Music

The Sydney Conservatorium of Music (SCM) offers a music program to students studying on the main campus through its Arts Music Unit as part of the Bachelor of Arts degree for up to six semesters of full-time study at pass level and eight semesters of full-time study at honours level.

The Arts Music Unit is located in the Seymour Centre and most classes are held on the Camperdown campus. It offers a diverse range of units designed for students with broad interests in the study of music in culture who will mostly pursue other careers. Students with professional musical aspirations may take some music units in the SCM on the Macquarie Street campus.

About the major

The Music major provides opportunities to interpret the role and importance of music as it appears in a wide variety of forms, practices and social situations. Units of study within the Music major give you the tools to engage in the interpretation, analysis, performance and writing of popular music, music for film and television and digital media, classical music and various forms of music from around the world.

In your first year, you start with an introduction to music skills and literacy as well as broad historical overviews of various traditions of musical practice. Then, in your second and third years you focus on the use and experience of music in various time periods and places. You will also study the practices and techniques used to create and perform music. You will engage with music through critical listening, group discussions, research and analysis, and the direct experience of music-making situations.

Studying music offers knowledge and skills for a variety of careers including writing music for the concert hall or theatre and film and other media as well; performing as an ensemble player, accompanist or soloist; writing about music as a journalist or critic; working in the recording or media industry; teaching music in schools; studio teaching; and arts administration, cultural planning and festival and venue management.

Pathways through the major

There are three distinct areas of study in the Music major:

  • Music and media
  • Musicology
  • Performance and composition

All three are closely related to each other. While it is common for students to focus on one area, it has also been common for all three areas to be a part of your Music major. It is just as likely that a unit of study on the globalisation of popular music might influence a performer and a composition workshop might help a student interested in musicology expand their skills and knowledge in their chosen area of interest. Given this, our pathways help students to study music in order to create and maintain connections between all areas of study.

Junior units of study (1000 level)

Four units of study are offered in the first year:

  • Music skills units of study: MUSC1503 Fundamentals of Music 1 and MUSC1504 Fundamentals of Music 2
  • Music history units of study: MUSC1506 Music in Western Culture and MUSC1507 Sounds, Screens and Speakers.

Entry into the music skills units depends on your level of existing knowledge. We teach students who have very high levels of understanding and ability in music skills as well as students who have no training whatsoever. The goal of the first year units of study is to establish a foundation of basic music skills and knowledge for all students regardless of background and experience.

The two music history units are broad surveys that provide you with general overviews of classical and popular traditions of musical practice. In each case, these provide the analytical skills and opportunities for conceptual development necessary to engage successfully in the units of study offered in second and third year.

Senior units of study (2000 and 3000 level)

In your second and third years it is expected that you will focus on the specific units of study related to your primary area of interest. There are a range of senior units to choose from allowing you to advance your knowledge and abilities in areas that directly build on junior units of study.

Within the area of musicology, you can choose from units dealing with music and media, film music, classical music, popular music, arts administration and fieldwork. These units require both the skills and broad understanding of music history and practice offered in first year.

Importantly, the two first year music history units of study set you up for two distinct pathways. One deals with the history and analysis of classical music, examined in specific relation to the sources from which composers have drawn their inspiration as well as the contexts that shaped their use of those sources. Units of study such as Music and Politics, Sounding Australia and Music & Spirituality follow on directly from Music in Western Culture and can lead to the intensive study of composition and performance offered in several senior units of study as well as honours.

The second pathway deals with the history and analysis of popular music and the relationship between music and media. Units such as Popular Music and the Moving image, Survey of Film Music and Australian Popular Music follow on directly from Sounds, Screens and Speakers and lead directly onto Third Year units, allowing for potential honours study.

The design of the three units typically taken in third year demonstrate the culmination of each of these pathways through the Music major. MUSC3699 Understanding Music is a compulsory unit of study required as part of the major. This 3000 level unit presents you with many ways of engaging in the analysis of music as well as many ways of understanding how we perceive music. The goal is to require you to reconcile often conflicting interpretations and explanations of the experience of music across many traditions of musical practice. MUSC3609 Musicology and MUSC2631 Music & Everyday Life are both prerequisites for honours. You may substitute an advanced analysis unit of study offered at the Conservatorium in place of Music and Everyday Life. Each unit of study asks you to approach the analysis and interpretation of music using interdisciplinary frameworks based on textual analysis and field-based research respectively.

There are two other 3000 level units of interest to third year students: MUSC3639 Music Journalism and MUSC3640 Rhythms and Sounds of Latin America. The former is a strong choice if you want to focus your music major on music and media and the latter a strong choice for those focusing on performance or composition.

When considered in addition to the music performance and composition units offered both on Main Campus and at the Conservatorium, you have several clear pathways to reach your Music major, but you are able make choices between the three broad areas of teaching based on your background, abilities and interests.

Sample pathways
Music and Media
First year
  • MUSC1503/4 - Fundamentals of Music, 1 and/or 2
  • MUSC1507 - Sounds, Screens and Speakers
Second year
  • MUSC2663 - Survey of Film Music
  • MUSC2664 - Popular Music and the Moving Image
  • MUSC2666 - A Global Sound
Third year
  • MUSC3639 - Music Journalism
  • MUSC2631 - Music and Everyday Life
  • MUSC3699 - Understanding Music
Performance and Composition
First year
  • MUSC1503/4 - Fundamentals of Music, 1 and/or 2
  • MUSC1507 - Sounds, Screens and Speakers, -OR-
  • MUSC1506 - Music in Western Culture
Second year
  • MUSC2612 - Music Performance
  • MUSC2614 - Composition Workshop
  • MUSC2653 - Digital Music Techniques
Third year
  • MUSC2651 - Sounding Australia
  • MUSC3640 - Rhythms and Sounds of Latin America
  • MUSC3699 - Understanding Music
Musicology
First year
  • MUSC1503/4 - Fundamentals of Music, 1 and/or 2
  • MUSC1506 - Music in Western Culture
Second year
  • MUSC2664 - Popular Music and the Moving Image
  • MUSC2651 - Sounding Australia
  • MUSC2691 - Revolutionary Voices: Music and Politics
Third year
  • MUSC2631 - Music and Everyday Life
  • MUSC3609 - Musicology
  • MUSC3699 - Understanding Music
Honours

Admission to Honours in music is granted to students who have completed a music major with a credit average, plus 12 special entry credit points as follows: MUSC3609 Musicology and either MUSC2631 Music and Everyday Life or 6 credit points in SCM Harmony and Analysis and/or Aural skills.

Please note: from 2015 the minimum requirement for entry into Honours will increase to an average of 70%.

Contacts/Further information

Room S442 Level 4
Seymour Centre J09
Phone: +61 2 9351 2923
Fax +61 2 9351 7340
Email:
Website: sydney.edu.au/music
Chair of unit: