Music Studies

Enrich and define your connection to music

Led by highly trained and specialized faculty, the Music Composition, Theory, and History area offers a diverse and engaging array of courses for both the Music and Theatre Arts major and the general UW-EC student. Through these course offerings students enrich their experience as a musician, becoming better interpreters, performers, and composers of music.

Embracing a curriculum that is relevant to all students, study in this area aims to open up musical worlds as varied as Louis Armstrong, Mozart, Beyoncé, Libby Larsen, and an Ojibwe pow-wow. Coursework is integrated into all aspects of a student's broader curriculum—from applied studio lessons to gender studies courses—while privileging individualized attention through small class sizes. Within this area, students may also major in music composition and music history.

Contemporary Music Ensemble

A rarity for the undergraduate music experience, this ensemble exposes students to a wide range of contemporary art music from the 1920s to the present. The ensemble's instrumentation change from semester-to-semester, allowing for a variety of repertoire to be explored and presented in live concert settings. Beyond compositions written in conventional notation, students are regularly introduced to other modern approaches including graphic scores, electro-acoustic genres, and improvisation. This ensemble further offers students the unique opportunity to perform alongside their professors.

All music degrees have been accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music.

Comprehensive Composition Major

77 credits / no minor required

The Bachelor of Music degree in Composition is intended for students who demonstrate a passion for creative thinking and expression through musical composition. Students will encounter multiple contemporary models while steadily being encouraged to develop their own personal compositional style.  The curriculum guides students to develop a facility with fundamental elements of musical composition as well as to explore a wider variety of extended compositional techniques.  The Department of Music & Theatre Arts also offers a beginning composition course open to all music students regardless of major concentration.

View the sample degree outline

Comprehensive Music History Major

68 credits / no major required

Courses in music history provide students with an introduction to approaching relevant issues of culture, race, gender, and socio-economic factors as they impact the development and reception of music literature produced within both the Western (classical, popular, and folk music traditions) and non-Western arenas (e.g., music practices in Africa, India, and elsewhere). Emphasis is placed on nurturing critical thinking skills that synthesize historical context, music theory, and performance practice to elicit informed and defensible interpretations of the repertoire at hand. The purpose here is to engage with the music—to be provoked by it, to argue with it, to question and challenge it, and to isolate how it functions in society. An undergraduate degree in music history is also available to those students who intend to pursue musicological work at the graduate level.

One example of research projects currently undertaken by faculty in music history includes an ongoing investigation by Dr. Ryan Jones into the formative stylistic influences that shaped the popular 1980s power trio, The Police (featuring Sting, vocals/bass; Andy Summers, guitar; and Stewart Copeland, drums). Dr. Jones's examination seeks to document the ways in which the Police initially synthesized and later capitalized upon external music styles from Third World cultures--specifically that of reggae (Jamaica)--as a core part of their sound, enduring appeal, and international success.

View the sample degree outline

The composition department at UW-Eau Claire has exposed me to a side of music I hadn’t known before attending the school. The composition department and contemporary ensemble have been a cornerstone of my education at the institution.

Austin Williams | composition major

Music, Liberal Arts Major

46 credits

The bachelor of arts or bachelor of sciences degree in music provides a strong, broad-based major complemented by a minor (or second major) in another area of study. It presents a wide range of career options in music, in music-related fields, and in multidisciplinary careers. It also provides excellent preparation for graduate study in music research and the humanities.

View the BA sample degree outline

24 credits

The music minor involves a mix of courses from theory, history/literature, applied music, and ensembles. It allows you to pursue your love of music at an advanced level, while pursuing another major.

Composition/History/Theory Area Faculty

  • Gary Don, Theory/Comp Coordinator
  • Gretchen Peters, music history
  • Brian Allred, music theory
  • Chiayu Hsu, composition
  • Trent Jacobs, music theory
  • Ryan Jones, music history, History Coordinator
  • Joshua Schwalbach, music theory
  • William Whipple, music theory

Connect with faculty + staff

Change your major or minor

To change your major or minor to something in music and theatre arts, please contact the music and theatre arts department using the information below, and they will help you get going!

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