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Conrad Prebys Music Center

All courses, faculty listings, and curricular and degree requirements described herein are subject to change or deletion without notice. Updates may be found on the Academic Senate website:

This department is dedicated to the development of musical intelligence and capacity, centering its quest on the music of our own time. The undergraduate programs intend to enhance the exercise and comprehension of the music-making process. The graduate programs aim to educate practitioners and researchers who can nourish the entire domain of music as well as extend its boundaries.


Performance/Production Opportunities

Performing in front of an audience is an essential part of the performance program; composers too must hear their works performed. Both performance and non-performance students are encouraged to participate in ensembles, festivals, and collaborative events. Practice facilities include grand pianos, disclaviers and uprights, an electronic keyboard lab, several harpsichords, a wide array of percussion instruments, a percussion studio, and instruments for student checkout.

Each academic year, more than 150 public concerts are presented in well-equipped venues: Mandeville Center Auditorium (792 seats), Mandeville Recital Hall (150 seats), Erickson Hall (150 seats), and Studio A (100 seats). Substantial resources and staffing are dedicated to performances of faculty and student works by new music ensembles, experimental and improvisational ensembles, student performance collectives (New Music Forum, Performers’ Forum, and IS Forum), and at an annual graduate Spring Festival. Our concert calendar can be viewed at

Ensembles in Residence

Visiting Artists/Artist in Residence

Visiting artists and artists in-residence play an integral part in research and collaborate with faculty and students in focus seminars, concerts, weeklong festivals, and colloquia, bringing an array of new creativity and ideas. Recent special events included Powering Up/Powering Down, an international festival of radical media arts, and the IS Intermedia Festival, featuring sound installation, performance, and critical theory.

Music Technology Facilities

The Department of Music maintains highly sophisticated, continuously upgraded facilities for the support of graduate and undergraduate instruction:

Computer Music Instructional Laboratory (CMIL)—Established in 1987 to support undergraduate and graduate studies in computer music, CMIL is a 900-square-foot facility with recessed storage and printing areas, machine isolation, acoustical treatments, a presentation console, ergonomic workstation components, a high-resolution data projection system, CD and DVD authoring, and integrated digital audio equipment for student access to audio processing, duplicating, high-definition digital mixing and high-quality (Dynaudio) multichannel audio monitoring. The facility provides adequate space for instrumental rehearsal and interfacing experimentation, and provides several FireWire interfaces for laptop computing. Mobile desktop systems optimized for live performance applications are also maintained in CMIL.

Our server has high-speed network and wireless connections, mass storage, and archiving systems. Intel and Macintosh computer workstations run unique music software packages developed at UC San Diego. Pd is a new, real-time, interactive musical and graphics programming environment written and under continuing development by Professor Miller Puckette. Other audio and graphics editing and processing software packages are also supported, including Pro Tools HD, development compilers, and several standard music-production packages. The facility is configured and optimized to support direct connection of musical instruments to computers for prototyping of real-time interactive performance and compositional projects using MAX/MSP/Jitter and Pd computer music software. The facility is also used for advanced seminars and classes in such topics as sound spatialization, music software programming, computer music techniques, repertoire analysis, and research.

Digital Music Project Studio—This is a 900-square-foot facility, including an isolation booth, absorption and diffusion treatments, data connections, and audio tie-lines to CMIL and Erickson Hall. The studio houses Macintosh and Linux systems and many dedicated devices for music production and recording, including a Pro Tools HD digital audio production package with sixteen channels of digital I/O for precise digital recording and editing. Recent upgrades include improved microphone preamps and an array of new software packages, including Waves plug-ins and convolution reverb. The studio features a Yamaha 02R96 digital mixing console with all upgrades, 5.1 and stereo monitoring, and sound-for-picture capabilities. The studio supports MIDI for synthesis, processing, and control in music composition and performance, and includes hardware and software for CD and DVD mastering.

Open Computing Laboratory (OCL)—This facility occupies 1,950 square feet, with audio and printer connections to CMIL and the Digital Music Project Studio. Most workstations are networked, and several stations are equipped with CD and DVD burning equipment. OCL was established in 1990 to support many facets of the department curriculum, and has been upgraded incrementally every year thereafter. It now comprises seventeen computer workstations (iMacs, desktop G4s and G5s, and several Intels), most with MIDI interfaces and Yamaha SY22/33 synthesizers. Coda Finale, Max/MSP, Soundhack, Metasynth, DVD Studio Pro, Final Cut, Pd, Pro Tools, and IRCAM Forum are some of the packages supported in the lab. Large-format music and text printing are supported. For instructional presentation, the room features a high-quality data projection and surround sound system. The presentation station also features a PC workstation, a G5 Mac with Pro Tools editing, DAT, Bias Peak editor and SpectraFoo, signal display software, and DVD-authoring software burner.

Media Networking—All instructional labs and all of the Department of Music’s performance spaces and classroom spaces have been upgraded for wireless and fast Ethernet and media networking. Media networking allows advanced students and researchers to “stream” digital video and audio among diverse on-campus facilities and onto the Internet. Additionally, there is wireless connectivity at most campus locations. All UC San Diego music production and research facilities are designed for ease of data portability and as complementary components of a powerful, well-designed, thoroughly integrated continuum of resources serving the needs of entering students through postdoctorate students and faculty researchers.

Music Technology Equipment Checkout—The music department maintains an inventory of technology equipment available to music majors and graduate students for overnight and weekend checkout. Equipment includes laptop computers with music software installed, FireWire audio interfaces, MIDI keyboards and interfaces, microphones, cables, and other recording and production sound equipment. This equipment is provided primarily to support class-related, dissertation, thesis and ICAM senior projects.

Concert Recording and CD Releases—All faculty and most student concerts are recorded by professional staff or their assistants, and qualified students can utilize the department’s extensive high-tech resources for experimental projects resulting in public performance and recordings of new works. Regularly released CDs, under advisement by faculty mentors, feature advanced graduate students who perform, compose, edit, and collaborate to produce a snapshot of musical achievement that predicts distinguished careers and new avenues of musical thought and practice.

Music Center Studios—The Department of Music has a state-of-the-art recording and faculty research complex, completely refurbished in 2004-05, with studios designed to meet the following objectives:

The facility incorporates two large recording studios (50 x 60 feet) with variable wall and floor surfaces for diverse acoustical configurations, a control room (20 x 30 feet), an isolated machine room, and other support spaces. Music center studios host live performances as well as six-camera video shoots, and are well suited for high-tech presentations and concert recording. A 120-dimmer grid with a digital lighting board supports theatrical lighting for performance, and for television and video production.

The control room features highly refined acoustical qualities and new all-digital mixing and editing systems including Pyramix and Pro Tools HD. ATC monitoring systems have been upgraded for surround sound. An excellent range of microphones supports an unusual array of recording possibilities; a fine selection of pianos, percussion, and electronic instruments is also part of the holdings of the complex. Grad students may apply for staff positions and recording-project support at music center studios, and ICAM majors may apply for engineering and production internship credits. The department’s instructional labs are designed to serve as networked, media-compatible satellites to the music center studios.

Music Library

The Music Library (located in Geisel Library) maintains extensive collections of materials in all areas of music, and is known internationally for contemporary music holdings. Ethnic music collections are aggressively being expanded. The Music Library’s Services Room has fifty-two stations for playback of the recordings collection, including CD, DVD, VHS, LP, or tape formats. Ten of the remote control stations are equipped with video monitors. The Seminar Room is equipped with audio and video equipment for group presentations. Digital Audio Reserves (DAR) provides students with 24/7 access, including off-campus access, to course listening assignments, via the UC San Diego network.

The Undergraduate Program

Undergraduate courses offered in the Department of Music satisfy a wide range of interests for non-music majors as well as for students majoring in music.

Students wishing to acquire a musical background to support further study should take MUS 1A-B-C, which develops skills musicians use in the analysis and performance of music. Students interested in “music appreciation” should choose from the following courses that introduce aspects of the rich heritage of music: MUS 4–15. None of the aforementioned courses have prerequisites. For students with prior musical background who wish to continue in upper-division theory courses, MUS 2A-B-C (in lieu of 1A-B-C) is essential.

Music Major Programs

The undergraduate program at UC San Diego offers a bachelor of arts in music and in music humanities. The curriculum emphasizes the development of musical listening and performance skills as applied to both contemporary and traditional music. A third degree program, interdisciplinary computing in the arts (ICAM-music), is also offered.

The music major is intended for students who may choose to engage in music as a profession. This major thus requires extensive development of musical skills. A student without the appropriate level of those skills upon entrance to UC San Diego must devote considerable time to attaining them, either in lower-division courses or independent study. Students can concentrate in composition, performance, literature, technology, or jazz and the music of the African diaspora.

The Department of Music is committed to creative music making; thus all music majors are required to enroll in ensemble performance for at least three quarters (see #8 below).

The music/humanities major is intended for students who wish to pursue a broad liberal arts program that includes music as a central element. This program emphasizes music history and literature, and allows the individual student to select an area of interest for the major within the broad field of the humanities.

The interdisciplinary computing in the arts major is intended for students who wish to pursue the field of music specializing in the art and technology of our time. Below is a detailed description of this major.

Music Major Requirements

The lower-division prerequisites for the music major are MUS 2A-B-C, and MUS 2AK-BK-CK. Jazz emphasis students take MUS 2JK in lieu of 2CK. To continue within the major, all students must pass Music 2C or an equivalent proficiency exam. Composition emphasis students must take Music 33A-B-C, Introduction to Composition I, II, and III, or take a proficiency exam for the three-quarter sequence course. All required music major courses must be taken for a letter grade, with the exception of MUS 143, which is taken on a Pass/Not Pass basis. All courses to be counted toward satisfying the major requirements must be passed with a grade of C or better.

To complete the music major the following courses are required. Courses that are specific to each area of emphasis are shown in parentheses.

  1. One of the following sequences:
    • MUS 101A-B-C (performance, composition, literature, and technology)
    • MUS 101A-B and 104 (jazz)
  2. One of the following sequences:
    • MUS 102A-B-C (performance, composition, literature, and technology)
    • MUS 137A-B-C (jazz)
  3. MUS 120A-B-C
  4. One quarter of MUS 133 (normally taken in the winter quarter of the junior or senior year)
  5. One of the following:
    • MUS 107, 110, 116, or 150 (performance, composition, literature, and technology)
    • MUS 150 (jazz)
  6. One of the following:
    • three quarters of MUS 132 or 132V (performance)
    • MUS 103A-B-C (composition)
    • three courses from the series MUS 107-116, 126, 127A-B, and 150, of which at least one must be 107, 110, 116, or 150 [in addition to #5 above] (literature)
    • Music 170/171/175 (technology)
    • two courses from MUS 105, 126, 127A, and 127B; plus one course from MUS 107, 110, 111, 114, 115, 116, or 150 [in addition to #5 above] (jazz)
  7. One additional course to be selected from
    • MUS 107-116, 126, 127A-B, and 150 (performance, composition, literature, and technology)
    • MUS 151-154 (jazz)
  8. One of the following sequences:
    • Two quarters chosen from MUS 95C, 95D, or 95K and one quarter from MUS 95B-W, 130, 131, and 134 (performance, composition, literature, and technology)
    • Two quarters of MUS 95JC or 131, and one quarter of MUS 95C, 95D, 95G, or 95K (jazz)
  9. MUS 143 every quarter

Music/Humanities Major Requirements

The prerequisite for the music/humanities major is Music 1A-B-C (or 2A-B-C, if qualified). To complete the major the following courses are required:

  1. MUS 120A-B-C
  2. Three courses chosen from MUS 107-116, 126, 127A-B, and 150, of which at least one must be 107, 110, 116, or 150
  3. A coherent set of six upper-division courses selected from the humanities or fine arts (including music) that focuses on a specific topic, chosen in consultation with the music/humanities academic adviser
  4. Two quarters chosen from MUS 95C, 95D, or 95K, and one quarter from MUS 95B-W, 130, 131, and 134
  5. MUS 143 every quarter

Students interested in this major should confer with the music/humanities faculty adviser to work out a course of study, which must be submitted at the beginning of the junior year for the adviser’s written approval.

Interdisciplinary Computing and the Arts (ICAM) Major

The Interdisciplinary Computing and the Arts major in the Departments of Music and Visual Arts draws upon and aims to bring together ideas and paradigms from computer science, art, and cultural theory. It takes for granted that the computer has become a metamedium and that artists working with computers are expected to combine different media forms in their works. All of this makes the program unique among currently existing computer art or design programs, which on the one hand, usually focus on the use of computers for a particular media (for instance, specializing in computer animation, or computer music, or computer design for print), and on the other hand, do not enter into a serious dialogue with current research in computer science, only teaching the students off-the-shelf software.

The goals of the program are to

Major Course Requirements

Twenty courses are required in the computing and the arts major for the attainment of the bachelor of arts. A minimum of twelve of these courses must be upper division.

All courses taken to satisfy major requirements must be taken for a letter grade, and only grades of C– or better will be accepted in the major.

MUS 4. Introduction to Western Music

VIS 1. Introduction to Art-Making

ICAM 40/VIS 40. Introduction to Computing in the Arts

Math 20A. Calculus for Science and Engineering*

Math 20B. Calculus for Science and Engineering*

CSE 11. Introduction to Computer Science: JAVA*

and choose one from

MUS 1A. Musical Literacy

MUS 2A. Basic Musicianship

MUS 5. Sound in Time

and choose one from

MUS 6. Electronic Music

MUS 7. Music, Science, and Computers

MUS 14. Contemporary Music

*Math 20A and Math 20B is an accelerated calculus course for science and engineering. Math 10A-B-C covers similar material in a non-accelerated format, and can be substituted. CSE 11 is an accelerated course in the JAVA programming language. CSE 8A and CSE 8B, which cover the same material in a non-accelerated format, may be substituted.

Upper Division (twelve courses required)
Survey (one course required)

ICAM 110. Computing in the Arts: Current Practice

Foundation (three courses required)

ICAM 101/VIS 140. Digital Imaging: Image and Interactivity

ICAM 102/VIS 145A. Digital Media I: Time, Movement, Sound

ICAM 103/MUS 170. Musical Acoustics

Advanced (four courses required)

Choose one from

MUS 172. Computer Music II

VIS 141B. Computer Programming for the Arts II

VIS 145B. Time- and Process-Based Digital Media II

VIS 147B. Electronic Technologies for Art II

Choose three from

ICAM 120. Virtual Environments

ICAM 130/VIS 149. Seminar in Contemporary Computer Topics

MUS 171. Computer Music I

MUS 173. Audio Production: Mixing and Editing

MUS 174A-B. Audio and MIDI Studio Techniques

MUS 175. Musical Psychoacoustics

MUS 176. Music Technology Seminar

VIS 109. Advanced Projects in Media

VIS 131. Special Projects in Media

VIS 132. Installation Production and Studio

VIS 141A. Computer Programming for the Arts I

VIS 147A. Electronic Technologies for Art I

VIS 174. Media Sketchbook

Theory and History (two courses required)

ICAM 150/VIS 159. History of Art and Technology

and choose one from

MUS 111. World Music Traditions

MUS 114. Music of the Twentieth Century

MUS 175. Musical Psychoacoustics

VIS 123CN. Early Print Culture: The First Media Revolution

VIS 125E. History of Performance

VIS 150. History and Art of the Silent Cinema

VIS 151. History of the Experimental Film

VIS 152. Film in Social Context

VIS 153. The Genre Series

VIS 154. Hard Look at the Movies

VIS 155. The Director Series

VIS 156N. Special Problems in Film History and Theory

VIS 157. Video History and Criticism

VIS 158. Histories of Photograph

VIS 194S. Fantasy in Film

Senior Project (two courses required)

ICAM 160A. Senior Project in Computer Arts I

ICAM 160B. Senior Projects in Computer Arts II

All Computing and the Arts (ICAM) course descriptions are listed at the end of the lower- and upper-division sections under “Courses.” Not all courses are offered each year.

Recommendations for Transfer Students

Transfer students should attempt to complete the following lower-division courses before transferring to UC San Diego: CSE 11 (or CSE 8A/8AL/8B), Math 20A-B (or Math 10A-B-C), and MUS 4. Go to ASSIST is an online student-transfer information system that shows how course credits earned at one public California college or university can be applied when transferred to another. ASSIST is the official repository of articulation for California’s public colleges and universities and provides the most accurate and up-to-date information about student transfer in California.

Students should also be able to find courses equivalent to MUS 1A, 6, and 14 at some colleges. While some of these may be listed on ASSIST, transfers should be prepared to provide course descriptions, syllabi, and/or other materials that may be required to determine the content of the courses taken at other institutions.

Transfers entering with thirty-six or more quarter units by their third quarter of study at UC San Diego should complete their remaining lower-division courses for the major by the end of the third quarter.


  1. To be admitted into the Honors Program a student must have the following:
    • Excellence in a specific subject matter (performance, composition, literature, technology, jazz and music of the African diaspora, or music/humanities) and faculty support.
    • Performers must have previously performed at Undergraduate Performers Forum and enrolled in Chamber Music, MUS 130. (Vocalists can seek an exception.) Other students must have completed all Music 95 requirements prior to entering the Honors Program. Jazz and music of the African diaspora students must have performed, or had their compositions performed, at the Undergraduate Performers Forum.
    • A GPA in the Department of Music of 3.6; an overall GPA of 3.0
    • All of the requirements below must be completed before the last day of instruction in the spring quarter prior to the academic year in which the student proposes to pursue an Honors curriculum.
    • Performance students must present a piece before the performance faculty that demonstrates their technical and musical abilities. In addition, students must provide a proposed program for an Honors recital.
    • Composition students must have a composition performed on the New Music Forum series. Either the student’s principal instructor must attend this performance or a tape of this performance must be provided for faculty review. In addition, students must provide a proposed portfolio of original scores for an Honors recital.
    • Literature students who have (1) presented historically or musicologically-oriented research papers at campus venues featuring undergraduate research, or (2) been involved in the faculty mentor program, or (3) participated in the presentation of the winter opera with the accompanying symposium, may submit a portfolio of papers to the Integrative Studies faculty. In addition, students must propose a fifty-minute lecture for the Department Seminar (MUS 143).
    • Music science and technology students must present a portfolio of projects to the music technology faculty and propose a fifty-minute lecture/demonstration for the Department Seminar (MUS 143).
    • Jazz and Music of the African Diaspora students must perform three pieces before the faculty that demonstrate their improvisational abilities. The three pieces should be a combination of work from the jazz repertoire and the student’s original compositions. The candidate must also submit a composition whose score has improvisational elements (e.g., introduction, development, coda). In addition, students must provide a proposed program for an Honors recital.
  2. Once admitted to the Honors Program
    • Students must be supervised by a faculty adviser throughout the Honors Program.
    • Composition students admitted to the Honors Program will enroll in twelve units of the Composition Honors course (MUS 103D-E-F). Performance students will enroll in twelve units of MUS 132R (after at least three quarters of MUS 132). Technology students will enroll in twelve units of MUS 176 or 199; Music literature and music humanities students will enroll in twelve units of MUS 199, 150, or 107. Jazz and music of the African diaspora students will enroll in twelve units of 137D, 137E, and 137F (Honors Seminar in Jazz Studies I, II, III).
  3. To receive Honors
    • A student must publicly demonstrate an appropriate level of excellence, an acceptable GPA, and suitable participation in department presentations and seminars, as determined by the student’s Honors committee.
    • Jazz and music of the African diaspora students will have a recital in the spring quarter of their senior year. The recital will include a program of a minimum of 50 percent of original compositions.

Please note: Being admitted to the Honors curriculum does not guarantee that a student will receive Honors.

For further information on the Department of Music Honors Program and to obtain an application form, students should make an appointment with the undergraduate staff adviser.

Transfer Students

Students who plan to transfer into the music major should have strong skills in basic musicianship. For those planning to emphasize performance, solid proficiency on the instrument is required. A general course in the history of music is recommended. All transfer students must pass a proficiency examination in MUS 2C (Basic Musicianship) and MUS 2CK (Basic Keyboard) or take the two sequence courses. To verify the acceptability of transfer music courses, students must make an appointment with the undergraduate staff adviser.

Minor Programs

Please obtain a Department of Music brochure of approved minors from the undergraduate office. Students must seek advice and obtain approval from the undergraduate adviser prior to embarking upon a minor program.

The music minor consists of

A minor with an emphasis in ICAM consists of seven specific courses, of which at least five must be upper division. Prospective minors should consult with the respective departmental adviser for a complete list of appropriate classes acceptable for the minor.

Advising Office

Undergraduate Staff Adviser:

Michael Gangitano
Room 195, Conrad Prebys Music Center
(858) 534-8226