General Overview of Music Courses

General Information about Music Courses

Courses in the Department of Music are open to all students enrolled at Cornell, regardless of college. They can be taken either toward a major in music, a minor in music (an option for students from all colleges), or as a stand-alone elective. Music courses satisfy distribution requirements in the College of Arts and Sciences, and often in other colleges as well. Current offerings are listed in the course roster.

Many music courses have no prerequisite. 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.

Certain courses require permission of instructor due to limitations of instruments, equipment, or space. Most performance courses, including individual instruction, involve an audition, but there are several that do not assume previous experience; see the Performance page for details.

Nearly all music courses fall into one of three overarching categories connected to the music major requirements:

  • History and Culture [H&C]
  • Materials and Techniques [M&T]
  • Performance

Core Courses

The following three courses, required for all majors, offer a broad perspective on music for all interested students:

  • Music 1101: Elements of Music explores a wide range of musics to reveal the surprising complexity within seemingly universal musical elements: pitch, melody, harmony, rhythm, and form
  • Music 1105: Building Musical Skills introduces practical listening and making skills, and explores analytical concepts and terminology that are applicable both across and within specific musical traditions
  • Music 2201: Introduction to Music Studies introduces students to the critical study of music as an expression of history and culture, and explores different styles of writing about music, including journalistic, academic, and creative

Incoming students who intend to major in music are strongly encouraged to enroll in Music 1101 in the Fall semester, and to take Music 1105 and Music 2201 within their first two years.

History and Culture

  • MUSIC 1201 European Music from the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Baroque
  • MUSIC 1202 European and American Art Music from 1750
  • MUSIC 1205 Introduction to Western Art Music
  • MUSIC 1212 Music on the Brain (cross-listed)
  • MUSIC 1312 History of Rock Music (crosslisted) 
  • MUSIC 1313 A Survey of Jazz (crosslisted)
  • MUSIC 1320 Music of Latin America (crosslisted)
  • MUSIC 1321 Music of Mexico and the Mexican Diaspora (crosslisted)
  • MUSIC 1330 African Music (crosslisted)
  • MUSIC 1340 Soundscapes of Social Protest (crosslisted)
  • MUSIC 1343 Musics in Asia
  • MUSIC 2006 Punk Culture: The Aesthetics and Politics of Refusal (crosslisted)
  • MUSIC 2207 History of Western Music I
  • MUSIC 2208 History of Western Music II
  • MUSIC 2209 History of Western Music III
  • MUSIC 2221 Bach and Handel
  • MUSIC 2241 Music as Drama: An Introduction to Opera (crosslisted) 
  • MUSIC 2244 The Music, Art and Technology of the Organ (crosslisted)
  • MUSIC 2260 Music of the 1960s (crosslisted)
  • MUSIC 2290 U Have Terrible Taste in Music
  • MUSIC 2311 The Art and Craft of Music Journalism
  • MUSIC 2320 Latino Music in the U.S.(crosslisted)
  • MUSIC 2330 Music in and of East Asia (crosslisted)
  • MUSIC 2340 The Beatles (crosslisted)
  • MUSIC 2341 Gamelan in Indonesian History and Cultures (crosslisted)
  • MUSIC 2350 Music of the African Diaspora (crosslisted)
  • MUSIC 2370 Planet Rap: Where Hip Hop Came From and Where It's Going (crosslisted)
  • MUSIC 2642 The Art of Math: Mathematical Traditions of Symmetry and Harmony (crosslisted)
  • MUSIC 2701 Music and Digital Gameplay (crosslisted)
  • MUSIC 2703 Thinking Media (crosslisted)
  • MUSIC 3205 Cultural Studies of Music
  • MUSIC 3211 Seminar in Advanced Music Studies
  • MUSIC 3212 Seminar in Music Research
  • MUSIC 3302 Rhythm and Blues to Funk: Black Popular Music Before Hip Hop (crosslisted)
  • MUSIC 3480 Brazilian Culture through Its Music (crosslisted)
  • MUSIC 3490 Hip Hop in Global Perspective
  • MUSIC 4233 Musical Touch
  • MUSIC 4270 Minimalism
  • MUSIC 4312 Synthesizing Pop: Electronics and the Musical Imagination (crosslisted)
  • MUSIC 4332 Jazz and the Long Sixties
  • MUSIC 4345 Sound, Silence, and the Sacred (crosslisted)
  • MUSIC 4454 Writing on Tape in the 1970s (crosslisted)
  • MUSIC 4667 Sonic Remains: Media, Performance, and Material Culture (crosslisted)

Materials and Techniques

  • MUSIC 1100 Elements of Musical Notation
  • MUSIC 1101 Elements of Music  
  • MUSIC 1105 Building Musical Skills
  • MUSIC 1108 Technological Musicianship
  • MUSIC 1421 Introduction to Computer Music
  • MUSIC 1465 Computing in the Arts (crosslisted) 
  • MUSIC 1466 Physics of Musical Sound (crosslisted)
  • MUSIC 2101 Theory, Materials & Techniques I (taught annually in Fall only)
  • MUSIC 2102 Theory, Materials & Techniques II (taught annually in Spring only)
  • MUSIC 2111 Songwriting
  • MUSIC 2112 Collaborative Songwriting
  • MUSIC 2120 The Art of Conducting
  • MUSIC 2201 Introduction to Music Studies (taught annually in Spring only)
  • MUSIC 2380 Performing Hip Hop
  • MUSIC 2421 Computers in Music Performance
  • MUSIC 2440 Shaping Sound I: An introduction to Musical Composition and Experimentation in Sound
  • MUSIC 2441 Shaping Sound II
  • MUSIC 3111 Jazz Theory and Improvisation I
  • MUSIC 3112 Jazz Theory and Improvisation II
  • MUSIC 3115 Jazz Piano
  • MUSIC 3121 Choral Conducting
  • MUSIC 3122 Conducting
  • MUSIC 3141 The Composer's Toolbox I
  • MUSIC 3142 The Composer's Toolbox II
  • MUSIC 3424 Considered Listening: Sound, Ears, and Loudspeakers in Creative Practice
  • MUSIC 3431 Sound Design (crosslisted)
  • MUSIC 3432 Sound Studies: An Introduction
  • MUSIC 4112 Composition
  • MUSIC 4121 Advanced Conducting
  • MUSIC 4181 Psychology of Music (crosslisted)  
  • MUSIC 4340 Fieldwork Method in Ethnomusicology
  • MUSIC 4341 Writing Musical Ethnography
  • MUSIC 4410 Bending Instruments
  • MUSIC 4440 FutureSound

Performance Courses

  • MUSIC 3511-3514, 4501 Individual Instruction in Applied Music
  • MUSIC 3602 Chorus  
  • MUSIC 3603 Glee Club
  • MUSIC 3604 Chorale
  • MUSIC 3609 Brazilian Ensemble-Deixa Sambar (crosslisted)
  • MUSIC 3610 Gamelan Ensemble
  • MUSIC 3613 Cornell Steel Band (crosslisted)
  • MUSIC 3615 Jazz Repartory Ensemble
  • MUSIC 3616 Cornell Hip-Hop Collective (crosslisted)
  • MUSIC 3621 Symphony Orchestra
  • MUSIC 3631 Wind Symphony
  • MUSIC 3634 Cornell Percussion Group
  • MUSIC 3660 Music Improvisation Ensemble
  • MUSIC 3701 The Performance of Chamber Wind Music
  • MUSIC 4601 Chamber Singers  
  • MUSIC 4615 Jazz Band
  • MUSIC 4616 Jazz Combos  
  • MUSIC 4621 Chamber Orchestra  
  • MUSIC 4631 Chamber Flute Ensemble  
  • MUSIC 4641 Advanced Instruction in Gamelan
  • MUSIC 4651 Chamber Music Ensembles

Other Courses

  • MUSIC 3703 Engaged Performance creates opportunities for campus engagement, cultural outreach and community building through music; see Engaged Cornell for details.
  • MUSIC 2370 Global Hip Hop: Self-Expression, Celebration & Social Change is a Summer College course intended primarily for precollege students; see Precollege Studies for details.
  • First-year writing seminars do not satisfy distribution or music-major requirements but can provide a way of exploring musical interests.

Transfer Credit

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 comparable. Students should note that Cornell’s Core Courses are distinct from those oriented more narrowly toward proficiency in Western musics. See also the information provided by the College of Arts & Sciences.

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