Musicology is essentially about telling stories, true stories about composers, their music, and cultural environment in which they flourished.  A musicologist conducts research to uncover truths about music, the most ambiguously beautiful of all the arts.  Topics might include Beethoven’s Immortal Beloved, Schumann’s progression towards insanity, Ruth Crawford Seeger’s String Quartet, Philip Glass’s film scores, and Kendrick Lamar’s hip hop.  Musicology is unique in the context of a liberal environment because it is one of the few disciplines in which one learns not only to research the life of a composer, but as a music major, one also learns to play the music and compose your own.  Indeed, all musicologists play an instrument and find great satisfaction working through a musical problem on the piano or another instrument.  

Unique to Lewis & Clark College is an interdisciplinary approach to musicology.  Students are encouraged to understand music through the lens of its sister disciplines, such as art history, literary criticism, and philosophy.  For instance, students may study the representation of musical instruments in the work of Michelangelo or musical metaphors in Zora Neale Hurston’s prose.  At Lewis & Clark College, students interested in focusing in musicology take the required courses for music majors: theory, aural skills, piano proficiency, and performance lessons and ensembles. They are encouraged to take electives in advanced musicology topics in order to prepare for a senior musicology thesis. 

Musicology students are also encouraged to participate in the London Overseas program, offered by the college every other spring.

Students typically complete their senior thesis during the spring term of their senior year.  The thesis is a research project whose subject is chosen by the student in consultation with their advisor.  Examples of past projects include the life and music of Alma Mahler, the work of Doreen Carwithen, Jimi Hendrix’s late style, Shostakovich’s Testimony, and Pink Floyd’s The Wall.  Student theses run between 30 and 50 pages and contain complete bibliographies and footnotes.  Students meet with their advisor once a week to monitor the progress of their work and submit drafts for review.  Once the complete is draft is done, it is sent to two other members of the music faculty for their comments and suggestions, which the student incorporates into the final draft.  The student will present their findings to an audience of their peers and faculty at a colloquium set up in the music department.  The colloquium is generally 30 minutes in length.  Students may also wish to do a lecture/recital.  Students interested in writing a thesis in musicology must complete MUS 490. This will ensure the student ample time to complete their project.

All music majors begin with an overview of the History of Western Music: 

MUS 162 History of Western Music I  
MUS 163 History of Western Music II


They continue with at least four credits of upper-level musicology coursework. Students interested in a senior musicology thesis are encouraged to take as many upper-level musicology courses as possible, from among our offerings: 

MUS 307 Advanced Seminar in Music (may be repeated with change of topic; past topics include Music as Art, Women in Music, and Music and Philosophy)  
MUS 361 Music and Language