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University of Pittsburgh    
2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog 
  Jul 21, 2024
2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Music, BA

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***On July 10th, 2023 the following Music, BA program description information was updated in the published catalog. In an effort to provide accurate information the update was made on July 10th, 2023.***

The Department of Music offers an innovative undergraduate program that confers a bachelor’s degree and a minor in music. The Department’s dynamic faculty offers strong support for undergraduate research and creative expression. Undergraduates also engage with the Department’s renowned graduate programs and are encouraged to actively participate in all aspects of the Department’s research and performance culture. 

Undergraduates choose a course of study from among five tracks: Composition, Global & Popular Music, Jazz, Music & Cultural History, and Performance. The tracks offer students a broad foundation in music scholarship while tailoring specific elements of music study to the student’s individual talents and interests.   

To declare this major, students must complete MUSIC 0100 - FUNDAMENTALS OF WESTERN MUSIC  with a letter grade of B- or better or achieve a sufficient score to on the Music placement exam to receive credit for this course.

Prerequisite theory course

(Must be completed prior to declaring the Music Major)

MUSIC 0100 - Fundamentals of Western Music - 3 credits

• Students must earn a letter grade of B- or better in this course in order to declare a Music Major or Minor

• Students may elect to take the Music Theory placement exam in lieu of enrolling in MUSIC 0100. A passing grade of 85% is required in order for the placement exam to meet this requirement.

BA Requirements

Required courses for all tracks

The following courses are required for all tracks in the Music major. Additional requirements specific to each track are listed later in the program description.

Composition Track (42 credits)

This track is intended for students interested primarily in creating music of any genre, acoustic or electroacoustic. A solid background in music history, music theory (including tonal harmony and 20th-21st century techniques) and musicianship is essential for composers, as is competence on an instrument or voice. Students will have the opportunity to hear their music read or performed by guest performers and ensembles as well as groups such as the University Orchestra. Students will develop their individual musical voices through close mentorship by faculty and will create a final portfolio of their compositional work. 

Theory courses

All of the following courses are required for the Composition track.

Composition courses

Choose two of the following composition courses.

Jazz Track (42 credits)

The Jazz Track provides opportunities for each student to develop their individual interests and strengths in jazz performance, composition, and scholarship. Core courses in jazz, ethnomusicology and popular music, as well as Western music history, theory, and musicianship, complement courses in composition, arranging, and improvisation. Jazz is a spontaneous performance art and an ideal collaborative vehicle for exploration across musical genres. The Jazz Track reflects this exploratory ideal by emphasizing innovation and creativity in both performance and scholarship.

Choose one of the following courses

Of these two courses, students must take the one that was not taken as a core course.

Required Jazz focused courses

All of the following courses are required for the Jazz track.

Global and Popular Music Track (42 credits)

The Global and Popular Music track offers theoretical and methodological training in the study of global and popular music and engages students with cutting-edge ethnographic research. Analyzing global and popular musics within a broader context of postcolonial, technological, and transnational development, the track engages the ever-changing balance between traditional and modern ideas of music in systems of learning, performance techniques, and ways of writing and recording much.

Music and Cultural History Track (42 credits)

The Music & Cultural History track provides students with a background in the history, culture, and practice of music in the Western imagination. From Mozart’s Symphony No. 21 to K-pop band 2NE1, this concentration emphasizes diversity and depth of experience in historical developments and styles, giving students a wide-ranging liberal arts education grounded in Western history, critical thinking, and music literacy. Students will be challenged to develop rigorous writing and aural skills that prepare them to become critics and curators of music in Western culture.

Music History courses

Choose one of the following courses

Of these two courses, students must take the one that was not taken as a core course.

Performance Track

This track is intended for students who want to explore and improve their skills as performers in a wide range of genres. It provides a solid background in skills-based musicianship, music theory, history, and the study of other traditions, which are part of the fabric of current music-making in the 21st century. This curriculum also provides a concentration on traditional applied study of an instrument and valuable experiences in concert settings with master teachers and coaches.

Choose one of the following courses

Of these two courses, students must take the one that was not taken as a core course.

One composition course

Six performance courses

Six MUSIC performance courses, at 1 credit each

Other requirements

  • Students may test out of MUSIC 0100 MUSIC 0100 - FUNDAMENTALS OF WESTERN MUSIC  by passing the Music Theory placement exam, which is administered online. A passing grade of 85% is required in order to meet this requirement.
  • A minimum GPA of 2.0 in departmental courses is required for graduation.
  • No course that counts toward the major can be taken on an S/NC basis.
  • Students must complete at least one W-course in the major.
  • All students interested in taking private lessons must reach out to the Department of Music Academic Administrator or directly to the course instructor for more information. Music majors have first priority in scheduling private lessons, which cost an additional $445 per term.
  • To graduate with departmental honors, a student must earn a minimum 3.25 GPA overall, a minimum 3.50 GPA in the music courses with no grade lower than a B+.


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