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Courses in the Department of Music are open to all students enrolled at Cornell, regardless of college. Some of the courses are intended primarily for music majors, but many are open to students with varying degrees of background in music or to those studying music for the first time. Learn more about classroom courses intended for non-majors.
Music courses may be used to satisfy distribution requirements in the College of Arts and Sciences; for more information click here.
A concentration in Computing in the Arts with an emphasis on music is available both to music majors and to students in the Arts College majoring in other subjects. Students from all colleges have the option to minor in music.
Most of the music courses taught at Cornell originate in the Department of Music, but some have been developed in other departments and are cross-listed with Music. For descriptions of cross-listed courses, please consult the relevant department. For descriptions of all the courses offered by the Department of Music (not just those that are being taught in the current academic year), click here.
For a list of courses currently being offered by the Department of Music, including a roster of course times and locations (view course details), click here.
Courses at the 3000- and 4000-levels are intended primarily for music majors, but are also open to qualified non-majors.
First-Year Writing Seminars
At least one first-year writing seminar is taught in the Department of Music every semester. Such courses do not satisfy distribution or music-major requirements, but can provide a way of exploring musical interests. Click here to learn more about first-year writing seminars.
Several music courses have no prerequisite at all, while others require some ability to read music, which may be learned concurrently via enrollment in MUSIC 1100, Elements of Notation (a 1-credit course that lasts for only four weeks, at the start of each semester). If in doubt about whether or not you meet the prerequisite, contact the instructor, preferably during the pre-enrollment period. Courses are for 3 credits, unless noted otherwise.
Courses that have no prerequisite:
- 1100 Elements of Musical Notation (1 credit; F or Sp)
- 1101 Fundamentals of Music
- 1201 European Music from the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Baroque
- 1202 Classical Music from 1750 to the Present
- 1301 Music in the African Diaspora
- 1312 History of Rock Music
- 1313 A Survey of Jazz
- 1320 Music in Latin America(crosslisted)
- 1321 Music of Mexico and the Mexican Diaspora(crosslisted)
- 1330 African Music
- 1341 Gamelan in Indonesian History and Cultures
- 1465 Computing in the Arts; see CS 1650
- 2006 Punk Culture: The Aesthetics and Politics of Refusal (crosslisted)
- 2221 Bach and Handel
- 2224 Mozart in History, History in Mozart
- 2241 Music as Drama; An Introduction to Opera
- 2244 The Music, Art, and Technology of the Organ
- 2250 The American Musical
- 2260 Music of the 1960s
- 2270 Thinking with Music
- 2280 Experimental Music
- 2320 Latino Music in the US(crosslisted)
- 2330 Music in and of Contemporary East Asia (crosslisted)
- 2340 The Beatles
- 2642 The Art of Math: Mathematical Tradition of Symmetry and Harmony(crosslisted)
- 3303 Discovering Hip-Hop: Research and the Cornell Hip-Hop Collection
- 3360 Histories and Philosophies of Improvisation
- 3480 Brazilian Culture through Its Music
- 3490 Hip Hop in Global Perspective
Courses that have a prerequisite of ability to read music, concurrent enrollment in Music 1100, or permission of instructor
- 1105 Introduction to Music Theory
Courses that require permission of instructor (this requirement has to do with limitations of instruments, equipment, or space):
- 1421 Introduction to Computer Music
- 1466 Physics of Musical Sound; see PHYS 1204
- 2111 Songwriting
- 2421 Computers in Music Performance
Music Theory, Materials and Techniques
Incoming students who intend to major in music are strongly encouraged to enroll in Music 1101 (Elements of Music) in the Fall semester and to take Music 2101 (Theory, Materials, and Techniques I) and Music 2201 (Introduction to Music Studies) in the Spring. This will maximize flexibility in scheduling the remaining Core Curriculum courses and electives.
Courses in music theory, materials, and techniques starting from Music 2101 are designed primarily for music majors, but are also open to qualified non-majors. These include courses in tonal theory and musicianship, jazz improvisation and arranging, conducting, composition, electronic music, songwriting, and analysis. Click here for course descriptions and prerequisites.
Music 2101 (3 credits), offered in the Fall semester, requires the ability to read bass and treble clefs fluently, to recognize all major and minor keys, and to spell triads, seventh chords, and intervals. Some keyboard proficiency is also required, as well as the ability to sing a simple melody at sight.
A diagnostic exam, given during the first class meeting of Music 2101, assesses the student’s readiness for 2101. Students who have taken Music 1101/1100 or 1105 should be prepared to meet the academic requirements of 2101, although these courses do not include training in keyboard-playing or sight-singing. Students who are not sure of their readiness may wish to review and perhaps augment their proficiency in those skills before taking 2101. They should contact Roger Moseley (firstname.lastname@example.org) at the beginning of the semester before they plan to take Music 2101 in order to devise an appropriate program of study.
Music in History and Culture
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Advance Placement and Transfer Credit
The music department does not offer advanced placement in music theory. Each fall, a diagnostic exam will be given at the first class meeting of Theory, Materials and Techniques I (Music 2101), which will help determine the appropriate course of study for each student.
Students who have taken music courses at other institutions of higher education and who wish to have the credit transferred to Cornell must have the courses evaluated by the Director of Undergraduate Studies. This means that students should save the course syllabus and any written work or exams from courses taken elsewhere.
- For non-majors, courses need not have exact equivalencies to Cornell music department courses in order for transfer credit to be awarded, but they must have been taught at an equivalent level.
- For music majors seeking to replace a course required for the major, the material covered must be equivalent, especially in music theory, and the grade earned must be at least a B.
- For more information about the procedures in the College of Arts and Sciences for transferring credit, click here.