Whether students aspire to a career in music or wish to pursue their own love of the art, they will find that 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 voice and/or an instrument. All students, regardless of musical background, are welcome in any course unless a prerequisite or an instructor’s permission is indicated (for example, in certain theory courses).
The Music Department offers a variety of courses (MUSA1100, MUSA1200, MUSA1300, MUSA1701) that satisfy the University Core requirement in the Arts and that serve as introductions to the various areas of musical knowledge. MUSA1100 Fundamentals of Music Theory focuses on technical aspects of the language of music and functions as a prerequisite to Harmony and further upper-level courses in theory and composition, such as Chromatic Harmony, and Counterpoint, as well as Jazz Harmony, Tonal Composition, and the Seminar in Composition. MUSA1200 Introduction to Music offers a broad contextual 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, Modern Era), the historical development of various genres (Opera, Symphony, Keyboard Music, Dance), or the contributions of various individual composers (Monteverdi, Bach, Beethoven, Brahms). MUSA1300 History of Popular Music offers a socio-historical approach to the broad history and context of Popular music; upper-level cross-cultural courses deal with Popular traditions (such as Irish Folk Music, Music in America, History of Jazz, Hip-Hop, the Beatles) and World music. MUSA1701 Aesthetic Exercises is an Enduring Questions class which, with THEO1701 Spiritual Exercises, satisfies the Arts Core and one of the two Theology Core requirements. In World music, MUSA1320 Introduction to Musics of the World, MUSA2303 Afro-Brazilian Music, MUSA2304 Musics of India, MUSA2306 Musics of Africa, MUSA2307 Musics of Asia, and MUSA2309 Music and Culture in the Middle East 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 perspective than that offered by conservatories or schools of music. In this comprehensive 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 to provide a firm enriching 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, educators, or arts professionals. Within the major, all students acquire a common base of knowledge with a specialization at higher levels in such areas as composition, performance, music history or 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 (MUSP1925—1 credit per semester) or not for credit (MUSP1920, 1910, 1900). Individual instrumental instruction, for either credit or non-credit, requires 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. Students may count up to 3 credits of individual instruction toward graduation.
Learning Outcomes and Assessment for the Arts Core/Music
The Music Department has formulated and adopted the following standards in learning and assessment for the Arts Core in Music.
Students taking courses in music for the Arts Core will acquire knowledge and skills to develop analytical and critical thinking and creative problem solving as applied within a choice of courses in the following musical disciplines: theory/composition (MUSA1100 Fundamentals of Music Theory), musicology (MUSA1200 Introduction to Music and MUSA1300 History of Popular Music), and ethnomusicology (MUSA1326 Introduction to Music of the World). In whichever course, students will gain the ability to analyze musical texts through the mastery of technical terminology and concepts, and will understand music within historical, social, and cultural contexts.
- Students in MUSA1100 gain skills in understanding and manipulating the elements of musical composition while touching on a broader understanding of how these elements are expressed in different historical and cultural contexts.
- Students in MUSA1200 and MUSA1300 gain a broad understanding of the historical and cultural contexts of works of music in the formation of Western culture (MUSA1200) or American culture (MUSA1300), the changing concepts of beauty and music as an expression of cultural identity, while applying correct technical terminology in their discussion of music.
- Students in MUSA1326 gain an understanding of the social and cultural contexts of works from a representative, varied range of cultures, addressing issues of how music shapes and expresses a society while acquiring the appropriate language to discuss such cultures and music.
Learning Outcomes and Assessment of the Music Major
The Music Department has formulated and adopted the following standards in learning and assessment for the music major.
Music majors will acquire knowledge and skills to develop analytical and critical thinking and creative problem solving as applied within a combination of the following core musical disciplines: theory/composition, musicology, ethnomusicology and performance. All graduates, through these core disciplines, will gain the ability to analyze musical texts through the mastery of technical terminology and concepts and to understand music within historical, social, and cultural contexts.
To assess the major and the outcome of these stated outcomes, the Department will:
- Review Senior Seminar papers to examine students' ability to think critically, to consult sources, and to express clearly their analysis and understanding of complex musical phenomena;
- Review senior projects in composition examining students' ability to control and shape musical
materials in a variety of media;
- Review senior recitals evaluating students' ability to perform clearly, to master a range of techniques
and to interpret expressively and with understanding in a variety of styles.
The assessments of Senior Seminar papers and senior projects in composition and performance will be made by members of the full-time faculty with recommendations made to the chair.