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Music History & Ethnomusicology Concentration Requirements

The Music History & Ethnomusicology Concentration cultivates ways of approaching music as sound, practice, history, and culture. It seeks to deepen students’ aural, written, and hands-on engagement with the range of musics taught at Stanford. Students develop a historical, ethnomusicological, or thematic focus that culminates in a Capstone project, which takes the form of a written thesis, sometimes presented in conjunction with a lecture-recital or interactive website. This concentration prepares students for graduate work in music studies and the broader humanities.

Core Requirements (42 Units)

Lower-Division Music Theory: 12 units

Develop aural skills

  • MUSIC 24A24B24C: Ear Training I, II, III (1-2 units each)
  • Ear training exit exam
  • Piano proficiency exam

Analytical approaches: from the common-practice era to today

  • MUSIC 212223: Elements of Music I, II, III (3 units each)
Lower-Division Music History: 12 units

Develop proficiency with the history of Western art music

  • MUSIC 40: Music History to 1600 (4 units)
  • MUSIC 41: Music History from 1600 to 1830 (4 units)
  • MUSIC 42: Music History since 1830 (4 units)
Upper-Division Music Theory and History: 12 units

Complete three upper division courses:

1. Choose one course among these three:

  • Develop compositional and analytical skills focus on tonal and post-tonal contrapuntal practices
  • Learn analytical methods
    • MUSIC 122B: Analysis of Tonal Music (4 units)
    • MUSIC 122C: Introduction to 20th- Century Composition (4 units)

2. Choose one course among these eight that satisfy the Writing In the Major (WIM) requirement:

  • Acquire the capacity to write about music
    • MUSIC 140: Studies in Music of the Middle Ages (4 units)
    • MUSIC 141: Studies in Music of the Renaissance (4 units)
    • MUSIC 142: Studies in Music of the Baroque (4 units)
    • MUSIC 143: Studies in Music of the Classical Period (4 units)
    • MUSIC 144: Studies in Music of the Romantic Period (4 units)
    • MUSIC 145: Studies in Western Art Music Since 1900 (4 units)
    • MUSIC 146: Studies in Ethnomusicology (4 units)
    • MUSIC 147: Studies in Music, Media, and Popular Culture (4 units)

3. Choose one more course among the remaining nine listed in 1 and 2.

Note: A course cannot be used to satisfy more than one major requirement.

Performance: 3 units

Choose a course or some courses among the following, for a minimum of 3 units

1. Develop proficiency with at least one instrument or voice

2. Ensemble

3. Acquire conducting skills

  • MUSIC 130B: Elementary Instrumental Conducting (2 units)
  • MUSIC 130C:  Elementary Choral Conducting (2 units)

4. Play/Perform electronic music

  • MUSIC 128: Stanford Laptop Orchestra: Composition, Coding, and Performance (3-4 units)

5. Play/Perform improvised music

  • MUSIC 126A: Introduction to Thoroughbass, historically informed stylistic improvisation  (1-3 units)
  • MUSIC 156: [sic] Improvisation Collective (1 unit)

6. Play/perform contemporary music, and collaborate with performers in having your music performed

Note: A course cannot be used to satisfy more than one major requirement.

MST/Composition/Orchestration: 3 units

Choose a course or some courses among the following, for a minimum of 3 units

MST (Music, Science, and Technology)

  • MUSIC 101: Introduction to Creating Electronic Sounds (3-4 units)
  • MUSIC 155: Intermedia Workshop (3-4 units)
  • MUSIC 192A, B, C: Sound Recording (192A & B: 3 units each, 192C: 1-2 units)
  • MUSIC 220A, B, C: Computer Generated Sounds (2-4 units each)
  • MUSIC 223: Composition for Electronic Musicians (3-4 units)
  • MUSIC 223B: Sonic Experiments in Composition (1-3 units)
  • MUSIC 223C: Tradition, Experimentation, and Technology in String Quartet Composition and Performance (1-3 units)
  • MUSIC 223D: Sound Practice: Embodiment and the Social (2-3 units)
  • MUSIC 250A, C: Design of Digital Sounds for Interactive Performance (3-4 units each)
  • MUSIC 256A, B: Music Computing, Design (3-4 units each)

2. Composition

  • MUSIC 20C: Jazz Arranging and Composition (3 units)
  • MUSIC 112: Film Scoring (3 units)
  • MUSIC 113: Introduction to Instrumental Composition (2-3 units)
  • MUSIC 123A: Composition seminar: Rhythmic design (1-2 units)
  • MUSIC 123B: Composition seminar: Pitch design (1-2 units)
  • MUSIC 123C: Composition Seminar: World Music (1-2 units)
  • MUSIC 123i: Undergraduate Seminar in Composition (2-3 units)
  • MUSIC 124A: Songwriters Workshop (1-2 units)
  • MUSIC 131A: Musical Indeterminacy & Advanced Notation (2-3 units)

3. Orchestration

Note: A course cannot be used to satisfy more than one requirement.

Music History & Ethnomusicology Requirements

Courses and Capstone Project: 20 units

Requirements above and beyond the core music major (20 units)

  • ≥10 units: three or more writing-intensive (but not necessarily WIM) Music Department or music-related courses at the 100 level or higher, taken for 3–4 units each. 
    • These courses must cover at least two historical periods; at least one must be in the Music Department.
  • ≥6 units: electives
  • ≥4 units: MUSIC 198: Capstone Project, guidelines below.

Capstone project guidelines

Beginning ideally in the junior year, the student should choose an advisor and plan regular meetings to develop a thesis topic. Where possible the student should, beginning in Spring of the junior year, allocate one or two units per quarter to independent studies, for a total of at least four units by graduation. Otherwise the units can spread over as few as two quarters. Advising meetings should take place at least twice per quarter, and at least three times per quarter during the two quarters leading up to graduation.

  • Form of the thesis: a polished text of at least 8,000 words including footnotes and bibliography (following the Chicago Manual of Style), or of at least 5,000 words if accompanied by a related lecture-recital, interactive website, or similar.
  • For students graduating in June, a complete draft of the thesis is due to the advisor by 30 April. Comments are to be returned by 15 May; the final draft is due at least 7 days before the grade submission deadline for graduating seniors.
  • ​The thesis will be evaluated by a committee comprising the advisor and two other faculty members with relevant expertise. Honors will be awarded only in cases where the capstone project is judged to be at a level commensurate with a Masters thesis, and where the student has earned an overall GPA of 3.6 or higher and of 3.7 or higher in courses required for the music major.


Language Study

Students are strongly encouraged to attain proficiency in at least one language relevant to their research interests.