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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

B.A. in Music History and Cultures

Musicians in a traditional mexican callejoneada San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

General Information

The major in Music History and Cultures is designed for students who wish to study music in its historical, social and cultural contexts and in relation to other arts. Although majors are encouraged to develop performance skills, the focus of the degree is on the study of musical cultures and styles in a liberal arts environment.

Learning Outcomes

  • Explain the diverse functions and cultural meanings that music has had in both western and non-western societies.
  • Distinguish among stylistic differences in musics of different eras and from different cultures.
  • Explain historical changes in musics of different eras and from different cultures.
  • Apply central issues and methods of scholarship in our fields.
  • Express ideas clearly through writing.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in musical skills.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in musical performance.

With a degree in Music History and Cultures you can enter many different career paths. Some choose to pursue graduate studies in musicology, ethnomusicology, and other musical fields, and ultimately teach and do research in universities and colleges. Others might work for institutions as diverse as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum or National Public Radio, leading education programs or other initiatives. There are music historians who have been awarded Grammys for their CD liner notes and others who have served as “forensic musicologists,” providing expert testimony in legal disputes of copyright infringement. The creator of Pandora Radio’s innovative “music genome project” has a degree in musicology.

Recent alumni have gone on to graduate studies at McGill University, Johns Hopkins University, and Boston University, while others have found careers in commercial music and public relations for major arts organizations.