Dean Pertl teaching the didgeridoo

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

Listed below are courses in Musicology, Music Composition, Music Theory, Music Education and more that are open to all students. Note that these courses will change year to year.


Courses are subject to change:

MUCO 160/THAR 425:  Advance of the 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 110:  Topics:  Big Works, Big Questions

This course introduces some of the big questions and methodologies that are central to the discipline of music history. Students will explore in depth a small number of musical works of the Western classical and popular traditions: one sacred choral work, one opera, one symphony, one ballet, one concept album. Students will develop critical listening skill and the ability to articulate observations and ideas about musical texts and performances. No previous music instruction or expertise is assumed.

No prereq

MUCO 211:  Introduction to Musicologies I

This course is the first in a two-term sequence that takes an interdisciplinary approach to the study of music, drawing upon fields such as ethnomusicology, music history, popular music studies, sound studies, cultural studies, music hermeneutics, gender studies, critical race theory, post-colonial studies, historiography and performance studies. We will explore musical styles, practices, functions, meanings and values in cross-cultural and transhistorical contexts. We will develop--and think critically about--the power of engaging actively, intensively and creatively with questions, ideas and sources.

Prereq:  MUTH 251 or consent of instructor

MUCO 212:  Introduction to Musicologies II

This course is the second in a two-term sequence that takes an interdisciplinary approach to the study of music, drawing upon fields such as ethnomusicology, music history, popular music studies, sound studies, cultural studies, music hermeneutics, gender studies, critical race theory, post-colonial studies, historiography and performance studies. We will explore musical styles, practices, functions, meanings and values in cross-cultural and transhistorical contexts. We will develop--and think critically about--the power of engaging actively, intensively and creatively with questions, ideas and sources.

Prereq:  MUCO 211

MUCO 495:  Methods, Theories, and Debates in 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:  MUCO 212 or MUCO 202 or ANTH 110 or consent of instructor

MUCO 225:  Music in the Monastery

This course examines intersections of music and art in pre- and early-modern monasteries. Students will gain facility analyzing visual and musical traditions as we explore themes such as the cosmos and community, gender, and the Christian body politic. Students will learn about varied disciplinary approaches to chant and polyphony, architecture and sculpture, the politics of enclosure, and practices of faith and spirituality, among other topics.

Prereq:  Sophomore standing

MUCO 470:  Topics:  Music of India (G)

We will explore aspects of North and South Indian classical musics and dance in this course, and touch on folk and popular musics as well. Students will become familiar with Indian tuning systems, rhythmic patterns, formal structures, and performance practices. We will examine music’s role in society in India as well as among diasporic populations, and investigate music’s connections to other areas of artistic, social, spiritual, and political life.

Prereq:  MUCO 212 or MUCO 202 or consent of instructor

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

MUCO 232/ANTH 332:  Signifying Identity: The Semiotics of Embodying Musical Genre Affiliations (D)

The exploration of how people embody and display their identities as they relate to musical genres. From Doc Martens to zoot suits, body mod to makeup, we will learn about the semiotics of musical genre affiliations, paying attention to how embodied expressions of affiliation intersect with different aspects of identities such as ethnicity, queerness, or race. Class includes discussions, projects, and speakers.

Prereq:  Sophomore standing

Click here for the Musicology schedule for 2021-2022!

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 2021-22!

Music Theory

MUTH 100:  Music Theory for the Non-Major

An introduction to the fundamentals of music theory—notation, scales, intervals, chords, keys, basic harmony and counterpoint—and their practical application in analysis, composition, and performance.  No previous musical experience required.  Course 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 2021-22!

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

MUEP 280:  The Entrepreneurial Musician

A broad introduction to entrepreneurship for musicians, dancers, thespians, visual artists, and other interested students. This course aspires to give students the tools and the mindset to become agents of innovative, entrepreneurial change, social entrepreneurs or entrepreneurial artists. After presenting a social science view of entrepreneurship, the course will feature faculty from a variety of disciplines as well as visiting entrepreneurs. This is a project-oriented course with extensive speaking that will challenge convention, push you to new realms of creative thought, and stretch the boundaries of collaborative learning. Are you ready to unleash the power of the liberal arts?

No prereq

Click here for the Music Education and Pedagogy schedule for 2021-22!

Music Repertoire-Performance Study

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.

No prereq

MURP 110:  Topics:  Song Making

A class for anyone with strong interests in creating songs. We'll explore songwriting from an insider/outsider perspective in the context of pop/alternative/experimental, with an emphasis on traditional songwriting forms and contemporary presentation options. The propagation of songs via digital media, with visual components, will be a central topic. Students will engage in workshops, discussions of readings, interactions with distinguished guest speakers, and generous playing of our songs to each other. Final exam concert.

Prereq:  approval of instructor

MURP 121:  Sound Lab--Topics:  American Roots Music

This course will focus on the early to mid 20th century American music traditions from blues to string band to regional folk musics that were the forerunners of modern rock, blues, country, and hip hop traditions.  The course will also explore the contemporary traditions influenced by American roots music.

No prereq

Click here for the Music Repertoire-Performance Study schedule for 2021-22!


MUDA/THAR 132:  Ensemble Thinking

A Dance course. Ensemble Thinking is a system of physical, improvisational, group exercises that provides organizing lenses through which we observe and participate in movement and performance. Using this technique, we will develop awareness and listening skills for relating to others, build a common language, and practice collaboratively creating dances. Through embodied studio investigations, this course introduces students to dance composition.

No prereq

MUDA/THAR 134:  Contact Improvisation

Contact Improvisation is a partnering dance form that explores movement possibilities created when two or more individual bodies are touching and/or sharing weight, balance, or support. The practice of Contact Improvisation encourages the development of self-responsibility, awareness, clear physical communication, and a strong, versatile body. A rigorous dance lab, we will experiment with action, physics, and listening.

No prereq

MUDA/THAR 136:  Embodied Creative Practice

This is a course designed to build your creative muscle. In the supportive community of this class, we will access your individual story, writing, drawing, movement, and voice to create and perform for each other often. Employing diverse performance techniques and referencing various readings, we will discover and craft our unique inspirations, directions, and experience.

No prereq

MUDA/THAR 138:  Articulating the Solo Body

Based in ReWire/Dancing States and other contemporary techniques, this course will build a movement foundation for the solo dancing body. In the studio, we will work with clarity, speed, and precision to develop a versatile and conscious dancer. We will also explore topics such as performance, intention, and habits while dancing.

No prereq

MUDA/THAR 220:  Musicians in Movement

In this course, we will experiment with various ways movement interacts with music. Topics will be explored from a movement perspective and include- composing music for dance, using space to enhance or alter music performance, dancing while playing music, and attending to the motion of making music. With collaborative guests.

Prereq:  Some music improvisation/composition ability

Click here for the Music-Dance schedule for 2021-22!