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. Subjects 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 four distinct areas of study in the Music Major: music and media; contemporary music practice; musicology; performance and composition. All four 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 subject 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)

There are four subjects offered in the first year, two music skills subjects (Fundamentals of Music 1 and 2) and two music history subjects (Music in Western Culture; Sounds, Screens and Speakers). Entry into the music skills subjects depends on your level of existing knowledge. We get students who have very high levels of understanding and ability in music skills and we get students who have no training whatsoever. We are able to accommodate all of them. The goal of the first year subjects is to establish a foundation of basic music skills and knowledge for all students regardless of their background and experience.

The two music history subjects 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 subjects offered in second and third year.

Senior units of study (2000 and 3000 level)

After first year, it is expected that you will focus on the specific units of study most directly related to your primary area of interest. We have created a range of senior subjects that you can choose to advance your knowledge and abilities in areas that directly build on the first-year subjects.

There are several clusters of subjects from which you can choose to count towards their major. (As noted below, all majors must take the third-year subject Understanding Music.) Within the area of musicology, you can choose from subjects dealing with music and media, film music, classical music, popular music, arts administration and fieldwork. These subjects follow on directly from the four first year subjects, requiring both the skills and broad understanding of music history and practice offered in first year. Importantly, the two first year music history subjects 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. Subjects such as Music and Politics, Sounding Australia and Spirituality as Music follow on directly from Music in Western Culture and can lead to the intensive study of composition and performance offered in several senior subjects as well as Honours.

The second deals with the history and analysis of popular music and the relationship between music and media. Subjects 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 subjects, allowing for potential Honours study. 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 to make choices between the three broad areas of teaching based on your background, abilities and interests.

Third year (Honours preparation)

The design of the three units typically taken in third year demonstrate the culmination of each of these pathways through the Music Major. One is the only unit of study required for the Music Major, Understanding Music (MUSC 3699). This is a 3000-level unit that 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. There are two second and third year subjects that are Honours pre-requisites: Musicology (MUSC 3609) and Music & Everyday Life (MUSC 2631). You may substitute an advanced analysis subject offered at the Conservatorium in place of Music and Everyday Life. Each subject asks you to approach the analysis and interpretation of music using interdisciplinary frameworks based on textual analysis and field-based research respectively.

There are other 3000-level units of interest to third year students as well. Two are the capstone of the Contemporary Music Pathway: Contemporary Music-Making 1 and 2 (MUSC 3601 and 3602). The other two are Music Journalism (MUSC 3639) and Rhythms and Sounds of Latin America (MUSC 3640). These four subjects strong choices that will help you focus your music major on any one of our four pathways.

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
Contemporary Music Practice
First year
  • MUSC1503/4 - Fundamentals of Music, 1 and/or 23
  • MUSC1507 - Sounds, Screens and Speakers
Second year
  • MUSC2612 - Music Performance
  • MUSC2614 - Composition Workshop
  • MUSC2653 - Digital Music Techniques
Third year
  • MUSC2664 - Popular Music
  • MUSC3601/2 - Contemporary Music Making 1/2
  • 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
  • MUSC2691 - Revolutionary Voices: Music and Politics
Third year
  • MUSC2631 - Music and Everyday Life
  • MUSC3609 - Musicology
  • MUSC3699 - Understanding Music
Performance and Composition
First year
  • MUSC1503/4 - Fundamentals of Music 1, 2 and/or 3
  • MUSC1507 - Sounds, Screens, Speakers -OR-
  • MUSC1506 - Music in Western Culture
Second year
  • MUSC2612 - Music Performance
  • MUSC2614 - Composition Workshop
  • MUSC2653 - Digital Music Techniques
Third year
  • MUSC3640 - Rhythms and Sounds of Latin America
  • MUSC       -  Advanced Digital Music Techniques
  • MUSC3699 - Understanding Music
Honours

Admission to honours in music is granted to students who have completed a music major with an average of 70 percent, 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.

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: