About the Major

Department/Program Description.

The Music Department offers courses in music from around the world at undergraduate and graduate levels. Students considering a music major should come to the department office where they will be given an in-house concentration form and assigned a major advisor. Students design their own individualized program of study and complete the concentration form in consultation with their advisor, listing all music courses previously taken and those planned for the future. Because the program proposal must be approved by the director of undergraduate studies and ratified by the entire music faculty, prospective majors are urged to complete this form two weeks before the deadline for declaration to allow for music faculty action.

General Education.

Music majors are advised to complete their general education expectations (three each of HA, NSM, and SBS courses). Prospective majors who have not taken enough courses outside of the Music Department may be refused entry into the major. Students who fail to fulfill the general education expectations are generally not considered for department prizes and honors.

Courses for Non-Majors.

With the exception of MUSC300, all classes offered by the Music Department are open to nonmajors.

Major Description.

Major programs are put together by the students in consultation with their advisors. The programs reflect the individual interests and needs of the students. The department requires that a program proposal, including all music courses previously taken and those planned for the future, be submitted at the time of application to be a major. A major program should have a healthy balance between classroom courses (history, theory, style) and performance courses (private instrumental and vocal instruction, ensemble). It is a fundamental principle of the Wesleyan music program that the study of music and the experience of music should reinforce and inspire each other. A major program must show evidence of work in at least one musical tradition outside the area of the student's prime concentration. The understanding that comes with new experiences is an essential part of the music opportunity at Wesleyan.

The possible foci of study include Western classical music; new music with an emphasis on acoustical explorations; African American, Indonesian, Indian, and African musics; and European and American music outside the art tradition. These and other possibilities are not mutually exclusive but can be studied in combinations that reflect the interests of individual students. The music profession is international. In many areas of music study, at least one foreign language is essential.

Admission to the Major.

Prerequisites to the music major:

  • 1 course in the music theory capability (one of MUSC103, 201, 202, 210). Note: MUSC103, a prerequisite for all other theory classes may be waived on the basis of a placement test administered online. See Advanced Placement below for AP Music Theory credit questions.
  • 1 course in the history/culture capability (one of MUSC102, 106, 109, 110, 111, 115) Note: For students in the class of 2019, the history/culture capability prerequisite can be met with any course in that category.
  • 1 performance course (excluding Private Lessons)—Private lessons (MUSC405) taken before the junior year will not count toward the course requirements for the major.
Major Requirements.

Music majors take four courses in each of three capabilities: theory/composition, history/culture, and performance. Two additional courses from the 300-level Seminars for Music Majors bring the number of music credits to 14. The required senior project or senior honors thesis brings the total number of music credits to 15 or 16, respectively.  Diversity of musical experience is a core value of the Music Department and is expected of all music majors. To move toward this goal, at least two of the 14 music credits must be outside the student's main area of interest.

The Music Department expects its majors to continue to refine and extend their performance skills throughout their undergraduate careers, which may mean accumulating more than 15 or 16 credits in music. No more than 16 credits in music may be counted toward the 32 credits required for graduation, however, and students must therefore complete 16 or 17 credits outside of music.

Capstone Experience.

All music majors are required to complete a senior project by the end of their final year. The purpose of the project is to give focus to the major by means of independent, creative work and to encourage independent study with the close advice and support of a faculty member. Students who choose to undertake an honors thesis may count this as their senior project.


The senior project requirement may be satisfied by the completion of an honors project, a project that may encompass a composition, a concert, etc., but the honors project always contains a substantial written component; for this reason it is called the honors thesis. An honors thesis satisfies the departmental requirement for a senior project, even if it is not awarded honors. The honors thesis tutorial is always a two-semester undertaking.

Advanced Placement.
The music department considers AP theory credit as follows:
  • AP theory credit - credit on the student's Wesleyan transcript
    • Counts as one of the four theory/composition requirements for the music major
    • Student needs to complete three additional theory/composition credits for the major
  • Passed the AP test with a 4 or 5 - does not have the credit on their Wesleyan transcript
    • Student may begin theory course work at a higher level
    • Student will still be required to take four theory/composition courses for the major
  • Students with questions regarding AP theory
    • Should meet with the theory faculty of the Music Department teaching MUSC103 to discuss options.

The Gwen Livingston Pokora Prize, the Lipsky Prize, the Elizabeth Verveer Tishler Prize, the Samuel C. Silipo Prize, and the Leavell Memorial Prize are merit-based awards that may be awarded annually.

Additional Information.

Special activities. The department supports a number of unusual activities, many of which are available to the student body in general as well as to music majors. Among them are ensembles in various Asian, African, American, and European traditions, as well as a variety of chamber ensembles.

Private-lessons program. Private lessons are available for many instruments and voice in Western art music, African American music, and a variety of other musics from around the world. Lessons are considered one-credit-per-semester courses. An additional fee, $795 per semester, is charged for these private lessons (financial aid may be available to students eligible for university financial aid). Approved music majors in their junior and senior years are eligible for partial subsidy when taking one (1) private lesson, per semester, for academic credit with a private-lessons teacher.

Departmental colloquium. An ongoing departmental colloquium is intended for the entire music community. It includes presentations by Wesleyan faculty, students, and outside speakers and encourages general discussion of broad issues in the world of music.

The study facilities include a working collection of musical instruments from many different cultures; a music-instrument manufacturing workshop; a 45-piece Javanese gamelan orchestra; a large, formal concert hall and a small, multipurpose concert hall; an electronic music studio coupled to a professional recording studio; a computer-arts studio capable of producing electronic music, video art, and environmental simulations; a music and record library; an electronic keyboard lab; and an archive of world music.

The following is a listing according to capabilities of courses offered by the department:

Theory Gateways

  • MUSC103 Materials and Design
  • MUSC201 Tonal Harmony
  • MUSC202 Theory and Analysis
  • MUSC210 Theory of Jazz Improvisation

History/Culture Gateways

  • MUSC102 World Music
  • MUSC106 History of European Art Music
  • MUSC109 Introduction to Experimental Music
  • MUSC110 Introduction to South Indian Music
  • MUSC111 Music and Theater of Indonesia
  • MUSC115 Introduction to North Indian Music

FYS Courses

  • MUSC116 Visual Sounds: Graphic Notation in Theory and Practice
  • MUSC125 Music and Downtown New York, 1950-1970
  • MUSC126 Poetry and Song


  • MUSC203 Chromatic Harmony
  • MUSC204 20th-Century Compositional Techniques
  • MUSC207 Orchestration
  • MUSC208 Post-Tonal Music Theory
  • MUSC212 South Indian Music-Solkattu
  • MUSC220 Composing, Performing, and Listening to Experimental Music
  • MUSC222 Sound Art, Music, and Interactive Media
  • MUSC223 Music, Recording, and Sound Design
  • MUSC230x Music Theater Workshop (cross list)
  • MUSC231x Performing Arts Videography (cross list)


  • MUSC108 History of Rock and R&B
  • MUSC127 Popular Music in Contemporary China
  • MUSC241 Medieval and Renaissance Music
  • MUSC242 Baroque and Classical Music
  • MUSC243 Music of the 19th Century
  • MUSC244 Music of the 20th Century
  • MUSC246 The Symphony: Evolution of Genre
  • MUSC250 Film and Folk Music of India
  • MUSC261 Music and Modernity in China, Japan, and Korea
  • MUSC265 African Presences I: Music in Africa
  • MUSC266 African Presences II: Music in the Americas
  • MUSC267x Music Mobility in America (cross list)
  • MUSC269 Sacred and& Secular African American Music
  • MUSC274 Hymnody in the United States Before the Civil War
  • MUSC276x History of Musical Theater (cross list)
  • MUSC277 Jazz Avant-Gardes
  • MUSC280x Sociology of Music in Social Movements (cross list)
  • MUSC285x Modernism and the Total Work of Art (cross list)
  • MUSC290 How Ethnomusicology Works
  • MUSC291 The Gendering of Music in Cross-Cultural Perspective
  • MUSC294 Queer Opera
  • MUSC295 Global Hip-Hop
  • MUSC296 Music and Public Life

Major Seminars

  • MUSC300 Seminar for Music Majors
  • MUSC304 Arranging and Composing for Jazz Orchestra

Performance/Study Groups

  • MUSC405 Private Music Lessons (nonmajors)
  • MUSC406 Private Music Lessons (majors)
  • MUSC416 Beginning Taiko—Japanese Drumming
  • MUSC418 Advanced Taiko—Japanese Drumming
  • MUSC428 Chinese Music Ensemble
  • MUSC430 South Indian Voice—Beginning
  • MUSC431 South Indian Voice—Intermediate
  • MUSC432 South Indian Voice—Advanced
  • MUSC433 South Indian Music—Percussion
  • MUSC436 Wesleyan Concert Choir
  • MUSC438 Wesleyan University Collegium Musicum
  • MUSC439 Wesleyan University Orchestra
  • MUSC440 Instrumental Conducting
  • MUSC441 Pipe Organ in Theory and Practice, from Sanctuary to Stage: A Performance-Based Examination of Music
  • MUSC442 Chamber Music Ensembles
  • MUSC443 Wesleyan Wind Ensemble (Wes Winds)
  • MUSC445 West African Music and Culture—Beginners
  • MUSC446 West African Music and Culture—Intermediate
  • MUSC447 West African Music and Culture—Advanced
  • MUSC448 Ebony Singers: Gospel Music
  • MUSC450 Steel Band
  • MUSC451 Javanese Gamelan—Beginners
  • MUSC452 Javanese Gamelan—Advanced
  • MUSC453 Cello Ensemble
  • MUSC454 World Guitar Ensemble
  • MUSC455 Jazz Ensemble
  • MUSC456 Jazz Improvisation Performance
  • MUSC457 Jazz Orchestra I
  • MUSC458 Jazz Orchestra II
  • MUSC459 Materials and Principles of Jazz Improvisation I
  • MUSC460 Materials and Principles of Jazz Improvisation II
  • MUSC462 Studio Musicianship
  • MUSC463 Teaching Music Lessons to Children in Local Schools
  • MUSC464 Laptop Ensemble

Graduate Courses

  • MUSC500 Graduate Pedagogy
  • MUSC506 Reading Ethnomusicology
  • MUSC507 Practicing Ethnomusicology
  • MUSC508 Graduate Seminar in Composition
  • MUSC509 Special Studies in Contemporary Music
  • MUSC510 Graduate Proseminar in World Music Studies
  • MUSC513 Improvisation in Cross-Cultural Perspective
  • MUSC519 Current Issues in Ethnomusicology
  • MUSC520 Explorations in Musicology
  • MUSC521 Seminar in Interdisciplinary Studies
  • MUSC522 Seminar in Comparative Music Theory
  • MUSC530 Colloquium