The Major

The goal of the Music Major at Carleton is to prepare students for the advanced study of music via grounding in all aspects of music: performance, composition, theory, history, and ethnomusicology. The flexibility of the major in the junior and senior years also allows students to gain significant depth in a chosen area of interest, culminating in an individually tailored senior comps project. Specifically, the major requires our students to: 

  • gain practical experience in performance, composition, theory, history, and ethnomusicology;
  • develop familiarity with musical traditions, genres, canonical repertoire, major artists, styles, and instruments in the musical cultures covered in the curriculum;
  • develop familiarity with major issues, central trends, modes of inquiry, and primary areas of controversy among scholars and performers, utilizing both primary source material as well as current scholarship;
  • be able to read a musical score with aural and analytical comprehension and be able to describe musical structures persuasively, both verbally and in writing;
  • be able to research, successfully develop, and convincingly defend a thesis about music, both verbally and in writing, from historical, analytical, and cultural perspectives;
  • improve their formal presentation skills as both a performer and a speaker;
  • improve their abilities to use library and on-line resources in all aspects of musical inquiry.

Successful completion of the major provides a breadth of musical competency, enriches students' other coursework at the College, and enhances their experience of their applied study.

Music Adviser

The spring term of your sophomore year, upon declaring your academic major, you will be assigned a Music Adviser to replace your Academic Adviser. Your Music Adviser will play a crucial role in partnering with you to make informed decisions in completing your degree requirements, finding a meaningful path through the major for each individual student, and helping you create the right goals in order to excel in your comps project. It helps to establish regular meeting times and to discuss expectations about what can and should be accomplished.