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, voice studies, 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, punk, the music industry, film music, Blues, the Beatles, and medievalism ("Getting Medieval"), and recent graduate seminars on such topics as 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 interdisciplinary conferences on topics such as Voice Studies, Scriabin, Benjamin Britten, Popular Music (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 “Inertia: A Conference on Sound, Media, and the Digital Humanities,” "Sonic Doom: Decay, Disease, and Destruction in Music," "Musical Networks," and "Music and Humor."
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 couple of years, we mounted symposia on Deaf West Theater’s production of the musical Big River, traditional music in the concert hall, and John Cage (to mark the Centennial); in partnership with UCLA's Department of Comparative Literature, we hosted the conductor of the LA Opera, James Conlon, and renowned Peruvian conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya as UCLA Regent's Lecturers (2013 and 2014, respectively). 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 Ciro 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 opened a new facility adjacent to our main building, 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