Welcome to the Department of Musicology!

What is musicology? Broadly speaking, musicology is the study of music as an academic discipline. Musicology is the field of study that explores the relationship of music to the wider liberal arts. Musicology courses at Lawrence promote independent and active learning about musical practices and practitioners. Students are encouraged to enroll in a variety of musicology courses so as to encounter a wide range of musical styles, functions, aesthetics and meanings. Studying music produced within various cultural and historical contexts draws our attention to the activities and values of listeners, patrons, performers, teachers, composers, critics and scholars.

Students in musicology courses engage in the variety of activities that constitute the academic study of music: studying scores, listening critically to recordings, reading and discussing primary source documents and scholarly literature, and undertaking library research and ethnographic fieldwork. In addition to emphasizing the development of critical listening and reading skills, musicology courses incorporate various kinds of writing, from listening journals to original research papers.

A two-term sequence, Western Music in History, introduces students to music of the Middle Ages to the present. Focusing on the historical moments in which major works were created, notated, performed, and documented, in these courses we examine musical and societal values as they changed over time, eventually shaping a diversity of musical styles and practices into what is now commonly called the Western classical tradition.

Upper-level musicology seminars introduce a range of analytical approaches and methodologies, including issues of performance practice. All Conservatory students choose at least two upper-level electives (some majors require an additional upper-level musicology or music theory course). Upper-level seminars focus on the music of a specific time and/or place, a specific composer, a specific genre or a specific issue. Some recent upper-level musicology seminars include:

Aesthetics of Music History of the Symphony Music in the Age of Exploration
Borrowed Music in the Movies History of the Wind Band Music in the Middle East
Claude Debussy Jazz History Music in the U.S.
Divine Love in the 17th Century Music and the Environment Opera and Betrayal
Early Music Revivals Music and Fairy Tales Performing Arts of Bali
The German Lied Music and Gender Popular Music
History of Recorded Sound Music and Memory The Second Viennese School
History of the String Quartet Music and Power Under the Sun King Stravinsky


Students with special interest in musicology who have completed the core sequence and required number of upper-level courses may undertake faculty-supervised independent studies in which they investigate specific musicological topics in depth in the process of writing substantial original research papers.

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