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Music Theory Emphasis

Exploring How Music Works

What is music theory? It is the detailed exploration of what makes music work, how sounds can be put together in rhythms, chords or melodies to create an effect on the listener. Music theorists can study any time period or style of music.

Any music major can benefit from adding a music theory emphasis. Whether you want to pursue music theory as a profession, to understand music more deeply as a composer, to be ready to teach music theory at a secondary school level or to know more about how your favorite pieces work, a music theory emphasis may be for you.

Career Opportunities

Music theorists will often pursue careers in higher education, composition or arranging. Many performers are asked to teach music theory courses as part of their teaching portfolio, as are music educators at the secondary level. All musicians can benefit from understanding the mechanics of the pieces they are teaching, playing, writing or conducting.


The music history emphasis consists of an introduction to research, several upper-level music theory courses and the departmental seminar of the academic studies department.

Required Courses

  • MUC 329 - Introduction to Research in Music, 2 credit hours
  • MUC 363/463 - Music Theory Seminar, 4 credit hours
  • MUC 412 - Music Academic Studies Seminar, 0 credit hours

Six Elective Credits

  • MUA 213 - Counterpoint, 2 credit hours
  • MUA 310 - Advanced Chromatic Theory, 2 credit hours
  • MUA 320 - Advanced Chromatic Aural Skills, 2 credit hours
  • MUA 330 - Form and Analysis, 2 credit hours
  • MUA 410 - Theory of Music Since 1900, 2 credit hours
  • MUA 420 - Post-Tonal Aural Skills, 2 credit hours

Learn more about these courses in the University catalog.

Student Experiences

Students in the music theory emphasis program are strongly encouraged to take advantage of numerous opportunities for independent research at BW, including:

  • The BW Summer Scholars Program
  • The Riemenschneider Bach Institute Scholars program
  • Faculty-Student Collaborative courses

Faculty Coordinators

Dr. Christina Fuhrmann
Chair, Academic Studies Department

Dr. Jessica Narum
Coordinator, Music History and Music Theory Emphasis Programs