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Music Theory, History, and Composition

Undergraduate Program

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Music Theory, History, and Composition

Swope Music Building
817 S. High Street
West Chester, PA 19383

Phone: 610-436-2739
Fax: 610-436-2873

Faculty Contact Information


Bachelor of Music, Concentration in Theory and Composition

Bachelor of Music, Concentration in Theory and Composition majors are required to take:

  • 4 semesters of Music Theory and Ear Training
  • 3 semesters of Music History
  • 2-5 semesters of Private Composition Lessons
  • 8 semesters of lessons on major instrument
  • 13 credits of Music Electives
  • 16th Century Counterpoint and 18th Century Counterpoint
  • Orchestration
  • Form
  • Computer Music
  • Conducting

In addition, majors are required to perform regularly in School of Music ensembles and pass a piano competency test. In the senior year, Theory/Composition majors prepare either a Senior Thesis (research project) or a Senior Composition Recital under the guidance of a faculty member in the Department of Music Theory and Composition. The BM degree program prepares the student for more advanced study in composition and/or theory at the graduate level.


The audition for the BM in Theory/Composition is based on two factors:

  • 25% of the audition is a measure of the student's compositional and/or analytic skills.
    Prospective Composers will be expected to show and discuss three of their original scores. If a recording is available of the score, students are encouraged to bring it to the audition. Prospective Theorists will be expected to take a written analysis test, providing harmonic and formal analysis of three short compositions from different musical eras.
  • 75% of the audition is a measure of the student's skills in sight-singing, dictation and piano.
    Students will be expected to sing diatonic melodies at sight, take dictation of diatonic chord progressions, and aurally identify a variety of tertian chords. Students are expected to prepare a piano work of early-intermediate level difficulty.


Elective course offerings in the BM and MM Music Theory/Composition degrees allow the student to customize a program that best meets his or her needs and specific interests. Recent topics for the department's popular upper-level seminars in music theory have included:

  • The Psychology of Music
  • Medieval Music: Performance and Practice
  • Interactive Computer Music
  • Song writing: Analysis and Composition
  • Music of Our Time

The weekly seminar in Composition features performances of students' works and presentations by guest composers. Past guest speakers have included Jennifer Higdon, Steven Mackey, Kile Smith, Daniel Asia, Robert Carl, Barbara White, Jay Reise, Anna Weesner, Thomas Whitman, Daniel Dorff, James Freeman, Tina Davidson, David Conte, Curt Caccioppo, and Jennifer Barker.

Performance, Reading, and Recording Opportunities

Reading/recording sessions of student compositions by professional ensembles take place every year, featuring such ensembles as The Corigliano and Dover String Quartets, the American Brass Quintet, Network for New Music, Orchestra 2001 and Strata. The department coordinates concerts of new music each semester, featuring new compositions by student and faculty composers, performed by the New Music Ensemble (a collection of student and faculty performers). In addition, student composers regularly collaborate with the University Theatre and Dance programs. The Wilkinson Lecture Series provides frequent exposure to research by leading scholars of music history and theory from other major research universities.

Learn more about the Bachelor of Music in Theory and Composition program.

Bachelor of Music, Concentration in History

Bachelor of Music, Concentration in History majors receive intensive training in the materials and methods of music history, including the literature, genres, forms, styles, and technical vocabulary of Western art music, the development of musical style within a broader humanistic and cultural context, aural and written analysis of musical form and style, and advanced research tools of music history, leading to completion of a significant project of independent research.

  • Required music history courses (33 semester hours)
    MHL 210*, MHL 211*, MHL 212*, upper level Music History electives, Senior Project I and II
  • Required theory/composition courses (23 semester hours)
    MTC 112*, MTC 113*, MTC 114*, MTC 115*, MTC 212, MTC 213, MTC 214, MTC 215, MTC 342
  • Other music requirements (22 semester hours)
    Performance Area, Music Organizations, Music Electives, Piano Competency

*Minimum grade of C- required


Prospective BM, History Concentration majors must complete the 3 main parts of the Undergrad Audition Requirements (dictation, intonation and sight-singing, and major-level proficiency on an instrument, piano/organ, or voice), and may opt to take the piano placement exam.

Bachelor of Music: Elective Studies in an Outside Field

Bachelor of Music: Elective Studies in an Outside Field program is designed for those students who desire a general music program while at the same time pursuing a secondary interest outside of the School of Music. The Handbook for Students in Music - Undergraduate Division should be consulted for the current general and music requirements.

  • Required music courses (34 semester hours)
    Applied lessons, conducting, ensemble, music electives
  • The outside field (18 semester hours)
    These courses are taken under advisement of the outside field department chairperson. (In most cases, the curriculum for a minor will be used to determine the course work for the outside field). Common outside fields include Business, Psychology, Philosophy, or Music Therapy (in conjunction with Immaculata University).

Minor in Music

The Minor in Music program is geared toward any WCU student with an interest in music. To be enrolled, students must have the permission of both their major advisor and the School of Music Undergraduate Program Counselor.

Minor in Music Production

The Minor in Music Production provides an avenue for study of commercial media music composition and recording, and is available to students inside and outside of the music majors. After completing an introduction to music fundamentals (MTC 110 for non-music majors, MTC 112 for music majors), the course of study includes scoring for visual media (film, television and video games), studio production techniques, songwriting, and electives from music history, composition, or performance.