Primary Contact:
Steven (Steve) Plank

Administrative Assistant:
Jeanne Rosecrans

Division Email:

Phone: (440) 775-8297
Fax: (440) 775-6813

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Department Overview

The study of musicology draws on historical investigation and various modes of criticism and analysis in the thoughtful consideration of music as both a liberal and a performance art. Long a part of the conservatory’s curriculum—Edward Dickinson, appointed to the faculty in the late 19th century, became one of America’s first full-time professors in the discipline—the department today comprises five faculty members with specialties that range from early-modern England to present-day Indonesia, from Schumann and Elgar to liturgics and historical performance practice. The local ethos of highly engaged teaching in the best liberal arts tradition has been the guiding principle of successive generations in the department, with the counterpoint of our professional research enlivening and sustaining the discourse.

Students may elect both majors and minors in music history, as well as the minor in ethnomusicology. And while many will choose one of these paths as pre-professional training for graduate study in musicology, many will also elect the major or minor as an enriching part of various courses of study, including the double-degree program.   Additionally, Musical Studies majors in the College of Arts and Sciences may also elect concentrations in music history and ethnomusicology. The department sponsors both a student musicology society and the Richard Murphy Colloquium, the latter a forum for lectures by distinguished visiting scholars as well as members of the faculty.   Additionally, workshops, concerts, and lecture demonstrations are presented with department sponsorship.


Curriculum Overview

The department’s course offerings are organized in a tri-partite scheme that ranges from introductory to advanced levels, in both western and world musics.

  • 100-level courses

MHST 101 is required of all baccalaureate students in the conservatory of music, and is generally taken early in their course of study. It is a survey course aimed at providing a fundamental understanding of western music from the Middle Ages to the modern day, chiefly in classical traditions, but with excursions into jazz, popular, and world musics. In addition to this focus, the course also provides, in a sense, a valuable introduction to the conservatory itself, with a substantial slate of guest lecturers drawn from the faculty. Building study and library skills is also part of the instructional scheme.

CMUS 100 is an introductory course for students in the College of Arts and Sciences, especially those with limited musical background

ETHN 100 introduces students with a musical background to diverse musical traditions around the world from both sociological and musicological perspectives.

CMUS 103 is the equivalent of ETHN 100 for students with limited musical backgrounds.

  • 200-level courses

A five-course tier here allows the student to move from the introductory survey level of 101 immediately to in-depth discussion of music under chronologically-determined headings:

Music of the MiddleAges and the Renaissance
Music in the Baroque Era
Music in the Classic Era
Music in the Romantic Era
Music since 1914

Ethnomusicological offerings at the 200-level provide a similar in-depth discourse, though replace the chronological scheme with area courses and classes devoted to conceptually oriented themes.  These include:

Music of the Balkans and the Middle East
Music of India
Music of Indonesia
Music and Media since the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
Music and the Politics of Identity

  • 300-level courses

This tier offers a range of topics at our most advanced level. The topics themselves are often sophisticated and “cutting edge,” such as a course in music and narratology or various courses in forms of gender criticism.  Additionally genre courses (the concerto, the oratorio, studies in opera, the history of film music, American popular music), composer courses (Beethoven, Mozart, Bach), and methodology courses for both musicology and ethnomusicology provide a wide range of discourse. Classes at this level also build on writing skills nurtured in 200-level courses, and are “writing intensive.”

  • Tutorials

Independent study with a professor takes two forms. Private readings are offered from one to three hours of credit, and allow students to pursue directed research topics in areas not generally covered in the class curriculum. Private readings generally culminate (as do all advanced classes) in a written project.  More intensively so is the honors project. Students majoring in music history or taking the BA in music may elect to pursue honors in the department. This is a year-long program of intensive study with an individual professor, generally structured around a semester of original, often primary-source, research and a semester of thesis writing and defense.

Members of the department also participate in the First-Year Seminar Program and the interdisciplinary XART Program, as well as direct ensembles through the Applied Studies Program (Gamelan and Collegium Musicum).

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