Introductory Courses

If you’re interested in taking a course in the music department but not sure which courses would be suitable, here are some options to consider (note that Music 070 fulfills the Formal Reasoning and Analysis Requirement). You can also look at courses numbered below 099 in the course catalogue -- please note especially Music 034, 044, 047, 053, 056, 080, 081, 082.

 

Music 030 – 1000 Years of Musical Listening

We know that we like music and that it moves us, yet it is often difficult to pinpoint exactly why, and harder still to explain what it is we are hearing. This course takes on those issues.  it aims to introduce you to a variety of music, and a range of ways of thinking, talking and writing about music. The majority of music dealt with will be drawn from the so-called "Classical" repertory, from the medieval period to the present day, including some of the 'greats' such as Handel, Beethoven, Mozart, Berlioz, and Verdi, but will also introduce you to music you will most likely never have encountered before.  This course will explore the technical workings of music and the cabularies for analyzing music and articulating a response to it; it also examines muisc as a cultural phenomenon, considering what music has meant for different people, from different societies across the ages and across geographical boundaries.  As well as learning to listen ourselves we will also engage with a history of listening.  No prior musical knowledge is required. 

Fulfills School of Arts and Sciences Sector III:  Arts and Letters and Cross Cultural Analysis.

Fulfills School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Humanities Requirement.

  

Music 032 – Composers

This course will center on the biography, works, and cultural context of a specific composer or group of composers.   As well as introducing students to the musical work of the composer(s), this course will examine issues such as reception history, the canon, mechanisms of cult formation, authorship and attribution, identity, historical and social contexts, and nationalism and patriotism.  Titles include: Opera Composers 1600-1900, Verdi and Shakespeare, Mozart and DaPonte, Anonymous:  History’s Most Prolific Composer, Medieval Songwriters, Fryderyk Chopin, and Ludwig van Beethoven. 

Fulfills School of Arts and Science Sector III:  Arts and Letters.

Fulfills School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Humanities Requirement.

  

Music 033 – History of Opera

An investigation, through a series of representative works, of the central problem of opera: how does the combination of music, text, and visual spectacle create an art form in which the whole is more powerful than its parts.  Today this issue can be examined not only in live performances but also through media such as film, DVD, streaming video-- media to which this four-centuries-old multimedia form has adapted, evolving in still compelling ways.  The works chosen for the course provide a chronological survey but also represent the variety of sources on which opera has drawn for it subject matter: myth and legend, the epic, the novel, and the play. 

Fulfills School of Arts and Sciences Sector III:  Arts and Letters.

Fulfills School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Humanities Requirement. 

  

Music 034 – Performers

This course looks at the history of popular, vernacular, and art music in various time periods. Studying music from the ground up, we examine how performers have influenced music history.  Course topics may include:  Dancers & Musicians, The Singer, Celebrity.  

Fulfills School of Arts and Sciences Sector III:  Arts and Letters.

 

Music 035 – History of Jazz

This course is an exploration of the family of musical idioms called jazz. Attention will be given to issues of style development, selective musicians, and to the social and cultural conditions and the scholarly discourses that have informed the creation, dissemination and reception of this dynamic set of styles from the beginning of the 20th century to the present.

Fulfills School of Arts and Sciences Cultural Diversity in the U.S.

Fulfills School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Humanities Requirement.

  

Music 044 – Popular Music

Catchy and controversial, fluffy and hard-hitting: by definition popular music snags our attention and entertains.  This course digs into the experiences of musicians and fans, unpacking how popular music manifests the hopes, contradictions, ingenuity, and challenges of life in the United States.  Music 44 is organized around three core questions: first, what counts as good music and who gets credit for being creative; second, why has popular music, at various points in history, been perceived as socially dangerous (and musicians as deviant); third, what is the history of borrowing and appropriation, and how do these habits, which overwhelmingly affect musicians of color, continue to play out today?  We delve into these questions and more by analyzing the musical traits of specific repertoire, profiling artists' lives, investigating changes in the music industry, and situating popular music in U.S. cultural history from the mid-nineteenth century to today.  

Fulfills School of Arts and Sciences Sector III:  Arts and Letters.

 

Music 050 – World Musics and Cultures

Surveying repertories of various societies from Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas, this course examines relations between aesthetic production and social processes.  We investigate musical sounds, cultural logics informing those sounds, and social strategies of performance.  Topics include indigenous music theories, music and social organization, symbolic expression and musical meaning, gender, religion, and social change.

Fulfills School of Arts and Sciences  Sector III: Arts and Letters.

Fulfills School of Arts and Sciences Cross Cultural Analysis Requirement.

Fulfills School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Humanities Requirement.

 

Music 051 – Music of Africa

African Contemporary Music: North, South, East, and West. Come to know contemporary Africa through the sounds of its music: from South African kwela, jazz, marabi, and kwaito to Zimbabwean chimurenga; Central African soukous and pygmy pop; West African Fuji, and North African rai and hophop. Through reading and listening to live performance, audio and video recordings, we will examine the music of Africa and its intersections with politics, history, gender, and religion in the colonial and post colonial era.

Fulfills School of Arts and Sciences Cross Cultural Analysis Requirement.

Fulfills School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Humanities Requirement

 

Music 053 –  Music in Troubled Places

 In this class, we go beyond the headlines to discuss the history and cultures of peoples who have had to endure terrible suffering, particularly through ethnic conflict and civil war.  We will focus on a curious phenomenon:  populations typically defined as separate from one another (e.g., Israelis and Palestinians) often have a history of shared or related cultural practices, of which music is a prime example.  We will survey a number of current and recent conflict zones and use music as a way to deepen our understanding of the identities and relationships between the peoples involved including through a consideration of my own fieldwork in Sri Lanka.  Querying the very definitions of music, trouble, and place, the course then broadens out to consider how musicians have been affected by and/or responded to important global problems like slavery, sexual violence, climate change and other ecological disasters, like Hurricane Katrina.  Regions to be considered in our lectures and/or readings include: Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria (including Kurdish musics), Israel-Palestine, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Myanmar/Burma, Uganda, Sierra  Leone, North and South Korea, the Marshall Islands, Cambodia, Mexico, and the United States.

Fulfills School of Arts and Sciences Cross Cultural Analysis Requirement.

  

Music 070 Introduction to Theory & Musicianship

This course will cover basic skills and vocabulary for reading, hearing, performing, analyzing, and writing music. Students will gain command of musical rudiments, including notation, reading and writing in treble and bass clefs, intervals, keys, scales, triads and seventh chords, and competence in basic melodic and formal analysis. The course will include an overview of basic diatonic harmony, introduction to harmonic function and tonicization. Musicianship skills will include interval and chord recognition, rhythmic and melodic dictation and familiarity with the keyboard. There will be in-depth study of selected compositions from the "common practice" Western tradition, including classical, jazz, blues and other popular examples. Listening skills--both with scores (including lead sheets, figured bass and standard notation), and without--will be emphasized. There is no prerequisite. Students with some background in music may place out of this course and into Music 170, Theory and Musicianship I.

Fulfills School of Arts and Sciences Formal Reasoning and Analysis.

Fulfills School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Humanities Requirement.