Music Courses


100/101. Introduction to Music.

An introduction to the study of music, this course includes development of listening skills as well as an overview of the basic materials and techniques of musical organization. The music is chosen from a wide range of times and places. Students use the resources of the music library and the Newell Center for Arts Technology for listening, research and composition. As a complement to class work, students attend concerts and recitals on and sometimes off campus. Students may include individual lessons in voice or on an instrument as part of this course. Open to students with little or no prior study of music. Offered every semester.


The content of each course or section of these 100-level or 200-level special topics courses varies and will be announced each semester.

200/201. Music Theory.

This course is meant to develop abilities in listening to, analyzing, performing and creating music. We engage in different kinds of musical activities: studying the sight and sound of music, playing and singing snippets of music, composing short pieces. Throughout, the intent is to provide critical skills for deepening the understanding of music. Students may include individual lessons in voice or on an instrument as part of this course. Offered every semester.

210.        Musics of the World.

This course explores selected musics from Asia, the Pacific, Africa, Europe and the Americas, by means of recordings, films, readings, concerts and hands-on experience. Broad topics for investigation include the development of popular musical styles, the preservation of traditional musical styles and the circulation of indigenous sounds in the world music market. Offered every semester. Also offered, at the discretion of the instructor, through African Studies, Global Studies and Peace Studies, and/or as ASIA 210.

220.        Music and Technology.

An in-depth look at the practical and artistic issues involved in making music with computers. This includes a study of some fundamental concepts and a practical application of these concepts using the resources of the Newell Center for Arts Technology. The course is divided into two broad sections — (1) the MIDI protocol: what it is, how it works and what you can do with it; (2) digital audio: a brief introduction to acoustics, a study of how audio is recorded and played back digitally and a consideration of the uses of digital signal processing. Offered every semester. Prerequisite: MUS 100/101, 200/201, or permission of the instructor.

222.        Sound for the Stage.

This course explores some of the artistic and practical aspects of using sound in support of theatrical production. The course employs concepts of design drawn from the theater and applies those concepts to the choice of music and sound effects for the stage. We explore the potential of sound and music for the reinforcement of dramatic content and production design concepts, and introduce the production organization common to most theater productions: the collaborative design process and the team approach to production assignments. Offered every year. Also offered as PCA 202.

227.        Recording Arts.

Recordings of audio materials are a growing part of our world, and making professional recordings is an art that is now within the reach of many. The technology of recording is a combination of listening and performance skills and electronics. Designed to hone skills in producing recorded materials, this course is a practical survey of materials and methods, with core principles applied to projects that will provide an understanding of how to achieve quality recordings by intelligent use of available equipment and spaces. Offered occasionally.

244.        Musics of South Asia.

South Asia is the subcontinent that lies south of the Himalayas and includes India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. There are also substantial South Asian populations elsewhere.Topics for study include devotional song, Bollywood film music, urban Nepali drumming, and electronic music in New York and London. The course begins with a grounding in the classical music traditions of India, moves on to explore selected musical practices around South Asia, and finishes with a consideration of music’s place in the South Asian diaspora. Offered occasionally. Also offered as ASIA 244.

245.        Musics of Eastern Europe.

In this course, we examine and analyze the music of a region where social and political life has changed dramatically and frequently during the last 150 years. From the revolutions of 1848 to the post-communist struggles of the 1990s, music and musicians often have been drawn into debates about national and regional identities. We proceed from the assumption that notions of identity and difference are evident not only in discourse about musical practices, but also in musical sound itself. Offered occasionally. Prerequisite: MUS 100/101, 200/201. Also offered through European Studies and Peace Studies.

260.        Rehearsing.

Satisfying performances come out of both understanding one’s music thoroughly and rehearsing it efficiently. A weekly, individual lesson focuses on the skills appropriate to your instrument or voice. Class meetings concentrate on (1) reading rhythms and shaping musical phrases; (2) arranging and orchestrating music; and (3) organizing and leading practice sessions and rehearsals. Offered occasionally. Prerequisite: MUS 100/101 or MUS 200/201. May be repeated for credit.

270.        Collaboration Across the Arts.

The direction of this course is determined largely by the unique combination of students who participate. Students form groups of two or three to work on a collaborative project of their own design reflecting their collective interests. For example, a pair of students may create a multimedia work that draws connections between image and sound. Students critique works in progress, study exemplary works, discuss relevant aesthetic issues, trace connections across media and consider strategies for collaborative work. Offered every year. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor. Also offered as AAH 270 and PCA 270.

281.        Music Video.

Music television created new ways of visualizing music, new ways of seeing sound. This course looks at the rise of music video in the 1980s, its predecessors and its influences. While the focus is primarily on the history and criticism of music video, the course also contains a substantial production component that includes creating and editing sound and video files. Offered occasionally. Also offered as FILM 281.


The content of each course or section of these 300-level or 400-level special topics courses varies and will be announced each semester.

300.        Musical Structures.

This course is for students who have completed MUS 200 or 201 and wish to continue their study of music analysis. It focuses on the study of musical events such as harmony, melody, rhythm, texture and form in order to develop skills in understanding, analyzing, composing and listening to music. We study harmonic, melodic, rhythmic, textural and formal choices various composers have made and the ways those choices affect how music is perceived. Offered every year. Prerequisite: MUS 200/201.

325.        Computer Music Programming.

While the world of computer-generated music includes a wide array of genres, it also incorporates a wide variety of tools. In this course, students will learn to synthesize and process sound with software tools that make few assumptions about what electronic music should be. Class topics will include listening and analysis, techniques for synthesis and signal processing, and composing/performing with MaxMSP and, if time permits, Csound. No prior programming experience is required. Offered occasionally. Prerequisite: MUS 220.

330.        “Isn’t It Romantic?” Songs for Theatre, Songs for Salon.

This course explores songs from New York City’s “Tin Pan Alley,” selected from such songwriters as the Gershwins, Richard Rodgers and Irving Berlin, and songs from earlier times and places, such as Franz Schubert in early 19th-century Vienna or Thomas Campion in Elizabethan England. Primary focus is on the music and the lyrics, but we also study the social and cultural contexts of these songs. Some required concerts and video screenings outside of class time. Offered occasionally. Prerequisite: MUS 100/101, MUS 200/201, or permission of the instructor. Also offered through European Studies.

333.        Mozart and the Classical Tradition.

A survey of the developments in Western vocal and instrumental art music during the years 1750 through 1825, with particular emphasis on the life and artistic contributions of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The course seeks to establish ties between contemporary European society and the art it cultivated. Offered occasionally. Prerequisite: MUS 200/201. Also offered through European Studies and German Studies.

335.        The World of Clara and Robert Schumann.

It was quite possible for a woman musician to “make it” in 19th-century Europe. Clara Schumann achieved and sustained such a success for her entire professional life. By studying the lives and artistic accomplishments of “priestess of the piano” Clara Schumann (1819-1896) and her husband, the deeply imaginative composer Robert Schumann, we seek to understand Romantic music of the Western cultivated tradition. The course will feature works by both the Schumanns — piano compositions, songs and chamber works — and others of their time. Offered occasionally. Prerequisite: MUS 200/201. Also offered through European Studies and German Studies.

337.        Avant-garde and Underground Music.

This course covers music that has been considered experimental, radical or transgressive in classical music, jazz and rock. Through surveying European and American perspectives on the relations between the arts and society in the 19th and 20th centuries, we work toward understanding the ideologies that have motivated musicians to locate their styles and practices outside of an imagined mainstream. In studying influential musical works from the last two centuries, we seek to clarify how musicians have put their ideologies into musical practice. Offered occasionally. Prerequisite: MUS 200/201. Also offered through Peace Studies.

350.        Composition.

The fundamental activity in this course is observation. Having arrived at a formative idea for a composition by means of a close analysis of a generative source, we begin describing that idea by any of several means (for example, a score, a performance or a sound generator), and making sense of that idea in sound. At the discretion of the instructor, students work with acoustic instruments, digital music technology, or both. Offered occasionally. Prerequisites: MUS 200/201 and MUS 220. May be repeated for credit when course content varies.

470, 471. Advanced Projects in Music.

Independent research in an area of musical study under the guidance of a member of the music faculty. Students must submit a written proposal to the department chair no later than November 15 for projects to be undertaken in the spring semester or April 15 for projects for the following fall. Prerequisites: MUS 200/201, MUS 210, and at least one other course in music.

489, 490. SYE: Independent Study.

Senior-year projects are intended to be the product of several semesters of study, bringing together more than one area of musical endeavor. Students must submit a written proposal to the department chair no later than November 15 for projects to be undertaken in the spring semester or April 15 for projects for the following fall. Prerequisites: MUS 200/201, MUS 210 and at least one other course in music.