Thinking About Taking Music Classes?

With the new semester around the corner, are you thinking about taking a music class or two next semester? The Department of Music offers a wide range of specialized electives in music theory, composition, musicology, ethnomusicology, and performance-related areas. Our course offerings in Spring 2020 reflect the specialities of our academic faculty: eighteenth-century material culture, diaspora studies and migration, opera, jazz,  popular music, music and politics, music and science, early music, music and media, songwriting, improvisation, musics from around the world, American and European modernism, music and cognition, new music of the 21st century, cross-cultural composition, pedagogy, and more! We are sure that there is something for everybody. Take a look at our course offerings below for more information.
Questions? Contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Professor Richard Wolf, at
Fr. Seminar 34V 
Broadway Musicals:
History and Performance

T. 9:45-11:45am
Professor Carol Oja

This seminar will explore a core group of Broadway musicals. Historical and musical discussions will be paired with student performances and staging of individual scenes (done under the guidance of Allegra Libonati of the A.R.T. Institute). The seminar will touch on signal moments over the course of the “Golden Age” of the musical, stretching up to the present day: Oklahoma! (1943), South Pacific (1949), West Side Story (1957), A Chorus Line (1975), In the Heights (2008), and Hamilton (2016).
Music 51B 
Theory IB

W. 3:00-5:00pm
Professor Kate Pukinskis

Continuation of the principles in Music 51a. The 51 sequence in the Music Department explores, through elements and parameters of music theory and musicianship, what makes music compelling to us as listeners, performers, and composers. Students will explore concepts of music theory through direct engagement with existing repertoire, ranging from Gesualdo to Britten to Verdi to Mozart and Vaughan Williams among many others. The course unfolds the foundations of tonal music, including line, harmony, counterpoint, rhythm, text, motive, and timbre. This course engages advanced topics in theory and analysis, zooming out the discussion to engage with how music develops across delineations of historical eras, genres, and styles. 

Course Notes:  You must either place directly into Music 51b via the August placement test or pass 51a in order to register for this course. If more than two semesters have passed since completing 51a, you will need permission from the Instructor to register for the course; this may include a quick refresher test. This course, when taken for a letter grade, meets the Distribution Requirement for Arts and Humanities.
Music 121
Choral Conducting

W. 12:00-2:45pm
Professor Andrew Clark

Students will develop and cultivate skills required for leading a vocal ensemble, focusing primarily on (1) choral conducting technique, (2) analysis and interpretation, (3) rehearsal methods, and (4) vocal pedagogy. The course will explore repertoire of various styles and genres and consider the art of curating performances. Beyond the craft of conducting, the course will also consider choral music as a vehicle of empowerment and social engagement.
Music 155
Modal Counterpoint

Th. 3:00-5:00pm
Professor Chris Hasty

Study of representative styles and genres of 16th-century polyphony. Detailed analytic work will be combined with compositional exercises.

Recommended Prerequisite: Music 51B or permission of instructor.
Music 161R
Advanced Composition

Th. 3:00-5:00pm
Professor Kate Pukinskis

In this course, students will challenge modes of composition and methods of creation through a series of projects, listening, and score study. Creative projects will encourage students to zero in on harmonic language, rhythm, pitch, text, texture, and orchestration through exploration and experimentation. The class offers space for students to create within their own aesthetic preferences, while also challenging them to grow by trying out new approaches and techniques. The majority of meetings will be set for regularly scheduled lectures and sections, except for approximately four weeks where each student will have an individual session of 30 minutes each. The final project will be a TBD trio; these musicians will come to our class once during the semester to workshop works-in-progress, and return at the end of the course for a final concert.

Recommended Prerequisite: One course in theory/composition or permission of the instructor.
Music 175R

M. 3:00-5:45pm/F. 9:45-11:45am
Professor Federico Cortese

In the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, this class is designed for advanced performers. It will focus on the preparation and performance of some of his chamber music masterpieces and on the discussion and analysis of several of his major works. Biographical and historical readings and lectures will help framing the understanding of and the approach to Beethoven’s music.

Course Notes:  This class is open to everyone, performers (instrumentalists and vocalists) and non-performers, though some music knowledge is helpful.
Music 177 
Creative Music:
Advanced Ensemble Workshop

T. 6:30-9:00pm
Professor Vijay Iyer

This is a workshop for advanced composer-performer-improvisers, focusing on original and collaborative music-making, intended for musicians who have already taken Music 173 and/or 174, or have received permission from the instructor. Students will participate in ensembles with other members of the class and will keep recorded and written journals to document the process. Students will participate in two performances throughout the semester.
Music 189R
Chamber Music

Th. 6:45-8:45pm
The Parker Quartet

Through auditions, students will be divided into chamber music ensembles by the Parker Quartet, and have weekly coachings with members of the Parker Quartet and pianist Katherine Chi. Instrumentalists and vocalists are welcome to audition; however, no duos or vocal ensembles are allowed.  Students will be expected to rehearse between each coaching and to participate in class meetings throughout the semester. There will be both a midterm and final jury evaluation prior to the final public performances, to be held sometime during Reading Period--all students are required to be available. Students who do not meet the requirements in the Course Notes below may take the course for Pass/Fail credit. Please check audition dates and other mandatory meetings/classes in Course Notes below and on the Canvas Music 189R home page.

Course Notes:  Students who are currently in the NEC/Harvard dual program, or have been a past winner of the Parker Quartet Guest Award do not need to re-audition for the Spring 2020 semester. However, ALL students must fill out the questionnaire and submit this through Canvas link. Any other students who have enrolled in the course in past school years are required to re-audition. Students intending to enroll in both Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra and Music 189R must audition for each course separately. While students may request to be placed with certain peers, final group assignments will ultimately be at the discretion of the instructors. This course is offered for letter-grade credit only when students are involved in one or more of the following: a Concentrator in Music, enrollment in a Department of Music course concurrently or in a previous semester (not counting Music 189r), a member of a faculty-led music ensemble in the same semester, a student of the NEC/Harvard dual program. Students who do not meet one of these requirements may take the course for Pass/Fail credit, which must be done by petition after the first week of class.
Music 190R
Music in the Middle East

Th. 9:45-11:45am
Professor Virginia Danielson

Music in the Middle East offers an introduction to the genres, contexts, and principles of musical creativity predominant in the Arab world. Focus will settle on Egypt and the Levant as well as the Arabian Gulf and Peninsula, but other regions will be explored as well. Key social issues will include gender, heritage, nationalism and modernity, devotional expression, and the role of dance.
Music 194R 
Music, Mobility and Religious Experience in Central Asia

F. 12:45-2:45pm
Professor Richard Wolf

In this course, we ask how music in Central Asia shapes and is shaped by the movement of people, objects and ideas across political, geographic and cultural boundaries. Populations in Central Asia have been variously described as nomadic or sedentary and their religion, art, and lifeways explained in terms of these categories. How are the definitions of nomadism and sedentarism reinforced or challenged by the musical traditions that have emerged in the region? What is the status of musical experience in relation to (“nomadic”) shamanism and (“sedentary”) Islam given that experiences of music are often cast in religious or spiritual terms? Geographically the course will focus on parts of what was the Soviet Union (Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan), bordering parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as Xinjiang, China. This year's course will feature an international range of visiting scholars from Central Asia and Europe, representing the fields of music, anthropology and international relations. A seminar in format, the course will involve reading, listening to recordings, writing, and active discussion. Ability to read music is helpful but not required. Undergraduates and graduate students from all fields are welcome.
Music 1
Introduction to Western Music,
from Bach to Beyoncé

M/W 10:30-11:45am
Professor Michael Uy

This course aims to introduce you to a variety of music repertories, and a range of ways to think, talk, and write about them. While we explore some of the great “classics” of the Western musical canon, including works by male composers such as Bach, Beethoven, and Stravinsky, we will also discover the critical roles played by renowned female performers, patrons, and writers, as well as the significant impacts made by artists of color. Ending in the present day, we will investigate what “Western classical music” means in a global context, and a world increasingly shaped by new technologies and digital networks. During the semester, you will build a vocabulary for analyzing music and articulating a response to it. No prior knowledge of music history or Western musical notation is necessary, and you will be graded on the improvements you make in engaging with the material. By the end of class, you will be equipped to embark on a lifetime of informed listening.
Music 97T
Thinking about Music

M./W./F. 10:30-11:45am
Professor Carolyn Abbate

Performing music, listening to music, composing music, playing music – these are all familiar activities.  By comparison, thinking about music is far less mainstream, sounds stuffy, and does not really seem to offer as much pleasure, as pastimes go.  Music 97T is here to prove those assumptions wrong.  We will explore music philosophy (which has grappled with sounds ranging from Ancient Greek modes to hip-hop), and which asks basic questions like, does music have ethics, can experiencing music change how we see the world?  Or, can music even be grasped in words?  We will take an objective look at the way academic disciplines box music of every and all kinds in, but can also expand our horizons about music’s workings and its social roles and realities.  And we’ll explore “vernacular thinking,” which is the conviction that thinking about music may not take place in words, or take forms conventionally understood as philosophy or analysis, and may come from people outside our intellectual boxes.
Music 142R
Foundations of Modern Jazz:
Art Blakely's Jazz Messengers

T. 12:45-2:45pm
Professor Yovany Terry

The Jazz Messengers were more than just a musical group; they were one of the greatest institutions in modern jazz, paving the way for several generations of musicians to develop new and original approaches to composition and improvisation. This course will introduce students to the Jazz Messengers and the concept of hard bop created by artists searching for new musical expressions, as a necessary evolutionary step after Be-Bop in modern Jazz. Students will be become familiar with the Jazz Messengers’ repertoire, gaining insight and practical experience by first playing and memorizing their songs, and, afterwards, transcribing and studying the recordings of key compositions. Additionally, students will gain proficiency in performing compositions by some of the Messengers’ most prolific alumnae, including pianist Horace Silver, saxophonist Wayne Shorter, pianist Cedar Walton, saxophonist Benny Golson, and trumpeter Freddie Hubbard. Each week the students will make presentations on the selected class readings which are intended to deepen their understanding of the music by providing the social context in which this music was developed. Finally, students will select, rehearse, and perform some of the Jazz Messenger compositions in an end-of-semester concert.
Music 167
Introduction to Electronic Music

M. 3:00-5:30pm
Professor Hans Tutschku

Composition and performance with analogue and digital electronic media. Projects realized using recording gear and computers; study of relevant aspects of acoustic and electronic theory; repertoire since 1948 of musique concrète, acousmatic, and live-electronic music; synthesis, sampling, digital recording, and live performance techniques. Hands-on work will culminate in a final performance of individual projects.

Recommended Prerequisite:  One course in theory/composition or permission of instructor.
Music 170
Songwriting Workshop

M. 7:00-9:00pm
Professor Esperanza Spalding

This course will approach songwriting from two directions: analytical study of the methods of successful songwriters throughout the past 50 years together with students performing and critiquing their own original compositions.  Throughout the course, we will address specific aspects of successful songwriting, including lyric development, song form, melody, harmonic progression, poetic imagery, storytelling and presentation. The physical classroom will be designed to provide the experience of live performance in a club-like setting. In each unit, students will investigate a distinct songwriting style; compose an original work within that form; and perform it for peer review, including their own thoughtful analysis. The final for this course will be a showcase style performance of the students’ own compositions.

Course Notes: Those who wish to be considered must submit a questionnaire (will be posted on my.harvard soon) between January 6 and January 10, 2020 with a digital recording or link(s) of a video of themselves performing two (2) of their original compositions.  Audio and video examples should be at least two minutes, and no more than six minutes in length. 
Music 184R
Performance Practice:
Meredith Monk Choral Music

M. 12:45-2:45pm
Professor Meredith Monk

What happens when singing is treated holistically, as a natural expression of the body? Meredith Monk has been working at the intersection of music and movement for decades, affirming that the body can sing and the voice can dance. This concept will be explored through Monk’s rich and challenging choral repertoire. The course will include ensemble-building exercises, improvisational vocal and movement techniques, and fundamentals of performance. Participants will work with the voice and body as multi-faceted instruments for discovering range, timbre, resonance, character, gesture and space. The course will host lectures by visiting experts and culminate in a performance at the end of the semester.

Course Notes: To enroll please write a short paragraph that includes your interest in the course, vocal background and range. In addition, please send a 1-2 minute recent video clip of you singing a work of your choice within your preferred range. This video can be recorded on a personal device (i.e. iphone or tablet). Due by January 23 to
Music 187R Opera Workshop:
Devising New Opera Through Exploratory Collaborative Practices

T. 9:45-11:45am
Professor Esperanza Spalding

This seminar will center on the development of Iphigenia, a new operatic adaptation of Euripides’ play Iphigenia, with music by Wayne Shorter, libretto by Esperanza Spalding. The course has two “modes.” In lab meetings headed by Professor Spalding, students will observe and offer responses to how the creative team of writers, singers, and musicians explore and employ various co-creation processes while developing an opera toward its forthcoming premiere. Special guests will include director Lileana Blain-Cruz, dramaturg Sunder Ganglani, and various musicians slated to perform in the final production. In discussion meetings headed by Professor Abbate, students explore opera as a collaborative genre, gaining experience with analyzing relationships between words, character, drama, and musical sounds, while also considering Iphigenia operas from the past. Work for the course includes responses to the creative lab meetings, short essays on listenings/viewings/readings explored in the discussion meetings. One theme that unites the two course “modes” is reflecting on inherent challenges in foregrounding a collaborative mode of storytelling within a traditionally hierarchical art form. The seminar will conclude with a final concert presentation of scenes from Iphigenia that have been developed and refined over the course of the semester.  Final creative projects for students will consist of devising an opera scene, by writing an original story and text to existing music.
Music 192RR
Spectacular France

T. 12:45-2:45pm
Professor Kate van Orden &
Professor Sylvaine Guyot

French musical theater in the 17th & 18th centuries. This course considers French spectacle in all dimensions with special emphasis on absolutism and the politics of performance. Genres include machine tragedy, comédie-ballet, horse ballet, carrousels, and opera; collaborators include Jean Racine, Jean-Baptiste Lully, Molière, Jean-Philippe Rameau, and Georg Friedrich Handel. Guest performers will discuss historical staging and French operas performed in colonial Haiti. Readings are in English.
Undergraduates may enroll in graduate music courses with permission from the instructor. Those graduate courses may count for concentration credit with advance department approval. Graduate course descriptions can be found online at