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, music theory, popular music studies, and composition. 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 an eclectic 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 programs described below. Links to the program requirements are provided below the description of each program. 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 five programs are available as electives to other students.

BMus Honors in Music History (Western Art Music)

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 in various historical periods from the medieval to the twentieth and twenty-first century.

BMus Honors in Music History (Popular Music)

This program allows students to pursue the historical and critical study of popular music within the context of a BMus degree.

BMus Honors in Music Theory and Composition

This program combines two related areas of study into a single program that is founded on the interdependence of music theory and composition at the undergraduate level. Most students identify more strongly with one of the two disciplines than the other, but involvement with the two disciplines allows students to place their creative and intellectual interests in a broader artistic context. The dual nature of the program helps students develop their ability to articulate aspects of musical structure, whether for the purpose of analyzing music, composing music, or understanding a theory of music. The wide range of senior courses in music theory and composition allows students to emphasize the area of study that best reflects their interests.>

BA Major in Popular Music Studies

This program 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

This program, 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 program have been generously donated by Universal Music Canada, Warner Music Canada, and the Music Industries Association of Canada.

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 program, 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 program have been generously donated by Universal Music Canada, Warner Music Canada, and the Music Industries Association of Canada.

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