Music Theory
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Music Theory

The Hartt School offers a major in music theory at the following degree levels. Please click on the program to see a curricular outline:

Bachelor of Music
Master of Music
Doctoral Minor

Bachelor of Music

Applicants for the Bachelor of Music in music theory usually have preparatory training in music theory and performance. The BMus degree requires 137.5 credits, which can be completed in eight full-time semesters. The core music theory and ear training curriculum for undergraduates is two to five semesters of music theory with two to six semesters of ear training. Kodaly instruction is used for all levels of ear training at The Hartt School. 

Music theory majors follow a carefully planned curriculum under the supervision of a faculty member of the music theory department. The undergraduate music theory program includes tonal harmony, tonal analysis, modern techniques, tonal counterpoint, modal counterpoint, keyboard harmony, score reading, orchestration, and music theory pedagogy. An essay is completed during the senior year. The essay topic is selected by the student and is supervised by a faculty member of the music theory department. Music theory is available as a single major or can be pursued as a minor while in pursuit of another major. Undergraduate music theory majors are required to maintain an overall grade point average of "B-" throughout their degree program.


The Master of Music (MM) degree in music theory is designed to prepare students for a teaching or research career in music theory. Applicants to the program usually have an undergraduate degree in music theory or its equivalent. Graduate music theory majors follow a four-semester curriculum of 36 credits. It includes instruction in modern analysis, Schenkerian analysis, history of music theory, and seminars in music theory and music history. An important feature of the curriculum is the flexibility in elective course work appropriate to the interests and needs of the student.

Throughout the program, students participate in the department's music theory colloquium. The program includes proficiency examinations in music analysis, ear training, tonal counterpoint, keyboard harmony, score reading, and German reading translation. During the second year, a thesis in music theory is written under the supervision of a music theory faculty member. A comprehensive examination in music theory is taken at the end of the program.

Doctoral minor

Hartt DMA and Ph.D. students who wish to broaden their experiences in music theory may apply for admission to the doctoral minor. Since all of the courses in the doctoral music theory minor are offered during alternate years, it is imperative that students apply for the program by contacting the chair for music theory at the beginning of their doctoral studies.


Diverse areas of musicianship and scholarship are represented by the faculty, curriculum, and activities of the music theory department. Fields of faculty research include Kodaly instruction, Schenkerian analysis, contemporary music, film music, international music, popular music, and theory pedagogy. Graduate seminars in theory have included the music of Bartok, the Beatles, Brahms, Chopin, Debussy, Mozart, Stravinsky, Varese, and Wagner.

The Hartt Music Theory Forum was established in 1988 for musicians and scholars to visit The Hartt School to share their theoretical ideas and research with students, faculty, and the community. Forum speakers have included James Baker, Elaine Barkin, Richard Bass, Benjamin Boretz, Charles Burkhart, Scott Burnham, Robert Cogan, Mark De Voto, Allen Forte, Marion Guck, All Keiler, Joel Lester, Robert Morgan, Dorothy Payne, Lee Rothfarb, Carl Schachter, Janet Schmalfeldt, Deborah Stein, and Robert W. Wason.