Please see below for detailed information on the courses offered this year.

If you have recently taken the music theory placement test, see the music theory placement page for information that may be helpful to your decision making process.

Courses by term:

Check the course schedules/descriptions available via the Registrar's Office for the official schedules for the widest range of terms for which such information is available.

All Courses

The department offers a variety of undergraduate courses. Below is a complete list of all music (MUSC) undergraduate courses that have been offered.

NOTE: Not all of these courses are offered in any given year. Courses are 4 credits unless noted otherwise.

MUSC 100—Experiencing Music

A new approach to "music appreciation" that could be offered only at the U of R, with its extraordinary musical resources, including nearly 800 concerts and recitals per year, a professional-quality recording studio, and the largest academic music library in the New World.  This enjoyable course celebrates the "ears-on" experience of various aspects of musical performance and assumes no previous technical training in music.  Participants will develop listening skills through the enjoyment of live musical presentations, in-class performances, discussions with the performers and living composers and guided listening sessions.  Students will attend some rehearsals and concerts, including at least one Rochester Philharmonic concert at the Eastman Theatre.  Web sites and other technological media will also be used in lieu of text.  (Alternate Spring Semesters)

MUSC 101—Elements of Music

A course for the student with no previous musical experience.  Topics covered include notation, intervals, chords, and other basic concepts of tonal harmony, with application to the study of a wide range of styles including popular idioms.

Students should not be able to read music.  Students who complete MUSC 110 may NOT enroll in MUSC 101. Credit will NOT be given for both.  (Fall and Spring)

MUSC 104—Carillon

Private carillon instruction, weekly 30-minute lessons or the equivalent.

By audition only.  Permission of instructor required. (2 credits)

MUSC 109—Intro to Musicianship: Literacy Skills

This course introduces students to basic musicianship skills.  The course begins with exercises in pitch matching and basic interval recognition and progresses toward other skills, such as singing simple melodies at sight, sight-reading various rhythmic patterns, and dictating simple melodies and chord progressions.

We recommend that prospective music majors, especially those with prior singing experience skip this course and begin with MUSC 113.  (Fall and Spring)  (1 credit)

MUSC 110—Introduction to Music Theory

Basic concepts of music theory, addressing students with some musical experience in an instrument or voice, but little or no music theory.  Scales, keys, intervals, chords, basic part-writing, and other fundamental aspects of musical structure.  Some ear training and aural skills.

Prerequisite: The ability to read music, preferably in both treble and bass clefs.

Students who have completed MUSC 101 may NOT register for MUSC 110.  Students should not be able to read music.  Students who complete MUSC 110 may NOT enroll in MUSC 101.  Credit will NOT be given for both.  (Fall and Spring)

MUSC 111—Theory I

This course introduces students to essential aspects of music theory, including harmony, rhythm and meter, melody, form, and texture.  The course will draw upon music from a variety of styles and genres, including pop, rock, jazz, musical theater, film music, and “classical” music.  Prospective music majors should begin their theory requirement with this course.

Prerequisites: MUSC 101, 110 or permission of instructor (placement test).  (Fall only)

MUSC 112—Theory II

This course focuses on the same broad topics as MUSC 111, and draws from a similarly varied repertoire, but introduces more complex concepts, including chromatic harmony and scales, advanced formal analysis, key changes, elaborate rhythmic and metric patterns, and intricate textural layering.

Prerequisite: MUSC 111.  (Spring only)

MUSC 113—Musicianship I

This course develops basic musicianship skills with an emphasis of diatonic sight-singing, rhythmic sight-reading, and dictation of diatonic melodies and chord progressions.  The exercises and in-class activities are similar to MUSC 109 but at a more advanced level.

(Fall and Spring) (1 credit)

MUSC 114—Musicianship II

Continuation of MUSC 113 with an increased emphasis on chrom- aticism, especially simple modulation and mode mixture. The course puts emphasis on ensemble singing and aural analysis.

Prerequisites: MUSC 113 or permission of theory coordinator.  (Fall and Spring) (1 credit)

MUSC 115—Musicianship III

Continuation of MUSC 114 with greater emphasis on chromaticism and aural analysis.

Prerequisite: MUSC 114.  (Fall and Spring) (1credit)

MUSC 116—Keyboard Skills I

Introduces students to the keyboard as a vehicle for broader musical development.  Covers basic piano technique, sight-reading of simple chord progressions, realization of figured bass, and basic improvisation.  No prior keyboard training required.

Permission of instructor required.  (Fall and Spring) (2 credits)

MUSC 117—Keyboard Skills II

Continuation of MUSC 116.  Students completing this course fulfill the piano proficiency for the music major.

Prerequisite: MUSC 116.  Permission of instructor required.  (Fall and Spring) (2 credits)

MUSC 118—Beginning Piano for Non-Music Majors I

Elective course for non-music majors from River Campus with no previous keyboard instruction and cannot read music.  The course will include technique, fundamental skills, and repertoire.

*NOTE: limited seating due to keyboard availability, no additional students taken once the sessions are full.  Classes on ESM campus.

See ESM website for info on start date, cancellations, etc;             (Fall only) (2 credits)

MUSC 119—Beginning Piano for Non-Music Majors II

Continuation of MUSC 118. *See note above.  (Spring) (2 credits)

MUSC 121—World Music in Context

In this introductory course, students will engage with a variety of musical genres, instruments, and performance techniques from different areas of the world.  Through reading assignments, listening examples, film clips, and participatory activities, students will study how people in difference places engage with music as a sonic and social practice.  Students will also learn how to write about music as a form of social practice through short reading responses and structured essay assignments.  No prerequisites.  (Spring or Fall)

MUSC 123—Music of Black Americans

This course will focus on the development of African American music from the 19th century through the latter part of the 20thcentury. We will study how African American music can be used a lens through which to understand the black American experience and the social and political landscape of American society as a whole. The historical, social, economic, and musical factors of various black American music genres will be examined with the aim to understand how African Americans constructed identity and interpreted the world around them.  We will also discuss the performative aspects of these genres in order to understand how black music artists used their bodies and asserted their agency through performance on stage.  Genres to be explored include the 19thcentury spiritual, the blues, gospel, jazz, early rock and roll, soul music, funk, rhythm and blues, and hip hop, among others.  (Fall only)

MUSC 124—Signed Sealed & Delivered: Deals & Innovations that Changed the Music Industry Forever

A look at the historical deals and innovations that have impacted the music business between 1877 to present.  From ground breaking inventions to brilliant marketing initiatives to hushed back-room deals, this course will expose the key moments where the record industry changed forever, both for good and bad.  (2 credits)

MUSC 125—History of Rock Music

This course will explore the history of rock music, emphasizing primarily the period between 1955 and 1990.  The periods preceding (1900-1955) and following (1990-present) will also be considered to a limited extent.  Discussion and reading will focus mostly on the music, identifying a wide variety of rock-music styles within the historical context of the development, transformation, and interaction of pop styles of these decades in general.  Issues of technological development, social, political, and cultural context, race and gender, and music-business practices will also be considered.

No prerequisites: Knowledge of technical musical terms and ability to read music are NOT required.

MUSC 126—Opera

A small number of representative operas will be used to highlight the history of this controversial 400-year old art form and its creators, performers, and audiences.  Drama, music, staging, spectacle, and dance will be examined as components of production.  Divas welcome.

Prerequisite: Ability to read music.

MUSC 128—Film Music

This course will trace the history of music in film from the inception of silent motion pictures in the late 19th century to present-day productions. Will consider how the aural and visual aspects of the medium interact dramatically and how the music can enhance or otherwise influence interpretation of what is happening on the screen.

MUSC 129—The Rolling Stones and British Blues-Rock

The music of the Rolling Stones is examined, starting with the earliest music from 1962 and extending to the early 1970s.  Emphasis will be on the band's stylistic development, as well as on the British blues movement of the early to mid 1960s.  The music of other blues-based British groups, including Blues Incorporated, the Yardbirds, the Animals, the Bluesbreakers, Cream, and Led Zeppelin, will also be considered.

No previous training or ability to read music is required.

MUSC 130—The Beatles, the British Invasion, and Psychedelia

The history of the Beatles career and music is explored in the context of the band’s stylistic development, as well as against the backdrop of social, cultural, technical, and music-business events and issues of the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

No background in music theory or ability to play a musical instrument is required.

MUSC 131—Rock Music in the 1970’s

This course will survey rock music in the 1970s, paying special attention to ways in which 70s styles developed out of 60s styles.  Artists considered will include Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Yes, Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Allman Brothers, The Eagles, Black Sabbath, The Cars, Tom Petty, The Sex Pistols and Elvis Costello, plus many more.

No previous musical training required.

MUSC 132—StarMakers: Inside the Publicity Machine

Will include a historical overview of music stars and the publicity campaigns used to promote their careers.  From Frank Sinatra-1940s; through Elvis Presley;-1950s; through The Beatles & The Rolling Stones in the 1960s, up through self-indulgent 70s with acts like Elton John, Kiss, and Prince, up to today's high profile campaigns for Justin Bieber, Rhianna and Lady Gaga.  Students will be versed in the art of writing an artist bio, press releases, and in the various types of Public Relations events staged to gain publicity.  Starmakers will also look at the various types of publicity such as career launching; crisis management (scandals; sudden death of celebrity) and tour press.  We will also look at how social media has become a game changer for music publicity.  (2 credits)

MUSC 133—Musical Theater Workshop

Intensive practical experience with scene-and-song work in the repertory of popular musical theater genres.  Weekly rehearsals and critique sessions, with emphasis on characterization, technical skills, sub-textual dimensions, and stylistic considerations.  Some reading assignments, but emphasis is on the preparation for performance.  Initial and concluding videotaping of "audition piece".

Prerequisite: One year of voice instruction; permission of instructor (by audition).  (Spring only)

MUSC 134—Style and Genre: Introduction to Music History

An introduction to the history of Western classical music from the Middle Ages to the present, with emphasis on recognition of the chief stylistic characteristics and understanding of major genres of each period.

Prerequisite: MUSC 112 or permission of instructor.  (Fall and Spring)

MUSC 135A—American Musical Theater

A historical and critical survey of the Broadway musical, with a focus on its so-called Golden Age (from Oklahoma! to Cabaret).  Weekly listening, reading, and video assignments with analysis of dramaturgy, lyric and musical forms, process of adaptation and production, modes of performance.

Prerequisite: ability to read music or strong background/interest in musical theater.  (Alternate Spring semesters)

MUSC 135B—Sondheim and the Modern Musical Theater

A historical and critical survey of the American musical theater from roughly 1960 to the present, as reflected principally in the works of composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim and/or producer/director Harold Prince.  Analysis of lyrics, musical forms and idioms, process of adaptation and production, modes of performance.

Although prior completion of MUSC 135A is recommended, students with a strong background in musical theater will be admitted as well.  (Alternate Fall semesters)

MUSC 136—Exploring Classical Music

This class explores the many genres of Western classical music, with examples drawn from the symphonic repertoire, chamber music, solo keyboard works, opera, choral music, and art song.  Music from the Baroque to the present will be included.  The emphasis will be on music being performed in Rochester during the semester.  No prerequisites.

MUSC 137—Christian Worship in the Reformation

This course equips students to understand the key role of music in shaping the new identities and beliefs of the Christian communities that emerged from the Reformations of the sixteenth century: Lutherans, Calvinists, Anglicans, and Roman Catholics, including colonial societies around the globe.  We will study the link between faith, music, and community in Lutheran chorales and Puritan psalms, Palestrina's masses and J. S. Bach's Passions, and music from colonial Latin America.  In light of theological literature of the time we will study how music served as a form of ritual and prayer for communities and individuals.  This historical knowledge will enable students to understand the roots of livingtraditions of Christian worship today.

No musical or theological background required.

MUSC 138—Intro to Art of Conducting

This course introduces the basics of conducting technique, score study, interpretation, rehearsing, and programming.  While the class will acknowledge differences in leading various ensembles, the focus will be on orchestra conducting.  The class will include the opportunity to lead students in the class in live performance.  As such, students should feel comfortable performing on an instrument or singing as part of a group.  Students must be able to read music and analyze harmonic and formal structures.

Prerequisite: MUSC 112 required. MUSC 211 strongly recommended.  May take concurrently with MUSC 211.  (4 credits)

MUSC 141—Introduction to Audio and Music Engineering

Provides an introduction to the science and technology of audio.  Students will learn about the vibration of strings, musical tuning systems, overtones and timbre, modes of oscillation through the concept of a guitar.  Fourier analysis, transducers and passive electrical components and circuits will be introduced when discussing amps and audio components. Hands on projects introduce the fundamental concepts of electronics, including voltage, current, resistance and impedance, basic circuit analysis, ac circuits, impedance matching, and analog signals.  The course then introduces basic digital signal processing concepts, where they will use Arduinos and Pure Data to learn about conversion of sound to digital format, frequency analysis, digital filtering and signal processing and musical sound synthesis.

AME140 is recommended as an introduction to the Audio and Music Engineering major but is accessible to students of music or other non-technical disciplines who wish to learn the fundamentals of music technology.  (AME 140)

MUSC 142—Music, Poetry, and Song

What happens when we mix music and words?  This course will study the complex and evolving relationship between music and text.  We will study songs from different styles and time periods – art songs, early music, rock, and jazz. We will learn about the rhythm and meter of poetry and how it relates to the basic elements of music.  And we will consider how words and music combine in genres such as opera, musical theater, and modern multimedia.

No prior training in music or poetry is required.

MUSC 143—Story and Narrative in Symphonic Music

This course explores the evolving role of orchestral literature in western music from the Classical period through film music today. Over the semester we examine several large-scale works in depth to better understand their context, structure, and significance. This course includes discussions on interpretation, as well as performance and conducting challenges. While the ability to read music is not required, students should be passionate about classical orchestral repertoire and its changing role over time.

MUSC 145A—African Popular Culture

From Nigerian movies to Zimbabwean dancehall songs, this course uses popular music, dance, film, street art, bus slogans, newspapers and other sources to document African interpretations of contemporary social, political, and cultural issues.  We will let African musicians, writers, directors, and artists guide our investigation into the big questions of the class: Why is the gap between rich and poor in African societies increasing?  What is happening to gender relations?  What do African people think of their political leaders and how do they imagine political situations might improve?  Student projects may include teaching a popular African dance style; performing a popular song or theatrical skit from Africa; organizing a film screening or mini-festival; writing a research paper; or producing a podcast on African popular arts.

MUSC 146—Experience Guinea: Exploration in Drumming, Dance & Historical Context

Kerfala Fana Bangoura will lead this exploration in Dance, Drumming and Historical Context in Guinea, West Africa.  The instructor is a native of Guinea and has been a part of prestigious National companies Les Ballets Africains and Percussion de Guinee.  The instruction will include rhythmic foundations for drummers and dancers and will build knowledge of the djembe, dundun, sangban, kenkeni, krins and bell and how they are used culturally for music and dance. Students will learn style, form, technique, and historical context of the dance right in the midst of the vibrant culture and landscape of Guinea.

MUSC 147—Gospel Music in America

We will examine the historical development of gospel music, beginning with 19th century slave spirituals and ending with an examination of 21st century gospel music practices. Throughout this course, we will attempt to answer the following questions: What is gospel music?  How are the parameters of the genre defined?  How has gospel music participated in constructions of black identity and spiritual formation?  How has the sound and presentation of gospel music evolved – i.e. instrumentation, vocal aesthetic, performance persona, and technique?  Lectures and discussions will also highlight some of the perpetually controversial tensions that have come to define gospel music history and culture.  Such tensions involve the commercialization of gospel music, the ambiguity of lyrical meaning, gospel music’s flirtations with sensuality and sexuality, and debates about what constitutes “authentic” gospel music.

MUSC 148—Choral Music

Choral singing is said to be the most popular form of musical participation in the world.  In the United States alone, more than 42 million people sing in a chorus.  This class will explore this rich world of music-making by examining choral music in both folk and art traditions.  Repertoire will come from four continents and will cover music from the Middle Ages to the present, with both sacred and secular music included.   No prerequisites.

MUSC 161—Media in the Digital Age

This course offers a unique opportunity for students to engage critically with broadcasting and the supporting areas of radio and television industries.  Students will participate in theoretical and practical applications in selected area of focus at Rochester’s public broadcasting organization, WXXI.  These areas include production for news, 1370 Connections, WRUR, Second Opinion, Homework Hotline, music, television, and audio engineering and admin support including accounting, fundraising, web development, social media, and others.  Weekly class meetings cover the basics of broadcasting including history, regulations, and formats of over-the air communications, along with an overview of changes that digital media has brought to traditional broadcasting.

This course requires students spend 8 hours p/week at the WXXI studios and offices in Rochester.  These times are to be arranged by the student, course instructor and WXXI Exec VP Susan Rogers, and the WXXI site supervisor.  Email S. Rogers  (Spring only)

MUSC 162—Music and the Mind

Introduction to the discipline of music cognition.  Topics include empirical methods, psycho-acoustic principles, influence of Gestalt psychology, music and language, metric and tonal hierarchies, music and the brain, aspects of musical development, and research on musical memory, expectation, and emotion.  (TH 260).  (Spring only)

MUSC 163—Musical Theater Skills

Musical Theatre Skills is a course designed to provide intensive practical experience with both scene-and-song work in the American Musical Theatre repertoire. Students will receive weekly coaching and rehearsal, with emphasis on characterization, acting and singing skills, and idiomatic performance practice. While this course has a few readings and writing assignments, emphasis is on performance preparation. This course may culminate in a public showing of work studied over the course of the semester. Permission of instructor (by audition). Previous musical theatre experience is preferred, but not required.

MUSC 167—The Art of the Piano

The piano is perhaps the most played instrument, yet what pianists do can be mystifying to outsiders. This course aims to demystify the professional world of classical piano performance through lectures and discussions, listening exercises, and practical sessions. Students will learn about the history of the piano and its technological development through hands-on experience, guest lectures, and field trips; explore how composers from Bach and Mozart to Chopin and Rachmaninoff approached the piano differently in their music; become connoisseurs of piano technique and performance styles, speaking with insight about what distinguishes pianists like Glenn Gould and Lang Lang. This is not an applied piano class. No prior musical background is required.

MUSC 181—GTR Class: Beyond the Basics

This is an introductory guitar class that will teach guitar fundamentals and get students playing popular, rock, blues, classical, and simple jazz tunes by the end of the semester.  This course is open to all guitar enthusiasts as well as music majors/minors seeking a 'methods class' approach to learning the instrument. Electric and acoustic guitars welcome. Contact Prof Bob Sneider with any questions.  (2 credits)

MUSC 183—GTR Class: Intro to Classical Guitar

Intro to Classical Guitar will introduce students to rudiments of classical guitar technique, including tuning, basic posture and position, chord formation, note reading, and introduction to repertoire.  Basic ensemble techniques will be incorporated into class sessions.  

(2 credits)

MUSC 185—Comics and Music

In Comics and Music, students will explore the intersection between comics/graphic novels and music/sound through formal analyses of each media type and creative overlays of one media type over the other. In order to create consistent assessments regarding this unique multimedia experience, students will examine a variety of comics theories, music analysis concepts, and multimedia concepts in order to effectively adapt them to comics/sound. Students will also engage in a variety of creative projects including creating simple comics pages intended to formally reflect a given piece of music. In order to consistently assess the process and work, students will also write a defense essay for the two largest of these creative projects: the midterm and the final project. Additionally, there will be a variety of assigned readings throughout the semester, each exploring the intersection of these two forms of media. For each of these works, students will write a short critique/analysis/discussion in MyCourses, using concepts from theoretical/analytical texts when appropriate.

MUSC 191—Art and Technology of Recording

This course covers the acoustical and psychoacoustic fundamentals of audio recording including the nature of sound, sound pressure level, frequency and pitch, hearing and sound perception, reflection, absorption and diffusion of sound, sound diffraction, room acoustics, reverberation, and studio design principles.  The course also provides practical experience in audio recording including an introduction to recording studio equipment, microphones and microphone placement techniques, signal flow, amplification, analog and digital recording, analog to digital conversion, digital processing of sound, multi-track recording and an introduction to mixing and mastering.  Each student is required to complete a substantive recording project at the end of the course.  (AME 191)

MUSC 201—Basic Jazz Theory & Improv I

Rudiments of jazz, including chord and scale spellings, chord scale relationships, jazz/pop chord symbol nomenclature, basic forms, chord substitutions, piano voicing; strong emphasis on ear training and vocalization and transcription from records of jazz solos.

Prerequisite: MUSC 111 or permission of the instructor.  (Fall only)  (2 credits)

MUSC 202—Basic Jazz Theory & Improv II

Continuation of MUSC 201.

Prerequisite: MUSC 201 or permission of the instructor.  (Spring only)  (2 credits)

MUSC 204—Carillon

Private carillon instruction, weekly 60-minute lessons.

By audition only.  Permission of instructor required.  (4 credits)

MUSC 205—Music in New Worlds: Global Encounters in the Age of Discoveries, 1492—1800

After 1492, Europeans and other peoples around the globe began to discover each other in new ways, and music played a vital role in their encounters. This course equips students to develop a global perspective on music in the early modern era.  Through case studies in Latin America, New England, China, and Africa, students will gain insight into the ways people use music as an agent of political and religious power in processes of cultural exchange and conflict.  The course examines how missionaries and colonial leaders mixed musical cultures to build new social structures; and how colonial subjects responded creatively, in collaboration or resistance, to shape hybrid identities.  We will study musical practices from both sides of the encounters, including Chinese and Native American musics and exported European practices like religious choral music and popular dances.  Meets in the Robbins Library or hands-on engagement with rare books and manuscripts.

No prior musical knowledge is required.

MUSC 210—Ngoma: Drumming, Dance, and Ritual in Southern Africa

Throughout much of Southern Africa, the word “ngoma” means drum.  It also refers to specific musical styles that combine drumming, dance, and song.  Finally, there is often a ritual dimension to ngoma, which is used in ceremonies focused around individual and social healing.  In this class, students will bring ngoma alive by learning to perform various Zimbabwean ngoma genres, with the option of specializing in either drumming or dance.  Through video clips, audio recordings, photos, and articles, we will also learn to understand ngoma within a larger cultural framework.

MUSC 211—Theory III

Continuation of MUSC 112.  Focuses on analysis of large forms, such as sonata, rondo, and song forms.  Includes advanced study of chromatic harmony and modulation to remote keys.

Prerequisite: MUSC 112.  (Fall only)

MUSC 212—Theory IV

Continuation of MUSC 211.  Explores the theoretical and aesthetic principles of twentieth-century music, especially in relation to earlier compositional procedures. Introduces basic post-tonal theory, including set-class analysis, transformational theory, and serial techniques.

Prerequisite: MUSC 211.  (Spring only)

MUSC 214B—Topics in Music Theory: Analysis of Popular Music

Many people love pop music for its simplicity, but this course will reveal that pop music can often be surprisingly complex in the ways it projects structure and creates musical relationships.  Many dimensions of pop music will be analyzed, including harmony, melody, rhythm and meter, texture, form, recording technique, and text-music relationships.

Prerequisites: MUSC 112.

MUSC 216—Form in Popular Music

This musical analysis course will examine the use of form in American and British popular music of the 20th century.  Examples will be drawn from Tin Pan Alley, stage and film musicals, country, folk, blues, jazz, r & b, rock, and hip hop.

Prerequisite: MUSC 112 or its equivalent.

MUSC 218—Music and Religion

This course equips students to understand how and why people use singing, playing, and dancing to connect human society to supernatural sources of power.  The course is not a comprehensive survey of either music or religion, but instead focuses on case studies that reveal how people in diverse religious traditions across the globe and through history have incorporated music into their beliefs and ritual practices, or how in many cases they have struggled against the dangerous powers of music.  We will pay special attention to music's role in inter-religious encounters, such as in colonial and missionary contexts.  Musical practices studied include chanting, devotional song, South Indian and European Classical music (such as Bach and Messiaen), and contemporary evangelical worship.

MUSC 221—History of Western Music to 1600

Survey of Western classical music through 1600, including the investigation of style, genre, transmission, contemporary theory, patronage, cultural context and meaning, etc.  Workshops deal with topics such as transcription and performance practice.

Prerequisite: Completion of or current enrollment in MUSC 111.  For sophomores and above.  (Fall)  (4 credits)

MUSC 221 fulfills the ULW requirement.

MUSC 222—History of Western Music ca. 1600 through 1800

Survey of Western classical music from ca. 1600 to 1800, with emphasis on the stylistic, generic, and performance innovations of the period; opera receives special attention.  Workshops investigate specific problems posed by notation, performance, ethics, and so on.

Prerequisite: MUSC 221, completion or current enrollment in MUSC 112.  (Spring)  (4 credits)

MUSC 222 fulfills the ULW requirement.

MUSC 223—History of Western Music 1800-present

The history of western art music from approximately 1800 - present, with an emphasis on analysis of the masterpieces of tonal music and their relationship to society and other arts.  Lectures with extensive listening, reading, and analysis.

Prerequisite: MUSC 222, MUSC 212.  (Fall) (4 credits)

MUSC 223 fulfills the ULW requirement.

MUSC 234/434—Music Analysis: The Beatles

This course is designed for upper-level undergraduate music majors and graduate students in music.  We will analyze the music of the Beatles in detail, focusing on issues of form, harmony, textural coordination/stratification, lyrics, instrumentation, rhythm/meter, and production.

River Campus students should have completed MUSC 211, and Eastman students have completed TH 201.

Prerequisite: MUSC 211, TH 201, or the equivalent.

MUSC 235/435—Progressive Rock in the 1970s

This seminar course is designed for graduate and advanced undergraduate students in music who have a strong background in music history and music analysis.  We will closely examine the music of the progressive rock bands of the 1970s, with emphasis on Yes, Genesis, King Crimson, Emerson Lake & Palmer, and Gentle Giant.  Students will transcribe passages, closely analyze the music, and consider the music in terms of issues of form, texture, harmony, melody, instrumentation, as well in relation to a variety of music-historical and aesthetic contexts.

By permission of instructor only.  (Fall or Spring)

MUSC 236/436—Music, Ethnography, and HIV/AIDS

Addressing the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS in the United States, United Kingdom, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Haiti, and elsewhere, this uniquely interdisciplinary course will incorporate insights from the fields of public health, medical anthropology, and ethnomusicology.  Studying the HIV/AIDS epidemic through the lens of musical expression, we will ask how individuals and communities affected by HIV/AIDS have mobilized musical sound in response to the disease.  Topics addressed within the class will include musical representations of HIV/AIDS within queer communities; the use of music in public health campaigns to raise awareness about the disease; and the mobilization of musical performance within grassroots support groups for individuals affected by HIV/AIDS.

Instructor permission required to join course.  Please describe your interest in studying music, ethnography, and HIV/AIDS, as well as any relevant coursework you have completed music, anthropology, public health, African Studies, gender studies, or any other related field.

MUSC 240—Revolutions in Sound: Artistic and Technical Evolution of Sound Recording

This course provides a multifaceted account of the evolution of sound technologies, starting with Edison’s invention of the phonograph in 1877 through the development of microphones, radio, magnetic tape recording, vinyl records, multi-track recording, digital audio, compact discs, the MP3 format, surround sound, online music streaming, and 3D audio.  We will discuss how technology has shaped the musical experience, and, conversely, how the performance of various genres of music, including classical, rock, jazz, hip-hop, and country, has influenced the development of audio technologies.  We will also investigate, drawing from a variety of primary and secondary sources, how certain legendary recordings were produced, including those of Enrico Caruso, Bessie Smith, Les Paul, Louis Armstrong, Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Michael Jackson, and Madonna.  A special topic focuses on spatial audio for virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), binaural recording, and ambisonics.  (AME 240)

MUSC 281/481—Music Analysis: Hollywood Musicals

This course is designed for upper-level undergraduate music majors and graduate students in music. We will analyze the music of Hollywood movie musicals in detail, focusing on issues of form, harmony, lyrics, and character/story in the historical context of American popular music in the 20th century.  Songwriters studied will include Jerome Kern, Richard Rodgers, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Stephen Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Alan Menken and others.

Prerequisite: MUSC 211, TH 201, or the equivalent.


Note: Audition required for most ensembles

MUSC 150—Treble Chorus

A unique collaboration between Eastman and the River Campus, with a 50/50 split of students from each, and performances split between both campuses as well. Rehearsals are held Thursday evenings. An informal voicing is required.

To join, simply register for the class.  Auditions will be held during the first class.  (Fall and Spring)  (1 credit)

MUSC 152—Chamber Singers

A mixed ensemble of 16-20 members that performs a wide variety of choral repertoire from the Renaissance to the present.

By audition only. Auditions are held each semester  Fall and Spring)  (1 credit)

MUSC 153—Symphony Orchestra

URSO (University of Rochester Symphony Orchestra) is a university-civic orchestra whose members are selected from both UR student body and greater Rochester community.  The orchestra has been a vital part of Rochester's cultural community for over 52 years.

Membership is granted by the music director through auditions, which occur prior to the first scheduled rehearsal of each season.  Other auditions may be held as needed throughout the season. Visit the Music Department website for more info.  (Fall and Spring)  (1 credit)

MUSC 154—Chamber Orchestra

URCO (University of Rochester Chamber Orchestra) draws its membership primarily from UR's River Campus student body.

Membership is limited and is granted by the music director through competitive auditions, which occur prior to the first scheduled rehearsal of each season.  Auditions may be held as needed during the academic year.  Additional info  on music dept website/ensembles  (Fall and Spring)  (1 credit)

MUSC 155—Chamber Ensembles

The chamber music program facilitates formation and coaching of serious advanced chamber ensembles.

Admission by permission of the Director.  (Fall and Spring)  (1 credit)

MUSC 156—Wind Symphony

Wind Symphony draws its membership primarily from the student body on River Campus and performs music of various styles, genres, and eras.

Membership by audition only. One rehearsal per week; Expected individual practice.  At least four concerts per academic year.  May also be some off-campus performances locally and on tour.  Attendance required at all rehearsals, dress rehearsals, and concerts, unless excused in advance by conductor.  (Fall and Spring)  (1 credit)

MUSC 157—Jazz Ensemble

The Jazz Ensemble is open by audition to all U of R community, performing a wide variety of music.  Occasional guests artists and clinicians.  (Fall and Spring)  (1 credit)

MUSC 157A—Jazz Combo

Small group playing of selections from the jazz repertoire, with an emphasis on improvisation.

Admission is by permission of instructor only.  (Fall and Spring) (1 credits)

MUSC 158—Gospel Choir

One rehearsal per week.  Two concerts per semester.  In addition, there may be off-campus performances in local colleges, churches, and other venues in the greater-Rochester community.  The Gospel Choir performs a varied repertoire of sacred music - spirituals, hymns, traditional and contemporary Gospel, music of the praise-and-worship genre.  Students may register for credit or simply sing as choir participants.  (Fall and Spring)  (1 credit)

MUSC 159—Gamelan Ensemble

The Eastman Gamelan  performs traditional ceremonial music and new-style music (keybar) from Bali and also new compositions for Gamelan.  (Fall and Spring)  (1 credit)

MUSC 160—Concert Choir

A mixed ensemble of voices that performs a wide variety of choral repertoire for large chorus, including regular performances with orchestra.

An informal voicing is required for all potential members; students must demonstrate the ability to sing in tune and read music.

Prerequisite: Auditions are held each semester.

MUSC 165—Mbira Ensemble

Mbira Ensemble The Eastman Mbira Ensemble provides a hands-on introduction to the ancient and sophisticated musical tradition of the Shona mbira of Zimbabwe.  Visiting Zimbabwean guest artists will also offer students the opportunity to delve more deeply into traditional musical practices and their cultural and spiritual context.  Songs are taught aurally so no musical experience or training is required.  May be repeated for credit.  (Fall and Spring)  (1 credit)

MUSC 168—West African Drumming Intro

Led by Master Drummer Fana Bangoura, the West African Drumming Ensemble is dedicated to the dynamic percussive traditions of Guinea. The ensemble combines the iconic djembe hand drum with a trio of drums played with sticks, known as dunun, sangban, and kenkeni.  The powerful, multi-part relationships established by this trio of drums provide a rhythmic foundation for the ensemble, enabling djembe players to develop technique in executing both accompaniment and solo parts.  Drawing upon his experience as a soloist with the internationally acclaimed groups Les Percussions de Guinée and Les Ballets Africains, Fana engages ensemble players with a wide repertory of music from various regions of Guinea, including the rhythms of the Susu, Malinke, and Baga language groups.  (Fall and Spring)  (1 credit)

MUSC 170—Brass Choir

Brass Choir is a 15-20 member ensemble dedicated to performing quality brass music at a high level while fostering a spirit of community among brass players on the RC.  Open to experienced trumpet, horn, trombone, euphonium, and tuba players.  (Fall and Spring)  (1 credit)

MUSC 180—Rock Repertory Ensemble

The Rock Repertory Ensemble is devoted to performing accurate versions of songs from the rock music repertory, with selections ranging from the early 1950s to the present day.  The class is open to guitarists, bassists, drummers, keyboard players, and singers, with consideration given to winds players depending on repertory for a given semester.

Students must audition for the RRE at the beginning of each term; a sign-up sheet will be posted in the Music Department.  (Fall and Spring)  (1 credit)

MUSC 184—Sansifanyi: West African Dance & Drum Ensemble

Sansifanyi is an ensemble that provides various performance opportunities both on and off-campus for intermediate and advanced students of African dance & drumming.  Instructor Kerfala Bangoura trains ensemble members in a performance style that integrates dance, drumming, vocal song, and narrative elements.  Dancers who enroll in Sansifanyi will learn choreographic techniques for West African dance and gain experience dancing as soloists.  Dancers will also learn focus on rhythmic timing and on drumming while dancing.  Drummers enrolled in Sansifanyi will learn extended percussion arrangements and techniques for accompanying choreography.  They will also learn how to play the breaks required of lead drummers.

Prerequisites: For Drummers one of the following: MUSC168A, MUSC168B, MUSC146 OR to audition, email For Dance, one of the following: DAN181&182, DAN 283, DAN 253, DAN 285.

This course will run simultaneously with DAN 184.  (Fall and Spring)  (1 credit)