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Music Theory

At Stanford music theory provides the technical foundations for music study; it informs students’ work in composition, performance, and musicology. And it is a concentration of its own, encouraging students to develop their understanding of music's inner workings through analysis, research, and practical engagement. Courses range from introductions to music notation, harmony, and aural skills to jazz harmony and advanced classes in the analysis of music from the 15th century to the present.


Director of Music Theory, Senior Lecturer
Advanced Lecturer
Senior Lecturer
Associate Professor
Associate Professor
Director of Undergraduate Composition, Senior Lecturer
Advanced Lecturer


Music Theory Courses

Music 19A: Introduction to Music Theory 
Music 19B: Intermediate Music Theory
Music 20A: Jazz Theory
Music 20B: Advanced Jazz Theory
Music 20C: Jazz Arranging and Composition
Music 21: Elements of Music I
Music 22: Elements of Music II
Music 23: Elements of Music III
Music 24A: Ear Training I
Music 24B: Ear Training II
Music 24C: Ear Training III
Music 122A: Counterpoint
Music 122B: Analysis of Tonal Music
Music 122C: Introduction to 20th-Century Composition
Music 126A: Introduction to Thoroughbass
Music 127A: Instrumentation and Orchestration
Music 127B: Advanced Orchestration
Music 129: Advanced Ear-Training/Musicianship
Music 132: Music Education: Then, Now, and Then Again
Music 258A: Computational Music Theory & Analysis
Music 300A: Medieval Notation
Music 300B: Renaissance Notation
Music 300E: Analysis and Repertoire: Medieval and Renaissance
Music 300F: Analysis and Repertoire: Baroque to Early Romantic
Music 300G: Analysis and Repertoire: Late-Romantic to Contemporary
Music 305D: Analysis from a Compositional Perspective

Academic Programs

Explore the Major & Concentrations

The undergraduate major in Music is based on a course of study that combines breadth of musical experiences across multiple dimensions with depth in a chosen area, allowing students to develop an array of tools as part of their aesthetic and musical formation. Theory, performance, history, cultural contextualization, technology, and science all contribute to a curricular foundation for all majors. 


Explore the 24-Unit Minor

The music minor allows students to explore music through a flexible program of study. The minor can focus on Composition, History, Performance, Conducting, Theory, or Music, Science & Technology (MST), or on areas not currently served by the major, such as Ethnomusicology, Jazz, or Musical Theater. The minor can also focus on musical aspects of a non-music major such as American Studies, Anthropology, Area Studies, Computer Science, CSRE, TAPS, etc.


Learn about the Performance Certificate

The Performance Certificate program is open by audition to undergraduates who demonstrate a high degree of accomplishment in their area of music performance, study privately with one of the Department of Music's faculty, and wish to inform their performance studies with coursework from the Department of Music's other areas of academic focus: history, theory, computer music, and composition.


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