The courses below are generally offered in our department.
To view complete course descriptions for the current or the upcoming semester, see the Class Search page.
MUS 10090 — Theory for Non-Majors
An introduction to the materials and structure of Western tonal art music, including pitch, rhythm, meter, scales and keys, intervals, chords, harmonic progressions, voice-leading, and form.
MUS 10131 — Introduction To Jazz
A music appreciation course that requires no musical background and no prerequisites. General coverage of significant musicians, styles, and structures of jazz music.
MUS 10233 — Jazz Improvisation
This introduction to jazz improvisation will study scales, key centers, and chords, in order to develop improvisation skills using melodic and rhythmic variation, chordal and modal techniques, and aural transcriptions of recorded solos.
MUS 10500 — Music Through Technology
Open to all majors, this course covers the evolution of technology for the creation and dissemination of music, ranging from multi-track recording and synthesizer to compression formats for mass consumption. Lab sessions explore digital audio recording and editing, midi technology (sound and notation), and the digital management and distribution of music.
MUS 20001 — Harmony/Voice Leading (Theory I)
A systematic approach to the understanding and manipulation of the basic materials of music. Required of and intended for music majors and minors, but open to students with sufficient musical background.
MUS 20101 — Music History I
A survey of Western music from the middle ages to the beginning of the baroque period. Required of music majors and minors, but open to students with sufficient musical background. MUS 20001 and MUS 20002 recommended before taking this class.
MUS 20112 — Music History II
A survey of Western music from baroque period through the present. Required of music majors and minors, but open to students with sufficient musical background. MUS 20001 and MUS 20002 recommended before taking this class.
MUS 20160 — Music in Film
This course explores film music by studying film scores of select films from the classical Hollywood era to contemporary American cinema. The course combines lectures, small-group discussion, and film screenings to show how film synthesizes many forms of art and communication into a whole greater than the sum of its parts; and how film music raises our threshold between liminal and subliminal forms of rhetoric and communication.
MUS 20162 — Music and the Olympics
This course surveys music's role and history in athletic competitions, training, ceremonies, and celebrations. Students will learn about how music's societal impact and power are evident in women's integration into the Olympics as well as music's role in nationalism and politics.
MUS 20400 — Piano Journeys: Mod./Contemp.
This course explores the worlds of 20th- and 21st-century keyboard music. With a more cultural-historical than technical focus, it covers an eclectic array of composers, styles, genres, and topics, ranging from Schoenberg and Cage to composers of color, from ragtime to minimalism, from appreciation to appropriation, from keyboard accordions to prepared pianos. Prerequisite: Theory I or permission of the instructor.
MUS 20890 — The Business of Music
A historical survey of the synergistic relationship between music and business. Covering major technological, legal, and economic forces influencing the musical arts. This class will address the latest developments by studying historical practices, cutting-edge technologies, emergent business practices, and global trends in both business and music.
MUS 20990 — Listening to Movies
This "Ways of Knowing" course shifts our attention from watching movies to also listening to them. Amid a strong emphasis on cinema — ranging from musical accompaniment during the silent era to sound in experimental films; or from classical Hollywood underscoring to Bollywood musicals — we will consider the soundtrack of moving pictures within the larger history of audiovisual media from lantern shows to television series or from commercials to video games.
MUS 30003 — Chromatic Harmony (Theory III)
Studies in advanced harmony.
MUS 30004 — 20th-Century Music (Theory IV)
Intended for music majors. The theoretical and historical sources and development of music from Debussy to the present.
MUS 30123 — Music History III
A survey of music. The study of the major forms and styles in Western history. Required of music majors and minors, but open to students with sufficient musical background.
MUS 30211 — Opera in Production
This course offers a 'hands-on" introduction to the production of Opera Notre Dame, with an emphasis on the collaborative process between producers, stage director, musical director, stage management, and technical teams. Students learn about elements of contemporary theatrical work, including scenic, costume, and lighting design; theatre and film technology; stage direction of singing actors; the role of the stage manager; coordination of rehearsal and production; and administrative support.
MUS 30213 — Opera Workshop
The course will end with workshop performances of various scenes, accompanied by orchestra or piano, taking place in early December at a venue to be announced.
MUS 40020 — Music of Schubert, Brahms, Dvorak
This course focuses on the practice of hands-on analysis of the chamber music of these three 19th-century masters of the genre. Our engagement with their music will be holistic, with light cast on each composer's diverse yet related approaches to aspects of form, tonal-harmonic language, thematic process, and motivic development, and rhythmic-metric characteristics. We also will study the important historical relationships among Schubert, Brahms, and Dvorak as exhibited in the technical characteristics of their music.
MUS 40041 — Counterpoint
This course offers a composition-oriented study of counterpoint for the modern practicing musician, ranging from the advanced study of counterpoint in the style of Palestrina to its persistence in 18th-century instrumental writing (invention, fugue, etc.), and modern compositions.
MUS 40081 — Creative Composition
This course is a hands-on seminar in composition. Students will learn to discuss the work of living composers, learn aesthetic and technical principles of orchestration, and compose original music, responding to thought-provoking repertoire and specific compositional challenges. The semester will culminate in a final composition project, which students will have performed in a concert setting. Additionally, students will have the opportunity to interact with professional musicians, including guest and resident ensembles, and speak with guest composers, who may include luminary figures in the field of contemporary composition. Previous experience in composition is not required, but a foundation in music theory will be assumed. (Prerequisite: Recommended: 20th Century Music/Theory IV or permission of the instructor).
MUS 40109 — Renaissance/Early Baroque Music
This course will focus on principles of tuning, vocal production, and interpretation for the a cappella performance of Renaissance music and on string technique and continuo realization in early Baroque music. The tuning portion of the course examines Pythagorean tuning, Just intonation, and meantone tuning from both a historical and a practical point of view. We will also read some descriptions of ideal vocal technique for sacred music in the 16th century, and I will explain my own approach to matters that do not get discussed by the Renaissance theorists: phrasing, expression, and tempo. The early Baroque portion of the course at the end of the semester will bring in visiting experts to examine such practical matters as Baroque bowing, ornamentation, and figured-bass realization. The course will focus on studying and singing Renaissance motets and Masses by such composers as Du Fay, Josquin, Lassus, Palerstrina, Victoria, and Gesualdo.
MUS 40130 — Leonard Bernstein/20th Century
Bernstein was undoubtedly one of the most—perhaps the most—versatile musicians of the 20th century. As a composer, he not only worked within a wide variety of genres—symphony, opera, ballet, musical, and so on—but he also drew on an eclectic range of styles. Yet his career was by no means limited to the compositional sphere; he was also a renowned conductor, performer, educator, political activist, and international celebrity. In this course, we will study Bernstein’s life and work as a window into a number of characteristic 20th-century concerns. This includes the tensions between high-, low-, and middlebrow culture; the impact of mass media on classical music; the transition from modernism to postmodernism; and the relationship between art and political activism. As well as getting to know the considerable secondary literature on Bernstein, students will have the opportunity to work with primary, archival materials from the Bernstein Collection at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. Course requirements will include papers and presentations.
MUS 40193 — Expression in Classical Style
What's the "joke" in Haydn's String Quartet in E-flat Major? How can Mozart's music have emotional variety while employing conventional (one might even say formulaic) harmonic and formal structures? In this course, students will deepen their understanding of the Classical style's representational and affective possibilities through theories of humor, gesture, and topics (musical signs such as dances, hunt calls, etc.). Students will explore evidence for such effects in historical writings, current scholarly research, and score study. Key course themes will include the role that convention plays in communicating meaning; the location of musical meaning between composer, work, and audience; the tension between formal structure and expressive content; how notions of "absolute" music cloud understanding of Classical expression; and whether 21st-century listeners can hear Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven with the "ears" of late 18th-century listeners. The course is discussion-based and the emphasis will be on score study. Students will learn how to construct sound interpretive readings of works in the Classical style through a variety of essay assignments and oral presentations.
MUS 40444 — French Vocal Literature
A survey of vocal literature in France from the 16th century to the present with an emphasis on comparative listening.
MUS 50021 — Tonal Forms
An exploration of music ranging from Bach and Handel; to Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven; and beyond to Schubert, Schumann, and Brahms among others, through hands-on analysis of a representative sample of great solo, chamber, and orchestral compositions. Our interaction with the repertoire will be holistic, with light cast on the contribution of thematic design, key scheme, and large-scale harmonic pillars to the articulation of musical form. The focus will be on the main formal types characteristic throughout the 18th and 19th centuries: basic phrase types (the period and sentence); binary and rounded binary; theme and variations; ternary and compound ternary; rondo; sonata form and sonata-rondo form. Much of the course will address the music itself, but it will also include readings from select secondary sources, which will provide background on the relevant analytical methodologies. Coursework will include weekly listening and score study, readings from the secondary literature, written analysis assignments, and a final exam.
MUS 50022 — Schenkerian Analysis
This course will focus on techniques of analysis for music of the common practice era (Bach to Brahms) through study of the groundbreaking methodology developed by the Viennese music theorist Heinrich Schenker (1868–1935). Schenker's theory focuses on the interaction of harmony and voice leading on local, chord-to-chord levels of musical organization, what he termed the foreground, to the most global levels of large-scale structure, the background, and the intermediary levels through which he relates these two extremes — the middleground. But the theory is much more than a study of harmony and voice leading: it confronts these musical dimensions through their relationship with rhythmic, formal, and motivic aspects of musical organization, in essence aspiring to a holistic method of analysis that traces both the interrelatedness and tension among multiple aspects of musical structure. The class will engage Schenker's method primarily through hands-on application of his approach to actual music. In the process, students will learn to express analytical insights through Schenker's own novel method of musical "graphing" which reinterprets aspects of traditional musical notation to communicate interpretive perceptions about actual pieces. We will also read from Schenker's own published analyses and theoretical writings and from select publications drawn from the enormous body of scholarship that has followed in his wake. In addition to the readings, the course will require weekly graphing assignments, classroom presentations of analytical work and individual research, and a final analysis project. The course is open to all students who have completed Theory III (MUS 30003) as a prerequisite.
MUS 50024 — Chamber Music of Schubert
The course focuses on the practice of hands-on analysis of the chamber music of these three 19th-century masters of the genre. Our engagement with the music will be holistic, with light cast on each composer's diverse yet related approaches to aspects of form, tonal-harmonic language, thematic process and motivic development, and rhythmic-metric characteristics. Secondarily, we will study the important historical relationships among Schubert, Schumann, and Brahms, as exhibited in the technical characteristics of their music. Much of the course will address the music itself, but there will also be readings from select secondary sources, which will provide background on the relevant analytical methodologies. Assignments will include weekly listening and score study, readings from the scholarly literature, periodic analysis assignments, short essays, and a final exam and final paper.
MUS 50112 — Mode In World Music
"Mode" is a broad musicological term, encompassing many ways of organizing tonal space. Thus it includes concepts like "scale," "key," "melody-type," "tune-family," and many others, as these are found in musical cultures around the world. We will explore the vast array of modal phenomena across selected historical and contemporary cultures and religions, especially from Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, and including cultural beliefs, from ancient Greece to the present, that musical modes can influence emotion or behavior. Each student will either (1) write a theoretical paper analyzing music from any culture, or (2) compose a piece of music according to the modal theory of any culture.