Department Overview and Its History

The Department of Music Research and Composition embraces four areas of study in the research and creative activities of its faculty: musicology, composition, music theory, and popular music studies. While each area possesses a distinctive identity, the four areas also complement and intersect with one another in interesting ways. The diversity of subject matter, encompassing music of 1000 years ago to music of today, and the coexistence of traditional and more recent methodologies for and critical perspectives on the study and creation of music, create a dynamic educational experience for our students. We cultivate an intellectual environment in which students are encouraged to develop respect both for the close study of and creation of the individual musical work and for the study of music in its wider cultural and critical context.

The Department offers a wide range of courses for music students from first-year undergraduates to doctoral students in all areas of specialization, and it also offers courses in music fundamentals, music appreciation, popular music, and music of non-Western cultures that are available to non-music students.

Our faculty consists of dedicated teachers who are also widely published, distinguished scholars in musicology, music theory, and popular music studies, as well as prolific, award-winning composers who evince a diverse range of compositional styles and approaches.

The Department of Music Research and Composition was created on July 1, 2008, the fortieth anniversary of the Don Wright Faculty of Music, through the amalgamation of the Department of Music Theory and Composition and the Department of Music History. The amalgamation draws on the strengths and longstanding distinguished reputations of the parent departments, and reflects interdisciplinary affinities and newer areas of study that are representative of the academic milieu of the twenty-first century.

Undergraduate Programs

The Department of Music Research and Composition administers the five undergraduate areas of study described below. The Department also offers courses that meet the needs of all music students, regardless of specialization. The four-semester core curricula in music theory, music history, and musicianship administered by the Department of Music Research and Composition are required by Bachelor of Music students in all areas of study. Advanced courses designed for students in all four programs are available as electives to other students.

BMus Honors in Music History

Through its broad coverage of the history of music from the Middle Ages to the present, this program allows students to gain a critical understanding of the rich and varied traditions of our musical heritage. Beyond the two-year introductory sequence of courses, advanced courses may be chosen from a wide range of options including opera, symphony, chamber music, performance practice, early music editing and notation, as well as courses that consider topics from medieval music to music across the globe in the twenty-first century.

BMus Honors in Composition

This program is founded on musical creativity that is individual and diverse, and the ideals of in-depth musical knowledge and technical skill. Studies in Music Composition are concurrent with studies in Music Theory, Musicianship, and in Music History. Students are able to choose their own emphasis from course options that best reflect their technical and aesthetic interests. Instruction includes classroom and one-on-one meetings with our distinguished, award-winning faculty. There are opportunities for cross-disciplinary work in multimedia, film and video. The Composition and Electroacoustic Research and Performance (CEARP) Facility is a leader in computer music. Many opportunities exist for readings and performances of student compositions. Activities throughout the year are enriched through frequent special events featuring visiting composers, artists, ensembles and scholars.

BMus Honors in Music Theory

This program allows students to gain a deeper level of understanding regarding the principles of musical structures and helps students develop their ability to analyze music from a variety of perspectives or interpret a given theory of music. Beyond the two-year core sequence of courses in tonal music and musicianship, advanced courses may be chosen from a wide range of topics including 16th- and 18th-century counterpoint, post-tonal theory, Schenkerian theory, chromatic harmony, and advanced topics in Baroque and Classical music or Romantic music. While this program overlaps with the composition program in significant ways, it also affords students the opportunity to pursue courses from the music history area allowing students to place their intellectual interests in a broader context which reflects the recent intersections of music theory and musicology.

BA Major in Popular Music Studies

The BA major in Popular Music Studies combines hands-on practice with theory to train students to research and think critically about the production, creation, history, and culture of popular music. Courses are offered in songwriting, arranging, and desktop music production, as well as the critical study of songs, recordings, styles, artists, and the place of popular music in contemporary culture.

BA Specialization in Music Administrative Studies

The degree, jointly offered by the Department of Music Research and Composition and the Management and Organizational Studies (MOS) program of the Faculty of Social Science, combines central elements of both programs to create an interdisciplinary atmosphere for the study of music management. This degree, the only one of its kind in Canada, prepares students for management positions in various fields within the music industry, such as, music publishing, instrument manufacturing, music/arts management, production and distribution of recorded music, manufacturing of electronic music equipment, and the marketing of music products. Scholarships for the MAS Specialization have been generously donated by Universal Music Canada, Warner Music Canada, and the Music Industries Association of Canada.

Applications from people with both ‘classical’ and ‘pop’ backgrounds are welcome. Students may customize the major to concentrate on either popular music or classical music or they may blend the two areas together.