Music Courses

MUSC100Program Music: Stories in Sound Program music is instrumental music influenced by an extra-musical source. In other words, the music contains a "program" or story. The program can be drawn from any source, but is usually taken from literature, myths, legends, landscapes, paintings, or personal dramas. Therefore, in addition to studying the music, this course will examine the extra-musical influences associated with the music. To further enhance your understanding and appreciation of this genre, you will produce four programmatic works of your own by creating multimedia presentations using music and images in support of an original story or borrowed program. No prior training or experience in music is assumed or necessary, and the course is intended for non-majors. The cultivation of intelligent and perceptive responses to programmatic music will be the primary focus as we explore the many aspects of this genre, be they cultural, mechanical, or expressive.
MUSC105Introduction to Music Study of the language, power, and communicative properties of music in the Western tradition. Students will acquire basic skills in music literacy, theory, and aural comprehension. In addition, selected works, both popular and classical and ranging in time from the Middle Ages to the present, will be listened to and discussed with an emphasis on their musical style and cultural-social context. Class activities will include guest performances, concert attendance (on and off campus), and behind-the-scenes looks at what goes into making music. Students considering a major in Music should enroll in MUSC 105 in the winter quarter of their first year. No prior music reading or basic theory knowledge is expected. Advanced students may request to test out of MUSC-105; please consult the Department Chair.
MUSC120Beginning Band Methods: Brass Basic techniques of playing orchestra and band instruments; emphasis on understanding the principles and problems of playing brass. No music reading or basic theory knowledge is required.
MUSC121Beginning Band Methods: Woodwinds Basic techniques of playing orchestra and band instruments; emphasis on understanding the principles and problems of playing woodwinds. No music reading or basic theory knowledge is required.
MUSC123Instrumental Music Methods: Strings Basic techniques of playing the four orchestral stringed instruments. No music reading or basic theory knowledge is required.
MUSC150Western Art Music Before 1750 Study of the developments in musical style from the Middle Ages through the Baroque including sacred and secular music of Italy, Germany, France, England, and the Netherlands. Representative works from all topics will be presented in their stylistic and cultural contexts. Prerequisite: Music reading and basic theory knowledge is expected
MUSC155Western Art Music After 1750 A historical and textual survey of the music produced during the Classical, Romantic and Modern ears. Representative works - among the topics considered will be Lied, Opera, Symphony, Programmatic Music, Atonal and Serial Music - will be presented in their stylistic and cultural contexts. Prerequisite: Music reading and basic theory knowledge is expected
MUSC160Music of World Cultures Study of music of various cultures within their social contexts. The course includes folk, traditional, classical, and popular music from selected traditions in Africa, India, Asia, Europe, and the Americas. It presents music as an evolving process and the performance of music as an expression of individual and cultural identity. Using readings, discussions, guest lectures and performances, CDs, and films, the course provides a framework for comparison of musical cultures from different parts of the world. No music reading or basic theory knowledge required.
MUSC165Jazz: A Creative and Cultural Exploration This course is intended to introduce students to the cultural context, instrumentation, theory, form, and analysis of jazz from its early West African roots to contemporary times. Emphasis will be placed on listening to various artists and styles. No music reading or basic theory knowledge is required.
MUSC175Western Music Theory and Analysis I Building upon the skills acquired in MUSC 105, students use two voice counterpoint as a gateway to fluency in writing complete four-part phrases in tonal harmony. They will discover how these principles of voice-leading and harmonic grammar form the foundation of historic and contemporary musical styles. Aural comprehension skills are acquired from the concurrent lab for the course.Prerequisite: MUSC-105 or permission
MUSC205/SEMN 256Music and Identity Music serves multiple roles: a force for social transformation, a flag of resistance, a proclamation of cultural identity, a catalyst for expressing emotion, an avenue to experiencing the sacred. Students will look at identity through the lens of contemporary and traditional American music and will consider how race, ethnicity, age, gender, national identity, and other factors express themselves in and are shaped by music. The ability to read music or understand basic music theory is not required; a love of music and an interest in American culture are essential. This course is a Shared Passages Sophomore Seminar. Prerequisite: Sophomores only
MUSC207/SEMN 210Listening Across Cultures What does it mean to be a knowledgeable music listener? An expert listener? A native listener? Hip hop has its "heads," French opera had claqueurs, and Syrian tarab has the sammi'a (expert listeners), but is the act of listening the same across cultures, or is there something to the local perception of music that goes beyond style and genre? Questioning the adage that "Music is the universal language," this course will examine how people assign meaning and power to music. Analyzing music from around the world, we will attune our ears to the ways in which people across cultural borders conceptualize music, sound and the act of listening. No music reading or basic theory knowledge is required. Prerequisite: Sophomores Only
MUSC260Conducting A study of the general rudiments of ensemble conducting through an emphasis on the orchestral literature. After an introduction to critical score-reading concepts (analysis skills, transposition, special terms, historical background), the remainder of the course is dedicated to practical application, with students receiving weekly podium time in front of a small laboratory ensemble. Offered spring quarter, even yearsPrerequisite: MUSC-105 or permission
MUSC275Western Music Theory and Analysis II Building upon the skills acquired in MUSC 130, students will study techniques of modulation, as well as expressive and coloristic devices leading to late 19th century chromaticism, leading into 20th century practices. These elements will be part of further study of popular and art song form, theme and variations, rondo and sonata. Class meetings will include both lecture and workshops. Coordinated aural comprehension skills are acquired from the concurrent lab for this course.Prerequisite: MUSC-175 or permission
MUSC295Social Justice Through the Arts SOCIAL JUSTICE THROUGH THE ARTS: From Hamilton to Woodstock The recent success Hamilton prompts us to ask "How have the arts stimulated and informed social transformation in America over the last 100 years?" This interdisciplinary course will involve readings, listening sessions, discussion, and research as the basis for an original performance-art piece incorporating spoken word, song, dance, and/or visual art to tell the story through an engaging final performance on campus. Designed to accommodate students who enjoy creative activity in a variety of disciplines.
MUSC310Intellectual Flows of Black Music This seminar-style course explores the histories of black music in the US and the broader African diaspora through the lens of music-making as intellectual practice. We will examine the work of black musicians, critics, and scholars as both aesthetic statements and attempts to illuminate, interrogate, and advance the philosophical, artistic and social issues of particular moments in history, and ultimately as ways of creating new possibilities for social and musical life. Ranging across genres, topics covered will include the African origins of American popular music, improvisation and experimentalism, music and faith, Afrofuturism, nationalism, sexuality and gender politics, blackface and 'blacksound', and issues of appropriation, ownership, and value. Offered fall quarter, even years.Prerequisite: Any 100-level Music course (excluding MUSC 120, 121, and 123) or Instructor Permission
MUSC315Sound & Culture in the Middle East An introduction to the popular culture and cultural politics of the modern Middle East, as heard through the medium of sound. Exploring the varied soundscapes and musical cultures of the region, we will examine how sound shapes, reinforces, critiques, and transforms social life, from the local to the international level. Listening to music as both an aesthetic object and a site for the contestation of ideas, we will learn about the ways in which music is used to articulate an array of competing visions: of the nation, colony and post-colony; religion, gender, and sexuality; globalization, hybridity, and modernity.Prerequisite: MUSC-105, ANSO-103 or Instructor Permission
MUSC320Arts Entrepreneurship A look at the relationship between art, artists, presenters, audience, and funding in the 21st Century. Explore themes of entrepreneurship through case studies of successful artistic ventures and investigate the lessons learned from failed arts organizations. This course will be centered around the discussions of what it means to be an artist in the 21st century, what will engage future audiences, and how students with art degrees will pursue viable careers in the arts. Concepts studied will include but not be limited to: networking, non-profit leadership, organizational structure, non-linear career paths, fundraising, and audience engagement.
MUSC375Music Theory & Analysis III Building upon the skills acquired in MUSC135, students will refine their facility with the extended tonal harmony of the late-19th and early 20th centuries through analysis and model composition in multiple styles, including jazz and popular music. Students will also explore post-tonal and non-common practice repertories (including serialism, process music, spectralism, indeterminacy, electroacoustic music, rock and pop) through set theory and extended harmonic methods as well as analytic paradigms centered on rhythm and timbre. Coordinated aural comprehension skills are acquired from the concurrent lab for this course.Prerequisite: MUSC-275
MUSC465Music Education Seminar An examination of the philosophy, methods, and materials for teaching instrumental, vocal, and general music, K-12. The course is designed to prepare students for successful careers in music education. Topics include rehearsal techniques, budgeting time and money, classroom methods and management, developing and maintaining an inventory, recruitment strategies, library acquisition and management, and networking skills. As part of the course of study, each student will be assigned to a large ensemble to serve as an assistant to the director. Each student will also engage in off-campus classroom observation. Offered by request. Prerequisite: MUSC-105 or permission; junior or senior standing.
MUSC490Senior Seminar Upper-division course whose objective is to encourage integration and discovery of relationships between such areas as academics, performance, career development, the SIP, and careers in music. Research and analysis skills will be connected to contemporary issues in musical life, themes in music history, and alternative perspectives in style analysis. Prerequisite: MUSC-150, MUSC-155, MUSC-160, AND MUSC-375; junior or senior standing
MUSC593Senior Individualized Project Each program or department sets its own requirements for Senior Individualized Projects done in that department, including the range of acceptable projects, the required background of students doing projects, the format of the SIP, and the expected scope and depth of projects. See the Kalamazoo Curriculum -> Senior Individualized Project section of the Academic Catalog for more details.Prerequisite: Permission of department and SIP supervisor required.