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 2016-2017 school year:


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

Focusing on a small number of major works drawn from the canon of Western classical music, this course provides an introduction to the big questions and methodologies that are central to the discipline of music history. Students will have the opportunity to study in depth a series of fascinating, complex, thought-provoking works (symphonies, operas, and ballets) by composers including Bach, Mozart, Mahler, Stravinsky, Shostakovich, and Copland. This course is for non-majors; no previous musical experience is expected.

No prereq

MUCO 210:  Topics:  The Blues

The course explores topics in the history of African American blues music, from the late 19th century to the present, including: the early recorded history of the blues, "classic" blues singers, the blues revival, boogie woogie, jump blues, and rhythm and blues. In addition to studying various blues genres, we will study blues forms and styles in the context of jazz, European modernist music, African American classical music, American musical theater and opera, and rock ’n’ roll. Not open to students who have completed, or need to complete this topic under MUCO 450.

Prereq:  Sophomore standing

MUCO 210:  Topics:  The History of Recorded Sound

Since the late nineteenth century the history of music has been inextricably tied to the history of recorded sound. In this course we will study the history of sound recording and examine the impact of recorded sound on practices of composing, performing, and listening to music. To supplement our analysis of historical recordings and tape music compositions we will read and discuss essays and articles by composers and performers, as well as material and cultural histories of recorded sound. Not open to students who have completed, or need to complete this topic under MUCO 450.

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 493:  Music and Gender in Cross-Cultural Perspective (G, D)

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

MUCO 470:  Topics:  Music of India

This course will cover aspects of North and South Indian classical, folk, and popular musics. Students will become familiar with Indian tuning systems, rhythmic patterns, formal structures, and performance practices. We will explore music’s role in society in India as well as among diasporic populations, and explore music’s connections to other areas of artistic, social, spiritual, 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 2016-2017!

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 2016-17!

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 2016-17!

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 2016-17!

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