Music Theory

The music theory area offers a curriculum that focuses on providing an excellent education in the theoretical elements of music, including sound and pitch, rhythm, melody, harmony, and notation. In our graduate degree in music theory, we focus on developing analytical skills, practical musicianship, and teaching skills that will prepare students to do doctoral-level work in music theory and teach in an undergraduate theory sequence.

The music theory program consists of faculty members with diverse interests and areas of specialization, including music theory pedagogy, twentieth–century analytical techniques, computer-assisted music analysis, nineteenth–century form and style, music cognition, jazz theory and performance, keyboard improvisation, composition, and Schenkerian analysis. Faculty members hold doctoral degrees in music theory from universities including the Eastman College of Music, University of Pennsylvania, and Stanford University.

The music theory area offers two Master of Music degrees in music theory; one is a traditional master’s degree in music theory with a capstone research project, and the other is an innovative degree in music theory with an emphasis on pedagogy. This degree can be undertaken on its own or be combined with a DMA degree to prepare performers for the many university positions that involve both studio (performance) and classroom (academic) teaching.

Graduate assistantships in music theory are available on a competitive basis. Graduate assistants play a vital role as teachers in the undergraduate theory curriculum, leading recitation sections, teaching ear training and theory for non-majors, and working in MSU’s Theory Tutoring Center.

Music Theory Area