Courses by semester
Courses for Spring 2023
Complete Cornell University course descriptions are in the Courses of Study .
|MUSIC1100||Elements of Musical Notation This four-week course fulfills the requirement of basic pitch, rhythm, and score-reading skills needed for some introductory courses and 2000-level courses with prerequisites.||Fall.|
|MUSIC1105||Building Musical Skills This course is designed to develop and strengthen your fundamental musical skills through embodied music interaction. You will compose, improvise, listen, and perform. You will use fundamental musical materials such as chords, melodies, and rhythms, and learn to notate music with accepted systems and describe it with appropriate terminologies. Using your voice, the keyboard, and other instruments, you will stimulate your creativity, refine your listening skills, and put your ideas into practice. The course will address music-making from a diverse set of cultures and traditions, and the skills you acquire will be transferrable to a wide range of applications.||Spring.|
|MUSIC1212||Music on the Brain This course is for anyone who listens to music or plays music and wonders what's happening in your brain that makes you feel the way you do. Starting with the music each of you knows and loves—the soundtrack to your life—we'll tackle questions like: What is the relationship between speech and music? Do animals have music, too? How does the brain process aspects of music, including rhythm, melody, harmony, and form? Why does some music trigger an emotional response? What does it mean to say that music is an embodied behavioral act? What is the relationship between music and memory? Through lectures, discussions, experiments, compositions, recording technologies, student presentations/performances and writing assignments we'll explore how/why you've chosen the particular tunes on the soundtrack of your life, and how your brain processes musical thoughts and experiences.||Spring.|
Music on the Brain Field Study– Whale Conservation: Marine Stewardship in Cape Cod Bay
This course provides an opportunity to collaborate with the Center for Coastal Studies (CCS) on their annual Ghost Gear Removal Program. This optional field study offers students enrolled in MUSIC 1212 the opportunity to expand on their critical engagement in course material on acoustic communication in other animals through a deep exploration of marine habitat and anthropogenic environmental impact as part of a community-engaged experience. Students will work with CCS to remove ghost gear, learn from CCS scientists about the complex network of issues impacting marine conservation efforts in Cape Cod, and create a multi-media project focused on creative responses and practical solutions to share with the public.
Full details for MUSIC 1213 - Music on the Brain Field Study– Whale Conservation: Marine Stewardship in Cape Cod Bay
|MUSIC1312||History of Rock Music This course examines the development and cultural significance of rock music from its origins in blues, gospel, and Tin Pan Alley up to alternative rock and hip hop. The course concludes with the year 2000.||Spring.|
|MUSIC1466||Physics of Musical Sound This course explores the physics of musical sound. How and what do our ears hear? How does that determine the kinds of sounds we find pleasant and not so pleasant? How is sound generated by strings, pipes, and plates, and what determines the characteristics – pitch, timbre, attack, consonance, or dissonance – of that sound? How do the major families of musical instruments (string, wind, reed, brass, percussion) and specific examples (violin, guitar, piano, flute, oboe, trumpet, chimes, pipe organ) work, and how does that affect how they are played and the sounds they produce? How do we generate sound when we sing, and how does that vary in different kinds of singing? What makes for a good concert hall or listening space? These are explained using physical and mathematical concepts including vibrations, standing waves, harmonic series, beats, spectra, and logarithms, and illustrated using demonstrations, audio clips, and musical selections from a wide variety of genres. This course is a Writing In The Majors course: both science writing and physics problem-solving skills are developed through weekly assignments. Student activities include hands-on investigations of musical instruments and field trips. Students can expect to gain facility with physical and mathematical ideas having broad applicability; with music theory and psychoacoustics; and with their combined application to musical sound and how it is generated. At the level of The Science of Sound by Rossing, Moore, and Wheeler.||Spring.|
|MUSIC1701||FWS: Sound, Sense and Ideas This First-Year Writing seminar provides the opportunity to write extensively about music's place in our world. Topics vary by section.||Fall, Spring.|
Theory, Materials and Techniques II
Theory, Materials, and Techniques II surveys tonal music as conceived and practiced throughout late-eighteenth and nineteenth-century Europe. The course combines modern pedagogical methods with the study of relevant historical sources and incorporates active learning at the keyboard. Topics to be covered include the analysis of form and genre; advanced techniques of modulation; transformational theory and other approaches to the configuration of diatonicism and chromaticism; and the relationship of words and music in nineteenth-century song. During section meetings, the concepts and skills introduced in lecture will be practiced at the keyboard as well as vocally. Other topics to be covered in sections include advanced aural skills; sight singing; score reading; and the improvisation of preludes.
Full details for MUSIC 2102 - Theory, Materials and Techniques II
|MUSIC2112||Collaborative Songwriting Collaborative Songwriting introduces students to the practice of songwriting through workshop-formatted classes. We will explore the ingredients of song (lyrics, melody, delivery, harmony, rhythm, form, texture, timbre, and arrangement) in diverse collaborative contexts through analysis, composition, recording technologies, performance, and concert reports. Proficiency on one or more musical instruments is required. Collaborative Songwriting can be taken as a stand-alone course or as part of the Songwriting sequence.||Spring.|
|MUSIC2201||Introduction to Music Studies This course introduces students to the study of music as an expression of history and culture by examining the ways in which music creates meaning, knowledge, archives, and identities. Musical examples will be drawn from a broad range of styles, chronological periods, and geographical locations; and students will engage with live performance as well as various forms of recorded music and mediated performance. Along with considering music as sound, the course will examine different modalities of writing about music—journalistic, academic, and creative—and we will think about how these musical texts, and those that the students produce, function to situate music as discourse. The course will develop critical thinking, writing, and presentation skills.||Spring.|
The Music, Art, and Technology of the Organ
The organ is an interdisciplinary wonder where mechanics, architecture, acoustics, religion, philosophy, literature, as well as the musical arts and sciences meet. This course uses the organ to explore music's relation to technology, history and culture, and in turn traces the technical and mechanical mysteries, and expressive possibilities, of the 'King of Instruments' across its long history. Students will gain 1) an understanding of some key aspects of musical history and repertoire; 2) a sense for the historical relation between music and technology; 3) a new knowledge of (and enthusiasm for!) the organ; and 4) an insight into the ways in which musical instruments and the musical practice associated with them are cross-cultural and interdisciplinary. With a key focus on the music of J. S. Bach, as well as on the reception of Bach's music in the 19th and 20th centuries, topics include the mechanics of organ construction, the North German organ art and the toccata, virtuosity and the use of the feet, the symphonic organ in the 19th century, 20th-century experimentation with organ sound, the organ and film. The course combines lectures with practical studio-style sessions at Cornell's four superb organs, and unprecedented access to those instruments. No prior musical experience necessary, although those interested (and with some keyboard skills) will have the opportunity to learn to play – with both hands and feet.
Full details for MUSIC 2244 - The Music, Art, and Technology of the Organ
|MUSIC2330||Music in and of East Asia This course explores the breadth of music found in present day China, Japan, and Korea--from indigenous musical traditions, through adaptations of Western art music, up to the latest popular styles--as well as the presence of traditional East Asian musics outside East Asia, including right here at Cornell. In both cases, music offers a lens for examining the myriad social and cultural forces that shape it, and that are shaped by it. The course's academic focus on critical reading and listening, written assignments, and discussion is complemented by opportunities to engage directly with music, whether attending concerts or participating in workshops with student-led ensembles.||Spring.|
|MUSIC2701||Music and Digital Gameplay This course considers both music and digital games in light of their playability. It aims to provide students with critical frameworks for addressing the diverse roles played by music in digital games as well as the ways in which playing digital games can be considered a musical activity. Focusing on games across an array of genres from first-person shooters to rhythm-action titles, the course will introduce students to recent scholarship on digital games from multiple disciplinary angles. No formal musical training is necessary, but suitably qualified students may take the course as a 3000-level elective by signing up for MUSIC 3901 and completing additional research components involving the creation and/or analysis of specific soundtracks or performances.||Spring.|
|MUSIC2703||Thinking Media From hieroglyphs to HTML, ancient poetry to audiotape, and Plato's cave to virtual reality, "Thinking Media" offers a multidisciplinary introduction to the most influential media formats of the last three millennia. Featuring an array of guests from across Cornell, including faculty from Communication, Comparative Literature, German Studies, Information Science, Literatures in English, Music, and Performing & Media Arts, the course will present diverse perspectives on how to think with, against, and about media in relation to the public sphere and private life, archaeology and science fiction, ethics and aesthetics, identity and difference, labor and play, knowledge and power, expression and surveillance, and the generation and analysis of data.||Spring.|
|MUSIC3141||The Composer's Toolbox I The Composer's Toolbox is a two-semester sequence of courses that equips undergraduates with the skills and techniques needed to compose and notate original works of music. Taught in a hybrid workshop/lecture style, there will be opportunities to learn how to develop and transform musical material, to gain an understanding of different compositional techniques and styles through existing repertoire, to enhance critical thinking and listening skills, to refine score notation and to work one-on-one with performers.||Spring.|
Making Noise: The Art and Process of Sound Generation
A co-taught exploration (Profs. Cross, Ernste) in sound making, design, capture, analysis, manipulation, mixing, and production. Topics include microphones and audio capture, recording and synthesis, signals and noise, DIY synths and sensors, mixing and live performance, as well as deeper conceptual topics such as listening and hearing, the ear and the brain, fundamentals of acoustics and localization, composition and production techniques and aesthetics, as well as live performance and installation. Students produce a series of creative projects synthesizing course concepts and student interests.
Full details for MUSIC 3182 - Making Noise: The Art and Process of Sound Generation
|MUSIC3212||Seminar in Music Research This course welcomes Music Majors engaged in an honors project, as well as other students interested in pursuing a scholarly study outside of honors. In a welcoming workshop setting we will develop important research skills: defining and refining a topic; producing a bibliography; evaluating source materials; reviewing the scholarly literature; crafting a thesis statement; writing abstracts; using libraries; navigating archives and on-line resources; making use of recorded sound and visual materials; producing persuasive, lucid prose; presenting your work to others. All kinds of projects can be pursued in this seminar: historical studies; critical engagements; performance projects enriched by scholarship—or combinations of these and other approaches.||Spring.|
Dealing with the Devil: Music's Faustian Bargain with Literature
What would you be willing to give up in exchange for infinite knowledge? (Just think—no more required readings, no more memorization, no more Saturday nights spent studying for prelims!) For one student, the title character of Goethe's 1806 drama Faust, no price is too high: when the devil offers him erudition beyond belief, Faust signs away his soul without a second thought. This cautionary tale of scholarly folly captured the musical imagination of the nineteenth century, giving rise to myriad musical adaptations of the Faust legend. Through engagement with literary, musical, and scholarly texts (ability to read music not required, though previous musical experience is recommended), this seminar explores the interaction between music and text in compositions by Schubert, Berlioz, Liszt, and Mahler, asking: what happens when literature becomes song, opera, or symphony, and crucially, what is at stake in the process of transformation? As music and text cleave inextricably to one another, what is the price each pays in order to gain new life—in other words, what is the Faustian bargain they make?
Full details for MUSIC 3242 - Dealing with the Devil: Music's Faustian Bargain with Literature
|MUSIC3431||Sound Design Covering the basics of digital audio, bioacoustics, psychoacoustics and sound design, as they apply to theatre, film and music production. Students create soundscapes for text and moving image using ProTools software.||Fall, Spring.|
|MUSIC3511||Individual Instruction Individual instruction in voice, organ, harpsichord, piano and fortepiano, violin, viola, cello, percussion, and some brass and woodwind instruments to those students advanced enough to do college-level work in these instruments. For more information about individual instruction, see the section titled Musical Instruction.||Fall, Spring.|
|MUSIC3512||Individual Instruction Individual instruction in voice, organ, harpsichord, piano and fortepiano, violin, viola, cello, percussion, and some brass and woodwind instruments to those students advanced enough to do college-level work in these instruments. For more information about individual instruction, see the section titled Musical Instruction.||Fall, Spring.|
|MUSIC3513||Individual Instruction Individual instruction in voice, organ, harpsichord, piano and fortepiano, violin, viola, cello, percussion, and some brass and woodwind instruments to those students advanced enough to do college-level work in these instruments. For more information about individual instruction, see the section titled Musical Instruction.||Fall, Spring.|
|MUSIC3514||Individual Instruction Individual instruction in voice, organ, harpsichord, piano and fortepiano, violin, viola, cello, percussion, and some brass and woodwind instruments to those students advanced enough to do college-level work in these instruments. For more information about individual instruction, see the section titled Musical Instruction.||Fall, Spring.|
|MUSIC3602||Chorus A nationally renowned choral ensemble and vibrant student-driven organization specializing in repertoire for sopranos and altos. Collaborates frequently with the Glee Club to present mixed-voice repertoire and major works. Tours and records annually.||Fall, Spring.|
|MUSIC3603||Glee Club A nationally renowned choral ensemble and vibrant student-driven organization specializing in repertoire for tenors and basses. Collaborates frequently with the Chorus to present mixed-voice repertoire and major works. Tours and records annually.||Fall, Spring.|
|MUSIC3604||Chorale A course for singers wishing to develop their musicianship, sight-reading, and vocal technique. The Chorale is a performing ensemble, and is focused on the development of essential skills to a high level, preparing students with the musical foundations necessary for a life in choral music.||Fall, Spring.|
Brazilian Ensemble - Deixa Sambar
Deixa Sambar performs several styles of samba, Brazil's national music. Members need not have prior background in music-making, but a good sense of rhythm is desirable. Members include students as well as Ithaca community members, brasileiros as well as newcomers to Brazilian culture. Rehearsals develop playing skills, with a deep emphasis on cultural understanding of this vital, community-based music.
Full details for MUSIC 3609 - Brazilian Ensemble - Deixa Sambar
|MUSIC3610||Cornell Gamelan Ensemble Performs the traditional repertoire of Central Javanese gamelan.||Fall, Spring.|
|MUSIC3613||Cornell Steel Band The Cornell Steel Band explores the wide variety of music for an orchestra of instruments fashioned from 55-gallon oil drums, and an "engine room" of non-pitched percussion. Interwoven into the focus on hands-on practice is reflection on the meanings of steel band, historically and in the present, in its native Trinidad and Tobago and here in the United States. Formal musical training is not necessary, though a sense of rhythm and a good ear are helpful.||Fall, Spring.|
|MUSIC3615||Jazz Repertory Ensemble Study and performance of classic and contemporary big band literature. Rehearsal once a week with one to two performances a semester.||Spring.|
|MUSIC3616||Cornell Hip-Hop Collective This course is open to experienced rappers, beatmakers, and vocalists interested forging collaborative relationships with other students. Taking as a foundation hip-hop's relationship to social justice, each semester we will work together to plan and record an EP on a theme or keyword chosen as a group. We will construct and analyze playlists of inspirational material, identifying specific hip-hop compositional strategies for creating beats and rhymes on a theme, and will use these tools to create and workshop our own collaborative tracks in weekly meetings. Please contact the instructor to audition.||Fall, spring.|
|MUSIC3621||Cornell Symphony Orchestra This course will provide its members an engaging and vigorous orchestral experience where they will expand their knowledge and enjoyment of advanced repertoire with like-minded musicians. CSO is committed to offering rich concert programming experiences through major works of the orchestral canon as well as groundbreaking works representing music of our time. The primary objective of the course is to achieve a learning outcome that is student and ensemble driven, strengthening the confidence and artistic depth of each musician.||Fall, Spring.|
|MUSIC3631||Cornell Wind Symphony The Cornell Wind Symphony unites student musicians in an ensemble dedicated to the study and performance of emerging and traditional wind repertoire. The Cornell Wind Symphony unites student musicians in an ensemble dedicated to the study and performance of emerging and traditional wind repertoire. In Spring 2021, the Wind Symphony will likely make music in both in-person and remote settings. Full details and audition instructions will be posted on www.cuwinds.com as they become available.||Fall, Spring.|
|MUSIC3634||Cornell Percussion Group The Cornell Percussion Ensemble studies and performs un-conducted percussion chamber music from the rapidly expanding repertoire. Utilizing the stylistic and sonic variety that is unique to the medium, the ensemble performs music from the relatively young canon, including classics by Iannis Xenakis and Steve Reich, as well as many pieces composed within the past few years. Members of the ensemble will develop strategic listening and communication techniques through the study of percussion chamber works and mixed chamber ensemble pieces, while advancing their interpretative and technical skills. Prior experience with percussion instruments is required, and participants must meet with the instructor for a short audition before enrolling.||Fall, Spring.|
|MUSIC3901||Supplemental Study in Music Intended primarily for music majors, this option allows students enrolled in an approved 1000- or 2000-level 3-credit music history course to pursue independent research and writing projects. Students will study various topics in music history at a more advanced level through supplementary reading, discussion, and writing, by arrangement with the professor.||Fall, Spring.|
|MUSIC3902||Choral Musicianship Co-requisite for new members of Cornell choirs, based on audition. Recommended for choral musicians at all levels. Foundational and advanced approaches to choral sight-singing, aural skills, diction, score reading, and vocal topics.||Fall, Spring.|
|MUSIC4410||Bending Instruments What is a sounding object or musical instrument, and how does human culture shape these unique human-made material sources of sound? In a workshop environment, students will explore how instruments and sound objects can be modified or "bent" to produce yet more sounds. By using ideas from music, sound art, and sound studies and being inspired by visiting instrument makers, we will explore what instruments are and could be. Students, working alone or in collaboration, will design and build (which could include a conceptual reworking) their own instrument or sounding object that they will learn how to operate and modify to make new sounds.||Spring.|
|MUSIC4501||Individual Instruction Individual instruction in voice, organ, harpsichord, piano and fortepiano, violin, viola, cello, percussion, and some brass and woodwind instruments to those students advanced enough to do college-level work in these instruments. For more information about individual instruction, see the section titled Musical Instruction.||Fall, Spring.|
|MUSIC4615||Jazz Ensemble Study and performance of classic and contemporary big band literature. Rehearsals twice a week with two to four performances per semester.||Fall, Spring.|
|MUSIC4616||Jazz Combos Study and performance of classic and contemporary small-group jazz.||Fall, Spring.|
|MUSIC4621||Cornell Chamber Orchestra The goal of this music performance course is to provide the opportunity for you as a string performer to come together with other like-minded musicians in an ensemble setting to rehearse and perform the highest quality literature from the chamber orchestra repertoire. In this course we will focus on overall concepts of self and ensemble expression, engagement, participation, and performance. We will also address musical concepts of ensemble and individual balance, blend, intonation, phrasing, dynamics, articulation, tone, rhythmic precision, color, and ensemble clarity. We are going to listen to ourselves, to each other and to the composer's voice.||Fall, Spring.|
|MUSIC4631||Chamber Flute Ensemble Small ensembles meet weekly to explore diverse flute repertoire including a variety of instrumentation (piccolo, alto flute, bass flute). There will be a performance opportunity at the end of the semester on a chamber concert or in a studio class setting.||Fall, Spring.|
|MUSIC4633||Early-Music Lab This course will provide its members with an in-depth ensemble experience in the performance practices of European music of the Baroque era (1600-1750). Playing pieces from different styles and periods of that era, the students will acquire new skills that will enhance their musicianship and develop a new, practice-based historical understanding of this important period of Western music history. Historical sources, treatises, and other primary accounts will be discussed, and the students will be able to play on instruments set up the way they were in the seventeenth- and eighteenth centuries. The aim is to open up the instrumental resources, techniques, and ideas available to musicians and inspire curiosity toward the performance practices of all periods in music history.||Spring.|
Advanced Instruction in Gamelan
Concentrated instruction for students in advanced techniques of performance on Indonesian gamelan instruments.
Full details for MUSIC 4641 - Advanced Instruction in Gamelan
|MUSIC4651||Chamber Music Ensemble Study and performance of chamber music works from duos to octets, for all instruments and voice. Students will be expected to attend a one hour coaching each week and rehearse on their own as well. There will be a final performance at the end of the semester and possible additional performance opportunities.||Fall, Spring.|
|MUSIC4901||Independent Study in Music Independent study affords students the opportunity to pursue special interests or research not treated in regularly scheduled courses. A faculty member, who becomes the student's instructor for the independent course, must approve the proposed study and agree to provide continuing supervision of the work. Students must prepare a proposal for independent study. To apply for independent study, please complete the online form. Undergraduate student and faculty advisor to determine course of study and credit hours.||Fall or Spring.|
|MUSIC4912||Honors in Music Second semester of the two semester honors program. In conjunction with faculty, selected candidates formulate a program that allows them to demonstrate their musical and scholarly abilities, culminating in an honors thesis, composition, or recital (or some combination of these), to be presented in their senior year.||Spring.|
|MUSIC6400||Thinking Media Studies This required seminar for the new graduate minor in media studies considers media from a wide number of perspectives, ranging from the methods of cinema and television studies to those of music, information science, communication, science and technology studies, and beyond. Historical and theoretical approaches to media are intertwined with meta-critical reflections on media studies as an interdisciplinary field of inquiry. Close attention will be paid to media's role in shaping and being shaped by race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, and other politically constructed categories of identity and sociality.||Spring.|
|MUSIC6410||Bending Instruments What is a sounding object or musical instrument, and how does human culture shape these unique human-made material sources of sound? In a workshop environment, students will explore how instruments and sound objects can be modified or "bent" to produce yet more sounds. By using ideas from music, sound art, and sound studies and being inspired by visiting instrument makers, we will explore what instruments are and could be. Students, working alone or in collaboration, will design and build (which could include a conceptual reworking) their own instrument or sounding object that they will learn how to operate and modify to make new sounds.||Spring.|
|MUSIC7111||Composition A course for graduate or advanced undergraduate composers (by permission with a portfolio audition) seeking individual music composition instruction, the course combines one-on-one meetings with group seminars featuring workshops, master classes, and/or visiting guests. In addition to individual and group meetings, composers may have opportunities for the reading and/or performance of their work.||Fall, Spring.|
Orchestration: Approaches to Large Ensemble Music in the 20th and 21st centuries
Orchestration is a seminar intended to immerse graduate-level musicians, particularly composers, in the histories, ideas, innovations, aesthetics, and logistical complexities of large ensemble and orchestral music in the 20th and 21st centuries. We will examine large scale ideas including shifting conceptions of orchestral scale, time, space, and color, memory and musical fragmentation, the reimagining of orchestral forms, as well as the influence and inclusion of different technological innovations. The seminar will also spend considerable time looking at orchestrational techniques, methods of execution, and compositional strategies relevant to the students' own creative work. The seminar will ask students to critically engage with a wide range of repertoire and readings surrounding this genre of music, while offering practice-based, workshop opportunities for students to develop and refine their musical ideas.
Full details for MUSIC 7120 - Orchestration: Approaches to Large Ensemble Music in the 20th and 21st centuries
|MUSIC7324||Postmusic This seminar will survey and assess new developments in music studies that open up fundamental theoretical questions about its basic object of analysis: music. These problems for thought include the transition from works to practices, the reformulation of audiences, the end of European claims of aesthetic universality, the reappraisal of human-centered accounts of music, the historical emergence of the categories of sound and sound art, and the destabilization of what counts as knowledge about music and how musical expertise has been institutionalized. As the social and historical conditions that once gave rise to the scholarly study of music are displaced by a new global formation, music studies appears uncertain about what its object might be, hence the title of this seminar.||Spring.|
|MUSIC7901||Independent Study in Music Independent study affords students the opportunity to pursue special interests or research not treated in regularly scheduled courses. A faculty member, who becomes the student's instructor for the independent course, must approve the proposed study and agree to provide continuing supervision of the work.||Fall, Spring.|