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The concentration in Music integrates theory, history, ethnomusicology, technology, composition, and performance. Upon completing two foundational courses in theory and musicianship, concentrators have the flexibility to craft an intellectual pathway based on their particular interests and goals. The curriculum is supported by the Orwig Music Library, a state-of-the-art facility with holdings of over 40,000 books and scores and an equal number of sound and video recordings. Concentrators are encouraged to participate in one or more of the departmentally sponsored performing organizations: Chorus, Orchestra, Jazz Band, Wind Symphony, Chamber Music Performance, Electroacoustic Ensemble, Old-time String Band, Javanese Gamelan, or Ghanaian Drumming. 

Concentrating in Music

If you choose Music as a Concentration*, you will be expected to achieve well-rounded training as a musician, regardless of the genre(s) in which you specialize. This training is manifested in the following general components:
Fundamental skills are important for any musician, and therefore a minimum of two music theory/musicianship courses are required of all students who wish to Concentrate. Students have the opportunity to enter into various theory courses according to their interest and experience.
Historical and cultural knowledge of music is another key area from which Concentrators are required to complete courses. These courses may be studies of Western or non-Western forms of music.
The creation of music is also central to the Music Concentration. Students are encouraged to make music in a number of ways, including participation in ensembles, solo performance, composition, music production, and/or conducting.
Music faculty will be available to advise students on shaping the flexible parts of their Concentration and achieving their goal at Brown.

Concentration Requirements:

Music Theory

  • Two courses in music theory, which may include one 400-level and one 500-level course, or two 500-level courses.
MUSC 0400AIntroduction to Music Theory1
MUSC 0400BIntroduction to Popular Music Theory and Songwriting1
MUSC 0550Theory of Tonal Music I1
MUSC 0560Theory of Tonal Music II1
MUSC 0570Jazz and Pop Harmony1

Music Scholarship, Production and Advanced Theory

A minimum of four upper-level courses above 1000, must include:

  • One upper-level course in musicology or ethnomusicology
  • Any three upper-level courses, including graduate-level courses

Additional Electives (according to student interest)

Four additional elective courses, may include:

  • Up to four half-credit courses in performance - AMP music instruction and/or Ensemble Participation (2 credits)
  • Up to two courses outside of the department
  • One music course below the 100 level

Senior Project

All music concentrators will choose a culminating experience for their senior year, either a capstone project or honors project. This may take the form of a performance, scholarly study, or original creative work. All students will have a primary advisor for their Senior Project. The work may be done independently of a course for credit, as an independent study, or within the framework of an existing course.

Additional Notes
All concentration substitutions and/or exceptions must be approved by the concentration advisor in consultation with the Director of Undergraduate Studies. A substitution or exception is not approved until specified in writing in the student’s concentration file in ASK.

Honors in Music (optional)

Faculty Rules stipulate “Brown University shall, at graduation, grant honors to students whose work in a field of concentration has demonstrated superior quality and culminated in an honors thesis of distinction.”

In order to apply for Honors in Music, at least half of the student's coursework in Music must be As or Ss with Distinction. Please note that Brown's transcripts do not indicate whether a student receives distinction in a S/NC course. ("S*" indicates that a course is mandatory S/NC.) This information must be obtained from the course instructor or the Registrar's Office.

Departmental Procedures:

The Department welcomes a variety of projects leading to Honors in Music. Theses in Music may involve research in musicology, ethnomusicology, or theory; performance; composition, computer music, studio production, or instrument design; or combinations of the preceding categories. Creative and performance projects should be accompanied by pertinent research and/or documentation. Students are encouraged to meet with prospective honors committee members in the junior year to craft a thesis project that is appropriate in scope.

NOTE: the term HONORS COMMITTEE refers to a student’s honors thesis advisor and readers.

A student wishing to propose a project should proceed as follows:

  1. An honors candidate must secure a faculty advisor and a second reader to serve as an honors committee during the third to last (typically sixth) semester. A declaration of intent (Brown login required), consisting of a brief description of the proposed honors project and the names of the committee members, must be submitted to the Director of Undergraduate Studies by the last day of reading period in the third to last semester. 
  2. At the beginning of the penultimate (typically seventh) semester the student will submit a formal proposal describing the project to the honors committee for approval. Examples of recent honors proposals are available here (Brown login required). The proposal must receive committee approval and be given to the department's Academic Student Affairs Coordinator for distribution to the full faculty by the first day of the first full week of classes of the semester. The department faculty will vote on the proposals at the next regularly scheduled meeting. Decisions will be based on the student’s overall performance in music courses and on the quality of the proposal. The advisor will notify the student of the faculty’s decision.
  3. It is expected that honors projects will normally take two semesters to complete. Students pursuing honors may choose to register for MUSC 1970 in the Fall and/or in the Spring. If not enrolled in an independent study, the student should meet with the advisor at the beginning of the semester to make a plan for regular meetings. The student is advised to meet with the secondary reader at least twice each semester before the thesis is formally submitted. By finals week of the penultimate semester, honors candidates must demonstrate substantial progress by submitting to the honors committee a partial draft of a paper or composition or, for performance projects, by playing a significant portion of the programmed repertoire. Failure to make sufficient progress may result in the termination of the honors project.
  4. Last semester deadlines: Honors candidates must submit a complete draft to their honors committee by the first day of classes following the eighth week of the last semester. The committee will comment on the project and suggest revisions. Revisions must be completed, and the final project submitted to the honors committee by the first day of classes two weeks later. In the case of performance projects, this means that both the public performance and the scholarly component must have been completed by this date. In the case of research projects, all figures, notes, bibliography, and other critical apparatus must have been completed. Failure to make the deadline may result in the forfeiting of honors by the candidate, though the student may complete the project as a capstone project.
  5. The honors committee will confer to determine their views on their projects. If the second reader is outside Music, the advisor may solicit a written recommendation about the merits of the project.
  6. The advisor will deliver a copy of the completed thesis to the department's Academic Student Affairs Coordinator by the middle of the eleventh week of the last semester so that it may be made available for review by the full faculty.
  7. During the twelfth week of the last semester, the advisor will report on the project at a meeting of the Department faculty for a vote.  The advisor will notify the student of the faculty’s decision.
  8. Honors recipients will present their projects at a Department of Music Convocation held once annually during reading period in the Spring Semester.