Undergraduate Program

Undergraduate students in the department study, create, and perform music in an environment that combines the benefits of a well-rounded liberal arts education with the resources of a major research university.


Our students have a wealth of resources available for their research, performance, and creative work. The Shorin Music Performance Center offers a large number of rehearsal and practice rooms and the Department has its own intimate, loft-like performance space that serves as a venue for recitals, colloquia, and recording. Waverly Labs, our cutting edge technology facility, provide digital resources for composition and research. Professional sound recording and video equipment is available for check-out. The Department hosts the Washington Square Contemporary Music Society, and the early music ensemble, Teares of the Muses. Our students can also join ensembles sponsored by the Steinhardt School of Education, such as the NYU Symphony Orchestra. The Department's greatest asset, however, is its location in the heart of New York City, one of the world's great cultural centers. Many of our courses are structured around live performances at venues ranging from the city's top concert halls to its most obscure performance spaces. We also encourage students to take advantage of our location by pursuing internships with NYC-based recording companies, music magazines, or major performing arts organizations.

The Undergraduate Program

Students pursuing a major or minor in music gain proficiency in theory, history, criticism, and interpretation of music traditions throughout the world. At the same time, our students develop skills in analysis, critical thinking, composition, and writing that are valuable across disciplines. As a result, the major and minor in music constitute excellent preparation for graduate study in music and related fields in the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; for careers in music, media, and culture industries; or for any occupation demanding clear and original thinking, command of the written word, analytical skills, and creativity.

In addition to a curriculum designed for majors and minors, we offer a wide range of innovative courses - in historical musicology, ethnomusicology, popular music, music theory, composition, historical performance, jazz, and the emerging field of sound studies - that are addressed to the general student. Recent and upcoming undergraduate courses include:

  • Harmony and Counterpoint I and II 
  • History of European Music 
  • Sounds of the Cold War
  • Music, War and Memory
  • Principles of Composition
  • Introduction to Celtic Music
  • African Music
  • The Art of Listening: Jazz in New York
  • The Art of Listening: Why Do We Like What We Like?
  • Rock and Roll from the 1950s to the 1980s
  • Musical 'Complexities'/Theoretical Perplexity
  • Constructing Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Popular Music
  • Alternate Canons: The Black Rock Coalition
  • Native American Music and Poetics
  • The Search for Authenticity
  • Spectral Music: A Chord or and Attitude?
  • Women Composing in a Gendered World
  • Contemporary Opera
  • Soundscapes of Contemporary War
  • Music, Sound and Technology
  • Performance and Analysis
  • Studies in Musical Analysis

Director of Undergraduate Studies

Professor Louis Karchin