University of Pittsburgh

Undergraduate

Undergraduates enjoy a wide variety of performance opportunities.

The Music Major

The Department of Music offers the Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in music. Students will take a core set of courses, and choose between five different “tracks” of study: (1) Composition, (2) Global and Popular Music, (3) Jazz, (4) Music and Cultural History, and (5) Performance. Each track will be 42 credits. The Music Minor will be 20 credits. Download the music major requirements (PDF).

Every student wishing to major or minor in music is encouraged to make an appointment with the Director of Undergraduate Studies in Music to schedule classes, internships, and research opportunities; discuss which track would best suit your interests; determine how the music major/minor fits into your long-term academic, personal, and professional goals; and assess the Music Department’s role in your experience at Pitt. Appointments with the Director of Undergraduate Studies can be made at any time. We are here to help you achieve your goals.

Individual advisors for each track will provide students with more detailed information about individual tracks (see below). 

Music Major Tracks 

CompStudents working in libraryosition Track – Dr. Eric Moe, Advisor (emoe@pitt.edu)

The CompositionTrack 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 create a final portfolio of their compositional work. They will develop their individual musical voices through close mentorship by faculty.

Global & Popular Music Track – Dr. Adriana Helbig, Advisor (anh59@pitt.edu)

The Global and Popular Music Track offers students an interdisciplinary grounding in the study of diverse musical expressions in contemporary and historical perspectives. This major provides 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 major engages the ever-changing balance between traditional and modern ideas of music in systems of learning, performance techniques, and ways of writing and recording music. Courses in rock, hip-hop, and the musics of Latin America, Africa, Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, and East Asia give students extensive grounding in the disciplines of ethnomusicology and popular music studies.

Jazz Track – Geri Allen, Advisor (gaallen@pitt.edu)

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.  Jazz students gain valuable experience by studying with members of our renowned faculty, as well as visiting performers and scholars. They also enjoy opportunities to learn professional recording techniques in the Internet2-ready William R. Robinson Recording Studio; study and practice archival and historical research methods in the Sonny Rollins International Jazz Archives; engage with distinguished local, national, and international jazz artists, scholars, and music industry professionals in the annual Pitt Jazz Seminar and Concert; and perform in the Pitt Jazz Ensemble.

Music and Cultural History Track – Dr. Deane Root, Advisor (dlr@pitt.edu)

The Music and Cultural History Track at the University of Pittsburgh provides students with a background in the history, culture, and practice of music in the Western imagination.  Covering music from classical to pop, 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 be become critics and curators of music in Western culture. The Music and Cultural History concentration requires students to take core courses in music history and theory, with optional performance requirements.  Students then individually craft their major by choosing upper-level seminars that emphasize music’s history or build complementary skills in composition, jazz, ethnomusicology, or popular music.  Graduates of this program are expected to be prepared at a high level for careers and further education as engaged intellectuals, practitioners, and stewards in the field of music.

Performance Track – Roger Zahab, Advisor (rzahab@pitt.edu)

The Performance Track is intended for students who wish to improve their skills as performers in a wide range of genres. This track 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. The curriculum also provides one-on-one teaching in the studio, and valuable experience in concert settings with master teachers and coaches.

Double Majors

A large percentage of our music majors are double majors, majoring in both music and another subject. Recent double majors have combined a music major with a major in mathematics, physics, business, philosophy, microbiology, history, English literature, or computer engineering, among others. There have even been occasional triple majors in the department. Successfully completing a double major requires careful planning by the student and the student's advisors in both departments. Potential double majors are urged to meet with the Director of Undergraduate Studies as soon as possible in order to map out a program that will meet the requirements of both fields.

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