Music Major

Goals for the Music Major

The Music Department at Wellesley College offers students a program that integrates performance, research, critical thinking, and the creative process.  We strive to enhance students’ knowledge and understanding of diverse musical cultures, and to guide them in applying that understanding to their engagement with music.  Recognizing how contemporary innovations in technology and digital media are impacting musical performance and compositional practices in the 21st century, we also provide students with opportunities to study computer music as well as interdisciplinary new media that draw on visual arts and film studies.  Music majors study the global and historical contexts, literatures, aesthetics, and critical and practical theories of music.  They work closely with the materials of music, becoming fluent in analyzing and interpreting both written and heard music.  We require majors to cultivate aural and keyboard fluency as well as perform in ensembles, and we offer opportunities for independent projects in research, performance, composition, and/or improvisation.  Through this critical and applied approach, music majors learn new ways of reading, writing, performing, and thinking about sound.

Requirements for the Music Major

The major in Music is a program of at least 10 units.  The department offers three areas of concentration in fulfilling the Music major:

Western Classical Music

MUS 122 - Harmonic Concepts in Tonal Music

MUS 244 - Introduction to Modal and Tonal Counterpoint

MUS 200 - History of Western Music I

MUS 201 - History of Western Music II

MUS 202 - History of Western Music III

MUS 315 - Advanced Harmony

4 electives


MUS 122 - Harmonic Concepts in Tonal Music

MUS 209 - A History of Jazz

MUS 220 - Jazz Theory

2 among the following courses (MUS 101, MUS 200, MUS 201, MUS 202)

MUS 276 - American Popular Music in the Twentieth Century

MUS 298 - Performing Music (Jazz Improvisation), Advanced

3 electives

Digital Media/Experimental Music

MUS 122 - Harmonic Concepts in Tonal Music

MUS 202 - History of Western Music III

MUS 275 - Introduction to Electronic and Computer Music: History and Practices

MUS 277/377 - Interactive Sound Art with Electronics

CS 111 - Computer Programming and Problem Solving

1 in Cinema and Media Studies (CAMS) and 1 in Media Arts and Sciences (MAS)

2 electives

The department also offers an individualized major, which can be designed with the student's advisor.  While MUS 101 can be counted toward the major, MUS 100 cannot. Students who declare a Music major will also be required to participate in their choice of the department's performing music ensembles for at least one academic year (i.e., two semesters).  In most cases, courses taken credit/noncredit will not count toward the major. Ideally, students interested in majoring in music should begin the theory sequence with MUS 122 in the fall semester of the first year. This allows them to enroll in the spring-term offering of MUS 244, which is desirable for MUS 200 and the courses that follow sequentially. Starting on this sequence immediately affords the option of taking a wider variety of elective music courses in the junior and senior years, and also makes it easier for those studying abroad to complete the major comfortably. Students who need remedial theory (MUS 100) should work with a Music advisor to set up an accelerated program of study if they would like to pursue the major. If a student places out of MUS 122 and/or MUS 244, she will need to pursue other Music courses to add up to 10 units.

Students who plan to undertake graduate study in musicology or theory are strongly encouraged to study German, French, or Italian beyond the introductory level, as well as European history, literature, and art. Basic proficiency in one or more European languages will also benefit students who plan to undertake graduate study in ethnomusicology as will studies in one or more languages relevant to a particular research interest. Music majors develop their musicianship through the acquisition of basic keyboard skills, ear training, private instruction in practical music, and involvement in the various performance ensembles of the department.


Honors in Music

The department offers a choice of three programs for honors, all under the catalog numbers 360/370; honors students normally elect the two units in succession during the senior year. Eligibility for these programs requires a GPA of 3.5 in the major. Under Program I, the honors candidate carries out independent research leading to a written thesis and an oral examination. Under Program II, honors in composition, the 360 and 370 units culminate in a composition of substance and an oral examination on the honors work. Prerequisites for this program are MUS 315 and distinguished work in MUS 313. Program III, honors in performance, culminates in a recital, a lecture-demonstration, and an essay on some aspect of performance. The prerequisite for Program III is MUS 344 or MUS 298 in the junior year and evidence during that year, through public performance, of exceptional talent and accomplishment; MUS 344 or MUS 298 must then be continued in the senior year, but now as a component of the MUS 360/MUS 370 sequence, and not for separate course credit.


Music Minor

Requirements for the Music Minor

The music minor is a program of at least five units. One unit must come from theory (MUS 122, MUS 220, or MUS 244), and another from history (MUS 101, MUS 200, MUS 201, MUS 202, MUS 209, MUS 222/MUS 322, MUS 224, MUS 230, MUS 235/MUS 335, MUS 275, MUS 276, MUS 277/MUS 377). One of the five units may come from earning one credit through performing music lessons (MUS 198, MUS 199, MUS 298, MUS 299) or through completing two years in an ensemble (MUS 250H). In order to shape a program to suit diverse musical interests, the student minoring in music should plan to select the remaining two or three courses in consultation with her chosen advisor in the process of declaring her music minor. Not more than one academic course taken credit/noncredit may be counted toward the minor.

Music minors are encouraged to develop musicianship through the acquisition of basic keyboard skills, and through ear training, private instruction in practical music, and involvement in the various performing organizations of the Department of Music.