The Music Major

The music major at Bowdoin can take a number of possible tracks, outlined in the College Catalogue. Students can do a general music major, or specialize in composition, music and  culture, or Western classical music. In all cases, students will do some combination of music theory, performance, and the study of music in historical or cultural context. The fee for lessons for credit is waived for majors for one year. Honors work consists of a full year of independent study in a specialized area such as composition or history. Double majors are common, and self-designed majors that combine courses in two or more departments are also possible.

Requirements for the Major in Music

The music major normally consists of ten academic courses and two performance credits. Most majors follow one of the tracks indicated in the “Sample Majors” listed below, but students are also invited to design a major to suit their own needs. No more than two 100-level courses in addition to Music 101, 131, and 151 may be counted toward the major, and two 300-level courses in addition to Music 451 are normally required of all majors. Honors work normally adds one extra course to the standard ten, and its second semester counts as the senior independent study. Only one academic course for which the grade of CR (Credit) is earned may count towards the major.

The process for declaring the major is as follows: (1) The student consults with a member of the music faculty as early in the individual’s college career as possible. (2) Before declaring a major, the student proposes a list of courses that fulfill the major, or identifies a sample major to follow by submitting a list or sample major announcement to the music department chair or to another member of the department. (3) Upon departmental approval of the list of courses or the particular track, the major declaration is signed by the department chair. Subsequent alterations to this list of courses are possible only in consultation with the chair of the department or another member of the music faculty.

Sample Sequences of Courses for the Music Major

General Music Major

Music 101, 131 or 211, 151, 203, 302, and 451.

Four electives, including two 200-level courses and one 300-level course. One consecutive year of lessons on the same instrument; one consecutive year in the same ensemble. Honors in music adds one advanced independent study to this list.

Music and Culture

Music 101 or 151, 131, 211; a total of five electives: two or three from the music department (including at least one at the 200 level); and two or three relevant and sequential courses from another department, including at least one at the 200 level; a 200-level independent study combining departmental and extra-departmental perspectives; one course numbered 355–358, and 451; and one full credit of a non-Western ensemble.

Composition and Theory

Music 101, 151, 203, 218 or 291, 243, one course numbered 250–259, 302, 361, 451, and one elective, plus the lessons and ensemble required for the general major, above.

European and American Music

Music 101, 131, 151, 203, one course numbered 250–259, 302, one course numbered 351–354, two electives (including at least one at the 200 level), 451; plus the lessons and ensemble required for the general major, above.

Requirements for the Minor in Music

The minor in music consists of six credits (five academic courses and one consecutive year of lessons for credit or one year of participation in a single ensemble). The five academic courses include 101 and any four others including at least two above the 100 level. Only one academic course for which the grade of CR (Credit) is earned may count towards the minor.