Spring 2023: Music Courses | About the Department | Department of Music

Spring 2023: Music Courses

We are excited to announce our course offerings for the Spring 2023 semester!

Please reach out to the course instructor or email [email protected] with any questions. For a full list of Department offerings, log in to Workday and use the ‘Find Course Sections Brandeis‘ report to view and search the schedule.


Undergraduate Classes

MUS 3B | Global Soundscapes: Performing Musical Tradition Across Time and Place

Professor Bradford Garvey

T/F 9:35 -10:55 a.m. | Slosberg Recital Hall

What are we listening to? Applies engaged listening skills and critical analysis for a deeper appreciation of (non-Western) music as a cultural expression. Focuses on particular traditions as well as social context, impact of globalization, cultural production, cultural rights, etc. Usually offered every year.

AMST/MUS 55A | Music in Film: Hearing American Cinema

Professor Taylor Ackley

T/Th 2:20-3:40 p.m. | Slosberg Recital Hall

Examines the historical context, stylistic development, and cultural significance of rock and roll and other closely related genres, spanning the 1950s through the present. Close attention is paid to how political and social changes have interacted with technological innovations through commercial music to challenge, affirm and shape ideas of race, gender, class and sexuality in the United States. Usually offered every third year.

ENG/MUS 55B | If Music and Sweet Poetry Agree

Professor Sarah Mead & Professor Ramie Targoff

T, F 3:55-5:15 p.m. | Slosberg Room 211

Explores the intersection of poetry and music in late 16th-c England and Italy. The course will provide an introduction to the Renaissance sonnet and other popular poetic genres that were routinely transformed into music, as well as to the musical concepts of form, rhythm and melodic mode. The course will include both male and female authors, and consider what role gender plays in both poetic and musical creation in the period. Special one-time offering, spring 2023.

MUS 101B | Western Classical and Popular Music I: How It’s Made, Part 2

Professor Yu-Hui Chang

M,W 4:05 PM–5:25 p.m. | Slosberg Room 211

The second semester introduces broad concepts of theory and begins the process of learning to write and analyze music. By the end of the year, students will gain experience in counterpoint, harmony, and formal analysis, and will compose in a simple form. Throughout the year, the relationship of repertoire and theory is stressed. The required ear-training and keyboard lab meets separately. Usually offered every year.

MUS 103A | Western Classical and Popular Music II: How It’s Made, Part 2

Professor Mark Berger

T/Th 2:20-3:40 p.m. | Slosberg Room 215

A continuation of MUS 103a. Twentieth century styles and techniques are covered, including extended tonality and atonality. Several compositional projects are assigned and performed in class. Usually offered every year.

MUS 111A/112A: Private Instrumental and Vocal Study

Instrumentalists: Professor Bob Nieske  | Vocalists: Professor Robert Duff

Individual lessons to be scheduled

Lessons are taught either by members of the Brandeis faculty or by members of Boston’s large and talented community of professional musicians. Course fee: $700 for non-Music program students; $250 for non-performance track undergraduate Music majors and Music graduate students; no fee for undergraduate Music performance track majors and Leonard Bernstein Fellows. Click here for detailed information about registration and lesson requirements. 

MUS 116A | Chamber Music: From Page to Stage

Professor Joshua Gordon

Group coachings to be scheduled

Musicians bring their own experience, instinct, and theoretical knowledge to music-making through study and performance of chamber music in a supportive master class setting. Through coaching by a professional performer, readings, and listening to recordings, this course examines how performance practice, basic structural analysis, and historical context affect interpretation. Individual and ensemble preparation required. Class meetings include coaching, discussion/listening salon, masterclass and rehearsals, to be scheduled. Final public performance.

MUS 121 | Math and Music

Professor Erin Gee and Professor Jonathan Touboul

M,W 2:30-3:50 p.m. | Slosberg Recital Hall

Mathematical patterns, symmetries, sequences, modular relationships, and order are ubiquitous in music. In fact, mathematics and music have inspired each other for centuries, with music providing inspiration for some mathematical discoveries and mathematical concepts providing a conceptual framework for thinking about musical expression, tuning, composition, and musical analysis. With the advent of computers and mathematical methods in recent years, new concepts have been implemented into algorithmic music composition. The purpose of this class is to provide students with an introduction to the deep relationship between mathematics and music, to present in depth a collection of selected topics that highlight the influence of symmetries, patterns, stochastic structures and geometrical analysis, and to encourage the students to explore those links in a creative final project. Special one-time offering, spring 2023.

MUS 133B | Music in Western Culture: Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries

Professor Sarah Koval

T/F 12:45 -2:05 p.m. | Slosberg Room 212

A survey of music from Vivaldi, Bach, and Handel through Beethoven and Schubert. Major styles, genres, and techniques of musical composition are discussed from historical and analytic perspective, based on a study of representative works.

Seminars (Undergraduate & Graduate)

MUS 161B| Advanced Seminar

Professor Emily Frey

M 9:05-11:55 a.m. | Slosberg Room 234

Topic for Spring 2023: Race and the American Musical

Upper-level academic seminar taken by all juniors that focuses on a single topic of the instructor’s choice (such as notation, musical form, aesthetics, improvisation, etc.). Ideally students will take this in their junior year, although if students are away on Study Abroad, they may take this course at another point in their degree program. Usually offered every fall.

MUS 162B | Seminar in MAX/MSP

Professor Davide Ianni

T, F 9:35 AM–10:55 a.m | Slosberg Room 233 (BEAMS)

Topics related to the use of the MAX/MSP graphical programming language for composition, sound design, installation, and live performance. Participants engage in individual projects and study MAX patches by established practitioners. Individual and group research and presentations are required. Usually offered every third year.

MUS 174A| Instrumentation and Orchestration

Professor David Rakowski

M,W,Th 10:10 AM–11:00 AM | Slosberg Room 212

Technical projects in the art of writing for instruments and for groups of instruments, from chamber groups of various sizes to full orchestra. Score study of examples from 1770 to the present. Additional focus on notation and on rules for instrumental parts. Usually offered every second year.

MUS 183B| Introduction to Ethnomusicology

Professor Bradford Garvey

W 9:05 AM–11:55 AM | Slosberg Room 234

Ethnomusicology is the study of music in action—in the moment, amongst musicians, and focalizing the context of performance and the shared ground of meaning in which that music is enacted. This course introduces disciplinary ethnomusicology by way of a broad overview of the history and development of the field, its interactions (both successful and unsuccessful) with its sister disciplines, and the role of ethnomusicology within and beyond the academy. We will read, listen to, and discuss some of the major scholars and thinkers of the field, examining the social context of their interventions in the discipline and their fieldwork. We will pursue several special projects through the semester, ranging from transcription workshops to computer-assisted musical analysis. Finally, the course will prepare students for a brief participant-observation fieldwork project that will function as a capstone assignment for the course. Usually offered every third year.

MUS 191B| Analysis of Extended Tonal Music

Professor Yu-Hui Chang

M 12:00 PM–3:00 PM | Slosberg Room 211

Works in this course are selected from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Composers such as Wagner, Wolf, Debussy, early Schoenberg, Bartok, and Stravinsky. Music from the Renaissance and early baroque may also be examined. Usually offered every second year.

MUS 196B| Sound and Space: Sound Installation and Movement Staging in the Field of Music Composition

Professor Erin Gee

F 2:20 PM–5:10 PM | Slosberg Room 212

Students will design their own sound installation and learn how to build meaning through space and sound In relation to a cross-disciplinary research topic. This research will be modeled on methods cross-disciplinary project-building In various disciplines. Students will be informed by historical precedent In this field, design (and fulfill) a research goal around the production of the installation, and understand how to create (and to actually create by the end of the class) an intellectually rigorous and engaging interaction between the aural and visual. Usually offered every third year.

MUS 205A | Musicology Lab

Professor Emily Frey

M 1:00 PM–2:20 PM | Slosberg Room 234

This two-credit lab meeting seminar is centered on professional development. We meet once a week to run through any upcoming conference papers, edit and proofread job, internship, and grant application materials, work on abstracts for conferences, discuss best strategies for success in the job market, research and writing strategies, and any other topics that the students would like to work on with the group. Second-year musicology students (PhD and Master’s) must take this course for credit in both the Fall and Spring semesters. PhD musicology students are expected to attend lab for at least six semesters in total. Usually offered every semester.

MUS 206B | Music, Identity, and Activism

Professor Taylor Ackley

T 9:35 AM–12:25 PM | Slosberg Room 234

With a focus on American culture in the 20th and 21st centuries, this course will examine how identities are shaped, defied and reimagined through music and sound. Particular attention will be paid to music which actively participates in political and social activism. We will also explore the philosophical and aesthetic ramifications of shifts in society’s expectations of the role art plays in our culture; ultimately asking, what are the responsibilities of artists and cultural institutions in the ongoing fights against injustice, discrimination and marginalization? Usually offered every third year.

Ensembles (Undergraduate & Graduate)

Sarah Mead, director

T/Th 5:30-6:50 p.m. | Slosberg Recital Hall

Explore the music and performance practices of Western Europe in the Renaissance and early Baroque eras using the music department’s large collection of historical instruments. Singers and instrumentalists of all kinds are welcome. All must have basic music-reading skills and some kind of ensemble background.

Robert Duff, conductor

T/F 11:10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. | Slosberg Recital Hall

This 24-36 voice choir is chosen from the entire student body on the basis of experience and musicianship skills. It is for singers who wish to explore unusual repertory, Bach cantatas, 16th-century motets and madrigals, 17th-century oratorios, 19th-century lieder and 20th-century works.

Robert Duff, conductor

T/F 12:45-2:05 p.m. | Slosberg Recital Hall

The Brandeis University Chorus draws its members from the entire Brandeis community. Every year the chorus performs a major work drawn from the vast choral repertory. There are often opportunities for student soloists.

Bob Nieske, director

W 7:15-10:15 p.m. | Slosberg Recital Hall

The Brandeis Jazz Ensemble, open to the entire Brandeis community by audition, is composed of 15-20 musicians led by one of Boston’s best-known jazz musicians. In addition to classic jazz repertory, the ensemble performs original compositions written specifically for the group.

Neal Hampton, conductor

Th 7:05-9:55 p.m. | Slosberg Recital Hall/Wellesley College

Directed by Neal Hampton, entrance to the Brandeis-Wellesley Orchestra is gained through audition at the beginning of the Fall and Spring semesters. The orchestra comprises students, faculty, and staff at Brandeis University, Wellesley College, and Babson and Olin Colleges, and is dedicated to bringing inspiring performances of the great orchestral literature, both past and present, to a new generation of musicians and audiences. 

Tom Souza, director

M 7:30-10:30 p.m. | Slosberg Recital Hall

The Wind Ensemble is a 35-50 member group that performs a wide variety of music. The ensemble performs two or three concerts each year and is conducted by Tom Souza. Membership is open to the Brandeis and surrounding communities.

Spring 2023: Music Courses | About the Department | Department of Music

Tom Hall, director

T 6:30-9:30 p.m. | Slosberg Room 212

Improvisation is always an essential part of our daily life, but during uncertain and challenging times, our ability to improvise becomes more important than ever! Join the Brandeis Improv Collective (BIC) and learn how to become a more fluid, creative, and joyful improviser by exploring improvisation, both individually and in a group. The BIC is open to all Brandeis students, regardless of skill or experience in improvising.

Ben Paulding, director

M/W 5:40-7 p.m. | Slosberg Recital Hall 

Fafali studies and performs the music, song and dance of Ghana, and has performed at Night for Africa, Culture X and even for the President of Ghana! Historically a highly international ensemble, Fafali’s members have come from Ghana, Togo, Jamaica, Tanzania, Cape Verde, China, the United States and many other countries from around the world.

Taylor Ackley, director

M 2:30-5:20 p.m. | Slosberg Recital Hall 

Study and perform repertoire from Roots music traditions including blues, country, swing, bluegrass and Appalachian folk. Students will learn to play these styles by ear while developing skills in arranging, harmonizing and improvising. Participation is open to instrumentalists and vocalists from any musical background (including those who play instruments not usually associated with these styles).

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