University of Cambridge: Guide & Discussion Forum
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The Music Faculty
The music scene at Cambridge is phenomenal. There is always a huge amount going on: every night of the week in term-time you can find a diverse range of concerts, gigs and shows on offer; the challenge is getting around them all! The Faculty of Music with its 17 academic staff and around 200 undergrads and 75 postgrads lies at the heart of Cambridge music.
The Cambridge Music Faculty has an international reputation for excellence and a top research record. It specialises in 19th Century music, Opera, Composition, Contemporary music, Analysis, Performance, Popular music, Ethnomusicology and World Music, and Music and Science. Many top music scholars from the UK and around the world visit the Music Faculty to give talks to students and input into research programmes. Students interested in composing get the chance to meet famous composers who visit the weekly Composers’ Workshops, where students can hear their own compositions performed too.
The facilities on offer are excellent. Right in the heart of the Music Faculty itself there's a fully professional concert hall (easily the best in Cambridge), an extremely well stocked music library and the Centre for Music and Science which has a recording studio and computers with music software. Students can use the Music Faculty's period instruments and they even have access to a Javanese gamelan!
University choral and organ scholarships are on offer and there is an Instrumental Award scheme which provides chamber musicians with professional coaching. Lots of music goes on in the colleges - most have chapel choirs and music societies which put on concerts of every kind imaginable.
The Undergraduate Course
The degree programme gives you an extremely solid foundation in every aspect of music study, not just in the Western classical tradition, but also in jazz, pop and world music. As well as lecture courses, there are plenty of opportunities for dissertations and composition portfolios, and for performance.
As you go through the three years, your choices increase, so that by the final year you choose all of your own courses. And there is an amazing range of courses on offer! Recent courses include Gospel Music, Benjamin Britten: Music and Words, Figaro, Beethoven’s Late String Quartets, Planet Rap, Miles Davis, Monteverdi in Mantua and Venice, Italian Music since 1945, Boris Godunov and it's contexts.
Analysis, Composition, Performance Studies and Ethnomusicology are strands which run through all the three years, so you can follow your own pathway to a greater depth as you go through the course. In the later years, advanced performers can also take lessons at the Royal Academy of Music.
The Postgraduate course
There are three main postgraduate courses on offer which make the Music Faculty a great place to consider for postgraduate studies.
MPhil in Music Studies This is a one-year course, which combines structured teaching with supervised study. Many students on this course go on to a PhD, either in Cambridge or elsewhere. There are common elements in the programme, but you specialise in one of these areas: Musicology; Theory, Analysis and Criticism; Ethnomusicology; Jazz, Popular and Media Music; Performance Studies; Music and Science; Composition.
MMus in Choral Studies This course is for training in choral conducting and for learning about the history and practice of choral music. You learn the technical skills required for working with historic repertoires - organists can develop as both soloists and accompanists. There are so many great college chapel choirs, which make Cambridge ideal place for this course; MMus students observe the work of a leading chapel choir during their placement. The course involves: Choral Conducting; Seminar Course; Options (2 from the following – Extended Essay, Editing Project, Performance); College Placement.
PhD This is for those who want to specialise at a high level. Most PhD students spend three or four years on their topic, and with luck and persistence they emerge as the world-expert on chosen subject!