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Author Topic: Music degree program question  (Read 519 times)

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Offline KurzykTopic starter

Music degree program question
« on: September 07, 2009, 10:24:03 AM »
Does anyone know why Classical music is the main focus in undergraduate degree programs? I like classical but I love writing my own stuff which is more contemporary and not always classical.

Would focusing on classical help provide a foundation of western music that I could then branch off?


Offline Ket

Re: Music degree program question
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2009, 04:07:06 PM »
In any form of musical training, a classical education is the best tool. It's fundamental. You can go anywhere and do pretty much anything with classical training.

Offline Oniya

Re: Music degree program question
« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2009, 06:39:20 PM »
Classical music is very much like classical literature (7 years of piano lessons here).  It gives a good foundation, and many of the later forms of music do indeed build off of it.  Like in other forms of art, once you learn the rules, you can then determine how (and if) to break them.

That said, a university with a good music degree program should also offer classes that involve the more contemporary composers and styles, such as jazz and experimental.

Offline Torch

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Re: Music degree program question
« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2009, 08:25:31 PM »
Depends on the school, I think. I would suspect most liberal arts colleges and universities focus on classical music because its much easier than designing a program from contemporary or modern music. If you really want to focus on contemporary music, you'd probably need a degree from a music college, which would have much more resources at their disposal.

Mr. Torch's brother has a degree from Berklee ( and I doubt if he knows a Bach from a Brahms. But he's a working musician who plays in his own band, and does session work for various studios around NYC. (He's a drummer, BTW).

Offline KurzykTopic starter

Re: Music degree program question
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2009, 12:21:14 PM »
That's interesting and reassuring. I checked into the program and the university does offer Jazz courses and other types as well. The primary focus is classical though.

I'm meeting with the professor for music theory/composition tomorrow to run some questions by him, but its helpful to know that classical isn't the only option for music majors. I can see how studying theory through classical can offer a diverse and complex range which would lay a nice foundation. After all, several musicians were classical musicians and went on to make their own stuff:

Dido was raised a child prodigy and toured with a classical ensemble before falling in love with Ella Fitzgerald and doing her own thing.

Imogen Heap was also classically trained and performed in recitals before branching into her own style.

Elton John was trained at the Royal Academy of Music, and while he loved playing some of the classical pieces he couldn't stand it and left school to do his own thing.

I love composition, and in addition to the weird folky stuff I like to write, I do have ideas for epic type fantasy music, which would use an orchestra. Thats pretty close to classical music. LoTR for example would take a strong foundation of classical to create I would think.

Thanks for the input all. :)