Courses & Requirements

IMPORTANT NOTE

The requirements below apply to those students with a 2022-2023 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

Students majoring in Music must choose one of the following concentrations to pursue: music production; composition; instrumental performance; vocal performance; ethnomusicology or popular music; musicology; or music theory and analysis. Students considering any of these tracks should begin by taking the appropriate entry-level music theory course in their first year. All concentrations require music theory, and many Music courses (including all the production courses) have a music theory prerequisite. Students with no prior music theory experience must take MUSC 101, offered in the fall semester. Students with some experience in music theory should take the Music Theory Placement Exam to see if they can pass into MUSC 151, offered in the spring semester. 

All students wishing to declare the Music major must have completed MUSC 151 with a grade of B-minus or higher. Students wishing to declare the Music Production concentration must also have completed MUSC 148 with a grade of B-minus or higher. Both courses must be completed by the end of the sophomore year.

Students considering studying abroad in their junior year must begin the music theory sequence in their first year and should only consider study abroad programs that can advance them in their particular Music major concentration. We offer one minor concentration, in Ethnomusicology and Popular Music.

Requirements

Major

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

Required Courses:

MUSC 151Music Theory II

4 units

MUSC 201The Ethics and Aesthetics of Sampling

4 units

MUSC 251Music Theory III

4 units

MUSC 261Western Music and Culture: 1580-1829

4 units

MUSC 263Western Music and Culture: 1830 to the Present

4 units

MUSC 490Senior Seminar

4 units

In addition to these 24 units required of all Music majors, students majoring in Music must pursue one of the following concentrations:

Concentration in Production

Required Courses:

MUSC 113Learning to Compose

4 units

MUSC 247Pro Tools Fundamentals

4 units

MUSC 348Mixing and Mastering

4 units

MUSC 351Music Theory IV

4 units

Production Elective

Students are required to complete one 4-unit production elective from the list below.

MUSC 242Music and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory

4 units

MUSC 245Introduction to Music Business

4 units

MUSC 246Live Sound Engineering

4 units

MUSC 248Advanced Production: Sampling and Synthesis

4 units

MUSC 249Recording Techniques

4 units

MUSC 252Introduction to Songwriting

4 units

MUSC 258Introduction to Film Scoring

4 units

Piano Proficiency

MUSC 231Piano Proficiency I

1 unit

MUSC 232Piano Proficency II

1 unit

Ensemble

Students must participate in two semesters of ensemble, selected from the courses below.

MUSC 120College Chorus

1 unit

MUSC 121Glee Club (Sopranos/Altos)

2 units

MUSC 122Glee Club (Tenors/Basses)

2 units

MUSC 123Afro-Cuban Drumming

1 unit

MUSC 124Son Jarocho Ensemble

1 unit

MUSC 127Jazz Ensemble

1 unit

MUSC 129Chamber Music

0 or 1 unit

MUSC 130Symphony Orchestra

0 or 1 unit

Comprehensive Preparation

It is highly recommended that students enroll in MUSC 474 each of their final two semesters at Oxy to engage in critical discussion, workshopping, and critique of their comprehensive project.

MUSC 474Senior Production Comprehensives Preparation

2 units

Concentration in Composition

MUSC 148Introduction to Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)

4 units

MUSC 351Music Theory IV

4 units

Conducting

Students must select one course from the list below (2 units).

MUSC 272Instrumental Conducting

2 units

MUSC 273Choral Conducting

2 units

Composition Seminar

Students are required to complete MUSC 257 four times, for a total of 16 units.

MUSC 257Composition Seminar

4 units

Ensemble

Students must participate in two semesters of ensemble, selected from the courses below.

MUSC 120College Chorus

1 unit

MUSC 121Glee Club (Sopranos/Altos)

2 units

MUSC 122Glee Club (Tenors/Basses)

2 units

MUSC 123Afro-Cuban Drumming

1 unit

MUSC 124Son Jarocho Ensemble

1 unit

MUSC 127Jazz Ensemble

1 unit

MUSC 128Chamber Jazz and Improvisation

1 unit

MUSC 129Chamber Music

0 or 1 unit

MUSC 130Symphony Orchestra

0 or 1 unit

Music Lessons

Students must take two semesters of private lessons. These are the MUSA ("Music applied") courses.

Concentration in Instrumental Performance

MUSC 113Learning to Compose

4 units

MUSC 351Music Theory IV

4 units

Conducting

Students must select one course from the list below.

MUSC 272Instrumental Conducting

2 units

MUSC 273Choral Conducting

2 units

Private Lessons

Students pursuing this concentration must complete six semesters of private study (200-level MUSA courses) on one's principal instrument. 

Ensemble

Students must participate in six semesters of ensemble on one's principal instrument, selected from the courses below.

MUSC 127Jazz Ensemble

1 unit

MUSC 130Symphony Orchestra

0 or 1 unit

Concentration in Vocal Performance

Vocal Performance

MUSC 351Music Theory IV

4 units

Conducting

Students must select one course from the list below (2 units).

MUSC 272Instrumental Conducting

2 units

MUSC 273Choral Conducting

2 units

Elective

Choose one of the following three courses:

MUSC 113Learning to Compose

4 units

MUSC 115Topics in Vocal Music

4 units

MUSC 252Introduction to Songwriting

4 units

Voice Lessons

Students pursuing this concentration must complete six semesters of private voice study.

MUSA 211Voice (Half Hour)

0 or 1 unit

MUSA 212Voice (One Hour)

0 or 1 unit

MUSA 213Jazz and Commercial Voice (Half Hour)

0 or 1 unit

MUSA 214Jazz and Commercial Voice (One Hour)

0 or 1 unit

Ensemble

Students must participate in six semesters of ensemble, selected from the courses below.

MUSC 120College Chorus

1 unit

MUSC 121Glee Club (Sopranos/Altos)

2 units

MUSC 122Glee Club (Tenors/Basses)

2 units

Concentration in Ethnomusicology or Popular Music

MUSC 113Learning to Compose

4 units

Students must complete two courses from the list below (8 units).

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 105Topics in American Music

4 units

MUSC 108European Vernacular Music

4 units

MUSC 111/BLST 111Topics in Jazz History

4 units

Students must complete two courses from the list below (8 units).

MUSC 280Introduction to Ethnomusicology

4 units

MUSC 283Music of Los Angeles

4 units

MUSC 285Topics in the Critical Study of Music

4 units

MUSC 286Music and Politics of the United States-Mexico Border

4 units

MUSC 385Advanced Topics in the Critical Study of Music

4 units

MUSC 386Performance and Politics of the United States-Mexico Border

4 units

Private Lessons

Students pursuing this concentration must complete two semesters of private lessons (200-level MUSA courses).

Ensemble

Students must participate in two semesters of ensemble, selected from the courses below.

MUSC 123Afro-Cuban Drumming

1 unit

MUSC 124Son Jarocho Ensemble

1 unit

MUSC 127Jazz Ensemble

1 unit

Concentration in Musicology

Musicology

MUSC 113Learning to Compose

4 units

MUSC 351Music Theory IV

4 units

Two semesters of MUSC 350, for a total of four units.

MUSC 350Music Analysis: Form, Genre, Point of View

2 units

Electives

Students must complete two courses from the list below (8 units).

MUSC 115Topics in Vocal Music

4 units

MUSC 264The Total Artwork

4 units

MUSC 266French Culture 1589-1848

4 units

MUSC 280Introduction to Ethnomusicology

4 units

MUSC 283Music of Los Angeles

4 units

MUSC 285Topics in the Critical Study of Music

4 units

MUSC 286Music and Politics of the United States-Mexico Border

4 units

MUSC 295Topics in Music: Composers

4 units

MUSC 385Advanced Topics in the Critical Study of Music

4 units

MUSC 386Performance and Politics of the United States-Mexico Border

4 units

Private Lessons

Students pursuing this concentration must complete two semesters of private lessons (200-level MUSA courses).

Ensemble

Students must participate in two semesters of ensemble, selected from the courses below.

MUSC 120College Chorus

1 unit

MUSC 121Glee Club (Sopranos/Altos)

2 units

MUSC 122Glee Club (Tenors/Basses)

2 units

MUSC 123Afro-Cuban Drumming

1 unit

MUSC 124Son Jarocho Ensemble

1 unit

MUSC 127Jazz Ensemble

1 unit

MUSC 129Chamber Music

0 or 1 unit

MUSC 130Symphony Orchestra

0 or 1 unit

Concentration in Music Theory and Analysis

MUSC 257Composition Seminar

4 units

MUSC 351Music Theory IV

4 units

Two semesters of MUSC 350 Music Analysis: Form, Genre, Point of View, for a total of 4 units credits.

MUSC 350Music Analysis: Form, Genre, Point of View

2 units

Electives

Students must complete two courses from the list below (8 units).

MUSC 242Music and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory

4 units

MUSC 280Introduction to Ethnomusicology

4 units

MUSC 285Topics in the Critical Study of Music

4 units

MUSC 295Topics in Music: Composers

4 units

MUSC 385Advanced Topics in the Critical Study of Music

4 units

MUSC 386Performance and Politics of the United States-Mexico Border

4 units

Private Lessons

Students pursuing this concentration must complete two semesters of private lessons (200-level MUSA courses).

Ensemble

Students must participate in two semesters of ensemble, selected from the courses below.

MUSC 120College Chorus

1 unit

MUSC 121Glee Club (Sopranos/Altos)

2 units

MUSC 122Glee Club (Tenors/Basses)

2 units

MUSC 123Afro-Cuban Drumming

1 unit

MUSC 124Son Jarocho Ensemble

1 unit

MUSC 127Jazz Ensemble

1 unit

MUSC 129Chamber Music

0 or 1 unit

MUSC 130Symphony Orchestra

0 or 1 unit

Minor

Students must complete a total of 20 units, in music theory, music history and culture, and in courses of one's choosing per the guidelines below. NB: MUSC 101 Music Theory I does not count towards this 20-unit requirement.

Music Theory

MUSC 151Music Theory II

4 units

Music History and Culture

One course selected from the list below:

MUSC 102/LLAS 102Music of Latin America

4 units

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

4 units

MUSC 111/BLST 111Topics in Jazz History

4 units

MUSC 115Topics in Vocal Music

4 units

MUSC 119Why Music Matters

4 units

MUSC 201The Ethics and Aesthetics of Sampling

4 units

MUSC 241/COGS 241Cognition of Music and Sound

4 units

MUSC 261Western Music and Culture: 1580-1829

4 units

MUSC 263Western Music and Culture: 1830 to the Present

4 units

MUSC 264The Total Artwork

4 units

MUSC 266French Culture 1589-1848

4 units

MUSC 280Introduction to Ethnomusicology

4 units

MUSC 283Music of Los Angeles

4 units

MUSC 285Topics in the Critical Study of Music

4 units

MUSC 286Music and Politics of the United States-Mexico Border

4 units

MUSC 288Music and Festival

4 units

Advanced Elective

One 4-unit Music course numbered at the 200-level or above in your area of interest.

Additional Electives

Students must complete an additional eight units of electives filled by any combination of 1-, 2-, or 4-unit MUSA and/or MUSC courses. 

Second-Stage Writing Proficiency

Students majoring in Music will satisfy the second-stage component of Occidental College's college-wide writing requirement by successfully completing MUSC 201, MUSC 261, or MUSC 263in the sophomore or junior year with a grade of B- or higher.  Students receiving a C+ or lower will have to take another Music course that satisfies this requirement. Music majors who do not complete the Second-Stage Writing Requirement through the standard course-based mechanism will need to submit a satisfactory writing portfolio (consisting of 4000 to 5000 words) from 200-level Music courses to the Department Chair prior to the end of their Senior Fall semester.

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 final draft of argument-driven analytic paper 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. Music's "Senior Comprehensive Project" page provides details about the project proposal and the requirements of individual concentrations.

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.

Awards

The Elinor Remick Warren Award is presented each spring to the student who has written the most outstanding piece of music, in a Music course, that academic year.

The Peters Prize is awarded to the "Music major who, in the opinion of the faculty, had done the most during the year to advance the ideals and the prestige of music on the campus."

Transfer Credit Policies

The Music Department policy on transfer credit conforms to College policy. Students should reference the Transfer Credit section for more details.

Courses

MUSC - Music Courses

MUSA - Music Applied Study