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The Department of Musicology provides a humanistic perspective on the study of music at UCLA. We are a department of the Division of Humanities in UCLA's College of Letters & Science, and one of three aligned departments that make up the Herb Alpert School of Music. This dual positioning allows us to foster transformative critical thinking about music and musical practices.
The most recent report of the National Research Council ranked UCLA Musicology as the #1 academic music doctoral program in the country. Our ongoing challenge is to maintain this tradition of excellence and innovation, and I can report with pride that members of our small department continue to produce large amounts of ground-breaking scholarship and take leadership positions in musical academia. Professors in our department have completed large research monographs just this year on subjects as diverse as the 1930s work of composer Igor Stravinsky; a comprehensive history of music in advertising; and the comic music-theatrical traditions of 18th-century Madrid. The Musicology Department recently hosted a major conference on popular music (the 2010 Pop Conference, co-sponsored by Seattle's Experience Music Project), and is preparing to co-host the fourth international conference on minimalist music in conjunction with the California State University, Long Beach in 2013.
Graduate seminars available to students this year will engage with the music of Stravinsky from a trans-national perspective; the “politics of frequency” in British dubstep; research in early fifteenth-century music; sound studies, vibration, and the body; Baroque improvisation in performance; and (in Ethnomusicology) Caribbean popular music.
Other scholarly initiatives led by our faculty include a UC Irvine Humanities seminar on voice and the body; and an extensive series of public lectures in conjunction with the Los Angeles Opera's Ring Project. I can proudly announce that Musicology has succeeded in nominating (along with the department of Comparative Literature) the conductor of the LA Opera, James Conlon, as a UCLA Regent's Lecturer for 2012-2013; Maestro Conlon will deliver a series of lectures on Verdi and Wagner, meet with Music History undergraduates in our "Fiat Lux" seminars, and participate in a master class for singers in the Music Department. Also on the performance front, the department's Early Music Ensemble continues to grow in size, and will be the beneficiary this year of a refurbishing of our string ensemble with two new period instruments (a violin and a 'cello), new bows, and reconditioned keyboard instruments.
Our graduate students are the best in the country, and they prove it every year, publishing a cutting-edge online journal (ECHO) and hosting a graduate conference, winning prizes and fellowships to study abroad in cities from Paris to Tokyo to Mexico City, and securing jobs in one of the most challenging academic labor markets we have ever known. Current graduate research interests range from confessional music in Counter-Reformation France to the effect of motor neurons on musical empathy; and from the vocal music of Thomas Tallis to the instrumental hip-hop of L.A.'s Low-End Theory.
The Distinguished Lecture Series, curated by our graduate students, will bring important music scholars from across town and across the country to campus, including Mina Yang from USC, Guthrie P. Ramsey from the University of Pennsylvania, and composer Tom Johnson from Paris. With the support of generous donors, our unique Zoppo concerts will continue, encouraging students to bring the work of neglected and unknown composers to light and into performance.
We have been proud to be a strong participant in curricular transformations sparked by the formation of the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, which recently celebrated its fifth anniversary by breaking ground for a new facility. (We are getting used to the obbligato of jackhammers and beeping as accompaniment to musical thought.) One of the school's flagship enterprises is a new minor in the Music Industry; its Faculty Advisory Committee is chaired by a member of our department, and we also taught the first iteration of the new "Music Industry 101" class last year to a truly inspiring group of talented undergraduates.
We recently welcomed into our department Prof. David MacFadyen, a specialist in Russian popular music and culture and the creator of the online music site "Far From Moscow"; Prof. MacFadyen, the author of three books on Russian popular song, will be teaching a new General Education course on Music and the Internet. We continue to host Dr. Jerome Camal, a post-doctoral fellow at the UCLA International Institute, whose research involves the politics of popular music on the island of Guadeloupe. We are excited to be looking for a junior colleague this year: our search is an open one, but we are interested in such diverse areas as early music, nineteenth-century music, film music, jazz, or the music of Latin America and California.
All in all it is a good time to be a musicologist at UCLA.
Professor and Chair
UCLA Department of Musicology