Dean Pertl teaching the didgeridoo

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


Courses available for the 2017-2018 school year:

MUCO 160/THAR 425:  American Musical

A study of this uniquely American theatrical form as it develops in response to our culture throughout the 20th century and into the 21st. Ability to read music helpful, but not required.

Prereq:  Sophomore standing or consent of instructor

MUCO 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

MUCO 210:  Topics:  The Blues

A history of the blues as an African American musical practice, emphasizing early commercial and archival recordings, and tracing the development of blues forms and styles throughout the 20th century. Not open to students who have completed, or need to complete this topic under MUCO 450.

Prereq:  Sophomore standing

MUCO 495:  Introduction to Ethnomusicology (G)

This course will cover the history of the field of ethnomusicology, key debates, influential scholars, and significant case studies. Important concepts will include fieldwork methods, organology (the study of musical instruments), tuning systems, transcription, and issues in applied ethnomusicology. This course will be particularly helpful to students considering graduate work in ethnomusicology.

Prereq:  Sophomore standing

MUCO 120:  Introduction to Jazz History

An exploration of the musical development and cultural impact of jazz from its origins to the present.

No prereq

MUCO 221/GEST 221:  Music and Gender (D)

This course will explore the relationship between music and gender in the Western world from the Middle Ages to the present. Considering classical and popular music, including music videos and film, as well as writings about gender and music, we will explore music's role as a reflection of, reaction to, and active participant in gender construction.  Not open to students who have completed, or need to complete this topic under MUCO 421.

Prereq:  Sophomore standing

MUCO 490:  Topics:  Music and Politics

What makes music a particularly effective tool for creating – and resisting – social and political bonds? We will examine music’s role in constructing senses of nationalism and patriotism, in protest and critique, and in both torture and healing.

Prereq:  Sophomore standing

MUCO 470:  Topics:  Music of the Middle East (G)

This course will cover 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 artistic, social, religious, and political life.

Prereq:  Sophomore standing

MUCO 471:  Performing Arts of Bali (G)

This course explores the intersections of Balinese music, dance, drama, and ritual. Discussions will include how globalization, tourism, and economic and religious tensions affect the arts and performer’s lives. Students will have hands-on experience learning to play Balinese gamelan instruments.

Prereq:  Sophomore standing

MUCO 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 Musicology schedule for 2017-2018!

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.

The ability to read and write music is required to take this course; one term of music theory or the equivalent is strongly recommended.

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 2017-18!

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 2017-18!

Music Education and Pedagogy

MUEP 373:  The Brain, Music, and Optimal Performance

The course will highlight how sensory and motor systems function from the practical perspective of neural anatomy and how we, through the application of cognitive psychology and perceptual-motor skills may optimize our performance in an ideal performing state.

Prereq:  Junior standing

Click here for the Music Education and Pedagogy schedule for 2017-18!


MURP 120: Deep Listening Lab

Deep Listening is a practice championed by Pauline Oliveros, one of America's most prominent experimental composers. Oliveros once described the practice as listening to all things at all times in every way possible.  Incorporating aspects, of movement, contemplative practice, improvisation, collaboration, and intensive listening, this course will have applications to areas as diverse as Environmental Science, Religious Studies, and Music.

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