Music Courses


MUS 161: Music of the World

Credits 3

A first introduction to the study of music. Students learn to talk and write about music effectively, notice musical features when listening and understand the variety of ways in which music is made and valued around the globe. Explores musics of several distinct regions or ethnicities.

MUS 171: Music Theory I - Foundations

Credits 3

An introduction to contemporary Western musical design and notation. This course introduces terminology and symbolic notation for sounds and their properties of frequency, duration, volume, and timbre. Students will gain musicianship through introductory singing, keyboard playing, listening, analyzing, reading, and composition exercises. Topics include staff notation, solfege, scales, intervals, triads, 7th chords, harmonic function, and simple musical forms. No previous knowledge of music notation or theory required.

MUS 173: Sight Singing

Credits 1
Provides opportunities for developing and practicing sight singing skills using the movable do pitch system.

MUS 201: Thinking and Writing about Music

Credits 3

An introduction to the study of music as a scholarly pursuit, including the professional disciplines of ethnomusicology, historical musicology and popular music studies. This course explores diverse ways of thinking and writing about music using repertoires drawn from non-Eurogenic traditional, Western classical and mass-mediated musics as case studies. Reading, listening and writing projects pose core philosophical questions about music's nature, meaning, cultural significance and distinctiveness among the arts. After reading essays by musicians, composers, journalists and scholars, students will augment this body of literature with their own original research and writing project.

MUS 241: Western Classical Music Survey

Credits 3
An IntroductionA one-semester overview of the Western classical music tradition from the Middle Ages to the present day. Listening to, analyzing, and understanding representative pieces of music in their historical, cultural, social, and political contexts will be the primary focus of the course. Problems of aesthetics (what makes great music great?), historical periodization (does music fit neatly into chronological boxes?) and canon formation (which pieces get to be famous and why?) will also be addressed.

MUS 242: The Living Music of Bach

Credits 2

Trace the life of prolific German composer Johann Sebastian Bach, his major contributions to music history, and how
they impact classical music today. Explore his musical forms, ideas, and learn to write analytical studies of his works.

MUS 271: Music Theory & Musicianship II

Credits 4

This course covers core concepts in the study of music theory: scales and modes, intervals and ratios, two- and three-part modal counterpoint, staff notation, chord structures, chord progressions, and musical form. Musical examples are drawn from the world of Western classical music (especially Bach, Beethoven, Chopin and Debussy), American Jazz and popular musics, a well as from the worlds of Indian Classical and Javanese gamelan music and theory. Also included in the course is training in beginning musicianship, including solfege, sight singing, melodic and harmonic dictation, and keyboard harmony.

MUS 273: Sight Singing

Credits 1
This course is a continuation of MUS 173 Beginning Sight Singing. Students continue developing sight-singing skills using movable-do solfège, expanding into more complex rhythms, chromatic melodies, and multi-part textures. Intended for intermediate choir singers and other musicians seeking to improve their sight-reading skills.

MUS 274: Jazz, Theory & Improvisation

Credits 3

The purpose of this course is to build and fortify ones understanding of harmony, melody and rhythm as it relates to jazz improvisation. We will employ in constant score analysis, creating practicing regiments, understanding jazz etiquette and playing transcriptions. Each student will gain information plus materials that kickstarts the journey of development and finding your sound.

MUS 350: History of Rock

Credits 3

This course surveys Rock from its roots in Blues, Folk and Country music to “Postrock” and recent developments of the “noughties.” In addition to the “classic” sounds of artists such as the Beatles, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and Bruce Springsteen, students will explore Rock's fragmentation into subgenres such as Glam, Prog, Punk and Indie. The class will discuss issues that have occupied Rock musicians, scholars and critics over the past 50 years. Through extensive listening assignments, students will become familiar with landmark recordings, learn to distinguish between musical styles, and to analyze popular songs. While previous experience with music is useful, it is not a requirement for success in this course.

MUS 351: Topics in Jazz History

Credits 3

The purpose of this course is for students to gain an in-depth view within this important African American art-form and its relationship to social, economic, and political climates in which it developed. This course will delve into how various elements of music are utilized in this genre through iconic recordings, key musicians, and all the styles within the evolution of jazz. This course aims to foster an understanding, appreciation and enjoyment for jazz.

MUS 360: Music of Japan

Credits 3
Courses introduce specific repertoires and survey the music of a geographic region, with a consideration not only of local musics but also of translocal and transnational movements of cultural artifacts, ideas and processes. Students explore what is valued in these musics by the people closest to them (musicians, patrons, intended listeners), identify regional or historical styles, and seek to understand the factors contributing to their formation and reception. The ways music not only reflects but also acts as a formative part of culture are also considered, as well as how it affects and is affected by a global economy. Regions covered in any one semester are: Musics of Indonesia Musics of Africa Musics of Japan Musics of South America Musics of Java Musics of the Arab World

MUS 365: Music and Identity in South America

Credits 3

SERIES: TOPICS IN NON-WESTERN MUSICS AND ORAL TRADITIONS OF THE WEST — MUS 360-369 Courses introduce specific repertoires and survey the music of a geographic region, ethnicity or broad genre. Students explore what is valued in these musics by the people closest to them (musicians, patrons, intended listeners), identify regional or historical styles, and understand the factors contributing to their formation.  *MUS 365 MUSICS OF SOUTH AMERICA (3 credits)

MUS 371: Music Theory and Musicianship IIl: Composition, Analysis, and Ear Training

Credits 4

This course builds on the foundations of Music Theory II. Here, we study more advanced musical concepts through score analysis and the composition of short musical exercises. Emphasis is on the techniques found in 20th and 21st century musics, including late Chromaticism, Impressionism, Mixed-Mode techniques, Post-tonal approaches, Minimalism, and the current trend towards hybrid compositions that embrace both the club and the concert hall.

MUS 372: Making Music with Computers

Credits 3
Builds skills in composing, arranging and performing with computer music technologies. Studies sound synthesis, digital audio concepts, MIDI, and the use of Digital Audio Workstations. Emphasis on the program "Abelton Live," coupled with an introduction to the programming language MAX, which now interacts with Ableton to enable live interactive performance and composition. The history of experimental electronic music is emphasized and built upon. Prior experience with computer music helpful but not required. Knowledge of music notation unnecessary. Course is limited to 25 students due to studio space.

MUS 376: Choral Conducting

Credits 3

An introduction to conducting classical music. Students learn the fundamentals of score study, score marking, and a robust conductor's gestural ability and vocabulary. Ample lab time is spent in workshop conducting for each other and providing feedback, as well as conducting Earlham's own musical ensembles. 

MUS 440: Topics in Western Classical Music

Credits 3

A topical study of various aspects of Western classical music, focusing primarily on Europe and North America during some portion of time from the early Middle Ages to the present day. Students may take the course more than once for credit, since the topic will be different each semester. Topics may vary from genre surveys (e.g. a history of the symphony) to geographic surveys (e.g. music in Italy) to historical surveys (e.g. Western classical music 1600-1827). Topics include Opera History Choral Music History of the Symphony Women Composers Western Classical Music to 1827 Western Classical Music since 1827.

MUS 460: Ethnomusicology: Methods & Issues

Credits 3
A theoretical and practical introduction to the field of ethnomusicology. Theory taught through readings in linguistics, anthropology and musicology that reflect or have shaped the concerns of ethnomusicologists. Practical dimension explored mostly through an ethnographic field project. Increases understanding of musical processes from an anthropological or cross-cultural perspective, and provides students new insights into their own experience of music.

MUS 472: Orchestration and Film Scoring

Credits 3

The course explores the world of writing for a full symphony orchestra, with an emphasis on the techniques used in modern film scoring. Knowledge of Western music notation required. We study the techniques of writing for the string, woodwind, brass, and percussion families, both separately and in combination. The last portion of the course studies classic film scores and the techniques that composers such as John Williams, Hans Zimmer, Howard Shore, and Bernard Hermann used in their films, drawing on the work of classical composers that preceded them. Final project is the composition of an original film score.

MUS 473: Sound Design and Interactive Systems

Credits 3

This course focuses on developing multimedia software for music performance, human-machine interaction, and game design through the use of the object-oriented programming language "Max." After a thorough investigation of Max's approach to programming, students will study its use in a wide variety of new music and multimedia applications. Students will work towards a completed project in Max and, if interested, in its related programs Jitter (for video) and Gen (for algorithmic composition). This course also will explore the close relationship between Max and Ableton Live.

MUS 474: Programming Music for Computer

Credits 3
This course combines traditional approaches to composing and arranging for the Western symphony orchestra with a software-based approach using MIDI and sampled acoustic instruments. Both approaches will be taught in conjunction with analyses of classic and contemporary film scoring techniques. Projects can be realized using either traditional music notation or the MIDI system. A final project will include the scoring of an original short video or a video in public domain.

MUS 487: Senior Seminar

Credits 1
Integrates what students have learned in their previous courses and provides opportunities to think beyond Earlham to broaden their knowledge. Class members present individual senior projects for comments and criticism. Professionals from outside the College sometimes participate.

MUSG 121: Hand Drum Ensemble

Credits 0 1

*MUSG 121/221/321 HAND-DRUM ENSEMBLE (0-1 credit)
Open to all students. This 20-30 member ensemble encourages drummers of all ability levels. No prior experience required. Concert performances twice a semester in addition to impromptu events, jam sessions and collaboration with student groups (dance groups, brass groups, choral groups).