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What is a Music History Major?

Music History is a major that deals with music of all types and from all times and places. You’ll learn the history of classical music from all parts of the world. You’ll study ethnic music from African-Americans, Latin-Americans, and Asian-Americans. You’ll study medieval and Renaissance music, as well as Baroque and Romantic forms. You’ll study orchestral and chamber music from various time periods. And you’ll study the many forms of American music, including the stuff you hear on the radio today. Studying music from different times and places will give you the ability to compare various forms and trends, and you’ll be able to develop your own ideas of how today’s music has been informed and influenced by music from the past.

Your studies in Music History will include music training; most programs require you to take several semesters of instrument or voice lessons, as well as involve yourself in band, choir, orchestra, or other group. Foreign languages are also part of Music History, so expect to take courses in French, German, or another language.


  • American Folk Music

  • American Jazz

  • Music Criticism

  • Music from the European Baroque

  • Music History Survey

  • Music Theory

  • Popular Music from Brazil

  • Russian Folk Music

  • Twentieth Century Music

  • Western Art Music

  • World Music


Since Music History is an inter-disciplinary major, a broad foundation of courses in languages, history, English, psychology, art, math, and science will be most valuable. Music and fine arts courses, too, will offer you opportunities to widen your horizons. Most universities require an audition, so you should get involved in music lessons, band, orchestra, choir, or another group in your school or community. You can also listen to a variety of music on your own, and read about famous composers and musicians on the Internet or in your library.