Department of Music


Our revised concentration offers a single, flexible set of requirements that can be tailored to each individual student’s interests.

Prior to 2019, Music concentrators had to pursue one of three tracks: History/Theory/Composition, Ethnomusicology, or Computer Music and Multimedia. Our revised concentration offers a single, flexible set of requirements that can be tailored to each individual student’s interests. There were two principal considerations driving this change.

  • First, we wanted to give students the flexibility to chart their own pathway through our curriculum. A jazz pianist can learn to compose experimental concert music, a classically trained cellist can gain experience in studio production, or a musical theater performer can develop an interest in Latin American music, popular music theory, or instrument building. Students can choose courses that reflect their interests while expanding their intellectual and creative horizons.
  • Second, our intention was to make the concentration more accessible to students with a wide variety of backgrounds and goals. A sitar player, a DJ, or an aspiring singer-songwriter with no prior experience with music notation can all develop their musicianship fundamentals at Brown and flourish in the Music concentration.

Previous Concentrations

Any course of study that could be undertaken in our previous concentration structure remains possible. A student interested in Computer Music and Multimedia, for instance, can still take the foundational courses in that area—Computers and Music (MUSC 0200), Recording Studio as Compositional Tool (MUSC 1200), and Real-Time Systems (MUSC 1210)—as well as more advanced course offerings at the MUSC 12XX and MUSC 22XX level. The difference is that we no longer require our concentrators to follow a particular track.

Music Performance

Student playing guitar

Performance ensembles and individual lessons through the Applied Music Program can be taken for half a credit per semester. Up to four half-credits in performance (i.e., two course credits) can be applied towards the ten credits required for the Music concentration. There is no limit on the number of half-credit performance courses that can be counted towards the 30 credits required for the Brown degree.

It is possible to participate in ensembles on a not-for-credit basis. Some students elect to do so if they are already enrolled in five credits (the maximum permitted at Brown) in a given semester. In Chamber Music, at least one student in each group must be enrolled for course credit.

Brown does not offer a separate concentration in music performance, but our program offers opportunities for rigorous training through private lessons, ensembles, and coursework in music theory and musicianship. Some of our students go on to pursue graduate degrees at conservatories and careers as performers.

Non-Music Concentrators

All Music Department courses are open to all Brown students, provided they have satisfied the prerequisites. Participation in ensembles and the Applied Music Program is determined by audition, and equal consideration is given to concentrators and non-concentrators. In fact, most of the students who perform in our ensembles concentrate in fields other than Music. Some of our ensembles, including Javanese Gamelan and Ghanaian Drumming and Dancing, require no prior experience in that musical tradition.


Personalized advising is integral to our program. Prospective concentrators work with the Director of Undergraduate Studies to devise a course of study that supports the student’s goals in Music. Once the concentration declaration is approved, the student is paired with a faculty Concentration Advisor who can help refine and revise the course plan throughout the student’s time at Brown. In the senior year, students work with a capstone or thesis advisor (who may or may not be the same person as the Concentration Advisor) to undertake a culminating project in the concentration.

Additional information

The music concentration requires ten (10) course credits including Music Theory, Music Scholarship, Production and Advanced Theory and Electives.
The declaration consists of a 500-1000 word personal statement, a course plan, and responses to a few shorter essay prompts (including a question about the proposed senior project).
The Department of Music offers a diverse range of courses from music history to advanced Ghanaian drumming and dancing. Explore our Undergraduate courses in music.