 units

One 4-unit elective 200-level or above

4 units

Six semesters of private lessons on one's principal instrument (MUSA 200-level course)

6 units

Six semesters of ensemble participation (MUSC 127, MUSC 129, MUSC 130)

6 units

Vocal Performance

MUSC 113Learning to Compose

4 units

MUSC 115Topics in Vocal Music

4 units

MUSC 261Western Music and Culture: 1600-1789

4 units

MUSC 273Choral Conducting

2 units

MUSC 351Theory and Practice of Music III

4 units

One MUSC 200-level or above popular or non-Western music course (must satisfy Second-Stage Writing)

4 units

Six semesters of private voice lessons (MUSA 200-level course)

6 units

Ensemble Participation (MUSC 120, MUSC 121, or MUSC 122)

6-8 units

 

Ethnomusicology or Popular Music

Four MUSC 200-level or above popular or non-Western music courses (one must satisfy Second-Stage Writing)

16 units

Two 100-level popular or non-Western music courses

8 units

MUSC 261Western Music and Culture: 1600-1789

4 units

MUSC 263Western Music and Culture in the 20th Century

4 units

Two semesters of participation in MUSC 123, MUSC 124, or MUSC 127

2 units

Two semesters of private lessons (a MUSA 200-level course)

2 units

Musicology

MUSC 113Learning to Compose

4 units

MUSC 115Topics in Vocal Music

4 units

MUSC 261Western Music and Culture: 1600-1789

4 units

MUSC 263Western Music and Culture in the 20th Century

4 units

MUSC 351Theory and Practice of Music III

4 units

Two MUSC 200- or 300-level history or culture electives chosen in consultation with one's Music major advisor, one of which must be a popular or non-Western music course

8 units

Two semesters of ensemble participation (MUSC 120-130)

2-4 units

Two semesters of private lessons (MUSA courses)

2 units

Music Theory and Analysis

MUSC 113Learning to Compose

4 units

MUSC 257Composition Seminar

4 units

MUSC 261Western Music and Culture: 1600-1789

4 units

MUSC 263Western Music and Culture in the 20th Century

4 units

MUSC 351Theory and Practice of Music III

4 units

One MUSC 200- or 300-level analysis-rich course that fulfills the second-stage writing requirement

4 units

Two semesters of MUSC 350

4 units

Two semesters of ensemble participation (MUSC 120-130)

2-4 units

Two semesters of private lessons (MUSA courses)

2 units

Second-Stage Writing Requirement

Students majoring in Music will satisfy the second-stage component of Occidental College's college-wide writing requirement by successfully completing a writing-intensive 200-level course in the sophomore or junior year with a grade of B- or better. The writing-intensive courses that qualify are indicated in their course description. These courses will adopt the First-Stage Writing Proficiency Requirement's 1-6 rubric to proficiency in writing music scholarship. A grade of B- or better in these courses thus means that students will have received the rubric rating of 4 or above. Students receiving a C+ or lower will have to take another Music course that satisfies this requirement. If the student fails to pass this requirement after taking this second course, the student will have to take and pass WRD 201 in order to satisfy this requirement for graduation.

Comprehensive Requirement

Senior music majors complete a senior project related to the student's area of interest. All senior projects involve both a written and an oral component. The written component (thesis draft; or analytic, final draft of argument-driven essay plus recital program notes) must be completed by the end of MUSC 490, which is offered in the fall semester. Each component is graded High Pass (HP), Pass (P), or Fail (F). A final grade of Pass with Distinction (PD) on the senior comprehensive will be awarded if all components (written, oral, and performance, if applicable) are graded High Pass.

In the Fall semester of their junior year, students submit a proposal for their senior project to the Music Department faculty for approval. Students pursuing concentrations in Ethnomusicology/Popular Music, Musicology, or Music Theory & Analysis will propose a senior thesis of 6500 words or more in length (excluding footnotes and bibliography). Students with a particular interest in composition will prepare a portfolio of original compositions, including both acoustic and electro-acoustic music, some of which will be presented in a composition recital during the senior year. Composers will write an argument-driven analytic paper of 2500 words or more in length, focusing on the work of a composer whose work has influenced their styles. Students with a demonstrated ability in performance will propose a junior and a senior recital, and will write an argument-driven analytic paper of 2500 words or more in length on a piece or pieces of music on the senior recital. Students pursuing music production will complete a project designed with their advisor and in consultation with the Music faculty, and will write an argument-driven analytic paper of 2500 words or more in length on an aspect of production relevant to their project.

All seniors will present their work in a public forum during the spring semester. If the Music faculty determines that the senior has not sufficiently prepared to complete the project in time, the senior must take a written examination in lieu of the recital or thesis submission/presentation in order to fulfill the senior comprehensive requirement. The faculty will supply questions drawn from the material of that senior’s course of music study at Occidental.

College Honors

Students who have achieved at least a 3.25 average in their Music courses and have demonstrated exceptional potential in their Music concentration of study (one of the concentrations listed above) may apply for the Honors Program at the end of their junior year. For information about the Honors Program, students should consult their Music Department faculty adviser. See the Honors Program for additional information.

Minor Requirements

Ethnomusicology and Popular Music

Students must complete a total of 20 units.

One MUSC 200-level or above popular or non-Western music course

4 units

Two additional electives at or above the 200-level

8 units

Choose one from:

MUSC 102/LLAS 102Music of Latin America

4 units

MUSC 103Music of Asia and the Pacific Islands

4 units

MUSC 104/BLST 104Music of Africa and the Middle East

4 units

MUSC 105/BLST 105Topics in American Music

4 units

MUSC 111/BLST 111Topics in Jazz History

4 units

Music Theory Placement

All Music students will begin their Music Theory and Musicianship study in one of two ways: by taking MUSC 101 (no prior experience with music fundamentals), or MUSC 151 (an AP Music Theory score of 4 or 5 or significant prior work in Music Theory).

Awards

The Elinor Remick Warren Award is presented for the most outstanding student composition. 

The Peters Prize is awarded to the student who has done the most to promote music on the Occidental campus. 

The James F. English and Marie E. English Award is given to the most promising vocal student, and is used for one year of private vocal study at Occidental College. 

The Marcia Hannah Farmer Award is given to a vocal student and is applied toward private vocal study at Occidental College.

Transfer Credit Policies

The Music Department policy on transfer credit conforms to College policy. Students with a score of 4 or 5 on the AP Music Theory examination meet the prerequisite for taking MUSC 151. Students should reference the Transfer Credit section for more details.

Courses

MUSC - Music Courses

MUSA - Music Applied Study