Courses & Requirements

Courses & Requirements

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, as cultural and historical expression, and as 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 courses requiring an ability to read music, 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, music production, 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 finance.

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 planing 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 24-hour access to practice rooms and an electronic music studio.

Major Requirements

MAJOR

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

MUSC 151Theory and Practice of Music I

4 units

MUSC 250Theory and Practice of Music II

4 units

MUSC 490Senior Seminar

4 units

When MUSC 490 is not offered, students must then complete two semesters of MUSC 474.

In addition to these 12 units required of all Music majors, students majoring in Music must pursue one of the following tracks: Music Composition, Instrumental Performance, Vocal Performance, Ethnomusicology/Popular Music, Music History, or Music Theory & Analysis. At the present time, students interested in a Music Production track need to contact the Chair to devise their curriculum.

Music Composition

MUSC 230Topics in Electronic Music

2 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 semester of ensemble participation (MUSC 120-130)

2-4 units

Four semesters of MUSC 257

16 units

Instrumental Performance

MUSC 114Introduction to the Orchestra

4 units

MUSC 261Western Music and Culture: 1600-1789

4 units

MUSC 272Instrumental Conducting

2 units

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

4 units

A minimum of five semesters of private lessons on one's principal instrument (MUSA courses 2xx and above)

5 units

A minimum of five semesters of ensemble participation (MUSC 120-130)

10 - 16 units

Vocal Performance

MUSC 115Topics in Opera

4 units

MUSC 261Western Music and Culture: 1600-1789

4 units

MUSC 273Choral Conducting

2 units

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

4 units

A minimum of five semesters of private lessons on one's principal instrument (MUSA courses 2xx and above)

5 units

A minimum of five semesters of ensemble participation (MUSC 120-130)

10 - 16 units

Ethnomusicology or Popular Music

MUSC 245Music Business

2 units

MUSC 261Western Music and Culture: 1600-1789

4 units

Two 100-level popular or non-Western music courses

8 units

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

16 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

Music History or Musicology

MUSC 114Introduction to the Orchestra

4 units

MUSC 115Topics in Opera

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 elective chosen in consultation with one's Music major advisor, one of which must be a popular non-Western music course and on of which must fulfill the second-stage writing requirement

8 units

Two semester 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 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 semester 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 designated writing-intensive 200-level course in the sophomore or junior year with a grade of B- or better and receiving a notation of "Satisfactory" for its writing component. Students not achieving a "satisfactory" notation by either of these means will be required to undertake additional coursework in academic writing during the final two semesters of study. Students should familiarize themselves with the departmental requirement at the time of declaring the major.

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; or analytic, 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 tracks in Ethnomusicology/Popular Music, Music History/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 a music production will complete a project designed with their advisor and in consultation with the Music faculty.

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.

HONORS

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

Minor Requirements

Music Production

Students must complete a total of 26 units as detailed below:

MUSC 151Theory and Practice of Music I

4 units

MUSC 250Theory and Practice of Music II

4 units

 

MUSC 148Introduction to Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)

4 units

MUSC 248Sound Design and Recording

4 units

And

 

MUSC 230Topics in Electronic Music

2 units

Or

MUSC 245Music Business

2 units

 

And

MUSC 261Western Music and Culture: 1600-1789

4 units

Or

MUSC 263Western Music and Culture in the 20th Century

4 units

 

And

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

4 units

Ethnomusicology and Popular Music

Students must complete a total of 24 units.

MUSC 151Theory and Practice of Music I

4 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 104Music of Africa and the Middle East

4 units

MUSC 105Topics in American Music

4 units

MUSC 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.

Courses

MUSC - Music Courses

MUSA-Music Applied Study