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The Department of Music seeks to develop the musical understanding of students who desire to broaden their cultural perspective through study of the arts, as well as to prepare students wishing to pursue a professional career in music. The department maintains the goal of demystifying the study of music by helping students to develop the necessary vocabulary to describe what is heard and empowering them to make critical judgments and argue interpretations of aural phenomena. No matter which course one takes in the Department of Music, the faculty promote the idea that listening to music cannot be a passive experience. Music, like the other fine and performing arts, involves the mind, aesthetic perception, emotions, and the body, in both listening and music-making activities.

Music courses are open to all students who have fulfilled the necessary prerequisites or gained permission of the appropriate individual instructors. The Department of Music offers a disciplinary major and both a disciplinary and interdisciplinary minor. To be counted toward the major or minor, all course work must be passed with a grade of C- or better. New York State music education certification is available to students majoring in music.

In courses for non-majors, students are presented a comprehensive survey of the material at hand sufficient to provide non-music students with a broad understanding and to enable students to continue successfully in their music coursework if they so choose. Music, by its very nature interdisciplinary, connects to many programs of study at the Colleges: Asian Studies, European Studies, Africana and Latino Studies, to name just a few. Music study can also serve as a microcosm for a given culture’s macrocosmic view; the relationships between performers and audience, within the performing group, the style of presentation, etc., can communicate in a symbolic way a culture’s underlying structure and values.

It is the Department of Music’s wish that all interested HWS students be able to sing or play in an ensemble or take private lessons, whether that be as a continuation of earlier musical experiences or as a first-time endeavor. Admission to HWS’s choral and instrumental ensembles is obtained by audition, and private instruction in applied music is available to all students for a per-semester fee for a total of 14 half-hour lessons. Private composition lessons are also available as an independent study.

Music majors and minors are expected to develop a deep and comprehensive understanding of music, with the aim of preparing students who are interested in continuing musical studies for graduate-level work. In-depth exploration is a natural hallmark of formal musical training; the music theory, history, and upper-level courses all embody thorough intellectual engagement, whether through rigorous theory and ear training study, style analysis, or research of a musicological topic. Students also have the opportunity to finish their undergraduate careers with a highly rewarding honors program. The honors program consists of a yearlong course of study, which is developed and pursued in collaboration with a faculty mentor.

Note: The Department of Music is in the process of revising its major/minor requirements. Reference the Department of Music webpage for the most current information.

disciplinary, 12 courses
MUS 120, 121, 202, 203, 204, 231, 232, 401, 460; one additional course from MUS 130 or above; and two course credits earned through participation in a major choral or instrumental ensemble for four semesters, or by taking private instruction for four semesters, or by taking two semesters of ensemble and two of private instruction.

disciplinary, 6 courses
MUS 120, 121; two courses from the group MUS 202, 203, or 204; one additional course from MUS 130 or above; and one course credit earned through participation in a major choral or instrumental ensemble for two semesters, or by private applied instruction for two semesters.

interdisciplinary, 7 courses
MUS 120, 121; two from the group MUS 202, 203 and 204; one non-music elective course from art, history, education, philosophy, religious studies, anthropology, languages, dance, or another department, chosen in consultation with the adviser; two course credits earned through participation in a major choral or instrumental ensemble, or by private applied instruction, for four semesters.


Students seeking to obtain New York State teacher certification to teach in the public schools (pre-k – 12) are required to fulfill all requirements of the regular music major (disciplinary) in the Department of Music, with the following additions:

  • The required music major elective must be replaced by MUS 305 Conducting
  • In addition to the standard ensemble and applied study requirements for the music major—i.e., at least one credit (two semesters) of ensemble participation and at least one credit (two semesters) of applied study on a primary instrument or voice—at least two credits (i.e., four semesters) must be earned through private applied instruction in any four (i.e., one semester each) of the following areas: brass, woodwinds, strings, voice, piano, guitar, and percussion. It should be noted that only two out of the four credits required in this area of ensemble participation and lessons may be counted towards the general baccalaureate requirement of 32 credits for graduation from the Colleges.

Students seeking to obtain New York State teacher certification should arrange early in the process to meet with Professor Mark Olivieri as well as a faculty member from the Department of Education to ensure that all education requirements are being addressed.

100 Introduction to Music Literature This course is intended to deepen the meaning of experiencing music as a living language from listening to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony performed in the concert hall to hearing the soulful strains of blues in a Chicago club, or the “exotic” timbres and tunings of a Balinese gamelan. Each repertory is unique in its materials and methods of organization; each elicits a unique set of values and feelings in response. Each is described and assigned meaning through the cultural filters of our own individual backgrounds. Music utilized in the American tradition based on European models is surveyed, as are representative models from contrasting cultures. (Offered each semester)

110 Introduction to Music Theory Fundamentals and basic principles of Western music theory and their application are presented in this course. Specific areas include the study of clefs, major minor scales, key signatures, intervals, and triads. Music notation and terminology are discussed. The final half of the course covers an introduction to four-part harmonic writing, use of chords in root position, and inversions. Basic ear training techniques are employed. (Offered each semester)

120 Tonal Theory and Aural Skills I This course strives to produce a listener/performer who can perceive sound in meaningful patterns—developing a hearing mind from the Western classical tradition, including diatonic scales; intervals; keys and triads; introduction to principles of voice leading; Roman numeral analysis; functional harmony; and non-chordal melodic elements. The approach is an integrated one, providing both the theoretical knowledge necessary for analysis and composition and the aural skills necessary for perception and performance. Prerequisite: MUS 110 or permission of the instructor. (Offered each semester)

121 Tonal Theory and Aural Skills II This course continues goals outlined for MUS 120. It explores further techniques of part writing, including tonicization and modulation to closely related keys, and the use of seventh chords. (Offered each semester)

130 Beethoven: The Man and His Music This course deals specifically with the music of Beethoven. Among the compositions carefully examined and listened to are his nine symphonies; his opera Fidelio; concertos such as The Emperor; piano sonatas such as The Pathetique, Appassionata, and Moonlight; selected string quartets; and his Missa Solemnis. Beethoven’s place in history, his personality, his leading the way to individualism and subjective feeling in music, and his vision of human freedom and dignity are also explored. (Offered alternate years)

135 Music in America: 1750-2000 Investigating the panorama of American Music to reveal its infinite variety and vitality, origins of American music are traced from the Native Americans, to the psalm singing colonials, to the African slaves. Eighteenth century works by Billings and Mason are examined. Emphasis is placed on 19th- and 20th-century music. Compositions include works by Ives, Copland, Gershwin, Crumb, Antheil, and Bernstein. (Offered alternate years)

150 In a Russian Voice: Music from Glinka to Stravinsky Borodin, Balakirev, Cui, Mussorgsky, and Rimsky Korsakov—who inherited a passion for creating “Russian” works from Glinka and Dargomizhsky and passed this passion on in elements of melody, harmony, and rhythm to Stravinsky—consciously and successfully incorporated folk and traditional elements into the traditional genres of art music. This course considers these composers and their “Russianness” to discover what is “Russian” about their music and what impact Russian Orthodox Church music and folk song and dance have had in the development of musical language and style in the 20th century. (Offered periodically)

160 The Symphony The concert symphony is the type of music most performed by orchestras today. Students in this course study the evolution and ever-changing nuances of symphony. They explore the various periods and work their way through the classical period, the romantic period, and the 20th century. (Offered alternate years)

180 World Music and Percussion Survey This course will explore the realm of percussion from many perspectives incorporating both history and practice. Students will examine the historical development of percussion including rhythmic concepts and the variety of instruments as well as their use in various cultural traditions, not only in western classical music but in the music of indigenous peoples throughout the world. Students will also consider the way those traditions have influenced one another to shape the use of percussion in contemporary music.

190 History of Rock and Roll The course provides a survey of rock and roll from its roots through contemporary times. Beginning with a study of the development of rock from earlier sources, such as mainstream popular music, rhythm and blues, and country and western, the course proceeds by considering the artists and trends that serve to define rock music through the decades. The course places a strong emphasis on hearing the music that is discussed; students receive guidance in listening to basic musical features such as form, rhythm and meter, and instrumentation. Attention is also given to content of lyrics and to the role that rock music plays as a general, sociological phenomenon. (Offered annually)

202 History of Western Art Music: Medieval and Renaissance (600-1600) From Gregorian chant and the songs of the troubadours, the beginnings of polyphony, the “new secular style” of the 14th century, and the “sweet” harmonies of the 15th century Burgundian school, through the humanistic currents of the late 15th and 16th centuries, composers created new styles, techniques, and forms, responding to the demand for greater expressivity and more variety. The course surveys tradition and change in music from 600 to 1600 and is based on selected readings, recordings, and scores. (Offered every third semester)

203 History of Western Art Music: Baroque and Classical (1600-1800) From the early operas of Monteverdi to the oratorios of Handel and the cantatas of Bach, the Baroque composer aimed to “affect” his listener through powerful musical contrasts and rhetorical passions. Haydn, Mozart, and the young Beethoven, on the other hand, were more interested in projecting formal logic and proportional design in their sonatas, string quartets, symphonies, and other instrumental works. The course surveys tradition and change in Baroque and classical music and is based on selected readings, recordings, and scores. (Offered every third semester)

204 History of Western Art Music: Romantic and Modern (1800-1950) Most 19th century composers pushed the expressive power of chromatic harmony and thematic unity to the musical extreme. By 1910, most of the musical avant-garde no longer found it possible to work within the constraints of the three century old tonal system. New systems and searches for novel sonorities led to the use of natural and electronically generated sounds. Chance happenings were advocated by composers who objected to older music’s predictability. The course surveys tradition and change in romantic and modern music and is based on selected readings, recordings, and scores. (Offered every third semester)

205 Music at the Movies This course provides a comprehensive survey of film music from the silent era through the present day, exploring its role and relation to the plot and visual elements at small-scale and large-scale (narrative) levels. Topics covered will include general elements of music, musical forms and stylistic periods, as well as film score compositional developments including instrumentation, theme structures, diegetic (part of the film’s narrative sphere) and non-diegetic (purely soundtrack) music, music as narrative participant, subliminal commentary, and music as iconographic character. Films viewed will include those with soundtracks by major 20th-century composers and specialized soundtrack composers. The course is designed for varying levels of musical knowledge; reading musical notation is helpful but not necessary. (Offered annually)

206 Opera as Drama “That opera is properly a musical form of drama, with its own individual dignity and force,” informs the content and structure of this course. The central issue of the relationship of words to music and form to meaning and their continuing reinterpretations is examined with respect to solutions offered by Monteverdi, Pergolesi, Gluck, Mozart, Verdi, Wagner, and Berg. Music moves the psyche on several levels simultaneously; it is more holistic than the linearity of verbal syntax can ever be. The ability to follow a score in a rudimentary manner is desirable. (Offered periodically)

207 Big Band to Bossa, Bop to Blues: a History of Jazz This course studies the development of contemporary styles and techniques in jazz and American popular music of the Western hemisphere since 1900. (Offered annually)

209 Women in Music This course surveys the careers and works of women composers and performers, primarily of European art music and American popular music, from Antiquity to the present day. Issues explored will include women’s achievements and contributions, women’s roles as composers, patrons and performers, portrayals of women in opera, feminist musical criticism, cultural values that have affected women's participation in musical life, and the way in which women present themselves publicly as women and as artists. (Offered periodically)

213 Musical Aesthetics This course introduces students to the aesthetic tradition in music by examining its most important and enduring claims. Musical aesthetics is a branch of philosophy whose goal is to provide persuasive answers to questions about music's nature, purpose, and value: What is art? What is the nature of aesthetic experience? What is a musical work, and what determines its value? What is the relationship between music and other art forms? How would music function in an ideal society? Over the course of the semester, students will critically engage some of the most canonical answers to these questions, and learn to apply them to musical works from a variety of time periods and traditions. (Ability to read music helpful but not required.)

214 Music Criticism in Theory and Practice This course draws from recent critical theory to uncover diverse ways of experiencing, interpreting, and articulating musical meaning. The course combines theoretical and practical components. As budding critical theorists, students will become literate in major contemporary "isms,"-including Structuralism, Post-Structuralism, Formalism, Queer Theory, Semiotics, Race Studies, and Postcolonial Theory-interrogating the beliefs, agendas, and biases that underlie these schools and their applications to music. As practicing music critics, students will generate and articulate individual responses to a variety of musical works-including those by Mozart, Beethoven, Berlioz, Chopin, Shostakovich, Gerschwin, Coltrane, Madonna, Ice Cube, and Radiohead-- in dialogue with the critical methods studies over the course of the semester. Through these combined efforts , students will come to view a musical work as a many-sided entity supporting multiple interpretations; they will grapple with the continuum between objective and subjective experience, and be able to locate interpretive moments on that continuum; and they will deepen their appreciation and understanding of music, while making visible and interrogating their own-as well as broader cultural-biases and tastes.

215 Music and Race in U. S. Popular Culture This course uses music as a lens to examine race and racism in the cultural, political, and economic arenas of the United States from 1900 to the present day. Through non-technical analysis of selected examples from the U.S. popular canon, students will learn to identify ways in which music and performative gesture underscored, subverted, and sometimes transcended racial stereotypes. Through focused engagement with topics including (1) Primitivism in the Jazz Age of the 1920s; (2) Black Power, white Money , and 1960s Soul; (2) Gender, Sexuality and Gangsta Rap; and (4) Racial Cross-Dressing- Minstrelsy from Jim Crow to Eminem, students will learn to hear discourses of race and identity that reside below the surface of popular music in the United States while developing analytical tools for engaging music as an expression of cultural identity.

216 Musics of Asia Interest in the performing arts of Asian cultures—music, theatre, and dance—on the part of Europeans can be traced back to 18th century notions of enlightenment and universality and to increased contacts with Asia through trade and colonization. The Exhibition of 1889 introduced European audiences to Indonesian percussion orchestras, melodic intricacies of Indian raga, and the stylized movement of “Siamese” dance. Asian performing arts have unique, valid approaches to the organization of sound and time. Among the repertories studied are the classical music and dance of India, Indonesian gamelan, Chinese Opera, and the theatrical traditions of Japan. (Offered periodically)

217 Folk and Traditional Music of Africa and the Americas The ethnic, folk, and traditional musics of the Western continents fall into two groups: music found in cultures and regions having an urban, professional, cultivated “art” tradition, or music of non-literate, “primitive” peoples affected marginally by literate cultures. The first helped develop popular styles in the 20th century. The second provides richness in understanding the role music and the other performing arts play in shaping a culture’s view of itself and the surrounding world. Among the repertories studied are Navajo ceremonial music, ritual music from the Guinea Coastal area of Africa, Afro American blues and work songs, ballad traditions of Appalachia, Andean music, Caribbean Carnival, and Afro Brazilian dances. (Offered periodically)

231 Tonal and Chromatic Theory This course focuses on chromatic harmony of 19th century Western art music, including modulation to chromatically related and non-diatonic keys and altered chords. There is a strong emphasis on all aspects of part writing, and on aural comprehension of theoretical concepts and the performance of more complex melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic materials. Prerequisite: MUS 121 or permission of the instructor. (Offered annually)

232 Advanced Chromatic Theory and Counterpoint This course focuses on chromatic harmony of 19th century Western art music, including modulation to chromatically related and non-diatonic keys and altered chords. There is continued emphasis on aural comprehension of theoretical concepts, part writing, and the performance of more complex melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic materials, including counterpoint of the 18th and 19th centuries. Prerequisite: MUS 231, or permission of the instructor. (Offered annually)

400 Orchestration In this study of the ranges and timbres of orchestral instruments with reference to symphonic
scoring, students arrange for small ensembles and full orchestra. Prerequisite: permission of instructor. (Offered

401 Form and Analysis This course offers a survey of selected methods of musical analysis, including the traditional
approaches to studying form developed by Leon Stein and Douglas Greene, La Rue’s style analysis, Schenker’s system
for tracing the underlying tonal structure of pieces, and Perle’s handling of serial procedures and atonality. Each of the analytical systems is applied to representative works drawn from the six major style periods of Western art music. Prerequisite: MUS 231 or permission of the instructor. (Offered alternate years)

450 Independent Study

460 Seminar in Music History This seminar provides in depth study of selected areas within the history of Western music. Subjects vary from year to year. Topics may focus on the works of a single composer (i.e., Mozart’s operas, Stravinsky’s ballets, Bach’s cantatas) or specific themes (i.e., text/music relationships). Stylistic and formal analysis of music is integrated with European social and cultural history. Requirements include active participation in discussion and research projects. Students are expected to write two substantive papers. Prerequisite: permission of instructor. (Offered alternate years)

495 Honors

Course Offered as Needed:
BIDS          298           The Ballet Russes: Modernism and the Arts

MUS         906           Cello (Bass)
MUS         907           Jazz Saxophone (Mandel)
MUS         908           Violin/Viola (Zaplatynsky)
MUS         909           Flute (Oberbrunner)
MUS         910           Piano (Christiansen, Heaton, Ralston, or Slocum)
MUS         911           Voice (Angela Calabrese, Murphy, or W. Trowbridge)
MUS         914           Woodwinds (Berta)
MUS         916           Organ (Hamilton)
MUS         917           Guitar (Meyer or Wachala)
MUS         918           Drums (Curry)
MUS         919           Jazz Piano (Barbuto)
MUS         927           Percussion (Anthony Calabrese)

See the Department of Music's webpage for additional information related to taking private lessons.

MUS         920           Jazz Ensemble (Barbuto)
MUS         922           Classical Guitar Ensemble (Meyer)
MUS         923           Jazz Guitar Ensemble (Wachala)
MUS         924           Percussion Ensemble (Anthony Calabrese)
MUS         926           Colleges Woodwind Ensemble (Olivieri)
MUS         930           Colleges Chorale* (Cowles)
MUS         935           Colleges Community Chorus (Staff)
MUS         940           Colleges Brass Ensemble (J. Trowbridge)
MUS         945           Colleges String Ensemble (Zaplatynsky)

*Members of the Colleges Chorale may be considered for membership additionally in the Colleges Cantori, a chamber vocal ensemble. Cantori is a not-for-credit ensemble.

Note: Students who take private lessons receive one-half course credit per semester. Likewise, students who participate in the Colleges Chorale, Colleges Community Chorus, Classical Guitar, Jazz Guitar, Percussion, String, Woodwind, Brass, or Jazz Ensembles receive one-half course credit per semester.