Music Literature and History

In music literature and history programs, you can study musical compositions from various historical periods and cultures. Degree programs in music literature and history are available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. As a graduate, you may qualify for a variety of music-related careers.

Is Music Literature and History for Me?

Career Overview

The field of music literature and history examines musical composition within a historical context. A degree program in music literature and history combines basic skills in music performance with coursework in music history and theory, analytical techniques and composition notation.

You can pursue both undergraduate and graduate degrees in music literature and history. After earning a degree in this field, you could become a professional musician, music critic, museum curator or music promoter. With a graduate degree in music history and literature, you can become an educator in the field.

Salary Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), music directors and composers earned a mean annual wage of $54,560 as of May 2013. Those in the lowest and highest tenth percentiles earned $22,130 and $87,970, respectively, at that same time.

As of May 2013, musicians and singers combined received mean wages of $32.10 an hour. In the same month, professionals in the lowest and highest tenth percentiles were paid corresponding hourly wages of $8.88 and $68.63.

Art, drama and music teachers at the postsecondary level earned a mean annual wage of $72,630 as of May 2013. The annual wages for the tenth and 90th percentiles were $32,530 and $122,360, respectively, the BLS reported (

How Can I Work in Music Literature and History?

Bachelor's Programs

You could begin your academic career in this field by pursuing a bachelor's degree in music history. You might study music from around the globe, as well as musical periods and traditions throughout human history and culture. Because many historical texts relating to music literature are written in German or French, a language component is also a requirement for some programs. Most coursework for a degree in music literature and history includes a great deal of reading, research and scholarly writing. Studio instruction, singing, recital attendance and basic conducting may also be included. Furthermore, you can expect courses in the physical and biological sciences, mathematics, social sciences, behavioral sciences and fine arts.

Master's Programs

You can also pursue a Master of Music in Music History. These programs include advanced courses in music history, research and theory. In order to earn this degree, you need to complete a master's thesis. You may also be required to demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language and successfully pass an oral examination.

Doctoral Programs

Doctor of Philosophy programs in music history and theory are also available. In these programs, you can expect to participate in the intensive study of various musical styles, cultures and institutions. In addition, courses in hermeneutics, textual criticism and critical theory may play a prominent role in your curriculum. You might also need to pass foreign language examinations and a comprehensive examination on music history and literature and defend your dissertation.

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