Welcome from the Chair
The Department of Musicology provides a humanistic perspective on the study of music at UCLA. We are a department of the Division of Humanities in UCLA's College of Letters & Science, and one of three aligned departments that make up the Herb Alpert School of Music. This dual positioning allows us to foster transformative critical thinking about music and musical practices.
The most recent report of the National Research Council ranked UCLA Musicology as the #1 academic music doctoral program in the country. Our ongoing challenge is to maintain this tradition of excellence and innovation, and I can report with pride that members of our small department continue to produce large amounts of ground-breaking scholarship and take leadership positions in musical academia. Our professors have recently completed major work on such diverse topics as Igor Stravinsky, music in advertising, popular music from the 1970s, music and performance in the later Middle Ages, American musicals, comic music-theatrical traditions of 18th-century Madrid, Motown, popular music across the former Soviet Union, vocality and race, and musical ethics, The courses we offer reflect a similarly broad array of interests and concerns, including frequently offered undergraduate courses on electronic dance music, musicals, Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, opera, Rock and Roll, Gay and Lesbian popular song, Motown, the music industry, film music, Blues, the Beatles, and medievalism ("Getting Medieval"), and, for this coming year, graduate seminars on tragedy and early modern opera, musicals and camp, Handel's cantatas and masques, neoliberal capitalism and music, race and ethnic relations in music, European minimalism, and Josquin des Prez.
Besides hosting the annual Robert Stevenson Lecture and a thriving lecture series run by our graduate students, the Musicology Department frequently mounts major conferences. In recent years our faculty have hosted conferences on topics such as Popular Music (the 2010 Pop Conference, co-sponsored by Seattle's Experience Music Project), "Opera and Politics in the Ancien Régime," "Music and the Technology of the Written Text: A New Codicology for the Middle Ages," Wagner, and the American Musical. Our graduate students, under the auspices of their innovative online journal ECHO, have in recent years hosted conferences on the themes of "Sonic Doom: Decay, Disease, and Destruction in Music," "Musical Networks," and "Music and Humor." This coming year the department will cohost an interdisciplinary conference on Benjamin Britten, and plans are underway for the department to host a conference on vocality, and to co-host the fourth international conference on minimalist music in conjunction with the California State University, Long Beach; a conference on Film Music is also in the works.
Other recent scholarly initiatives led by our faculty include a UC Irvine Humanities seminar on voice and the body, and an extensive series of public lectures in conjunction with the Los Angeles Opera's Ring Project. This past year, we mounted a symposium to mark the John Cage Centennial and, in partnership with UCLA's Department of Comparative Literature, hosted the conductor of the LA Opera, James Conlon, as UCLA Regent's Lecturer. This coming year, we will again cohost a Regent's Lecturer with Comparative Literature, this time the renowned Peruvian conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya. Combining scholarship with performance, the department's Early Music Ensemble continues to grow in size and in its presence on our campus.
Our graduate students are the best in the country, and they prove it every year; besides publishing a cutting-edge online journal, hosting an annual conference, and running a year-long lecture series, they continue to win prizes and fellowships to study abroad in cities from Paris to Tokyo to Mexico City, and to secure jobs in one of the most challenging academic labor markets we have ever known. Current graduate research interests range from confessional music in Counter-Reformation France to the effect of motor neurons on musical empathy; and from the vocal music of Thomas Tallis to the instrumental hip-hop of L.A.'s Low-End Theory to the American Musical. With the support of generous donors, our unique Zoppo concerts will continue to encourage our students to bring the work of neglected and unknown composers to light and into performance.
We have been proud to be a strong participant in curricular transformations sparked by the formation of the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. One of the school's flagship enterprises is a new minor in the Music Industry; its Faculty Advisory Committee is chaired by a member of our department. We recently broke ground for a new facility adjacent to our main building, which is coming in ahead of schedule, and which will benefit all three departments in the school.
All in all it is a good time to be a musicologist at UCLA.
Professor and Chair
UCLA Department of Musicology