2015-2016 Music Courses
First-Year Studies: Music and Technology
Each student in First-Year Studies in Music will be enrolled in a full music program—a Music Third—that reflects Sarah Lawrence’s educational philosophy of closely integrating theory and practice in the study of music. The music program (Music Third) consists of a number of components: individual instruction in voice, an instrument, or composition; courses in history and/or theory; participation in an ensemble; and concert attendance. In addition, all students in this course will be members of a weekly seminar, which provides a forum to explore a broad range of musical topics in both artistic and critical ways. The focus of the seminar will be the development and role of music technology—from the evolution of traditional instruments, such as the piano and electric guitar, to the invention of the synthesizer, the iPod, and the use of laptop computers as musical instruments. We will explore all genres of music, including both traditional and experimental electronic music. In order to develop and improve their insights and their ability to share them with others, students will write regular response papers and give short presentations. In the spring, they will also undertake a larger research project. First-Year Studies in Music is designed for students with all levels of prior music experience, from beginning to advanced.
The following seminar with conferences is offered to the College community and constitutes one-third of a student’s program. Art and Pop, Culture and Nature: Ethnomusicology and Global Musical Ecologies may also be taken as a yearlong component in a Music Third. See Components, below, for specific requirements for students taking Advanced Theory.
Art and Pop, Culture and Nature: Ethnomusicology and Global Musical Ecologies
How is listening a way of knowing? This course uses the idea of musical ecologies to approach music as a way of understanding both people and their surroundings. We will examine how music makes the relationships between people and their environments audible by listening to music and hearing gender, race, class, identity, generational difference, nationalism, nature, and place. By encountering musical diversity through listening and reading materials, as well as through performance ensembles, students will develop the critical thinking skills to make connections between the sonic and textual and better understand the many ways in which music and sound are meaningful around the world. The fall semester will focus on how music sounds the relationships between people, using selected ethnographic examples of art and popular music from across Asia and the Middle East. Topics will include Balinese gamelan, South Indian classical music, Taiko, Southeast Asian Heavy Metal, Iranian Pop, Japanese Hip Hop, Bollywood, World Jazz, Noise, and K Pop. Themes such as transnational circulation, cultural imperialism, and sound reproduction technology—including the radio, LP, mp3, and Internet—will be considered. Participation in the Balinese Gamelan, a bronze percussion orchestra, is required for the fall semester. The spring semester will delve further into the idea of musical ecologies by exploring intersections of music, culture, and nature. Themes will include music vs. sound, acoustic ecology, environmental activism, and the cultural construction of nature. Class sessions will focus on Appalachian coal mining songs, indigenous and folk music from Eastern Europe and the Arctic, art music composition, soundscapes, field recordings, birdsong, and musical responses to environmental crises such as Hurricane Katrina and the nuclear accident in Fukushima, Japan. Participation in the West African percussion ensemble is encouraged but not required for the spring semester. No prior musical experience is necessary.
Arranged by audition with the following members of the music faculty and affiliate artists:
Composition—Chester Biscardi, Paul Kerekes, Patrick Muchmore, John Yannelli
Guitar (acoustic), Banjo, and Mandolin—William Anderson
Guitar (jazz/blues)—Glenn Alexander
Bass (jazz/blues)—Bill Moring
Harpsichord and Fortepiano—Carsten Schmidt
Piano—Chester Biscardi, Martin Goldray, Bari Mort, Carsten Schmidt
Piano (jazz)—Michael Longo
Voice—Hilda Harris, Eddye Pierce-Young, Wayne Sanders, LaRose Saxon (S), Thomas Young (F)
Saxophone (jazz and classical)—Robert Magnuson
Percussion—Matt Wilson (drum set)
Percussion—Ian Antonio (mallet)
Violin—Sung Rai Sohn
The director of the music program will arrange all instrumental study with the affiliate artist faculty, 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 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 abilities. Auditions for all instruments and for 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 or her current level of vocal production. Students will be placed in either an individual voice lesson (two half-hour lessons per week) or in a studio class. There are four different studio classes, as well as the seminar, Self-Discovery Through Singing. 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 his or her 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 in the Keyboard Lab, given his or her 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 in the Guitar class.
The student who is interested in individual instruction in composition must demonstrate an appropriate background.
Theory and Composition Program
Theory I, Theory II, and Advanced Theory, including their historical studies corollaries, make up a required theory sequence that must be followed by all music students unless they prove their proficiency in a given area. Entry level will be determined by a diagnostic exam, which will be administered right after the Music Orientation Meeting that takes place during the first day of registration.
Theory I: Materials of Music
This introductory course will meet twice each week (two 90-minute sessions). We will study elements of music such as pitch, rhythm, intensity, and timbre to see how they combine in various musical structures and how these 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. This course is a prerequisite to the Theory II: Basic Tonal Theory and Composition and Advanced Theory sequence.
Theory II: Basic Tonal Theory and Composition
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. The materials of this course are prerequisite to any Advanced Theory course, and at least one of the following Advanced Theory courses is required after Theory II. Survey of Western Music is required for all students taking Theory II who have not had a similar history course.
With Advanced Theory, students are required to take either a yearlong seminar or two semester-long seminars in music history, which include Bach (spring); Jazz History; First Viennese School (fall); Romanticism in 19th-Century European Music (spring); and Art and Pop, Culture, and Nature: Ethnomusicology and Global Musical Ecologies.
Advanced Theory: Advanced Tonal Theory and Analysis
This course will focus on the analysis of tonal music, with a particular emphasis on chromatic harmony. Our goal will be to quickly develop a basic understanding of—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. Prerequisite: Successful completion of the required theory sequence or an equivalent background.
Advanced Theory: Jazz Theory and Harmony
In this course, we will study the building blocks and concepts of jazz theory, harmony, and rhythm. This will include the study of the standard modes and scales, as well as the use of melodic and harmonic minor scales and their respective modals systems. It will 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 devoted to harmony and harmonic progression through analysis and memorization of triads, extensions, and alterations, as well as substitute chords, re-harmonization, 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. We will also use composition as a way to absorb and truly understand the concepts discussed. Prerequisite: Theory II: Basic Tonal Theory and Composition.
Advanced Theory: Orchestration and Score Study
Although this course will be important for composers, it is predicated on the conviction that learning more about the capabilities of instruments—both individually and in combination—is invaluable to the appreciation of music for anyone. Of course, a composer needs to learn the timbral palettes of various instruments, as well as how to write idiomatically for them; but performers, theorists, and historians benefit enormously, as well. They learn why some musical choices were necessary but also why some choices are especially clever or even astonishing. The first semester will focus on basic characteristics and some extended techniques of the primary orchestral instruments and will include considerations and examples for orchestral and chamber literature. The second semester will add a few more advanced and/or less-standard instruments—such as the harp, guitar and synthesizer—but will primarily focus on extensive score study with an eye toward varied approaches to orchestration. Examples will include works from the Baroque era all the way to the present day. All students will compose small excerpts for solo instruments and chamber groups as each instrument is introduced. For composers, the first semester project will be an arrangement of part of an assigned piano piece for full orchestra; the final project will be a relatively brief original composition for large chamber group or full orchestra. Non-composition students will have the option to either do those projects or substitute relatively brief papers analyzing the orchestration in pieces chosen from a list provided by the instructor.
Advanced Theory: 20th-Century Theoretical Approaches: Post-Tonal and Rock Music
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. Open to students who have successfully completed Theory II: Basic Tonal Theory and Composition.
Intermediate and Advanced Aural Skills
This course is dedicated to helping students develop their fluency with theoretical materials through dictation and sight-singing practice. Initially, we may focus on individual parameters such as pitches, rhythms, and harmonic progressions; but the ultimate goal of the course is to be able to perceive all of those in an integrated way. Permission of the instructor is required.
Sight Reading for Instrumentalists
This course is open to all instrumentalists who are interested in developing techniques to improve their sight-reading skills. Groups from duets to quintets will be formed according to level and will meet once a week. A sight-reading “performance” will be held at the end of each semester.
20th-Century Compositional Techniques
Composers have been exploring new avenues for creating and organizing their music beyond a traditional tonal construct since the turn of the 20th century. As we will discover, some composers relate to the past by extending those techniques into a new realm, while others firmly attempt to establish procedures that disregard the history of compositional methods that precede them. This course is a workshop in the art of composition, with a focus on new approaches to writing that composers devised during the late 19th century and up to present times. We will examine in detail significant works by a wide variety of major 20th- and 21st-century composers, beginning with the first inklings of Modernism in Debussy, Wagner, and Schoenberg, stopping by a myriad of resulting genres such as Neoclassicism in Stravinsky and Minimalism with Steve Reich, and finishing off with very recent compositions by established and emerging composers from across the globe. Since this class focuses heavily on compositional techniques through the act of composing, it is expected that students have or will develop a fluency in notation, preferably with Sibelius or Finale. The class will culminate in a reading session of your final work by live performers. Students should have taken Theory I: Materials of Music or its equivalent.
Music Technology Courses: Studio for Electronic Music and Experimental Sound
Introduction to Electronic Music and Music Technology
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 composer concerts, music workshops, and open concerts. Permission of the instructor is required.
Recording, Sequencing, and Mastering Electronic Music
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 areas. Projects will be presented in class for discussion and critique. Permission of the instructor is required.
Studio Composition and Music Technology
This component is open to advanced students who have successfully completed Studio for Electronic Music and Experimental Sound and are at or beyond the Advanced Theory level. Students work on individual projects involving aspects of music technology that include, but are 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. Open to a limited number of students. Permission of the instructor is required.
Music History Courses
Survey of Western Music
This course is a chronological survey of Western music from the Middle Ages to the present. It is designed to acquaint the student with significant compositions of the Western musical tradition, as well as to explore the cyclical nature of music that mirrors philosophical and theoretical ideas in ancient Greece and how that cycle appears 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 participation in listening, reading, and discussion, including occasional quizzes about and/or written summaries of historical periods. This component is required for all students taking Theory II: Basic Tonal Theory and Composition and is also open to students who have completed the theory sequence.
Art and Pop, Culture and Nature: Ethnomusicology and Global Musical Ecologies
See course description under SEMINAR (above).
Bach continues to be a central figure of Western music history. His roots are deep, arguably reaching into the Middle Ages, and his influence is still keenly felt by many contemporary composers. This course will explore some of these roots and examine Bach’s extraordinary contributions to various genres such as organ music, the keyboard suite, chamber music, the concerto, mass, cantata, passion, and pedagogical works. It will also discuss his theological, scientific, and philosophical foundations. In addition, we will pay attention to the reception that history has paid to his music and its performance practices. The course will feature frequent in-class performances by participants, the instructor, and guests. Some background in music theory is necessary, and reading knowledge of music is essential.
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 have had on jazz styles. This is a two-semester class; however, it will be possible to enter in the second semester. This is one of the music history component courses required for all Advanced Theory students (see above).
First Viennese School
The First Viennese School—referring to the 18th-century Classical music composers Franz Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig van Beethoven—will delve into the cultural history of the time, along with biographical and compositional study. Backing into this time period with a quick look at late-Baroque and early-Classical composers, we will discover how the Classical style evolved, followed by an in-depth study of the three great composers, their influence on one another, and a comparative study of their work. The course will include listening, reading, score analysis, and discussion. An ability to read music and some experience in music theory is necessary. This is one of the music history component courses required for all Advanced Theory students (see above).
Romanticism in 19th-Century European Music
This course will explore 19th-century European music against the cultural backdrop of Romanticism, nationalism, the Industrial Revolution, and the rise of the middle class. During these years, the symphony orchestra grew from 30 or 40 players to upwards of 100 or more; composers began writing with increased technical virtuosity and were searching for more emotion, color, and drama with increased use of dissonance and chromaticism. We will study these developments with Beethoven as a “launching pad” and then move into the lives and music of Schubert, Chopin, Berlioz, Robert and Clara Schumann, Brahms, Wagner, and Liszt. The course will include listening, reading, score analysis, and discussion. An ability to read music and some experience in music theory is necessary. This is one of the music history component courses required for all Advanced Theory students (see above).
Performance Ensembles and Courses
All performance courses listed below are open to all members of the Sarah Lawrence College community, with permission of the instructor.
Auditions for all ensembles will take place at the beginning of the first week of classes.
Choral ensembles include the following:
Students may take Chorus as part of a music program or other performing arts programs or on a noncredit basis. Chorus gives concerts each semester at the College. The music faculty requires that all music program students register for Chorus as part of their first-year music program; exceptions may be made for members of the Orchestra. In addition, all students studying voice in the music program participate in Chorus. Chorus meets twice a week; no conflicts are permitted. No auditions are required.
Early madrigals and motets and contemporary works especially suited to a small number of voices will form the body of this group’s repertoire. The ensemble will perform winter and spring concerts. Chamber Choir meets once a week. Students may qualify for membership in the Chamber Choir by audition.
Jazz Studies include the following ensembles and courses:
The Blues Ensemble
This performance ensemble is geared toward learning and performing various traditional, as well as hybrid, styles of blues music. The blues, like jazz, is purely an 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 how they influenced modern blues men such as Johnny Winter, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and pioneer rockers such as Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Jimi Hendrix. By audition only.
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. An audition is required.
Jazz Performance and Improvisation Workshop
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. A placement audition is required.
Jazz Vocal Ensemble
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. They will learn how to work with, give direction to, and get what they need from the rhythm section. It will provide an environment in which 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 also to work with other vocalists in singing backup or harmony vocals for and with each other. And it will 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. An audition is required.
Vocal Studies include the following courses:
Jazz Vocal Seminar
Through an exploration of the relationship of melody, harmony, rhythm, text, style, and how these elements can be combined and manipulated to create meaning and beauty, a significant level of vocal development will be expected and required. An audition is required.
Self-Discovery Through Singing
This course encourages an exploration of the student’s vocal ability and potential. Each singer will develop his or her technique through repertoire and vocal exercises geared to individual ability and specific voice type. At the core of instruction is the required weekly “practice sheet.” This becomes the tool for “self-discovery.” Each semester ends with a class performance in recital format.
Seminar in Vocal Performance
Voice students will gain performance experience by singing repertoire selected in cooperation with the studio instructors. Students will become acquainted with a broader vocal literature perspective through singing in several languages and exploring several historical music periods. Interpretation, diction, and stage deportment will be stressed. During the course of their studies and with permission of their instructor, all Music Thirds in voice are required to take Seminar in Vocal Performance for two semesters.
So This Is Opera?
This course is an introduction to opera through an opera workshop experience that explores combining drama and music to create a story. Open to students in the performing arts (music, dance and theatre), as well as in the College community at large. Weekly class attendance is mandatory. All levels are welcome. An audition is required.
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. Placement in this course is determined by audition.
World Music ensembles and courses include the following:
African Classics of the Postcolonial Era
From highlife and jújù in Nigeria, to soukous and makossa in Congo and Cameroon, to the sounds of Manding music in Guinea and “Swinging Addis” in Ethiopia, the decades following World War II saw an explosion of musical creativity that blossomed across sub-Saharan Africa. Syncretic styles merging African aesthetics with European, Caribbean, and American influences and instruments resulted in vibrant new musical genres that harken back to traditional African sources while exploring bold and original musical forms. As European powers formally withdrew from their former colonies, newly inspired African musicians took advantage of broadened artistic resources and created vital, contemporary musical expressions. This performance course will explore a wide range of African musical styles that emerged in the second half of the 20th century. We will undertake a broad musical history, considering prominent groups and individual musicians during this time period, and perform tightly structured arrangements of some of their most effective and influential pieces. There will be some opportunities for genre-appropriate improvisation and soloing. A wide range of instruments will be welcome, including strings, horns, guitars, keyboards, drums, and various percussion instruments. Basic facility on one’s musical instrument is expected, but prior experience with African musical aesthetics is neither assumed nor required.
Gamelan Angklung Chandra Buana
A gamelan angklung is a bronze orchestra that includes four-toned metallophones, gongs, drums, and flutes. Simple 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. It is a required part of the Art and Pop, Culture and Nature: Ethnomusicology and Global Musical Ecologies seminar.
West African Percussion Ensemble Faso Foli
Faso Foli, a Malinke phrase that translates loosely as “playing to my father’s home,” is the name of our West African performance ensemble. 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, in the United States, and in 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, the dun dun drums, and djembe hand drums—were handcrafted for the college in 2006 by master builders in Guinea. Relevant instrumental techniques will be taught in the class. No previous experience with African musical practice is assumed; any interested student may join.
Other courses and ensembles:
Awareness Through Movement™ for Musicians
This course will offer a selection from the thousands of Awareness Through Movement™ lessons developed by Moshe Feldenkrais. The lessons consist of verbal instructions for carefully designed movement sequences that allow the students to better sense and feel themselves and thereby develop new and improved organizational patterns. These gentle movements are done in comfortable positions (lying, sitting, and standing), and many instrumentalists and singers have found them to be hugely helpful in developing greater ease, reducing unwanted tension and performance anxiety, and preventing injuries. Another benefit is the often increased capacity for learning and, perhaps most importantly, an increased enjoyment of music making and the creative process.
Bluegrass Performance Ensemble
Bluegrass music is a 20th-century amalgam of popular and traditional music styles, emphasizing vocal performance and instrumental improvisation, that coalesced in the 1940s in the American Southeast. Through performance, this ensemble will highlight many of the influences and traditions that bluegrass comprises, including ballads, breakdowns, “brother duets,” gospel quartets, Irish-style medleys, “modal” instrumentals, “old-time” country, popular song, and rhythm and blues, among many possible others. Though experienced players will have plenty of opportunities to improvise, participants need not have played bluegrass before. The ensemble should include fiddle, 5-string banjo, steel-string acoustic guitar, mandolin, resophonic guitar (Dobro®), upright double bass.
Various chamber groups—from quartets or quintets to violin and piano duos—are formed each year based on the number and variety of qualified instrumentalists who apply. There are weekly coaching sessions. Groups will have an opportunity at the end of each semester to perform in a chamber music concert.
Chamber Music Improvisation
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, as well as community outreach. Open to a limited number of students by audition.
An introduction to orchestral conducting for qualified students, the fall semester will focus on baton technique, score reading, and interpretation, as well as on how to prepare a score and how to lead a rehearsal. The aim will be to give students the tools that they need to have in place before interacting with live musicians. The spring semester will focus on utilizing those tools with live musicians. In each class, students will have the opportunity to conduct rehearsals, starting with duets and increasing in size over the course of the semester. A final project will include rehearsing and conducting a large chamber piece such as the Spohr Nonet. There may also be opportunities for students who are ready to conduct the Sarah Lawrence College Orchestra in rehearsal. Consent of the instructor and completion of Theory II: Basic Tonal Theory and Composition are required.
Evolution of a Performance
This advanced seminar presents a unique resource that is designed to help students develop well-informed and inspired performances. The content of this course will be carefully tailored to participants’ interests, needs, abilities, and chosen repertoire. It will include a combination of the following: textual criticism and possible creation of a performance edition; consideration of performance practices, drawing on historical documents and recent scholarship; study of historical instruments; review of pertinent analytical techniques and writings; analytical, compositional, and ear-training assignments; readings that explore the cultural, artistic, and emotional worlds of the composers studied; in-class performances and coaching; and discussion of broader philosophical issues relating to authenticity in performance. This course is for accomplished and highly motivated performers who have a theory background commensurate with completion of at least the first semester of Advanced Theory: Advanced Tonal Theory and Composition. It is especially suitable for instrumentalists and singers who are preparing for a recital or performances of major chamber music works. Permission of the instructor is required.
Experimental Improvisation Ensemble
This class explores a variety of musical and dance styles and techniques, including free improvisation, chance-based methods, conducting, and scoring. We will collaboratively innovate practices and build scores that extend our understanding of how the mediums of dance and music relate both to and with one another. How the body makes sound and how sound moves will serve as entry points for our individual and group experimentation. Scores will be explored with an eye toward their performing potential. The ensemble is open to composer-performers, dancers, performance artists, and actors. Music students must be able to demonstrate proficiency in their chosen instrument. All instruments (acoustic and electrical), voice, electronic synthesizers, and laptop computers are welcome. Permission of the instructors is required.
This course is for beginning acoustic or electric guitar students. Recommendation by the faculty is required.
This course 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. The class is recommended for students interested in classical guitar. Approval by the instructor is required.
This course is designed to accommodate beginning piano students who take 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. Placement will be arranged by the piano faculty.
In rotation over two years, students will have the opportunity to experience and participate in a broad range of musical styles from the Baroque to symphonic and contemporary repertory, including improvisation and experimental music. This component will be taught by Mr. Sohn in the fall and Mr. Goldray in the spring. The Sarah Lawrence College Orchestra is open to all students, as well as to members of the College and Westchester communities, by audition. It is required for all instrumentalists taking a Music Third.
This component offers students the opportunity to share with the larger College community the results of their sustained work in performance study. During the semester of their recital, students will receive additional coaching from their principal teachers. An audition is required.
Violin Master Class
Violin Master Class meets weekly and involves both playing and discussion. Each student is required to prepare a solo piece. An accompanist will be present before and during each class to rehearse and perform with students. Each master class is organized as a series of individual lessons that address recurrent performance problems, including discussions concerning technical and musical issues (basic and advanced), as well as performance practices. All students will receive copies of the works being performed.
Required Concert Attendance/Music Tuesdays Component
Concert Attendance/Music Tuesdays Requirement
The music faculty wants students to have access to a variety of musical experiences. Therefore, all Music Thirds are required to attend all Music Tuesdays events and three music program-sponsored concerts on campus per semester, including concerts (the required number varies from semester to semester) presented by music faculty and outside professionals that are part of the Concert Series. Music Tuesdays consists of various programs, including student/faculty town meetings, concert presentations, guest artists’ lectures and performances, master classes, and collaborations with other departments and performing arts programs. Meetings, which take place in Reisinger Concert Hall on selected Tuesdays from 1:30-3:00 p.m., are open to the community. The schedule will be announced each semester.
Master Classes and Workshops
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. Classes are taught by the music faculty and guest artists and are open to the College community.
Music Workshops and Open Concerts
Music Workshops present an opportunity for students to perform 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.
Music Courses in Rotation Not Offered in 2015-2016
• Ancient Theory/Notation as Language
• Baroque Ensemble
• Character Development for Singers
• Keyboard Literature
• Saxophone/Woodwind Ensemble