Whether for students intending a career in music or those pursuing their own love of the art, the Department of Music offers courses in theory and composition, in the history and current trends of both Western and non-Western music, and lessons in performance. All students, regardless of musical background, are welcome in any course unless a prerequisite or permission of instructor is indicated (as for certain theory courses).
The Department offers a variety of courses (MU 070, MU 066, MU 030) that satisfy the University Core requirement in the Arts and that serve as introductions to the various areas of musical knowledge. MU 070 Fundamentals of Music Theory focuses on technical aspects of the language of music and serves as a prerequisite to Harmony and further upper level courses in theory and composition, such as Chromatic Harmony, Counterpoint, as well as Jazz Harmony, Tonal Composition and the Seminar in Composition. MU 066 Introduction to Music offers a broad survey of music history and styles of music, while upper level courses focus on various periods of Western music history (Middle Ages, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical Era, Romantic Era, Twentieth Century), the historical development of various genres (Opera, Symphony, Keyboard Music), or the contributions of various individual composers (Bach, Beethoven, Monteverdi). MU 030 History of Popular Music in the U.S. offers a socio-historical approach to the history and context of commercial popular music; upper level cross-cultural courses deal with Western traditions (such as Irish Folk Music, Music in America, History of Jazz) and non-Western traditions. MU 301 Introduction to Musics of the World, MU 306 African Music, and MU307 Musics of Asia satisfy the Cultural Diversity requirement of the Core, but not the University Core requirement in the Arts.
For the music major, a liberal arts framework offers a broader outlook than that of either a conservatory or a school of music. In a liberal arts framework, students encounter historical, theoretical, cultural, ethnographic, and performance perspectives on music. The student majoring in music at Boston College may find employment in teaching, communications, arts administration, liturgical music, or may major in music simply to provide a firm discipline for the mind or a source of lifelong enjoyment. Some students plan to go on to graduate school or a conservatory to become professional performers, composers, musicologists, ethnomusicologists, or educators. Within the major, all students receive a common base of knowledge with a specialization at higher levels in such areas as composition, performance, music history, or cross-cultural studies. A grounding not only in the traditional musical skills of Western art music but also knowledge of American music and of the traditions of other cultures is considered indispensable.
The Music Department offers individual instruction in voice and instruments either for credit (MU 099 – one credit per semester) or not for credit (MU 100, 101, 102). Individual Instrumental Instruction, either credit or non-credit, require an extra fee. In addition, several free, non-credit performance courses offer instruction and/or coaching in various instruments and ensembles. Private lessons, when taken for credit, require a juried performance at the end of the semester and requires three semesters for the equivalent of a three credit class.
(Minimum of 12 courses, 38 credits)
- Theory, Analysis, and Composition Courses: (12 credits total)
Prerequisite: MU 070 Fundamentals of Music Theory or equivalent
Required of all majors: MU 110 Harmony, MU 211 Chromatic Harmony, MU 312 Counterpoint
- Choice of any one course: MU 214 Form and Analysis, MU 215 Jazz Harmony, MU 315 Composition Seminar, MU 316 Tonal Composition
- Historical Courses: (nine credits total)
Required of all majors: MU 209 Twentieth Century Music
Choice of any two:* MU 201 Medieval-Renaissance Music, MU 202 Music of the Renaissance, MU 203 Music of the Baroque, MU 205 Music of the Classic Era, MU 207 Music of the Romantic Era
* With permission of the Director of the Undergraduate Program in Music, a composer or genre course may be substituted for a period course.
- Cross-Cultural Courses: (six credits total)
Required of all majors, a choice of one from each of the following two groups:
Group I—Non-Western tradition
- MU 301 Introduction to World Music*
- MU 306 African Music*
- MU 307 Musics of Asia*
- MU 350 Topics in Ethnomusicology
*MU 301, MU 306, and MU 307 also satisfy the Core Cultural Diversity requirement
- MU 320 Music and America
- MU 321 Rhythm and Blues in American Music
- MU 322 Jazz in America
- MU 326 History of Jazz
- MU 330 Introduction to Irish Folk Music
- Required Senior Seminar: (one semester, three credits)
The Senior Seminar (MU 405) is ordinarily open only to senior music majors. The Seminar entails a series of weekly projects allowing majors to investigate issues in-depth with special emphasis in one of the areas listed above (theory and composition, history, cross-cultural, or performance). The Seminar serves as preparation for a senior project with supervised reading, research, writing, and discussion.
- Electives: (six credits)
The student will choose a minimum of two three-credit courses in whatever category is appropriate to his or her particular interest, whether it is in music theory and composition, performance, history, or cross-cultural studies. Students with performance emphasis must have three semesters of private instruction for credit. Three semesters of private instruction for credit may be used as an elective only upon completion of the jury at the end of the third semester of lessons.
- Performance Ensemble Experience: (minimum of two semesters)
Each major must have two semesters of experience in performance in some capacity and may choose from any organized performance group at Boston College (such as Boston College Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Music Ensemble, Popular Styles Ensemble, Irish Traditional Music classes, University Chorale, Voices of Imani, Liturgy Arts Group, student a cappella group, BC bOp, Marching Band, Wind Ensemble, etc.), through more informal students groups (by consultation with the Director of the Undergraduate Program in Music), or through private lessons.
- Cumulative Listening Competency
Majors will be asked to identify important works from the Western tradition in a series of Listening Competency exams. Each year of the music major (normally three), a list of works will be given to students that they must be able to identify by the end of the year. A listening test on each of three lists of works will be administered until the student passes.
- Ear Training/Sight Singing: (two credits)
All majors will be expected to have passed the minimum competency requirements in Ear Training and Sight-Singing before graduation. The courses MU 081-082 Ear-Training and Sight-Singing are two-credit classes designed and recommended as an aid to passing this test.
(Minimum of six courses, 18 credits)
The Music Department has designed a minor in music as an alternative for students who are interested in music, but do not wish either to make music their career or to go on to graduate studies, or who have majors that preclude taking music as a second major. The total number of courses required for the minor in music is six. Those wishing to minor in music should take the following:
- One of the following (three credits): MU 070 Fundamentals of Music Theory (required if they do not have the background in music theory needed before entering MU 110 Harmony), or MU 066 Introduction to Music or MU 030 History of Popular Music in the U.S. Students who can pass out of MU 070 should substitute an upper level course.
- Two additional music theory courses (six credits): MU 110 Harmony and MU 211 Chromatic Harmony.
- Three historical and cross-cultural electives (nine credits): One period course, one composer or genre course, one cross-cultural course.
The choice of courses should be made in consultation with an advisor from the Music Department. In addition, each student must participate in at least two semesters of credit or non-credit performance experience (either as a member of an ensemble or through private lessons), as approved by the department.
In order to graduate with departmental honors, a student must maintain a grade point average of 3.5 in the major and 3.3 in the University, pass the Ear-Training and Listening Repertoire requirements with a high score, and produce a final project, recital, or paper deemed worthy of honors. The project must be completed for a grade of A- or better to receive honors. There are various ways to fulfill the project:
- A research paper of no less than 40 pages and a public presentation of approximately 20 minutes on their findings.
- A recital of around 40 minutes (but no less than 30 minutes) with a paper of no less than 15 pages. Non-honors majors may still do a senior recital for credit as MU 401 Senior Recital Preparation but without it being considered for honors.
- A composition or set of compositions of no less than 15 minutes.
Included in the University's Core Curriculum is one course in the Arts (Fine Arts, Music, or Theater). MU 066 Introduction to Music, MU 070 Fundamentals of Music Theory, and MU 030 History of Popular Music in the U.S. are the Music Department's Core offerings. They are designed for the non-musician as well as the student who has studied music. Prospective music majors should reference the Recommended Course of Study below. Students with advanced musical backgrounds and interests should speak to the Director of the Undergraduate Program in Music, regarding appropriate upper-level courses. The department offers MU 301 Introduction to World Music, MU 306 African Music, and MU 307 Musics of Asia as options for the Cultural Diversity requirement of the Core.
The department requires that the music theory sequence for minors and majors through Chromatic Harmony, and the Senior Seminar for majors be taken at Boston College. Twentieth Century Music and Counterpoint (required of majors) should be taken at Boston College, but exceptions may be possible depending on equivalent courses offered by the host school. Majors may not be abroad first semester senior year in order to take the required Senior Seminar at BC.
Before going abroad, both minors and majors should have completed Chromatic Harmony in theory, and majors, in addition, should have taken a few of the history or cross-cultural courses. Thus acceptable offerings from abroad tend to lean towards courses in music history or in cross-cultural studies, with some upper-level theory courses acceptable. Usually students complete six or nine credits; however, majors have had as many as 12 credits fulfilled abroad.
Students should contact the Director of the Undergraduate Program in Music, to plan an acceptable course of study for their semester or year abroad. The department recommends the music programs offered at King's College, London, and University College, Cork, Ireland.
All students with a serious interest in music should try as freshmen to take or test out of MU 070 Fundamentals of Music Theory. The theory courses (especially MU 070 Fundamentals and MU 110 Harmony) are essential and necessary indicators of how well a student will be able to succeed in the major and to speak the language of music. Those who can test out of MU 070 and who wish to fulfill the Arts Core requirement with a music course should take MU 066 Introduction to Music or MU 030 History of Popular Music in the U.S. Arts Core courses in Fine Arts or Theater are also possible instead of Music and are recommended for those who wish a broader understanding of the Arts.
Harmony and Chromatic Harmony should be taken in sequence along with MU 081-082 Ear Training/Sight Singing Labs. Two history courses in Western Music (selected from Medieval-Renaissance, Baroque Music, Music of the Classical Era, Music of the Romantic Era, Music of the Twentieth Century, or a composer or genre course) or one history course and one cross-cultural course should be taken. The first year's required Listening Repertoire should be mastered. Some performance experience (Orchestra, Chorale, Band, Chamber Music, non-Western performance, and/or private lessons) should be started and pursued throughout the rest of the major.
Counterpoint and a choice of Jazz Harmony, Form and Analysis, or Composition and a second or third history course and/or a cross-cultural course should be taken. The second year of the required Listening Repertoire should be mastered.
Any advanced courses in the department relevant to the particular emphasis the student has chosen--performance, composition, history, or cross-cultural—and the Senior Seminar, which will help the student synthesize previous course work. The final year of the required Listening Repertoire should be mastered.
Recommended Course of Study: Minors
Students can add music as a minor as late as their Junior year, but no later than second semester as the minor requires a minimum of three consecutive semesters in order to complete the theory sequence of the following: Fundamentals, Harmony and Chromatic Harmony. The history and cross-cultural component may be taken at any time in conjunction with various levels of theory, although some understanding of Fundamentals is recommended for students with little, previous, formal background in music.