In addition to ensemble participation, many of the Conservatory classes are open to students of all backgrounds - be that extensive musical training or simply a love of listening!


Listed below are is a list of courses in Music History, Music Composition, and Music Theory that are open to all students. Note that these courses will change year to year.


Courses available for the 2014-2015 school year:

MUHI 210:  Topics:  The Beatles

A survey of The Beatles' career from their formation and early development, rise to superstardom, and influence in popular music in the 1960s, to their subsequent adoration as cultural icons. Discussions will center on presentations of audio and video clips, and simple analyses of music and lyrics relating socio-cultural, political, and other extra-musical factors to popular music.

Prereq:  Sophomore standing

MUHI 210:  Topics:  History of Recorded Sound

Since the late nineteenth century, the history of music has been tied inextricably to the history of recorded sound. In this course, we will consider the ways that the experience of recorded sound, from the earliest days of the recording industry to the iPod era, has shaped past and current practices of listening, performing, and contemplating music. Specific topics include: the development and cultural history of recording and playback technologies, recordings as documents of changing practices of classical music performance, tape music composition, sampling, and turntablism.

Junior standing required.

MUHI 491:  Intro to World Music and Culture

This course offers the opportunity to explore music and music cultures in a variety of ways and to increase your understanding of and appreciation for musics from around the world. We will discuss what music means to different people, how this relates to issues of ethnic, national, and gender identity, and how music traditions are changing due to forces of globalization. We will also discuss current ethnomusicological and anthropological theories that can help explain and analyze different contexts and understandings of music and why music is so important in human life. Students will apply these ideas in conducting their own musical ethnographic projects.

Prereq:  Sophomore standing or consent of the instructor

MUHI 494:  Music and the Environment

In many societies around the world, people use music to connect with nature, specific places, and surrounding environments. This course will explore music performance practices and repertoire that expresses or enacts these connections. Case studies will include songlines and Australian Aboriginal land claims, North American protest songs, and the intimate relationships between music and nature of the BaAka people in central Aftrica and among the Kakuli people in Papua, among others.

Prereq:  Sophomore standing or consent of instructor

MUHI 493:  Music and Gender in Cross-Cultural Perspective

This course examines the relationship between the constructions of gender identities and music performance and practice, and looks at history and development of approaches, theories, and studies regarding this relationship. Each week contains theoretical readings from gender studies, women’s studies, or feminist scholarship as well as ethnomusicological case studies from a variety of locations around the world.

Prereq:  Sophomore standing

MUHI 470:  Topics:  Music of the Middle East

This course will introduce the main aspects of Arab, Turkish, and Persian art, folk, and popular musics. Students will become familiar with Middle Eastern tuning systems, rhythmic patterns, formal structures, and performance practices. We will also look at music’s role in society in these regions as well as among diasporic populations, and explore music’s connections to other areas of social, religious, and political life.

Prereq:  Sophomore standing

MUHI 210:  Topics:  The Rise of Rock and Roll

Growing out of the need for the young generation to have a voice separate from the influence of their parents, Rock-and-Roll will be studied from its genesis in the mid-50s, combining influences from R&B, Country, and Pop, through the variety of sub-genres in the 60s to the punk and disco movements in the 70s that attempted to return R/R to its simpler origins and functions. Movers and shakers who shaped the growth and acceptance of R/R as a popular artistic culture as well as the multitude of social, political, and racial challenges that influenced popular music will be the basis of discussions in class.

Prereq:  Sophomore standing

Click here for the Music History schedule for 2014-2015!

Music Composition

MUCA 100:  Fundamentals of Composition

An introduction to the craft of music composition open to students with some background in music. Taught as a small class, the course will introduce basic compositional techniques to students with limited background in composition. Individualized compositional projects will be complemented by group listening and analysis. Does not satisfy any requirement for the theory/composition major.

The ability to read music is required to take this course and students need to take MUTH 100:  Music Theory for Non-Majors.

MUCA 110:  Introduction to Electronic Music

Through hands-on composition-based projects, the course explores electronic and computer music in the context of the contemporary art music tradition as well as various popular idioms. Topics include digital audio sampling and editing, digital signal processing, sound synthesis, MIDI sequencing, and multi-track sound mixing. Discussions engage the integral role of technology in shaping our musical culture as well as the history of electronic music.

The ability to read music is not required to take this course.

Click here for the Music Composition schedule for 2014-15!

Music Theory

MUTH 100:  Music Theory for the Non-Major

An introduction to the fundamentals of music: notation, scales, intervals, chords, keys, and basic harmonic and contrapuntal concepts. Improvement of reading skills and performance through an understanding of music’s structure and notation. Does not apply toward any music major. Units: 3.

Other music theory courses (e.g., MUTH 201, 211, 221) may be available to non-music majors based on their previous experience as determined by the music theory placement exam.  Interested students should contact Professor Biringer (

Click here for the Music Theory schedule for 2014-15!

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