Music

The music program is structured to integrate theory and practice. Students select a combination of component courses that together constitute one full course, called a Music Third. A minimal Music Third includes four components.

  1. Individual instruction (instrumental performance, composition, or voice), the central area of study around which the rest of the program is planned
  2. Theory and/or History
  3. A performance ensemble
  4. Concert attendance/Music Tuesdays

The student, in consultation with the faculty, plans the music program best-suited to his or her needs and interests. Advanced students may, with faculty consent, elect to take two-thirds of their course of study in music.

Components for Individual Credit

The following components may be taken as stand-alone courses and not part of a traditional Music Third. Eligible students may take one yearlong or two semester-long components. Students who elect to take Chamber Music or an ensemble for credit may also qualify for an individual lesson on the instrument used in the ensemble.

Individual Instruction (lessons, 1 credit)
Limited to intermediate or advanced students
See the list below for composition and instruments.

Chamber Music/Performance Ensemble (1 credit; 2 credits, if taken with lessons).
See the list under Performance Ensembles and Classes.

Music History (2 credits)
See the list under Music History.

Music Technology (2 credits)
Limited to Introduction to Electronic Music and Music Technology
See description under Music Technology Courses.

Components as Part of a Music Third

The following components are offered as part of a full Music Third.

Individual Instruction

A limited number of lessons (1 credit) are available to intermediate or advanced students who do not wish to take a full Music Third.

Arranged by audition with the following members of the music faculty and affiliate artists:

  • Composition—Patrick Muchmore, John Yannelli
  • Guitar (acoustic), Banjo, and Mandolin—William Anderson
  • Guitar (jazz/blues)—Glenn Alexander
  • Bass (jazz/blues)—Bill Moring
  • Harpsichord and FortepianoCarsten Schmidt (online only)
  • Piano—Martin Goldray, Bari Mort, Carsten Schmidt (online only)
  • Piano (jazz)—Billy Lester
  • Organ—Martin Goldray
  • Voice—Mary Phillips, Molly Quinn, Thomas Young (fall 2021)
  • Flute—Roberta Michel
  • Oboe—Stuart Breczinski
  • Clarinet—Benjamin Fingland
  • Saxophone—John Isley
  • Bassoon—James Jeter
  • Trumpet—Christopher Anderson
  • Trombone—Jen Baker
  • Tuba—Andrew Bove
  • Percussion (drum set)—Matt Wilson
  • Percussion (mallet)—Ian Antonio
  • Harp—Mia Theodoratus
  • Violin—Calvin Weirsma
  • Viola—Calvin Wiersma
  • Violoncello—James Wilson
  • Contrabass—Mark Helias

The director of the music program will arrange all instrumental study with the affiliate artist faculty members, who teach off campus. In all cases, individual instruction involves consultation with members of the faculty and the director of the music program. Instructors for instruments not listed above will also be arranged.

Lessons and Auditions

Beginning lessons are offered only in voice and piano. A limited number of beginning acoustic guitar lessons are offered based on prior musical experience. All other instrumentalists are expected, during their audition, to demonstrate a level of proficiency on their instruments. In general, the music faculty encourages students to prepare two excerpts from two contrasting works that demonstrate the student’s musical background and technical ability. Auditions for all instruments and voice, which are held at the beginning of the first week of classes, are for placement purposes only.

Vocal Auditions, Placement, and Juries

The voice faculty encourages students to prepare two contrasting works that demonstrate the student’s musical background and innate vocal skills. Vocal auditions enable the faculty to place the singer in the class most appropriate for his/her current level of vocal production. Students will be placed in either an individual voice lesson (two half-hour lessons per week) or a studio class. There are four different studio classes. Voice juries at the end of the year evaluate each student’s progress.

Piano Auditions and Placement

The piano faculty encourages students to prepare two contrasting works that demonstrate the student’s musical background and keyboard technique. Piano auditions enable the faculty to place the student with the appropriate teacher in either an individual piano lesson or the Keyboard Lab, given the student’s current level of preparation.

Acoustic and Jazz Guitar Auditions and Placement

The guitar faculty encourages students to prepare two contrasting works that demonstrate the student’s musical background, guitar technique, and, for jazz and blues, improvisational ability. Guitar auditions enable the faculty to place the guitarist with the appropriate teacher in either an individual guitar lesson or Guitar Class.

Composition Lessons

The student who is interested in individual instruction in composition must demonstrate an appropriate background.

Music 2021-2022 Courses

Advanced Theory

Advanced Theory: Advanced Tonal Theory and Analysis

Component—None | Remote

This course will focus on the analysis of tonal music, with a particular emphasis on chromatic harmony. Our goal will be to quickly develop basic understanding and skill in this area and then refine them in the analysis of complete movements and works. Our repertoire will range from Bach to Brahms, and we will try to incorporate music that class participants might be studying in their lessons or ensembles.

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Advanced Theory: Jazz Theory and Harmony

Component—None

This course will study the building blocks and concepts of jazz theory, harmony, and rhythm, including the study of the standard modes and scales, as well as the use of melodic and harmonic minor scales and their respective modals systems. The course will also include the study and application of diminished and augmented scales and their role in harmonic progression, particularly the diminished chord as a parental structure. In-depth study will be given to harmony and harmonic progression through analysis and memorization of triads, extensions, and alterations, as well as substitute chords, reharmonization, and back cycling. We will look at polytonality and the superposition of various hybrid chords over different bass tones and other harmonic structures. We will study and apply all of the above to their characteristic and stylistic genres, including bebop, modal, free, and progressive jazz. The study of rhythm, which is possibly the single most important aspect of jazz, will be a primary focus, as well. And we will use composition as a way to absorb and truly understand the concepts discussed.

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Advanced Theory: 20th-Century Theoretical Approaches: Post-Tonal and Rock Music

Component—None

This course will be an examination of various theoretical approaches to music of the 20th century—including post-tonal, serial, textural, minimalist, and pop/rock music. Our primary text will be Joseph Straus’s Introduction to Post-Tonal Theory, but we will also explore other relevant texts—including scores and recordings of the works themselves. This course will include study of the music of Schoenberg, Webern, Pink Floyd, Ligeti, Bartók, Reich, Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, Corigliano, and Del Tredici, among others.

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Compositional Tools and Techniques

Component—None

This course will be an introduction to a wide array of compositional languages, primarily within a notated context. We will talk about a wide variety of harmonic palettes, including some examples of microtonality à la Ben Johnston and Alois Hába. We will explore various serial procedures, such as the “classical” serialism of Schoenberg and Webern, and the rotational ideas of Ruth Crawford Seeger and Stravinsky. We’ll discuss various methods for guiding improvisation, including the “diamond clef” compositions of Anthony Braxton. Rhythmic and metric ideas will be introduced, including asymmetric time signatures, metric modulation as pioneered by Elliott Carter, and rhythmic serialism as in the work of Milton Babbitt and Olivier Messiaen. We’ll talk about the potential uses of rhythmic and harmonic symmetry—as, for example, in the chord progressions of John Coltrane’s Giant Steps. You will learn about these both through score study and through your own small compositional projects. As we jump from topic to topic, I will also have you practice increasingly complex notational mini-projects and will introduce you to the rudiments of orchestration for keyboards, strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion. At the end of the year, you will have a broad range of musical languages with which to express your own personal voice; and you will have had considerable practice in communicating those ideas effectively.

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Classes for Beginning Students

Guitar Class

Component—None

This course is for beginning acoustic or electric guitar students.

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Keyboard Lab

Component—None

This course is designed to accommodate beginning piano students, who take the Keyboard Lab as the core of their Music Third. This instruction takes place in a group setting with eight keyboard stations and one master station. Students will be introduced to elementary keyboard technique and simple piano pieces.

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Studio Class

Component—None

The Studio Class is a beginning course in basic vocal technique. Each student’s vocal needs are met within the structure and content of the class.

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Lectures and Seminars

The Philosophy of Music

Open, Large Lecture—Fall | 5 credits

Music is central to most of our lives. How can we understand the experience of music? What does music express? If it expresses emotions, how do those emotions relate to the emotions that we experience in everyday life? Can music without words express emotions with as much clarity as music with words? As a background to these questions, we will look at issues concerning the nature and experience of art in general. We will examine the views of writers such as Plato, Kant, Schopenhauer, Dewey, and Adorno and compare how they understand the role of art in society, as well as our own experiences. The musical repertory will include medieval and Renaissance music, music by Bach, songs by Schubert, and examples from the symphonic repertory by composers such as Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Tchaikovsky, and Stravinsky. We will study those works using the techniques of formal analysis that are generally used in music-history classes but also attempt to draw out the many contextual threads: How are they embedded in a culture, and how do they reflect the temperament and orientation of the composers? While most of our musical examples will be from the classical repertory, other styles will occasionally be relevant. The goals of the class are to understand how musical and philosophical thought can illuminate each other and to deepen our awareness of the range and power of music. No prior knowledge of music theory or history is required; we will introduce and define the terms we need as the class proceeds.

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Cross-Cultural Listening

Open, Lecture—Fall | 5 credits

This course will explore the relationship of listening, music, and sound across different cultural and historical contexts. Recent scholarship on listening and sound has revealed how listening plays a crucial role in the formulation of theories about music, and we will study how various ideas about listening inform contemporary understandings of music and sound. Drawing from research from the field of sound studies, cultural theory, and ethnographic case studies from ethnomusicology and anthropology, we will understand key concepts of listening with specific musical and sonic examples. Course units may include technologies of listening, listening as an impetus for empathy and to stimulate political action, strategies for listening to cultural and musical difference, and music and sound as tools for torture and healing. Individual class sessions may include sound technologies such as the phonograph and the MP3; soundscapes; music therapy; and the listening contexts of individual genres such as South African pop, Buddhist chant, Arabic maqamat, muzak, and EDM. Participation in the one of the world music ensembles is strongly encouraged.

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Words and Music

Open, Small Lecture—Fall | 3 credits | Remote

In this course, we will examine and try to understand the magic that happens when words and music combine in song. Song will be defined broadly. Most of our repertoire will be drawn from Western music history, and the range of compositions will be extraordinary: from the chants of Hildegard von Bingen to the often esoteric and intricate motets of the Ars Nova, from the late Renaissance madrigals to early and romantic opera, and from the art songs of Schubert and Debussy to experimental contemporary works. There may also be some in-class performances. Participants will be responsible for regular listening and reading assignments, listening exams, and group presentations. There will be no conferences, but we will have regular individual and group consultations to help prepare presentations and papers.

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The Music of Russia

Open, Large Lecture—Spring | 5 credits

This course will survey the great contributions of Russian composers to Western music from the first half of the 19th century to the end of the Soviet era and beyond. We will study these works in the context of the important historical events and intellectual movements that galvanized Russian artists: the desire to find the appropriate expression of Russian identity, the ambivalence toward the achievements of Western Europe, the ideals of civic responsibility, the aestheticism of the later 19th century, the Russian Revolution, and the repressions of Soviet society. Composers to be studied include Glinka, Tchaikovsky, Musorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Scriabin, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, and Stravinsky. No prior music courses or knowledge of music theory is required.

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Global Circulations: Art and Pop Music of Asia

Open, Lecture—Spring | 5 credits

This course examines how music and its global circulation make the relationships between people audible. In the social contexts of listening and musical performance—and in musical sound itself—we will understand how music and its movement across community-based, regional, and national boundaries shape people’s lives. As recordings, musicians, and ideas about music move, we will learn how they sound interpersonal relationships by using selected ethnographic examples of art and popular music from across Asia and the Middle East. Class topics will include South Indian classical music, taiko, Southeast Asian heavy metal, Iranian pop, Japanese hip hop, Bollywood, world jazz, noise, K-pop, world music 2.0, and others. Course themes related to the circulation of music will include the ideology of tradition, cultural imperialism, sound technologies, and the more recent proliferation of cultural nationalisms that seek to impede circulation. By encountering musical diversity through listening and reading materials, students will develop the critical thinking skills to make connections between sonic and textual resources and to better understand the many ways that music and sound are meaningful around the world. Participation in Faso Foli, our African percussion ensemble, is strongly encouraged.

 

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The Art of Interpretation

Open, Seminar—Fall | 3 credits

Interpretation is a central activity in human experience. It’s how we make sense of things from works of art to peoples’ actions, but much of the time we’re unaware of how we go about making our interpretations. In the classical music world, interpretation is central and usually carefully considered. Every moment of a classical music performance is mediated through the performer’s interpretation. Much of what we do as performers goes far beyond the instructions on the page. Are there rules or constraints on this process? What criteria can we use to evaluate performances? How have performance styles changed, and how can we relate those changes to our contemporary tastes? In this class, we will look at scores and listen to performances from the entire history of Western music and reflect on the many interpretive decisions made by singers, instrumentalists, and conductors. We will study historical sources and write critical appraisals of performances. Readings will range from historical writers such as Leopold Mozart, C. P. E. Bach, Tosi, Muffat, North, Frescobaldi, and Quantz to contemporary writers such as Taruskin, Harnoncourt, and Haynes. There are no conferences.

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Sounding Creativity: Musical Improvisation

Open, Seminar—Fall | 5 credits

This seminar will focus on the widely practiced creative process of musical improvisation. Using video footage of live performances, reading and listening assignments, and class discussions, we will learn to hear and understand an array of specific improvisational choices as musicians from different backgrounds progress through their performances. We will question how personal expression and cultural context shape creativity, which will reveal improvisation as an intrinsic form of adaptation that is essential to artistic expression, communication, and survival. Using a cross-cultural perspective, we will examine the similarities and differences of musical improvisation around the world, exploring themes such as freedom, community, free will, determinism, social justice, ethnicity, race, nationalism, class, gender, and sexuality. Using ethnomusicology’s interdisciplinary approach to learning about music and culture, this seminar will draw from anthropology, linguistics, social theory, sociology, psychology, and artists’ personal accounts. Class topics may include music in Turkey, Egypt, West Africa, India, Cantonese Opera, 20th-century experimental art music, improvised singing games in Nepal, free improvisation, international and American jazz, and turn tabling and DJing. This course will be taught in-person or, if necessary, online. Participation in Balinese Gamelan is strongly encouraged.

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The Beatles

Open, Large seminar—Spring | 3 credits

The impact of The Beatles has been immeasurable. In their seven years as a recording band, they explored and enlarged every aspect of songwriting technique, producing one musical milestone after the next. This class will trace the development of The Beatles chronologically through their 12 original English albums and the singles that were released alongside them. We will focus on the ways in which The Beatles used harmony, phrase structure, rhythm, structural ambiguity, and sonority in continuously innovative ways. We will also look at some of the of musical styles and cultural phenomena that The Beatles assimilated and transformed—from early rock & roll, Motown, and The Goon Show to 1960s counterculture—and explore how The Beatles, in turn, influenced music and culture in the 1960s. There will also be guest-led discussions by other members of the music faculty on the following topics: The Beatles and the evolution of studio recording; the use of electronic music techniques (Yannelli); Norwegian Wood and the great sitar explosion (Higgins); electric guitar techniques (Alexander); and acoustic guitar techniques (Anderson). There are no conferences.

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Music and Sound for Film

Open, Seminar—Spring | 3 credits

This class will explore how music and sound serve the dramatic intent of a film. As co-inhabitants of the aural spectrum, a film’s score and sound design are increasingly called upon to interact and work together. Working in one of those areas usually implies a working understanding of the other. The class will cover working with a director on spotting both music and sound, choosing musical themes that correspond to the dramatic needs of a film, using sound design to highlight environmental and psychological facets of the world and its characters, conceptualizing the sonic space of a film, and designing the music and sound so they occupy different frequency areas and remain distinct. The marriage of sound and music has deep roots in the history of cinema, and special attention will be paid to the masters of sound in film such as Walter Murch/Francis Ford Coppola, Stanley Kubrick, Akira Kurosawa (note: list is subject to change). Technical topics to be covered: intro to ProTools and an overview of basic mixing; concepts in music editing; use of effects such as compression, eq, reverb and filters; file organization; and management and workflow. While this course will be a historical overview of important work and concepts, time will also be given to developing student work with the hope that students gain experience through collaboration—both during class and independently.

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Master Classes and Workshops

Master Class

Component—None

Master Class is a series of concerts, instrumental and vocal seminars, and lecture demonstrations pertaining to music history, world music, improvisation, jazz, composition, and music technology. Master classes take place on Wednesdays from 12:30-1:30 p.m. in either Reisinger Concert Hall or Marshall Field House Room 1. The classes are open to the College community.

Music Workshops and Open Concerts

Component—None

Music workshops present an opportunity for students to perform the music that they have been studying in an informal, supportive environment. In this class, participants will present a prepared piece and receive constructive feedback from the instructor and other students. Along with the specifics of each performance, class discussion may include general performance issues, such as dealing with anxiety, stage presence, and other related topics. Each term will consist of three workshops, culminating at the end of each semester in an Open Concert that is a more formal recital. The entire College community is welcome and encouraged to participate.

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Music History

The Blues and Beyond

Component—Year

Out of one of the worst atrocities of humanity, we were gifted with the extraordinary music that would become known as the blues. In this class, we will explore and analyze the origins of the blues, the uniqueness of this great American art form, and how the blues are related to jazz but take a completely different path—ultimately leading us to rock ’n’ roll and all forms of popular music. We will dissect the unique components of the blues, which defied conventional music theory as we knew it, made it different from any music that came before it, and out of which rock ’n’ roll was born. Through listening to and analyzing those early developments, from African drumming pieces to field hollers, work songs, spirituals, early country blues, Delta blues, urban blues and Chicago electric blues, we will discover the African culture and musical concepts that survived and how they are the foundation of every part of popular music, be it jazz, Afro-Cuban, Caribbean, country, rock ’n’ roll, soul, gospel, funk, rhythm and blues, hip hop, rap, Brazilian, and on and on. We will study the unique African contributions of music in form, rhythm, melody, tone, and timbre that has now permeated all styles of music. Without this incredible, invaluable, unique contribution, our music today would be very different; and there would have been no Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, James Brown, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, Jimmy Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Dusty Springfield, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross & The Supremes, Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Elvis Costello, Stevie Wonder, Prince, Kendrick Lamar, Beyonce, and on and on and on—right up to every new artist today.

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Survey of Western Music

Component—None | Remote

This course is a chronological survey of Western music from the Middle Ages to the present. We will explore the cyclical nature of music that mirrors philosophical and theoretical ideas established in Ancient Greece and how that cycle most notably reappears every 300 years: the Ars nova of the 14th century, Le nuove musiche of the 17th century, and the New Music of the 20th century and beyond. The course involves reading, listening, and class discussions that focus on significant compositions of the Western musical tradition, the evolution of form, questions of aesthetics, and historical perspective. There will be occasional quizzes during the fall term; short written summary papers or class presentations are required in the spring.

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The Modern String Quartet: Evolutions and Styles

Component—Fall

This course will begin with the origins of the symphonic form in the Classical and Romantic eras and will then explore the many “-isms” of the 20th and 21st centuries, as they manifested themselves in that format. The course will function as both a history course, introducing the biographies of many composers and the evolution of the most important stylistic trends of the modern and contemporary eras, and as a music literature course, acquainting the student with seminal symphonies and unsung classics of the genre. In addition to the usual common-practice suspects, students will be introduced to the lives and works of Igor Stravinsky, Dmitri Shostakovich, Gloria Coates, Anton Webern, Galina Ustvolskaya, Amy Beach, Per Nørgård, Wolfgang Rihm, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, John Adams, and others. The evolution of many styles will be explored, including spectralism, serialism, microtonalism, eclecticism, minimalism, and brutalism.

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The Modern Piano Sonata: Evolutions and Styles

Component—Spring

This course will begin with the origins of the piano sonata in the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic eras and will then explore the many “-isms” of the 20th and 21st centuries, as they manifested themselves in that format. The course will function as both a history course, introducing the biographies of many composers and the evolution of the most important stylistic trends of the modern and contemporary eras, and as a music literature course to acquaint the student with seminal piano sonatas and unsung classics of the genre. In addition to the usual common-practice suspects, students will be introduced to the lives and works of Clara Schumann, Ben Johnston, Galina Ustvolskaya, John Cage, Alexander Scriabin, Florence Price, Charles Ives, Elliott Carter, Aaron Copland, George Walker, and others. The evolution of many styles will be explored, including spectralism, serialism, microtonalism, eclecticism, minimalism, and brutalism.

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Jazz History

Component—None

Jazz music of all styles and periods will be listened to, analyzed, and discussed. Emphasis will be placed on instrumental styles and performance techniques that have evolved in the performance of jazz. Skills in listening to and enjoying some of the finer points of the music will be enhanced by the study of elements such as form, phrasing, instrumentation, instrumental technique, and style. Special emphasis will be placed on the development of modern jazz and its relationship to older styles. Some topics: Jelly Roll Morton, King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, roots and development of the Big Band sound, Fletcher Henderson, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, lineage of pianists, horn players, evolution of the rhythm section, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Bill Evans, Thelonius Monk, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, be-bop, cool jazz, jazz of the ’60s and ’70s, fusion and jazz rock, jazz of the ’80s, and modern trends. The crossover of jazz into other styles of modern music, such as rock and R&B, will be discussed, as will the influence that modern concert music and world music has had on jazz styles. This is a two-semester class; however, it will be possible to enter in the second semester.

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The Beatles

Component—Fall

See course description under Lectures and Seminars.

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The Music of Russia

Component—Spring

See course description under Lectures and Seminars.

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The Art of Interpretation

Component—Fall

See course description under Lectures and Seminars.

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The Philosophy of Music

Component—Spring

See course description under Lectures and Seminars.

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Words and Music

Component—Fall | Remote

See course description under Lectures and Seminars.

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Global Circulations: Art and Pop Music of Asia

Component—Spring

See course description under Lectures and Seminars.

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Sounding Creativity: Musical Improvisation

Component—Fall

See course description under Lectures and Seminars.

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Music and Sound for Film

Component—Spring

See course description under Lectures and Seminars.

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Music Technology Courses: Studio for Electronic Music and Experimental Sound

EMS I: Introduction to Electronic Music and Music Technology

Component—None

The Sarah Lawrence Electronic Music Studio is a state-of-the art facility dedicated to the instruction and development of electronic music composition. The studio contains the latest in digital audio hardware and software for synthesis, recording, and signal processing, along with a full complement of vintage analog synthesizers and tape machines. Beginning students will start with an introduction to the equipment, basic acoustics, and principles of studio recording; signal processing; and a historical overview of the medium. Once students have acquired a certain level of proficiency with the equipment and material—usually by the second semester—focus will be on preparing compositions that will be heard in concerts of electronic music, student composers’ concerts, music workshops, and open concerts.

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EMS II: Recording, Mixing and Mastering Electronic Music

Component—None

This course will focus on creating electronic music, primarily using software-based digital audio workstations. Materials covered will include MIDI, ProTools, Digital Performer, Logic, Reason, Ableton Live, MaxMsp, Traction, and elements of Sibelius and Finale (as connected to media scoring). Class assignments will focus on composing individual works and/or creating music and designing sound for various media, such as film, dance, and interactive performance art. Students in this course may also choose to evolve collaborative projects with students from those other areas. Projects will be presented in class for discussion and critique.

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EMS III: Studio Composition and Music Technology

Component—None

Students work on individual projects involving aspects of music technology, including but not limited to works for electro-acoustic instruments (live and/or prerecorded), works involving interactive performance media, laptop ensembles, Disklavier, and improvised or through-composed works. Projects will be presented in class for discussion and critique.

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Other Classes and Ensembles

Baroque Ensemble

Component—Spring | Remote

This performance ensemble focuses on music from roughly 1600 to 1750 and is open to both instrumentalists and singers. Using modern instruments, we will explore the rich and diverse musical world of the Baroque. Regular coachings will be supported by sessions exploring a variety of performance practice issues, such as ornamentation, notational conventions, continuo playing, and editions.

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Acoustic Beatles

Component—Fall

For singers and/or guitarists, this ensemble will take on any Beatles songs that work with acoustic guitar. Singers and guitarists at any level are welcome, as are singers who play some guitar and guitarists who sing.

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Folk and Folk Rock

Component—Spring

This ensemble will cover the US folk-rock music movement from Guthrie through the hippies, including union songs and protest songs. Singers and guitarists at any level are welcome, as are singers who play some guitar and guitarists who sing. 

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Chamber Music

Component—None

Various chamber groups—from quartets or quintets to violin and piano duos—are formed each year, depending on the number and variety of qualified instrumentalists who apply. There are weekly coaching sessions. At the end of the semester, groups will have an opportunity to perform in a chamber music concert.

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Chamber Music Improvisation

Component—None

This is an experimental performing ensemble that explores a variety of musical styles and techniques, including free improvisation, improvisational conducting, and various other chance-based methods. The ensemble is open to all instruments (acoustic and electric), voice, electronic synthesizers, and laptop computers. Students must be able to demonstrate a level of proficiency on their chosen instrument. Composer-performers, dancers, and actors are also welcome. Performance opportunities will include: concerts; collaboration with other programs such as dance, theatre, film, and performance art; and community outreach.

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Guitar Ensemble

Component—None

This class offers informal performance opportunities on a weekly basis as a way of exploring guitar solo, duo, and ensemble repertoire. The course will seek to improve sight-reading abilities and foster a thorough knowledge of the guitar literature. Recommended for students interested in classical guitar.

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Senior Recital

Component—Spring

This component offers students the opportunity to share the results of their sustained work in performance study with the larger College community. During the semester of their recital, students will receive additional coaching by their principal teachers.

Performance Ensembles and Classes

The Blues Ensemble

Component—None

This performance ensemble is geared toward learning and performing various traditional, as well as hybrid, styles of blues music. The blues, like jazz, is a purely American art form. Students will learn and investigate Delta Blues—performing songs by Robert Johnson, Charlie Patton, Skip James, and others—as well as Texas Country Blues, by originators such as Blind Lemon Jefferson, and Chicago Blues, beginning with Big Bill Broonzy and moving up through Howlin’ Wolf and Buddy Guy. Students will also learn songs and stylings by Muddy Waters, Albert King, and B. B. King and learn how they influenced modern blues, men such as Johnny Winter and Stevie Ray Vaughn, and pioneer rockers, such as Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Jimi Hendrix.

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Jazz Colloquium

Component—None

This ensemble will meet weekly to rehearse and perform a wide variety of modern jazz music and other related styles. Repertoire in the past has included works by composers Thelonius Monk, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, and Herbie Hancock, as well as some rock, Motown, and blues. All instruments are welcome.

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Jazz Performance and Improvisation Workshop

Component—None

This class is intended for all instrumentalists and will provide a “hands-on” study of topics relating to the performance of jazz music. The class will meet as an ensemble, but the focus will not be on rehearsing repertoire and giving concerts. Instead, students will focus on improving jazz playing by applying the topic at hand directly to instruments—and immediate feedback on the performance will be given. The workshop environment will allow students to experiment with new techniques as they develop their sound. Topics include jazz chord/scale theory; extensions of traditional tonal harmony; altered chords; modes; scales; improvising on chord changes; analyzing a chord progression or tune; analysis of form; performance and style study, including swing, Latin, jazz-rock, and ballade styles; and ensemble technique. The format can be adapted to varying instrumentation and levels of proficiency.

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Jazz Vocal Ensemble

Component—None

No longer do vocalists need to share valuable time with those wanting to focus primarily on instrumental jazz and vice versa. This ensemble will be dedicated to providing a performance-oriented environment for the aspiring jazz vocalist. We will mostly concentrate on picking material from the standard jazz repertoire. Vocalists will get an opportunity to work on arrangements, interpretation, delivery, phrasing, and intonation in a realistic situation with a live rhythm section and soloists. Vocalists will learn how to work with, give direction to, and get what they need from the rhythm section. It will provide an environment for vocalists to learn to hear forms and changes and also work on vocal improvisation if they so choose. This will not only give students an opportunity to work on singing solo or lead vocals but to work with other vocalists in singing backup or harmony vocals for and with each other. This will also serve as a great opportunity for instrumentalists to learn the true art of accompanying the jazz vocalist, which will prove to be a valuable experience in preparing for a career as a professional musician.

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Theory and Composition Program

Theory I: Materials of Music

Component—None | Hybrid Remote/In-Person

In this introductory course, we will study elements of music such as pitch, rhythm, intensity, and timbre. We will see how they combine in various musical structures and how those structures communicate. Studies will include notation and ear training, as well as theoretical exercises, rudimentary analyses, and the study of repertoire from various eras of Western music.

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Theory II: Basic Tonal Theory and Composition

Component—None | Hybrid Remote/In-Person

As a skill-building course in the language of tonal music, this course covers diatonic harmony and voice leading, elementary counterpoint, and simple forms. Students will develop an understanding through part writing, analysis, composition, and aural skills.

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Vocal Studies

Jazz Vocal Seminar

Component—Fall

This course is an exploration of the relationship of melody, harmony, rhythm, text, and style and how those elements can be combined and manipulated to create meaning and beauty. A significant level of vocal development will be expected and required.

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Seminar in Vocal Performance: Self-Discovery Through Preparation and Performance

Component—Fall

In this semester, singers will explore methods for musical preparation and performance. The radical transition from practice room to live performance or audition is a critical leap that all performers must take. As singers, this transition is particularly critical because our bodies are our instruments. Performance anxiety or stage fright is a multiheaded beast that we need to address. This class will focus on unlocking preparatory and performance techniques that include journaling, score preparation, memorization work, mindfulness, and the foundations of vocal health. Students interested in taking this course should be prepared to sing in class for others, prepare music excerpts specifically to this course, and be willing to listen openheartedly and discerningly to their fellow students.

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Seminar in Vocal Performance: Vocal Repertoire, Developing Collaborative Skills for Rehearsal and Performance

Component—Spring

In this semester, students will learn about vocal repertoire for solo voice, duets, and small groups from a wide range of styles and time periods. Vocal music is inherently collaborative, but how do singers learn to advocate for themselves or speak coherently about their musical choices in a rehearsal setting—or perhaps lead a rehearsal, if asked to do so? This class will not only provide an engaging view of vocal music from the High Middle Ages to the 21st century but will also prepare students to communicate their expressive and musical ideas within the rehearsal setting. Students interested in taking this course should be prepared to sing in class for others, prepare solo and small ensemble excerpts with fellow class members, and be willing to listen openheartedly and discerningly to their fellow students.

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Acting and Movement for Singers

Component—Fall and Spring

Singers are faced with specific challenges when working on and performing in a musical piece. We have the notes, rhythm, intonation, diction, acting, and physicality to coordinate into one cohesive expression. In this acting and movement for the singer seminar, we will focus on each of these elements separately in order for you to find a way to make the song a truthful and natural extension of yourself. The seminar will provide a practical approach for the singing actor by using the lyrics as a monologue before bringing them to the music. We will explore where those works lead us in the space, and we will incorporate simple acting and movement exercises to get to the core truth of the piece—what it means to you. Some of the work will be based on the teachings of Sanford Meisner (Neighborhood Playhouse, American Musical Theatre Academy), who said: “All my exercises were designed to strengthen the guiding principle that art expresses human experience.”

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World Music Ensembles and Courses

Gamelan Angklung Chandra Buana

Component—Fall

A gamelan angklung is a bronze orchestra that includes four-toned metallophones, gongs, drums, and flutes. Rhythmic patterns played upon the instruments interlock and combine to form large structures of great complexity and beauty. The gamelan angklung that we will play was specially handcrafted in Bali for the College and was named Chandra Buana, or “Moon Earth,” at its dedication on April 16, 2000, in Reisinger Concert Hall. Any interested student may join; no previous experience with music is necessary.

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West African Percussion Ensemble Faso Foli

Component—Spring

Faso Foli is the name of our West African performance ensemble. Faso foli is a Malinke phrase that translates loosely as “playing to my father’s home.” In this class, we will develop the ability to play expressive melodies and intricate polyrhythms in a group context, as we recreate the celebrated musical legacy of the West African Mande Empire. These traditions have been kept alive and vital through creative interpretation and innovation in Africa, the United States, and other parts of the world. Correspondingly, our repertoire will reflect a wide range of expressive practices, both ancient in origin and dynamic in contemporary performance. The instruments we play—balafons, dun dun drums, and djembe hand drums—were constructed for the College in 2006, handcrafted by master builders in Guinea. Relevant instrumental techniques will be taught in the class, and no previous experience with African musical practice is assumed. Any interested student may join.

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Sursum Corda: Art and Architecture from Michelangelo to the Dawn of the Enlightenment, 1550-1700

Open, Lecture—Year

In Annibale Carracci’s painting of St. Margaret (1609), an Early Christian martyr, an altar is inscribed: Sursum Corda (Lift Up Your Hearts). This course explores what that meant in the 17th century—for the arts to be a vehicle of uplift and salvation, a challenge to the supremacy of nature, an analysis of history, and a site of contention, paradox, and pride for artists and architects. Using PowerPoint presentations, class discussion, and papers focusing on works in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the course will cover the art of 16th-century Italy—as that art frames the questions that painters, sculptors, and architects pursued throughout Europe in the 17th century, commonly called the Age of the Baroque. Included will be studies of major movements in religion, politics, and society (Catholic reform and the founding of the Jesuits Order, the evolution of academic art, the creation of papal Rome, the importance of private patronage); issues in aesthetics and art theory (the transformation of classical models, theories of the reception of nature, the links to poetry, and the dynamics of style); the emergence of the varying national traditions (the sweet style and Bel Composto in Italy, Calvinist naturalism and the power of light in The Netherlands, and high classicism and Bon Gout in France). Focus will also be on careers of artists like Titian and the erotics of the brush; Michelangelo and transcendent form; Caravaggio and naturalism as the death of painting; Artemisia Gentileschi, biography and exemplum; Bernini and the beautiful whole; Rubens and the multiple ways of transforming; Rembrandt and the rough style; Vermeer and the discipline and technique of light; and Poussin and the modes of expression, among others. Group conferences in the first semester will focus on the art of Michelangelo as practice and problem and theories of the Baroque; in second semester, theories and problems in 17th-century architecture.

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First-Year Studies in Dance

Open, FYS—Year

Students will enroll in a selection of movement practice classes, as well as improvisation and an academic study of dance, that together will make up First-Year Studies in Dance. (Please refer to the course catalogue for the component class descriptions.) Students will be dancing in the studio every day. Throughout the fall semester, we’ll also meet weekly in the First-Year Studies in Dance Project to dig deeper into the work that we are doing in our dance classes. Some questions that we’ll examine include: What roles has dance played in various cultures and societies, both now and in the past? How has dance interacted with other art forms and other fields of study? What are the elements of dance? What can dance do, and what can we do with dance? We’ll examine these and other questions through reading and discussion, as well as through experiments in dancing and by making short dances. Students will also meet in individual conferences each week throughout the fall semester and in biweekly conferences in the spring semester to develop their own project based on their own particular interests and the material explored in class.

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Hard Times Require Furious Dancing: Movement as Language in Performance, Politics, and Everyday Life

Open, Seminar—Year

This course begins with a close reading of Alice Walker’s 2010 collection of poems, Hard Times Require Furious Dancing, as an entry into the multiple layers of meaning and complexity that movement can convey and to the ways in which those layers of meaning serve to mobilize us as individuals and as collectives. Acknowledging the apparently limitless possibilities for defining dancing, dance, and movement, we will consider a range of specific references as archetypes: staged performances, public/political demonstrations, and quotidian choreographies that occur as a matter of course in natural and human-made settings. In additional to Alice Walker’s writing, texts from fields including dance, performance, literary criticism, feminism, science fiction, cultural studies, ethno-ecology, and activism, as well as examples of live and recorded performance events (formal and informal), will serve as inspiration for reading, seeing, thinking, conversing, and writing throughout the year. Histories and perspectives of all participants will be called upon to illuminate those materials and translate them into our own words. Class activities will include reading, writing, discussion, and accessible movement practices. Each student will pursue independent research arising from one or more class activities, which will include reading, writing, and presentation. For students taking the course as a regular seminar, conference work may build upon independent research for class or may be configured as a separate project. The aim of this course is to extend our recognition of movement and dancing as essential aspects of existence; to explore theoretical potentials inherent in that study; and to incorporate new insights into our reading, thinking, conversation, and writing practices.

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Movement Studio Practice

Component—Year

In these classes, emphasis will be on the steady development of movement skills, energy use, strength, and articulation relevant to the technical and aesthetic orientations of each teacher. At all levels, attention will be given to sharpening each student’s awareness of time and energy and to training rhythmically, precisely, and in accordance with sound anatomical principles. Degrees of complexity in movement patterns will vary within the leveled class structure. All students will investigate sensory experience and the various demands of performance.

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Dance Movement Fundamentals

Component—Year

Movement and dancing are definitive signs of life! In every environment and at every level of existence, from single-cell organisms to entire populations, dancing is innate to living beings. The objective here is to awaken/reawaken students’ connection to movement as an elemental mode of human experience and learning. Students are introduced to some basic principles of dancing, as well as to strategies for preparing for dancing. Building fundamental skills for a wide range of movement studies, the focus is centered on learning movement and refining individual, partnered, and group performance in a variety of patterns and styles. Basic anatomical information is used to facilitate an understanding of dynamic alignment and movement potentials. Challenges in coordination, rhythm, range, and dynamic quality are systematically engaged, allowing students to gain strength, flexibility, endurance, balance, musicality, and awareness in the dance setting. While the primary emphasis is placed on learning structured material, improvisation and composition are incorporated to support students’ growing engagement with dance as an art form.

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Ballet

Component—Year

Ballet students at all levels will be guided toward creative and expressive freedom in their dancing, enhancing the qualities of ease, grace, musicality, and symmetry that define this form. We will explore alignment, with an emphasis on anatomical principles; we will cultivate awareness of how to enlist the appropriate neuromuscular effort for efficient movement; and we will coordinate all aspects of body, mind, and spirit, integrating them harmoniously.

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West African Dance

Component—Spring

This yearlong course will use physical embodiment as a mode of learning about and understanding of African diasporic cultures. In addition to physical practice, master classes led by artists and teachers regarded as masters in the field of African diasporic dance and music, along with supplementary study materials, will be used to explore the breadth, diversity, history, and technique of dances derivative of the Africa diaspora. Afro Haitian, West African, Orisha dances (Lucumi, Afro Cuban), and social dance are some genres that will be explored. Participation in year-end showings will provide students with the opportunity to apply studies in a performative context.

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Hip-Hop

Component—Fall

An open-level course teaching and facilitating the practice of hip-hop/urban dance technique and performance, the class will examine the theory, technique, and vocabulary of hip-hop dance. The course will facilitate the student’s development and ability to execute and perform hip-hop/urban dance steps.

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Yoga

Component—Year

This yoga class is designed with the interests of dancers and theatre students in mind. Various categories of postures will be practiced, with attention to alignment, breath awareness, strength, and flexibility. The physical practice includes seated and standing poses, twists, forward bends and backbends, traditional yogic breathing practices, and short meditations. Emphasis is placed on mindfulness and presence. This approach allows the student to gain tools for reducing stress and addressing unsupportive habits to carry into other aspects of their lives. Attention will be given to the chakra system as a means and metaphor for postural, movement, and character choices. The instructor has a background in dance and object theatre, in addition to various somatically-based practices that she draws upon for designing the classes to meet the individual needs of the class members. Virtual attendance is a requirement.

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Tai Ji Quan and Qi Gong (Fundamentals)

Component—Fall

Students will be introduced to the traditional Chinese practices of Tai Ji Quan and Qi Gong. These practices engage with slow, deliberate movements, focusing on the breath, meditative practice, and posture to restore and balance energy—called chi or Qi. The postures flow together, creating graceful dances of continuous motion. Sometimes referred to as one of the soft or internal martial arts, Tai Ji Quan and Qi Gong are foundational practices within a lifelong, holistic self-cultivation in traditional Chinese culture. This class is open to dance, theatre, and any other students who are curious and interested in discovering alternative approaches to body and movement practices.

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Butoh Through LEIMAY Ludus

Component—Spring

This course is an introduction to butoh through the lens of LEIMAY’s Ludus practice, which is the embodied research being taught today by LEIMAY Artistic Director Ximena Garnica. Butoh is a Japanese performing-art form that was created by Tatsumi Hijikata in the 1950s and 1960s. The course will start with an introduction to Hijikata’s butoh-fu, a choreographic method that physicalizes imagery through words. The course will then expand into LEIMAY’s Ludus practice, using multiple physical explorations to embody imagery and enlarge states of consciousness, enabling multiple realms of perception while challenging eurocentric notions of body, space, and time. Each dancer’s physical potential will be cultivated to develop a unique movement language that is rooted in butoh's ideas of transformation. Simultaneously, we will focus on the conditioning of a conductive body through the identification of the body’s own weight in relation to gravity, along with the cultivation of internal rhythm and fluidity. Together, we will decentralize self-centered approaches to movement and explore the possibilities of “being danced by” instead of “I dance,” “becoming space-body” rather than occupying space. We will challenge our body’s materiality and enliven our sensorium through listening to the rhythms and textures of the nonhuman. And we will use impossibility as a spark to enrich the ways in which we create and inhabit the world. This course is based on principles developed through nearly two decades of Ximena’s study of butoh. Historical and cultural context will be offered throughout the course.

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Improvisation in Dance as Real-Time Composition

Component—Year

Whenever we make something, we are improvising—making it up as we go. But imagination and creativity isn’t random. It is true that artists of all disciplines have eureka moments and epiphanies, but those “aha” moments are born of practices that engage experimentation, strategies, observation, and decision-making—supported by states of concentration. Similarly, the notions of “perfect forms” and “free improvisation” are both theoretical impossibilities. Nothing is ever totally fixed nor is it totally open. No matter what creative endeavor in which we are engaged, we are always in the real world, in a space in between these two extremes. In this course, we will make dances in real time with varying degrees and types of determinacy. We’ll be guided by a wide variety of concerns and ways of focusing our choices but will be consistently aware that we are composing dance in real time. That will require honing our perceptual skills, as well as our skills of articulation and communication, with our collaborators. Throughout the year, we’ll develop our abilities both to build coherent structures that will guide our choice-making and to notice and make use of the serendipity that chance brings. This component is open to students with prior experience in improvisation and dance-making, as well as to those new to the form.  

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Live Time-Based Art

Component—Year

In this class, graduates and upper-class undergraduates with a special interest and experience in the creation of time-based artworks that include live performance will design and direct individual projects. Students and faculty will meet weekly to view works-in-progress and discuss relevant artistic and practical problems, both in class on Tuesday evenings and in conferences taking place on Thursday afternoons. Attributes of the work across multiple disciplines of artistic endeavor will be discussed as integral and interdependent elements in the work. Participation in mentored, critical-response feedback sessions with your peers is a key aspect of the course. The engagement with the medium of time in live performance, the constraints of presentation of the works both in works-in-progress and in a shared program of events, and the need to respect the classroom and presentation space of the dance studio will be the constraints imposed on the students’ artistic proposals. Students working within any number of live performance traditions are as welcome in this course as those seeking to transgress orthodox conventions. While all of the works will engage in some way with embodied action, student proposals need not fall neatly into a traditional notion of what constitutes dance. The cultivation of open discourse across traditional disciplinary artistic boundaries, both in the process of developing the works and in the context of presentation to the public, is a central goal of the course. The faculty members leading this course have roots in dance practice but also have practiced expansive definitions of dance within their own creative work. This course will culminate in performances of the works toward the end of the semester in a shared program with all enrolled students and within the context of winter and spring time-based art events. Performances of the works will take place in the Bessie Schönberg Dance Theatre or elsewhere on campus in the case of site-specific work.

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Performance Project

Component—Year

Performance Project is a component where a visiting artist or company is invited to create a work with students or to set an existing piece of choreography. The works are performed for the College community at the end of the semester. 

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Music for Dancers: The Logic of Interaction

Component—Spring

This component will provide students with the opportunity to play a full array of percussion instruments from around the globe: African djembes, Brazilian zurdos, Argentinian bombo, Peruvian cajon and quijada, Indian tabla, traditional traps, and more. Students will also be able to program and execute electronic drums, such as the Wavedrum and Handsonic. The focus will be prevalent toward enhancing a dancer’s full knowledge of music but will expand the vocabulary for choreographers, actors, and composers, as well. The purpose of the component is to grant students the tools needed to fully immerse themselves in the understanding of the relation of music, dance, and the performing arts. Students will expand their knowledge of terminology and execution and will be able to learn the basic rudiments of notation. We will analyze the interaction of music from both intellectual and cultural points of view. We will learn how to scan musical scores with various degrees of complexity and explore the diverse rhythmic styles that have developed through time and through different geographical and social conditions. Classes will consist of group playing. All instruments will be provided and made available for practice.

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Anatomy

Component—Year

How is it possible for us to move in the countless ways that we do? Learn to develop your X-ray vision of human beings in motion through functional anatomical study that combines movement practice, drawing, lecture, and problem-solving. In this course, movement is a powerful vehicle for experiencing, in detail, our profoundly adaptable musculoskeletal anatomy. We will learn Irene Dowd’s Spirals—a comprehensive warm-up/cool-down for dancing that coordinates all joints and muscles through their fullest range of motion, facilitating study of the entire musculoskeletal system. In addition to movement practice, drawings are made as part of each week’s lecture (drawing materials provided), and three short assignments will be submitted each semester. Insights and skills developed in this course can provide tremendous inspiration in the process of movement invention and composition.

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Anatomy Research Seminar

Component—Year

This is an opportunity for students who have completed a full year of anatomy study in the SLC dance program to pursue functional anatomy studies in greater depth. In open consultation with the instructor during class meetings, each student engages in independent research, developing one or more lines of inquiry that utilize functional anatomy perspectives and texts as an organizing framework. Research topics in recent years have included investigation of motor and experiential learning, development of a unique warm-up sequence to address specific individual technical issues, inquiry into kinetic experience and its linguistic expression, detailed study of knee-joint anatomy, and study of the kinematics and rehabilitation in knee injury. The class meets biweekly to discuss progress, questions, and methods for reporting, writing, and presenting research, alternating with weekly studio/practice sessions for individual and/or group research consultations.

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Music and Sound for Film

Open, Seminar—Spring

This class will explore how music and sound serve the dramatic intent of a film. As co-inhabitants of the aural spectrum, a film’s score and sound design are increasingly called upon to interact and work together. Working in one of those areas usually implies a working understanding of the other. The class will cover: working with a director on spotting both music and sound, choosing musical themes that correspond to the dramatic needs of a film, using sound design to highlight environmental and psychological facets of the world and its characters, conceptualizing the sonic space of a film, and designing the music and sound so they occupy different frequency areas and remain distinct. The marriage of sound and music has deep roots in the history of cinema, and special attention will be paid to the masters of sound in film such as Walter Murch/Francis Ford Coppola, Stanley Kubrick, Akira Kurosawa (note: list is subject to change). Technical topics to be covered: intro to ProTools and an overview of basic mixing, concepts in music editing, use of effects such as compression, eq, reverb and filters, file organization, and management and workflow. While this course will be a historical overview of important work and concepts, time will also be given to developing student work with the hope that students gain experience through collaboration—both during class and independently.

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Beginning Italian: Viaggio in Italia

Open, Seminar—Year

This course, for students with no previous knowledge of Italian, aims at giving the student a complete foundation in the Italian language with particular attention to oral and written communication and all aspects of Italian culture. The course will be conducted in Italian after the first month and will involve the study of all basic structures of the language—phonological, grammatical, and syntactical—with practice in conversation, reading, composition, and translation. In addition to material covering basic Italian grammar, students will be exposed to fiction, poetry, songs, articles, recipe books, and films. Group conferences (held once a week) aim at enriching the students’ knowledge of Italian culture and developing their ability to communicate. This will be achieved by readings that deal with current events and topics relative to today’s Italian culture. Activities in pairs or groups, along with short written assignments, will be part of the group conference. In addition to class and group conference, the course has a conversation component in regular workshops with the language assistant. Conversation classes are held twice a week (in small groups) and will center on the concept of viaggio in Italia: a journey through the regions of Italy through cuisine, cinema, art, opera, and dialects. The Italian program organizes trips to the Metropolitan Opera and relevant exhibits in New York City, as well as offering the possibility of experiencing Italian cuisine first-hand as a group. The course is for a full year, by the end of which students will attain a basic competence in all aspects of the language.

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Intermediate Italian: Modern Italian Culture and Literature

Intermediate, Seminar—Year

This course aims at improving and perfecting the students’ speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills, as well as their knowledge of Italy’s contemporary culture and literature. In order to acquire the necessary knowledge of Italian grammar, idiomatic expressions, and vocabulary, a review of all grammar will be carried out throughout the year. As an introduction to modern Italian culture and literature, students will be introduced to a selection of short stories, poems, and passages from novels, as well as specific newspaper articles, music, and films in the original language. Some of the literary works will include selections from Umberto Eco, Italo Calvino, Natalia Ginzburg, Gianni Rodari, Marcello D’Orta, Clara Sereni, Dino Buzzati, Stefano Benni, Antonio Tabucchi, Alberto Moravia, Achille Campanile, and Elena Ferrante. In order to address the students’ writing skills, written compositions will be required as an integral part of the course. All material is accessible on myslc. Conferences are held on a biweekly basis; topics might include the study of a particular author, literary text, film, or any other aspect of Italian society and culture that might be of interest to the student. Conversation classes (in small groups) will be held twice a week with the language assistant, during which students will have the opportunity to reinforce what they have learned in class and hone their ability to communicate in Italian. When appropriate, students will be directed to specific internship opportunities in the New York City area, centered on Italian language and culture.

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Theatre and the City

Open, Large Lecture—Year

Athens, London, Paris, Berlin, New York...the history of Western theatre has always been associated with cities, their politics, their customs, their geography, their audiences. This course will track the story of theatre as it originates in the Athens of the fifth-century BCE and evolves into its different expressions and practices in cities of later periods, all of them seen as "capitals" of civilization. Does theatre civilize, or is it merely a reflection of any given civilization whose cultural assumptions inform its values and shape its styles? Given that ancient Greek democracy gave birth to tragedy and comedy in civic praise of the god Dionysos—from a special coupling of the worldly and the sacred—what happens when these genres recrudesce in the unsavory precincts of Elizabethan London, the polished court of Louis XIV, the beer halls of Weimar Berlin, and the neon “palaces” of Broadway? Sometimes the genres themselves are challenged by experiments in new forms or by performances deliberately situated in unaccustomed places. By tinkering with what audiences have come to expect or where they have come to assemble, do playwrights like Euripides, Brecht, and Sarah Kane destabilize civilized norms? Grounding our work in Greek theatre, we will address such questions in a series of chronological investigations of the theatre produced in each city: Athens and London in the first semester; Paris, Berlin, and New York in the second.

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Conscience of the Nations: Classics of African Literature

Open, Seminar—Fall

One way to think of literature is as the conscience of a people, reflecting on their origins, their values, their losses, and their possibilities. This course will study major representative texts in which sub-Saharan African writers have taken up the challenge of cultural formation and criticism. Part of what gives the best writing of modern Africa its aesthetic power is the political urgency of its task: The past still bears on the present, the future is yet to be written, and what writers have to say matters enough for their work to be considered dangerous. Political issues and aesthetic issues are, thus, inseparable in their work. Creative tensions in the writing between indigenous languages and European languages, between traditional forms of orature and storytelling and self-consciously “literary” forms, register all of the pressures and conflicts of late colonial and postcolonial history. To discern the traditionalist sources of modern African writing, we will first read examples from epic, folk tale, and other forms of orature. Major fiction will be selected from the work of Tutuola, Achebe, Beti, Sembene, Ba, Head, Ngugi, La Guma, Dangaremgba, and Sarowiwa; drama from the work of Soyinka and Aidoo; poetry from the work of Senghor, Rabearivelo, Okigbo, Okot p’Bitek, Brutus, Mapanje, and others. Conference work may include further, deeper work on the writings, writers, and genres that we study together in class; aspects of literary theory, particularly aspects of postcolonial and womanist theory relevant to readings of African literature; or readings of more recent writers out of Africa whose work draws on and develops the “classical” works that will be the foundation of our work together.

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Advanced Intermediate Spanish: Political Creativity

Open, Seminar—Year

This course looks at ways in which individuals and communities across the Spanish-speaking world have gotten creative about politics and political about creativity. Students will develop analytic skills and explore social-justice issues through the literature, film, music, and visual art of Miguel Ángel Asturias, Gloria Anzaldúa, Nancy Morejón, Sara Gómez, Rebecca Lane, Yásnaya E. Aguilar Gil, Lia Garcia La Sirena, and many more. We will also learn about the politically creative actions of communities and organizations working outside the structures of the nation state; an important aspect of this course will be engaging with activist efforts in real time. Students will produce both critical and creative written work. This discussion-based course will be conducted in Spanish and is intended for students who wish to further hone their communication and comprehension skills through advanced grammar review.

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Performance Art

Open, Seminar—Spring

Since the early 20th century, artists have explored performance art as a radical means of expression. In both form and function, performance art pushes the boundaries of contemporary art. Through this form of expression, artists have produced powerful works about the body and the politics of gender, sexuality, and race. This course surveys performance art as a porous, transdisciplinary medium open to students from all disciplines, including painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, sculpture, video, filmmaking, theatre, dance, music, creative writing, and digital art. Students will learn about the history of performance art and explore some of the concepts and aesthetic strategies used to create works of performance. Drawing on historical and critical texts, artists’ writings, video screenings, and slide lectures, students will use a series of simple prompts to help shape their own performances. Artists and art movements surveyed in this class include Dada, Happenings, Fluxus, Viennese Actionism, Gutai Group, Act-Up, Joseph Beuys, Judson Church, Ana Mendieta, Gina Pane, Helio Oiticica, Jack Smith, Leigh Bowery, Rachel Rosenthal, Jo Spence, Chris Burden, Vito Acconci, Bas Jan Ader, Terry Adkins and the Lone Wolf Recital Corps, Carolee Schneemann, Martha Wilson, Adrian Piper, Martha Rosler, Lorraine O’Grady, Joan Jonas, Karen Finley, Janine Antoni, Patty Chang, Papo Colo, Paul McCarthy, Matthew Barney, Ron Athey, Orlan, Guillermo Gomez Pena, Narcissister, Annie Sprinkle, Vaginal Davis, Kris Grey, Carlos Martiel, Autumn Knight, Amanda Alfieri, Hennessey Youngman, Savannah Knoop, Shaun Leonardo, Francis Alys, Andrea Fraser, Tania Bruguera, Zhang Huan, Regina Jose Galindo, Aki Sasamoto, Pope.L, and many more.

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First-Year Studies: Two Lenses on Writing

Open, FYS—Year

The first semester of this FYS course will be focused on words and pictures, with its central lens on stories: how to find them, tell them, and make your listener, viewer, or reader come along with you. The course includes adding a visual element, photography, drawing, paste-ups, collage, animations, anime. We will read and then make a few of the following: a collective graphic novel, some children's books, adult books with pictures, illuminated manuscripts, comics. Your conference work will be a finished version of a project of your choice. The second semester of the course will be a class in episodes: pieces of a continuing story that follow a thread but may have different leading characters in each episode; or a frame, with many peoples' stories inside; or movement from one time, place, and set of characters to another. We will bring in and discuss episodes that we love in books, TV, podcasts. We will do exercises until we come upon something that engages us and then start our conference work, which will involve six episodes, more or less. In both semesters, we will have an extra meeting every other week to discuss whatever comes up: paper writing, social issues, food, procrastination. These sessions may be led by the professor, outside speakers, or a rotating group of students.

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