The undergraduate music history program challenges students to think critically about music. Course materials center on such areas as the place of music in different cultural contexts, the social condition of musicians, the evolution of performing styles, and the different ways music can project meaning and reflect identity. As a premise for critical thought students are taught the parameters of different musical styles and are given the tools to understand musical syntax. Classes offer exposure to a wide variety of repertoire in the Western classical tradition as well as to jazz and popular idioms. Music History provides excellent preparation not only for graduate study in musicology, but also for a considerable range of professional training programs including journalism, information sciences, arts administration, and teaching.
The professional study of musicology at McGill fosters pluralistic scholarship, bridging traditional methodologies with new critical approaches. Students receive guidance from leading scholars whose internationally acclaimed research ranges from medieval and renaissance music to the popular music of today. The Area's humanistic orientation emphasizes the importance of political, social, and literary history in the discipline while also encouraging students to develop their skills in musical analysis, their sensitivity to different styles and performance practices, and their awareness of issues in aesthetics. To this end, graduate musicology students work closely with the team of renowned music theorists at McGill and also have available to them the expertise of specialists in the Department of Philosophy, Art History and Communications, and Psychology. Students are encouraged to think independently and creatively, and to take professional initiatives in the field from an early stage of their studies.