Focus Areas

Courses students can take to support various interests:

Core Curriculum for Bachelor of Arts in Music

All Music Majors Take the Following Courses:

Music Theory

  • MU 103. Music Theory I: Diatonic Materials. 4 units
  • MU 105. Music Theory II: Chromatic Materials. 4 units
  • MU 303. Music Theory III: Advanced Chromaticism. 4 units
  • MU 305. Music Theory IV: Contemporary Practices. 4 units

Musicianship

  • MU 104. Musicianship I. 2 units
  • MU 106. Musicianship II. 2 units
  • MU 108. Musicianship III. 2 units

Music History and Music in Culture

  • MU 121. Introduction to Non-Western Musics. 4 units
  • MU 325. America's Music. 4 units OR MU 326. Cultural Concepts and Structures in Music. 4 units
  • MU 320. Music Research and Writing. 4 units
    MU 331. Music of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. 4 units
  • MU 332. Music of the Baroque and Early Classic Eras. 4 units
  • MU 431. Music of the Classic and Romantic Eras. 4 units
  • MU 432. Music of the Modern Era. 4 units

Sound Design

  • MU 311. Sound Design: Technologies. 4 units

Senior Project

  • MU 461. Senior Project. 3 units

Private Lessons (minimum of 9 units)

  • MU 150. Applied Music. 1 unit
  • MU 250. Applied Music. 1 unit
  • (elective): MU 350. Applied Music. 1 unit
  • (elective): MU 450. Applied Music. 1 unit

Major Ensembles (minimum of 9 units)

  • MU 168 / MU 368. Piano Accompanying. 1 unit
  • MU 170 / MU 370. University Jazz Band. 1 unit
  • MU 172 / MU 372. Wind Orchestra. 1 unit
  • MU 173 / MU 373. Wind Ensemble. 1 unit
  • MU 174 / MU 374. Symphony Orchestra. 1 unit
  • MU 181 / MU 381. Polyphonics. 1 unit
  • MU 185 / MU 385. University Singers. 1 unit
  • MU 186 / MU 386. Early Music Ensemble. 1 unit
  • MU 188 / MU 388. Arab Music Ensemble. 1 unit


Music Education Focus

Want to be a Music Teacher? Cal Poly’s required curriculum will give you a well-rounded foundation in the skills and knowledge essential to all educators.

A number of other elective courses can help to prepare you for a career in education:

  • MU 154. Beginning Voice. 1 unit
  • MU 155. Beginning Guitar. 1 unit
  • MU 210. Musicianship IV. 1 unit
  • MU 211. Musicianship V. 1 unit
  • MU 212. Musicianship VI. 1 unit
  • MU 161. Piano Skills I. 1 unit
  • MU 162. Piano Skills II. 1 unit
  • MU 163. Piano Skills III. 1 unit
  • MU 261. Piano Skills IV. 1 unit
  • MU 262. Piano Skills V. 1 unit
  • MU 263. Piano Skills VI. 1 unit
  • MU 265. Accelerated Piano Skills. 1 unit
  • MU 340. Conducting: Fundamentals. 2 units
  • MU 341. Conducting: Choral. 2 units
  • MU 342. Conducting: Instrumental. 2 units
  • MU 360. Music for Classroom Teachers. 4 units
  • MU 361. Instruments. 1 unit
  • MU 465. Choral Literature and Rehearsal Techniques. 4 units
  • MU 466. Instrumental Literature and Rehearsal Techniques. 4 units
  • EDUC 300. Historical, Philosophical, and Social Foundations of Public Education. 3 units

There are various professional societies for music educators; many offer student memberships

People aspiring to teach in the public schools will need a teaching credential. Visit California’s Commission on Teacher Credentialing for the current state requirements.

For more information about Cal Poly’s degree program, feel free to contact:

back to top

Composition Focus

Want to be a Composer? Courses in Music Theory, Musicianship, and Sound Design will build your basic skills, while Music History and Music in Culture classes will introduce you to music-making strategies over time and around the world.

A number of other elective courses can help to prepare you for a career in composition:

  • MU 114. Introduction to Composing. 4 units
  • MU 210. Musicianship IV. 1 unit
  • MU 211. Musicianship V. 1 unit
  • MU 212. Musicianship VI. 1 unit
  • MU 301. Counterpoint. 4 units
  • MU 351. Jazz and Popular Music Arranging. 2 units
  • MU 352. Orchestration. 4 units
  • MU 312. Sound Design: Recording. 4 units
  • MU 411. Sound Design: Synthesis. 4 units
  • MU 412. Sound Design: Composition and Production. 4 units

Many music majors at Cal Poly have completed compositions as their senior project (MU 461) requirement. Recent examples include works for violin, guitar, sax quartet, big band, choir, and orchestra.

For more information about composition in Cal Poly’s degree program, feel free to contact:

back to top

Music History or Ethnomusicology Focus

Want to be a Musicologist or Ethnomusicologist? Besides Music History and Music in Culture coursework, required courses in Music Theory, Musicianship, and Sound Design will help you understand music-making strategies over time and around the world.

A number of other elective courses can expand your knowledge about world music, particular genres and styles, and music of the past:

  • MU 221. Jazz Styles. 4 units
  • MU 227. Popular Music of the USA. 4 units
  • MU 229. Music of the 60's: War and Peace. 4 units
  • MU 324. Music and Society. 4 units—subtopics include “The History of Film Music,” “The History of Musical Theater,” “The History of Piano Literature,” “Iconic Women in Arab Music,” “Mozart’s Operas,” “Music and Conflict in the Middle East,” “The Symphony,” and many others.
  • MU 328. Women in Music. 4 units

Many music majors at Cal Poly have completed research papers or given lecture-recitals as their senior project (MU 461) requirement. Recent topics include:

  • Django's Caravan: The Journey of the Gypsy King
  • From "Plucked" to "Struck": The Evolution of the Pianoforte and its Music
  • From Unsung to High-strung: The Development of the Viola Through the NineteenthaAnd Twentieth Centuries, As It Is Used To Introduce Fugues
  • From War Drum to Concert Stardom: The Evolution of the Timpani
  • The Gospel Through Music: Comparing the Music of Martin Luther to Contemporary Christian Songs
  • How to Make the Jailhouse Rock: An Evaluation of Effective Music Therapy Methods Among Juvenile Offenders
  • Jews, Jazz, and Jingoism: Music Under the Nazi Regime
  • Music and Language Development: Traits of Nursery Rhymes and Their Impact on Children's Language Development
  • A Song Through Time: Tiger Rag and the Twentieth Century
  • Seeing, Hearing, and Believing: Depictions of Ethnicity from The Mikado to In the Heights
  • Synesthesia and a Comparative Analysis of Colored Composition
  • Thematic Catalogue for Upright Bass Concerti
  • When the Cradle Falls: The Subversion, Secrets, and Sentimentality of Lullabies

For more information about music history or ethnomusicology in Cal Poly’s degree program, feel free to contact:

  • Ken Habib: Ethnomusicology, Popular Music, Music of the Middle East
  • Alyson McLamore: Music History, Film Music, Musical Theater, Women in Music

back to top

Sound Design Focus

Want to pursue Sound Design?  Courses in Music Theory and Musicianship will build your basic skills, while Music History and Music in Culture classes will introduce you to music-making strategies over time and around the world.

A number of other elective courses can expand your expertise in sound design and associated skills:

  • MU 114. Introduction to Composing. 4 units  (optional)
  • MU 312. Sound Design: Recording. 4 units
  • MU 411. Sound Design: Synthesis. 4 units
  • MU 412. Sound Design: Composition and Production. 4 units

The Sound Design Program produces a trans-media concert every year as a culminating experience for music students — composers, sound engineers, performers — along with students from other media and performance programs – including theatre, dance, engineering, computer science, business, architecture, and journalism.

A professional society in the field welcomes student memberships:

For more information about the sound design program at Cal Poly, visit the Sound Design webpage or contact Antonio G. Barata.

back to top

Jazz Focus

Want to study Jazz at Cal Poly? All Cal Poly jazz ensembles (combos and big bands) typically perform a mixture of traditional and contemporary jazz, and the top groups enjoy an active schedule, performing locally, regionally, and internationally.

Within the core curriculum, courses in Music Theory, Musicianship, and Sound Design will build your basic skills, while Music History and Music in Culture classes will introduce you to music-making strategies over time and around the world.

A number of other elective courses can help to develop your jazz knowledge and skill:

  • MU 221. Jazz Styles. 4 units
  • MU 259. Beginning Jazz Improvisation. 2 units
  • MU 324. Humanistic Values in Jazz. 4 units
  • MU 351. Jazz and Popular Music Arranging. 2 units
  • MU 210. Musicianship IV. 1 unit
  • MU 211. Musicianship V. 1 unit
  • MU 212. Musicianship VI. 1 unit

The primary professional society in jazz is The Jazz Education Network

For more information about the jazz program at Cal Poly, visit the Jazz Ensembles webpage or contact Professor Paul Rinzler