Course Offerings | Music

Division of Humanities

Barbara Hall (chair), Larry Bitensky, Vincent DiMartino, Sarah Stoycos; students: Katherine Everett (fall), Kelly McGrath (Centre/spring), Karen Wicke (Centre/spring), Will Young (fall)

The Music Program at Centre College seeks to provide a meaningful experience with music of high quality for every student at the College. We are committed to:

1. Enabling students to listen perceptively and communicate clearly about music.

2. Developing each student’s understanding of the interrelationship of the history, theory, and practice of music.

3. Increasing and broadening student appreciation of a variety of musical styles.

4. Enabling students to become more accomplished, creative, and expressive musicians through participation in applied study and performance organizations.

5. Preparing students with professional aspirations in music for employment and graduate studies in the discipline.

Requirements for the Major

MUS 120, 121, 220, 221, 230, 231, 320, 321, 500 or 501;
Three additional MUS courses, excluding applied music. One may be at the 200-level, two must be at the 300-level;

Five hours of applied music; at least one term must be at the 300-level;
Passing grade on the Comprehensive Musicianship Exam, administered as the final exam in MUS 321. The exam may be retaken once each term.

Requirements for the Minor

MUS 120, 121, 220, 221, 230 or 231;
Three additional three-hour electives, exculding applied music, at the 200-level or above; one must be at the 300 level;
Four credit hours of applied music, at least three terms must be on the same instrument.

Music Courses

History and Theory Courses

MUS 110 Fundamentals of Music
An introduction to music theory, including standard music notation, key signatures, and recognition of simple chords and chord symbols. Designed for those with little or no previous training in music.

MUS 111 Listening to Music
An introduction to Western musical culture and style. Through careful listening to music from the Middle Ages to the present, students study the historical and cultural context of a wide range of music and learn critical listening skills. While the primary focus is on music of the Western classical tradition, regular comparisons with contemporary popular music and culture forms an integral part of the course. Special emphasis is also placed on music that students hear live at the Norton Center or in other area concert venues. No prerequisite; the ability to read music is not required.

MUS 112 History of Jazz
An introduction to and discussion of jazz history including the styles, musical components, and central figures. Course goals are accomplished through lectures, videos, and musical performances in and out of class. Knowledge of a musical instrument is not required.

MUS 113 World Music
An exploration of the musical styles and cultural significance of music in various non-Western cultures through lectures, listening, and performances. Cultures studied may include those of India, the Middle East, China, Japan, Africa, and Latin America. No musical knowledge or experience is necessary.

MUS 114 American Music
Students listen to, read about, and discuss many of this country’s vernacular music traditions—e.g., Appalachian folk ballads, African-American spirituals, Country Music, the Blues, Psalmody, Shape-Note, Jazz, Tin Pan Alley, Rock ‘n Roll, etc.—with emphasis on the particular contexts that gave birth to each of these distinctive styles. There is also a brief look at American classical music, chiefly as it relates to popular music. Field trips to live performances may be included, depending on availability. Note: No music reading skills or performance abilities are required for this course.

MUS 115 Music and Society, Past and Present
This course draws upon a wide range of music, from sacred and secular Western art music to jazz, folk, rock, and other popular genres. Through listening and reading, as well as extensive classroom discussion, the class investigates how social factors, such as race, gender, politics, economics, class, religion, and technology interact with music; these forces not only influence composers and the music they write, but also help shape the perceptions of those who listen to it, not the least of all ourselves. The ability to read music is not required.

MUS 120 Materials and Structure of Music-I
Introduction to the music of the "common practice period" (European music from about 1650-1900) as well as more recent music based on similar principles (much of 20th-century popular music). Topics include diatonic harmony and voice-leading, melodic organization, and simple forms. Students develop fluency in analysis and in composing imitative style exercises using computer music notation. Students normally enroll in MUS 121 concurrently. Prerequisite: MUS 110 or successful performance on placement exam.

MUS 121 Musicianship-I (one credit hour)
A skills lab for aural recognition (identification of intervals and chord qualities), sight singing, simple melodic dictation, keyboard harmony, and elementary improvisation. Group work is heavily supplemented by individual work using the department’s computer facilities. Note: Students may enroll in MUS 121 without taking MUS 120.

MUS 123 Learning Music through Digital Technology
An introduction to digital electronic music. Students make their own electronic compositions by learning to use sequencers and sound editors, using the Music Program’s synthesizers and computers. Presentation of final projects in a public class concert is required.

MUS 124/324 Music Writing Workshop
This introductory class welcomes students at all levels—those with little, or considerable experience with music. Students learn techniques to help them write music that may range from rock, pop and country songs, jazz and vocal arrangements, to classical works. Ability to read music is not required, although some experience with singing or a musical instrument such as guitar or keyboard is very helpful. No prerequisite is required for the beginning level; MUS 120 is required for the advanced level.

MUS 205/ANT 205 Spain & Morocco : A Cultural Adventure
Through an intense 16-day musical and cultural study tour guided by local experts, in which students explore the music, art, architecture, dance and festivity of the region of southern Spain and Morocco , the course examines the ways in which a culture's artistic traditions are a reflection of societal values. Open to students who have paid the deposit for this off campus program. Conducted in Spain & Morocco.

MUS 220 Materials and Structure of Music-II
Continuation of MUS 120. Topics include chromatic harmony and voice-leading, counterpoint, and classical forms. Students normally enroll in MUS 221 concurrently. Prerequisite: MUS 120.

MUS 221 Musicianship-II (one credit hour)
Continuation of MUS 12M. Intermediate sight singing, melodic and harmonic dictation, keyboard harmony, and improvisation. Prerequisite: MUS 120 and MUS 121, or permission of the instructor.

MUS 230, 231 Survey of Music History-I, II
Survey of music literature and history from the medieval period to the 20th century, emphasizing style, forms, cultural context, and performance practice. Prerequisite: MUS 110 or permission of the instructor.

MUS 320 Materials and Structure of Music-III
Continuation of MUS 220. Topics include melodic, harmonic, rhythmic and textural materials of the music of the romantic period, the post-romantic period including impressionistic styles, and the contemporary period. Students normally enroll in MUS 321 concurrently. Prerequisite: MUS 220.

MUS 321 Musicianship-III (one credit hour)
Continuation of MUS 221. The final exam serves as the comprehensive musicianship exam for the music major. Prerequisite: MUS 220 and MUS 221, or permission of the instructor. May be repeated without credit as necessary.

MUS 323 Principles of Conducting
A study of techniques of reading, playing, and conducting from choral and orchestral scores. Advanced aural skills (sight-singing and dictation) are practiced. Prerequisite: MUS 220 or permission of the instructor.

MUS 325 Instrumentation and Orchestration
An introduction to the fundamental techniques of instrumentation and orchestration. Through a combination of score study, listening, workshop sessions, guest artists, and creative written work, students gain a working knowledge of how to write and arrange for the modern orchestra. Prerequisite: MUS 220, or concurrently, or permission of the instructor.

MUS 331 Music to Die For: Requiems
A detailed examination of a handful of musical works from a variety of periods, styles and genres, all of which in some way speak to the issue of death. In addition to studying the Requiem settings by Mozart, Berlioz, Brahms, Verdi and Britten, we will address other works by composers from the Renaissance up through the present day. Students combine close musical analysis with broader approaches of study that address issues of large structure, music-text relationships, and cultural-historical context. Prerequisite: MUS 220 and either 230 or 231, or permission of the instructor.

MUS 450 Music and Politics Under the Nazi & Soviet Regimes
This course examines the interaction of music and politics under these two totalitarian regimes. Specific areas of inquiry include topics such as music in the Jewish ghettos and concentration camps, Hitler's affinity for the music of Richard Wagner, the plight of both Jewish and non-Jewish composers and performers in Germany, music as propaganda, the rise of new musical genres and styles in response to political demands, and the implications of Stalin's purges for the lives and music of Soviet composers such as Prokofiev and Shostakovich. Prerequisite: MUS 220 and 231.

MUS 500 Senior Recital (two credit hours)
Taken in lieu of applied music in one of the terms during the senior year, the course culminates in a solo recital of at least 40 minutes of music and substantial program notes for inclusion in the program. The course also includes a major paper on a piece or pieces performed in the recital that focuses on analytical techniques, performance practice, and music history.

MUS 501 Senior Project (two credit hours)
A senior capstone experience requiring a substantial written study of a topic combining analysis and historical investigation. Students make a public presentation of the study at the end of the term.

History and Theory Courses

Applied Music Courses

All applied music courses are awarded one credit hour and are normally offered in the long terms only. Students who plan to take an applied music course are encouraged to take the course for at least two consecutive long terms. At the beginning and intermediate levels, two terms are normally completed before advancing to the next level. Incoming students will be assigned a level by the instructor after two applied lessons.

Students registering for applied music courses pay a $200 fee, except in the case of declared music majors who are not charged for applied instruction in a primary and a secondary instrument, and declared music minors and music scholarship holders who are not charged for applied instruction in a primary instrument. A student who drops applied music before taking a lesson and by the official drop date will be refunded the entire fee. After one lesson, $100 will be refunded, with no refund after two or more lessons.

In addition to the requirements given in the course descriptions below, attendance at a number of recitals and concerts may be assigned. At the completion of the second long term at the intermediate and advanced levels the student must play a performance jury for the music faculty. With permission of instructor and approval by the music program, any student may give a public recital after two terms of advanced study. In the term of a recital no jury is required.

Any student may choose to register for an applied music course on a Pass/Unsatisfactory basis. However, if this option is chosen, these hours will be counted against the maximum of seven credit hours of graduation credit that a student may elect to take on a Pass/Unsatisfactory basis.

MUS 140-169 First-year Applied Music (one hour of credit per term)

MUS 240-269 Second-year Applied Music (one hour of credit per term)

MUS 340-369 Third-year Applied Music (one hour of credit per term)

MUS 440-469 Fourth-year Applied Music (one hour of credit per term)
Study of an instrument, voice, or composition through private instruction. Courses stress basic technical development as well as sensitivity to the appropriate style for literature from various historical periods. Lessons at all levels include 13 thirty-minute lessons or 8 forty-five minute lessons plus one thirty-minute lesson. For the beginning level courses, the instructor has the option of substituting two weekly 45-minute class lessons for the private lesson. A minimum of four hours per week of practice at the beginning level and six hours of practice at the intermediate and advanced levels per week and attendance at a number of studio classes and/or performances are required. Students taking applied music must participate in a college sponsored ensemble or, where appropriate, accompany an applied student or ensemble. The ensemble requirement for composition students will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Private instruction in instruments other than those listed below may be offered depending on student interest and availability of qualified instructors.

Harpsichord. Permission of instructor; previous keyboard study strongly recommended.
Organ. Prerequisite: piano proficiency at the level of J.S. Bach’s Two-Part Inventions.
Composition. Prerequisite: Mus 110 or permission of the instructor.


All ensembles stress the study and performance of a broad range of music literature appropriate to the general aims of the liberal arts curriculum. Choral and instrumental ensembles are offered for credit in the long terms only. The listed ensembles grant one credit hour per term, require a minimum of 2.5 hours of rehearsal per week, and are graded Pass/Unsatisfactory only (these hours do not count against the college’s limit of 7 hours of ungraded coursework). Music majors and minors are strongly urged to participate in an ensemble every term. A maximun of six hours of ensemble credit may be applied toward requirements for the degree.

Choral Ensembles

Centre Singers
Centre Women’s Voices
Centre Men’s Voices
Centre Chorale
Centre College Choir

Instrumental Ensembles

Centre Trumpets
Centre Brass
Centre Flutes
Centre Clarinets
Centre Saxes
Centre Strings
Centre College Orchestra
Centre College Jazz Band
Centre Percussion Ensemble
Centre Chamber Ensemble
Centre New Music Ensemble

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