The curriculum of Eugene Lang College's Contemporary Music program provides undergraduate students with a range of intellectual perspectives and practical skills that enable them to address the new and evolving challenges of careers in music today.

Approaches from musicology, ethnomusicology, and music theory serve as a foundation for this program, but interdisciplinary approaches are equally important as students learn to apply their knowledge and skills within and across artistic disciplines (such as theater and dance) and other liberal arts disciplines (such as history, literature, and philosophy). Hands-on practice and the creative process are also emphasized, so that students learn to engage with musical thinking as well as music making in inventive ways.

The curriculum of the Contemporary Music concentration is structured around three focus areas:

  1. Courses on popular and global music, exploring both mainstream and alternative genres, international repertoires and musical practices, and the musical life of immigrant and diasporic communities within New York City. Sample courses: Hip Hop, Punk and Noise, How Race Defines American Music, Music in Jewish Life, Music of Latin America, Music in the Islamic World
  2. Courses in music technology and new media, focusing on the digital production and distribution of music as well as the uses of music in film, video, and other media. Sample courses: Introduction to Music Technology, Music and Digital Media, Prospects of Recording, Music in Film, Electronic Music, Intermedia
  3. Courses in music history, theory, and criticism, including music philosophy and aesthetics, the poetics of music, the study of music in social and cultural context, and interdisciplinary connections linking music and the other arts. Sample courses: Poetics of Song, Visual Music, Musical Borrowing from Plainchant to Sampling, Improvisation, Composition and Analysis

Most courses in the Contemporary Music curriculum are suitable for students at all levels of musical training and experience; many courses do not require an ability to read music notation. Prerequisite courses (Fundamentals of Western Music and Global Perspectives on Music) are noted in individual course descriptions.

Lang students can also enroll in other music courses, performance ensembles, and private lessons through Mannes College The New School for Music, The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, and Parsons The New School for Design. For students interested in study abroad, Lang occasionally offers a summer course, Music in Berlin, in collaboration with the FUBIS program at the Free University in Berlin.

Major in Contemporary Music

The Contemporary Music major requires the following courses:

  • LMUS 2010 Fundamentals of Western Music
  • LMUS 2200 Global Perspectives on Music
  • Three LMUS courses in one focus area: popular and global music; music technology and new media; or music history, theory, and criticism (at least two of these courses must be at the 3000 level)
  • Three elective courses in any of the music focus areas. At least two must be 3000 level or higher.
  • ULEC 2320: Aesthetics or another designated aesthetics course
  • Three additional Integrative Arts courses, identified by the subject code LINA
  • Senior Capstone project, either the Senior Seminar or an Individual or Collaborative Independent Project

Arts in Context Concentration

Students interested in studying music can also choose the Arts in Context concentration, in which they study music along with a liberal arts discipline. For example, students can study music criticism and journalism by taking courses through Literary Studies and Writing. Other majors and minors (such as Psychology, Global Studies, or Politics) also provide broader contexts for music studies. See the Arts in Context pages for more information about this option.

Minor in Contemporary Music

Undergraduate students from any school in the university who are not majoring in Liberal Arts can select the Contemporary Music minor (Lang students pursuing a BA or BS in Liberal Arts: See Self-Designed Major, below). Note: Arts majors can enroll in any minor of their choice, including an Arts minor in a discipline different from the one already being studied in their major. The minor in Contemporary Music requires the following five courses:

  • One introductory course on the history or theory of Western music (LMUS 2010, JMUH 2810, or the equivalent)
  • One introductory course on music in global perspectives (LMUS 2200, JMUH 3802, or the equivalent)
  • One additional course on music history, theory, or criticism
  • One additional course on popular or global music
  • One course on music technology or new media

Total: 18-20 credits (only two 3-credit music courses can be counted toward any of these categories)

Students must earn a grade of C or higher in all courses required for the area of study.

Students should refer to the current applicable Lang catalog for the Bachelor of Arts degree completion requirements and confirm their progress in satisfying those requirements with their academic advisor each semester.

Self-Designed Major (BA or BS, Liberal Arts)

Students pursuing a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts cannot elect Contemporary Music as an academic minor; however, they can pursue a deeper study in this subject area through the self-designed major. To explore this, contact an academic advisor or read more about the self-designed option at Lang.