Draft in progress

Undergraduate Music Courses: MCO 1000–4999

Composition: Undergraduate

Models I, II, III, IV, V, VI
MCO 1010, 1020, 2010, 2020, 3020, 3030

3 credits (per semester)
I, III, V: Fall; II, IV, VI: Spring
The core music theory curriculum for studio composition and studio production students, consisting of six sequential courses (I–IV only for studio production). Studies in musical structure and syntax. An integrated presentation of melody, rhythm, harmony, counterpoint, and timbre. This course begins to explain the universal principles of proportion and beauty in all music.

  1. Music grammar, fundamental harmony, multiple musical traditions
  2. Harmony, species counterpoint, phrase structures
  3. Acoustics, proportion, harmonic series, monophony, species counterpoint
  4. Tonal counterpoint, chromatic harmony, larger forms, jazz harmony and analysis
  5. Pop music, harmonic and rhythmic analysis
  6. Impressionism, expressionism, Fauvism, minimalism, post-tonality

Jazz Theory I and II
MCO 1015
and 1025 / 3 credits (per semester)
I: Fall; II: Spring
The core music theory curriculum for jazz studies students provides a basic foundation leading to proficiency within jazz harmony. Students gain complete facility in major, minor, and dominant seventh scales in every interval, in all 12 keys. Application includes comprehensive abilities within basic foundational harmony, often referred to as II–7, V7, I. This understanding of harmony is immediately put to practical use in standard song forms, some of which are also learned in all 12 keys. Limited to jazz studies majors.

Introduction to Studio Recording
MCO 1130
/ 2 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
An introduction to the recording studio, designed especially for students with no background in music. Students gain an overall understanding of the principles of studio recording and multitrack mixing.

Studio Composition I
MCO 1310
/ 2 credits / Fall
The fundamental information needed to function as an engineer/producer in today’s digitally driven recording environment. Includes an overview of the recording studio and in-depth technical information on the properties of sound, microphone design, cabling, digital audio converters, the Nyquist theorem, consoles, and signal processors. Students gain the working knowledge needed to be comfortable in the studio, together with skills in troubleshooting, maintenance, and engineering.

Studio Composition II
MCO 1320
/ 2 credits / Spring
In this technical exploration of the computer, how it is constructed, and its purpose in a modern recording studio, students gain a transparent view and working knowledge of technology, allowing for greater creative potential. Music-production software programs are explored, e.g., Digital Performer, Logic, Ableton Live, Reason, and Native Instruments. Students learn to troubleshoot and be comfortable in front of any modern computer system with multiple production software programs installed.
Prerequisite: MCO 1310 or permission of instructor

Studio Composition Seminar
MCO 1410
/ 1 credit / Every semester
Group discussions and presentations of student works, together with analysis of music by a range of established composers, encompassing many different styles. Live performances and guest artists enhance class sessions. Required for studio composition majors. Grading is on a pass/no credit basis.

Jazz Harmony I and II
MCO 2015
and 2025 / 2 credits (per semester)
I: Fall; II: Spring
Examines the various aspects of jazz harmony and improvisation. Topics include the cycle of fifths; secondary and substitute dominants; key of the moment; cadences, modal interchange, and melodic embellishment; and an in-depth study of improvisational devices, linking scales, advanced reharmonization, and tertian relationships. Limited to jazz studies majors.

MIDI Composition I
MCO 2310
/ 2 credits / Fall
Making technology transparent to musical composition. From the foundation of MIDI signal flow, MIDI editing, and sound-programming theory, students learn to translate compositions into a professional MIDI sequence. Emphasis is on synthesis methods, sampling techniques, and an introduction to instrumentation and orchestration within a MIDI performance.

MIDI Composition II
MCO 2320
/ 2 credits / Spring
A continuation of MCO 2310, with emphasis on instrumentation and orchestration. Students learn advanced MIDI sequencing and sampling techniques for the creation of convincing arrangements and compositions within varying musical scenarios. The acoustical properties of various instrument groups are also addressed.
Prerequisite: MCO 2310 or permission of instructor

Composition Seminar
MCO 3010
/ 1 credit / Every semester
Group discussions and presentations of student works, together with analysis of music by a range of established composers, encompassing many different styles. Live performances and guest artists enhance class sessions.

Studio Production I
MCO 3330
/ 2 credits / Fall
Advanced recording and production technology, with an emphasis on digital multitracking. Large-format “out of the box” consoles and advanced signal path and gain structures are discussed. Includes acoustics and studio design seminars, with soundproofing and construction considerations; and advanced microphone and electronics selection, technique, theory, and practice. Students 
track a variety of instruments together. Culminates in a complex overdubbed class project.
Prerequisite: MCO 1320 and 4360, or permission of instructor

Studio Production II
MCO 3340
/ 2 credits / Spring
Advanced mixing and mastering, including plug-in automation, audio restoration, and mixing in 5.1 surround sound, with an emphasis on troubleshooting, professionalism, and meticulous attention to production values. Discussions include analog processing and its relevance to digital workstations; the role of the engineer and producer in a modern studio environment; and ethics, technique, and real-time production constraints.
Prerequisite: MCO 3330 or permission of instructor

Melody Writing
MCO 3415
/ 2 credits / Alternate years (Fall)
A practical study of the craft of writing contemporary melody. Analytical and creative focus on effective melodic practice, plus musical rhyme, dramatic pitch curve, repetition and excursion, bridge, prechorus and chorus writing, melodic psychology and hooks. Studies may include Franz Schubert, Richard Rodgers, Cole Porter, Billie Holiday, Carole King, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder, Randy Newman, and others. Prior musical accomplishment as a melodist and ability to read notation are required.

Lyric Writing
MCO 3420
/ 2 credits / Spring
A practical study of the craft of writing contemporary lyrics. Analytical and creative focus on effective musical structures, plus rhyme forms and schemes, line and unit densities, text and subtexts. Studies may include Langston Hughes, Chuck Berry, Bob Dylan, Otis Redding, Joni Mitchell, Patti Smith, Chuck D, Tupac Shakur, and others. Prior musical accomplishment as a lyricist and a desire to collaborate are required.

Film Scoring I
MCO 3500
/ 2 credits / Fall
Writing/producing music for motion pictures. Action/dialogue underscoring, multiple cues, synchronization, editing, and critical budgets of time, equipment, and labor.
Prerequisite: MCO 1320 or 2320, or permission of instructor

Film Scoring II
MCO 3510
/ 2 credits / Spring
Practical exercises in the technical and creative aspects of production and engineering, with an emphasis on sound for motion pictures. Topics include production sound, automated dialogue replacement (ADR), SFX, Foley, file formats and Sync, stem mixes, spotting and scoring, mixing to picture, and delivery formats. The course includes demonstrations and a group recording project. Collaborative work with Purchase College film students is encouraged.
Prerequisite: MCO 3500 or permission of instructor

Studio Arranging I
MCO 3550
/ 2 credits / Fall
Designed to provide students with the knowledge needed to transform a song from its simplest form to a full-fledged, multidimensional arrangement, ranging from an entire symphony orchestra to exotic percussion and experimental studio effects.
Prerequisite: MCO 2020 and MTH 2425

Studio Arranging II
MCO 3555
/ 2 credits / Spring
A continuation of MCO 3550, with a more in-depth approach to song structure, instrumentation/orchestration, lead sheet writing, the skill of transcription, and the harmonic/melodic/rhythmic relationship. Formulating an album concept, genre-specific characteristics, and arranging preexisting material are also discussed in detail.
Prerequisite: MCO 3550

Contracts, Copyrights, and Publishing
MCO 3712
/ 2 credits / Fall
A course in the business of music that focuses on essential legal terms, language, and concepts underlying standard recording artist agreements, U.S. copyright law, and standard music publishing contracts. Sampling legislation, synchronization, and mechanical licenses are also examined in detail. Pending schedule availability, noted music industry professionals present guest lectures on relevant topics.

Touring, Promotion, and Distribution
MCO 3722
/ 2 credits / Spring
Addresses the complexities of booking a tour, artist promotion, and current trends in music distribution, including do-it-yourself (DIY) web-based distribution. Ethical issues relating to controversial subject matter and images, derogatory lyrics, social politics, and sexual content and its effect on the marketplace are also discussed.

Studio Composition Master Class
MCO 4120
/ 3 credits / Every semester
Weekly study in small groups with master composers. Melody, harmony, rhythm, timbre, form, and lyrics are studied within a variety of styles, aesthetics, and technologies. Students present their work at each class.

Studio Production Master Class
MCO 4125
/ 3 credits / Every semester
Weekly study in groups of three to five with master producers. Recording techniques and technologies, as well as the psychological, logistical, and entrepreneurial crafts of a producer, are studied. Students present their work at each class.

Digital Audio I
MCO 4350
/ 2 credits / Fall
A “Pro Tools 101” course covering digital audio workstation (DAW) essentials, in which intensive digital editing and DAW skills are developed. Includes specific instruction in Pro Tools shortcuts, file types and digital audio formats, edit modes, groups, playlists, session management, and safe data-file management skills, along with background history on tape vs. digital recording techniques.

Digital Audio II
MCO 4360
/ 2 credits / Spring
How to equip and set up a modern digital recording studio. Topics include equipment, project, and professional studio design and logistics for stereo and multitrack recording; setting up and running a tracking session; microphone techniques and cue mix strategies; an overview of mixing and mastering, including automation, region manipulation, time-division multiplexing (TDM), and AudioSuite and Real-Time AudioSuite (RTAS) plug-in basics; and advanced signal processing.
Prerequisite: MCO 4350 or permission of instructor

Creative Production Techniques I and II
MCO 4711
and 4721 / 1.5 credits (per semester)
I: Fall; II: Spring
Focuses on unique scenarios and non-mainstream techniques in recording and production. Assignments include recording live to mono analog tape; instrument construction, using scrap materials; and composition and recording. Study of ethnic music, including reggae and blues.
Prerequisite: Permission of instructor

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