Music Courses


100/101. Music Fundamentals.

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.

120. Physics of Sound and Music.

Music is an interaction between the production of sound and the listeners' perceptive abilities. In this course, the physical details of the production of sound with particular attention to "musical" sound will be explored. In a hands-on, experiment-based course, the physics of sound vibrations and waves, the overtone series, the workings of the human ear, the construction of various types of musical instruments, the electrical reproduction of sound, and other topics will be explored. This course satisfies the NS-L requirement. Offered occasionally.

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.

219. Laptop Music.

This course is for any student interested in creating their own music on a computer. Topics will include software concepts, audio hardware, fleshing out ideas, instrumentation, arranging, and other topics depending on the interest of the students enrolled. Class assignments are largely project-based and make use of GarageBand and Logic Pro, but the skills learned will easily transfer to other software tools. Students who intend to major or minor in music are encouraged to enroll in Music 220, Music & Technology, instead, which covers some of the same material. No prerequisites. Fulfills the ARTS distribution requirement. Offered every year.

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.

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 every year.

229. Popular Music Industries.

The popular music industries represent a space where music and business intersect, where the worlds of art and commerce combine. In this course, we will draw on a wide range of sources to examine important historical moments and strategic developments that have shaped the popular music industries since the late nineteenth century. We will cover topics such as the major innovations of Tin Pan Alley that gave birth to popular music, the rise of global markets for recordings, musical labor and copyright, and the relationships between ever-changing technology and models for profiting from music. Much of our focus will be on the U.S. but we will both be carefully attuned to the global entanglements that have shaped U.S. markets and also explore several case studies of popular music industries in other parts of the world. By the end of the course students will understand the popular music industries with greater historical context and will be able to think critically about the ways in which art and business can overlap. Offered every year.

236. Music and Race.

Can we hear race? What does it mean when someone says music sounds Black or white? What are the processes through which listeners come to imagine music-a medium that has no skin color-as something that is racialized? In this course, we will explore some of the ways in which music and ideas about race have become intertwined in the U.S. We will examine the historical constructions of music as a phenomenon with racial qualities and investigate the broader context behind contemporary debates and controversies-for example, the initial removal of "Old Town Road" from the country charts. Studying music and race enables us both to become more critical listeners and also to think more broadly about the racial ideologies that still inform our world today. No specialized musical knowledge required. Offered every year.

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.

246. Transpacific Musics.

Hip hop in Japan, Hawaiian slide guitar in Mississippi, and Chinese gongs in California: all are sounds of a distinctly transpacific world. While some political analysts have noted the growing significance of U.S.-China relations in declaring the twenty-first century as the start of a transpacific era, people, goods, and music have long been circulating within and across the Pacific Ocean. In fact, transpacific relations are a central yet often overlooked part of U.S. history, in part because it is a history marked by U.S. imperial conquest in the Pacific and Asia. In this course, we will turn to music to explore this transpacific world and its significance to the histories of the U.S. and various Asian nations. Three broad sections focus on (1) the influence of Asian and Pacific Ocean music in the U.S., (2) the circulation of music from Hawai'i and other Pacific Islands, and (3) the spread of U.S. music in Asia. We will examine how music plays a critical role in both revealing and informing the myriad connections and relationships between the U.S., Pacific Islands, and Asia. Formal knowledge of music and ability to read music notation is not required. Offered occasionally. Also offered as ASIA 246.

260. Rehearsing and Conducting.

Satisfying performances come out of both understanding one's music thoroughly and rehearsing it efficiently. Class meetings concentrate on (1) reading rhythms and shaping musical phrases; (2) arranging and orchestrating music; (3) organizing and leading practice sessions and rehearsals; and (4) an introduction to conducting gesture and techniques. Offered occasionally. Prerequisite: MUS 100/101 or MUS 200/201. May be repeated for credit.

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 DMF 281.

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.

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.