Undergraduate Concentration Requirements Revised

The Department of Music is excited to announce revisions to the curriculum for Music Majors—the first such curricular change since the late 1990s. To see the comprehensive new curriculum, please click here

Developed by a subcommittee led by Professor Dan Trueman, the new program offers students more flexibility within their course selection, and exposure to a more diverse course of study.

“I’m personally very excited about the curriculum’s new flexibility for our students and faculty,” notes Prof. Trueman, “and am keen to see how it enables the Department to grow and change in the coming years, and to draw a broad range of students.”

The major innovations are as follows:

  • Courses will be recategorized under the rubrics Materials and Making (“M&M”) and Culture and Criticism (“C&C”). M&M courses will encompass topics usually explored in hands-on, exploratory ways including composition, improvisation, theory, analysis, and electronic music. C&C courses focus on the scholarly study of music, from historical and formalist analysis to cognitive science and ethnography. This structure will allow for a better-defined distinction between theory/composition-centric and musicology-based courses; break from outdated conceptions of western, non-western, popular, and jazz music; and encourage students to explore a wider array of topics in their study.
  • Performance-focused courses will be designated the prefix “MPP” rather than “MUS,” providing students with strong performance interests more flexibility.
  • The current required number of theory courses (4) is reduced to two (2). This both allows students more freedom to engage with more varied musical structures, and provides faculty with an opportunity to diversify course topics.
  • Prerequisites for the Major will now include a “Culture and Criticism” course in addition to the MUS 105/106 “Materials and Making” theory sequence. This expansion will ensure that students are exposed to musicological study prior to participation in the Junior Seminar.
  • The Junior Seminar will become a credit-bearing course that offers a more coherent and rigorous entry into the major.
  • The Junior Projects will be consolidated into one, year-long project to allow for a more substantive scope and better preparation for the Senior Thesis.
  • The Senior Comprehensive Exam will now be linked to the Senior Thesis, encompassing a public presentation, oral exam, and defense.

“I could not be more excited or proud of the new curriculum we are introducing this fall. The study of music has changed dramatically over the past two decades as have the interests of our faculty and students. While our students will always continue to study and play the canonic works of the western tradition, many also wish to expand their studies to include jazz, early music, ethnomusicology, electronic music, music cognition, or explore the music history from a more global perspective. As we have all learned in recent weeks, music provides great solace in times of stress; our role at Princeton and in the community seems even more important in the coming months. I would like to express our gratitude to the Office of the Dean of the College, whose support throughout this process has been so vital.”

– Department of music chair wendy heller

Course of Study Overview: A total of eleven (11) courses will be distributed among:

•Three (3) prerequisite courses (MUS 105 and 106, and a 200-level Culture and Criticism course)

•Two (2) courses in Culture & Criticism

•Two (2) courses in Materials & Making

•Three (3) additional electives, two of which should be at the 300-level or higher. Music Majors pursuing a Certificate in the Program in Music Performance may use one performance course (such as MPP 213, 214, 215, 216, 219) as an elective.

•One (1) credit-bearing Junior Seminar.

The new curriculum will be implemented gradually:

•Members of the Class of 2021 may elect to fulfill either the old or new requirements, using the Fall 2019 Junior Seminar in place of the new, credited Junior Seminar.

•Members of the Class of 2022-23 are strongly encouraged to complete the new curriculum, and will be required to take the credit-bearing Junior Seminar.

•Members of the Class of 2024 and beyond will fulfill a course of study according to the new curriculum.

This subcommittee led by Professor Dan Trueman comprised the most recent Directors of Undergraduate Studies: Profs. Donnacha Dennehy, Jamie Reuland, Juri Seo, and Gavin Steingo. In forming their guidelines, the subcommittee researched the academic structures of other structures on campus, looked to recently modified music curricula at other Ivy League institutions, and conferred with current and future Music Majors and other active students within the Department. Laying out their rationale for the change, members of the subcommittee noted:

“Our major as it now stands…leaves minimal room for students to set their own path…[and] makes it difficult for us to develop new courses that might enliven and diversify our curriculum… We should encourage [students] to lead with their strengths, to dig deep and get their hands dirty, to get out of their comfort zones, while also recognizing that completeness in music education is impossible—there is no way to guarantee that every major ‘knows everything they should know,’ nor could we ever possibly agree ourselves what that ‘everything’ would consist of, especially in today’s broader musical, artistic, and cultural landscape.”

Please contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies (2019-2020 Academic Term: Juri Seo; 2020-2021 Academic Term: Donnacha Dennehy) with questions relating to these changes.

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