The University of Southern California Thornton School of Music offers a full range of academic and performance opportunities for aspiring historians, allowing students to study music in an environment where scholarship and performance interact. Musicology students will benefit from the faculty’s strengths in both 20th century and Early Music. The program also benefits from close links to many on-campus partners, including USC’s Early Modern Studies Institute, the USC School of Cinematic Arts and USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism.

The PhD degree in historical musicology prepares students for careers in musical research, writing, and university teaching. Through seminars and lectures, musicology students explore the breadth of music ranging from topics in Western art music, popular music, performance practices, criticism, jazz and film, theory and musical analysis, and music of the world.

Students are provided the opportunity to present papers at national and international conferences and symposia, and run a musicology forum that attracts top scholars in the field. Students may take courses in the arts and letters and participate in performance ensembles at Thornton, including the renowned early music ensemble, the USC Thornton Baroque Sinfonia.

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event calendar

Upcoming events

  • Musicology Forum: Dangers in the Music Room

    Brianna Robertson-Kirkland, lecturer in historical musicology at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, leads a lecture on the complex life of acclaimed British opera singer Elizabeth Billington. Robertson-Kirkland explores the gossip and scandal surrounding Billington's trial against her uncle, who she accused of rape. The lecture will discuss the consensual relationship and eventual marriage to her music master, the media's reactions, and the subsequent Georgian plays and novels that portrayed the music master as a lecher, determined to trick his pretty, young student into a love affair.

    Doheny Memorial Library (DML)

  • Musicology Forum: Una voce poco fa—until the performance!

    Part of the Musicology Forum Lecture series, professor Cathy Ann Elias of De Paul University discusses madrigals by little-known composers from southern Italy, Una voce poco fa—until the performance! Restoring the madrigals of Pietro Havente and Don Salvadore di Cataldo.

    Doheny Memorial Library (DML)

  • The Research and Scholarly Division Symposium

    The Research and Scholarly Division present a daylong symposium highlighting faculty and student research across the division.

    USC Brain and Creativity Institute's Joyce J. Cammilleri Hall (BCI)

  • news archive


    Photo of Nate Sloan on tan background

    Nate Sloan to release new book about mechanics of popular music

    December 3, 2019

    Popular music scholar and Musicology faculty member Nate Sloan will release a new book, “How Popular Music Works, and Why It Matters,” on Dec. 13, co-authored with songwriter and podcasting partner Charlie Harding. The pair host the popular podcast “Switched on Pop,” which, like their forthcoming book, makes pop music… read more

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