Conservatory of Music

Graduate Music Courses

Last updated April 18, 2016

Please note that these graduate courses are limited to students in the Conservatory of Music.

Composition (MCO 5000–5999)
Performance, Ensemble (MPE 5000–5999)
Music History, Theory, and Musicianship (MTH 5000–5999)
Additional Studies (MUS 5000–5999)

Composition: Graduate

Composition Seminar
MCO 5115
/ 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.

Contemporary Trends in Jazz Composition
MCO 5180
/ 2 credits / Fall
Students write and perform their own compositions in the jazz vernacular and critically discuss each other’s work. In addition, various compositional models are analyzed, including compositions of Wayne Shorter, Kenny Wheeler, Andy Laverne, Bill Evans, John Abercrombie, and others. Compositions from the Great American Songbook are also analyzed with regard to thematic development and harmonic motion.

Jazz Composition Workshop
MCO 5190
/ 2 credits / Spring
Students write and perform for specific instrumental groupings and form ensembles designed to interpret their original work. Composers and performers are encouraged to give input and jointly engage in the creative process by sharing different viewpoints. These collaborations provide insight into the complete process of writing, arranging, and performing an original work from start to end.

Writing and Production Seminar I and II
MCO 5200
and 5210 / 2 credits (per semester)
I: Fall; II: Spring
Practical collaborations between writers and engineers/producers. Writers and producers are teamed with one another to produce high-quality demo recordings in the digital studios, within realistic professional time and personnel constraints. Emphasis is on the collaborative aspect of musical composition and production.

New Waves in Electronic Music
MCO 5250
/ 2 credits / Spring
A project-based study of trends in electronic music, including electronica, ambient, interactive electronics, and sound design. Students explore techniques employed by DJs, instrumentalists, and other musicians with an eye toward their own innovations. Includes both readings and historical studies as well as project-based music making.

20th-Century Orchestration
MCO 5340
/ 2 credits / Spring
A survey of the orchestration techniques of Debussy, Stravinsky, Webern, Bartok, Hindemith, Ellington, Gil Evans, and Quincy Jones. Brief projects based on each style.

21st-Century Technology and Performance Practice
MCO 5350
/ 2 credits / Fall
A hands-on investigation of creative uses of technology in 21st-century music making. Students learn from models of great works and develop innovative applications of the most recent technological developments through music performance.

Studio Composition Seminar
MCO 5400
/ 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. Grading is on a pass/no credit basis.

Melody Writing
MCO 5415
/ 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 5420
/ 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.

Advanced Songwriting
MCO 5430
/ 2 credits / Fall
Advanced analysis of lyrics, rhyme, emotional projection, melodic contour, and formal verse-chorus practice. For experienced composers and lyricists who desire to broaden their understanding of the craft. Students are expected to be highly motivated to learn and to explore high-level collaborations across disciplines.

Practical Techniques in Studio Composition
MCO 5445
/ 2 credits / Spring
An in-depth study of specific compositional devices that enhance the quality of a writer’s output, regardless of style. The course focuses on scale selection, melodic development, nontraditional harmony, dynamic markings, and contrapuntal devices to facilitate well-crafted composition. Projects include integrating classroom assignments into original works. The course objective is to synthesize cognitive and “ear” writing methods into one fluid process.

Seminar in Mixing and Engineering
MCO 5450
/ 2 credits / Fall
An advanced study of digital signal processors in the modern digital studio environment, focusing on their specific uses during the mix-down process. Engineers are immersed in real-world situations to foster technical and creative solutions within a typical engineer/client relationship. Emphasis is on the perception of the mind and the ear, mix techniques, and standard business practices.

Seminar in Studio Design
MCO 5455
/ 2 credits / Fall
A practical exploration of design options for the modern recording studio, including its growing role in video and film postproduction. Construction techniques, space design, acoustic treatments, and facility ergonomics are examined, and changes in studio facilities in the digital age are discussed. Students learn how to spec and budget their own midsize recording facility, accounting for all aspects of equipment, construction, HVAC, electrical, and overhead.

Seminar in Studio Arranging
MCO 5460
/ 2 credits / Fall
Advanced arranging skills for transforming music from its simplest rendering into complex orchestral and experimental arrangements. Class time includes projects using Pro Tools and MOTU Digital Performer as compositional/arranging platforms. Students alternately assume the roles of composer, musician, and engineer to develop collaborative communication skills from each of these points of view.

Seminar in World Music
MCO 5465
/ 2 credits / Alternate years (Fall)
An overview of global musical styles with a special focus on African and Latin cultures. Emphasis is placed on understanding the present and historical practices of music making and why this music is relevant in the world-music scene today. Invited guests, together with video and audio recordings, provide additional insight into the sociological and practical relevance of these styles.

Seminar in Synchronization and Digital Media
MCO 5475
/ 2 credits / Alternate years (Fall)
A hands-on seminar on advanced digital editing with a focus on the visual image. Studies include film sound and scoring, game sound, television sweetening, and Internet audio. Studies explore frame rates, video latency, troubleshooting, and various technologies and their relationship to working with sound for picture. Students also explore various delivery formats and media.

Seminar in Studio Scoring
MCO 5485
/ 2 credits / Alternate years (Spring)
A writing-intensive course geared toward meeting client deadlines, with a strong emphasis on the craft involved in creating music scores in the studio. Assignments include writing for television, film, advertising, spoken-word, and web-based situations. The composer as businessperson and current practices in the music business are also addressed.

Arrow up icon 

Performance, Ensemble: Graduate

Chamber Music
MPE 5140
/ 2 credits / Every semester
The study and performance of works from the chamber music repertoire and/or the sonata literature for piano and instruments. Coaching sessions (up to one and a half hours per week) culminate in performance.
Prerequisite: Audition

Brass Chamber Music
MPE 5142
/ 2 credits / Every semester
Coached by members of the brass faculty, this ensemble class focuses on group intonation, phrasing, articulation, and blend. Literature is selected from all styles and eras of music, and composition for the ensemble is also encouraged. Rehearses weekly for one and a half hours.

Symphony Orchestra
MPE 5201
/ 2 credits / Every semester
Intense preparation of works, mostly from the standard repertoire, for performance. Study of characteristic styles, performance practice, and acquisition of large ensemble skills and professional etiquette.
Prerequisite: Audition

MPE 5205
/ 2 credits / Every semester
Interpretation of music of the 17th and 18th centuries from the perspective of historically informed performance. Instructors teach basic principles of interpretation that are evident from early performance manuals, then encourage students to actively engage these principles by forming personal interpretations around them. Students are encouraged to form creative, original approaches to the repertoire, particularly when the historical record may be incomplete, inchoate, or simplistic.

Woodwind Instrumental Lab
MPE 5211
/ .5 credit / Every semester
Companion performance lab for participants in MPE 5450.

Brass Instrumental Lab
MPE 5221
/ .5 credit / Every semester
Companion performance lab for participants in MPE 5142.

Trombone Ensemble
MPE 5226
/ 1 credit / Special topic (offered irregularly)
In this ensemble extension of the private-study studio, emphasis is placed on group intonation, phrasing, articulation, and blend. Literature is selected from all styles and eras of music, and composition for the ensemble is also encouraged.

Horn Ensemble
MPE 5229
/ 1 credit / Special topic (offered irregularly)
This ensemble rehearses and prepares for performance of well-known horn compositions in many different styles, from the Hindemith Sonata for Four Horns to the Fripperies by Lowell Shaw. The class also works with the IVASI video system for orchestra training.

Percussion Ensemble
MPE 5231
/ 2 credits / Every semester
Study and performance of the percussion ensemble repertoire. Students have the opportunity to perform a range of parts, from basic to virtuosic, in all areas of percussion: timpani, mallets, and multiple percussion.

Opera Workshop
MPE 5250
/ 2 credits / Every semester
In a performance lab setting, students prepare and perform in a concert of staged scenes with piano or instrumental ensemble; and/or participate in at least one fully staged opera, given in its original language, with orchestra, sets, and costumes. This course further develops and refines the musical and dramatic skills acquired in previous courses.

Opera Workshop Lab
MPE 5253
/ 1 credit / Every semester
A practical application of opera rehearsal techniques as studied in MPE 5250.
Corequisite: MPE 5250

Operatic Styles I, II, III
MPE 5255, 5256, 5257
/ 2 credits (per semester)
I, III: Spring; II: Fall
This three-semester class is the principal focus of the graduate program in opera studies. Students prepare operatic scenes and arias for presentation in a master-class setting every week. Emphasis is on correct stylistic interpretation and performance practice in each stylistic period of opera history, from Monteverdi to recent works. Repertoire is assigned according to each participant’s needs and abilities.

Opera Coaching
MPE 5260
/ 1 credit / Every semester
Private weekly music coachings that support the student’s development (technical and artistic) and presentation (linguistic, stylistic, musical, and dramatic). Prepares the student for performance situations throughout the department. The goal is to enable the student to function as an independent professional upon completion of the program.

Teaching Techniques for Voice
MPE 5275
/ 2 credits / Fall
A seminar class in the fundamentals of teaching vocal technique. Students learn the physiological and pedagogical fundamentals of the workings of the voice, followed by practical application (working in a classroom setting to recognize and solve various vocal problems).

Teaching Techniques for Stage
MPE 5276
/ 2 credits / Spring
A seminar class in the fundamentals of stage directing with a practical application of directing opera scenes in MPE 3350/Opera Workshop.

Jazz Saxophone Doubling
MPE 5295
/ 1 credit / Every semester
A comprehensive overview of playing techniques for the common saxophone doubles, especially clarinet and flute. Specifics on embouchures, fingerings, tone production, and performance practice are facilitated by weekly in-class readings of repertoire, études, and technical exercises.

Guitar Performance Class
MPE 5410
/ 1 credit / Every semester
Covers a full range of solo repertoire and performance. Students actively participate in the analytic and critical process for pedagogical purposes.

Harp Performance Class
MPE 5420
/ 1 credit / Every semester
A weekly gathering of harpists, providing a forum for performance, discussion, and examination of the many facets of harp technique and interpretation. Repertoire may include solo, chamber, and orchestral works. Audition techniques, performance traditions, and instrument maintenance are also covered.

String Performance Class
MPE 5440
/ 1 credit / Every semester
A weekly gathering of all violinists, violists, violoncellists, and bass students, providing a forum for string players to perform for each other and to discuss and examine the many facets of string playing. Repertoire may include solo, chamber, and orchestral. Audition techniques, performance traditions, and instrument maintenance may also be covered.

Woodwind Performance Class
MPE 5450
/ 1 credit / Every semester
Provides an opportunity for students to perform solo and chamber repertoire for their peers in a master-class environment. Supervised by members of the wind faculty, the class is designed to help students develop quality performances and overcome any issues related to performance anxiety. Meets weekly for one and a half hours.

Guitar Ensemble
MPE 5451
/ 2 credits / Every semester
Designed for classical guitarists who are interested in gaining ensemble, sight-reading, and arranging skills for guitar ensemble. Students are expected to perform repertoire from the 20th and 21st centuries and create their own arrangements for performance by various combinations, such as a guitar orchestra, duos, trios, and quartets. Strong musicianship skills are required.

Percussion Performance Class
MPE 5460
/ 1 credit / Every semester
A forum for percussionists to discuss and examine the many facets of percussion performance. The study of the orchestral repertoire for timpani and percussion is the primary focus.

Brass Performance and Ensemble
MPE 5465
/ 1 credit / Every semester
The main instrumental ensemble (20–30 players) in the brass program. Conducted by members of the brass faculty, this ensemble performs repertoire from the 16th century to the present. It also performs music from the British “brass band” repertoire, in which students are required to play traditional brass band instruments. Rehearses weekly for one and a half hours.

Baroque Keyboard Literature
MPE 5470
/ 2 credits / Alternate years
Examines music for organ, harpsichord, clavichord, and early piano from 1550 to 1770 by Byrd, Sweelinck, L. Couperin, Buxtehude, F. Couperin, J.S. Bach, and the Bach sons W.F. and C.P.E. Primary source materials include ornamentation and early fingering charts, as well as studies of contemporary music instruction. Outside readings of secondary source materials include Apel and Ferguson. Discussion of in-class performance is integral to the course.

Classical Sonata Literature
MPE 5471
/ 2 credits / Alternate years
A survey of the piano music of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, including sonatas, variations, and other shorter works. The Classical style is examined in relation to its emergence from the late Baroque era, with special attention given to keyboard technique, instruments of the period, range, and the continued evolution of musical forms.

Romantic Piano Literature
MPE 5472
/ 2 credits / Alternate years
A survey of piano literature from Beethoven’s late works through the end of the 19th century. Primary focus on the works of Schubert, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Schumann, Liszt, and Brahms, with emphasis on the character piece, new trends in the use of older forms, and developments in timbre and range. Late Romantic composers are examined, focusing on their impact on early 20th-century styles.

20th-Century Piano Literature
MPE 5473
/ 2 credits / Alternate years
A survey of piano literature from 1900 to the present. The works of Debussy, Ravel, Scriabin, Prokofiev, Ives, Janacek, Bartok, and Cage are the primary focus, with emphasis on extended techniques, new trends in the use of older forms, and developments in timbre and range.

Piano Performance Class
MPE 5480
/ 1 credit / Every semester
Covers the full range of solo repertoire for piano. Students perform and actively participate in the analytical and critical process for pedagogical purposes.

Harpsichord/Fortepiano/Organ Class
MPE 5495
/ 2 credits / Fall
For graduate piano students. An introduction to the techniques of playing keyboard instruments other than the modern piano, and an exploration of the repertoire particular to these instruments. Topics include performance practice, ornamentation, instrument construction, and sound production.

Conducting Techniques
MPE 5500
/ 2 credits / Fall
A practical introduction: simple beat patterns with both hands, cues with the left hand, as well as indications for sforzati, cut offs, and lyric gestures. Works from early Haydn to Brahms.

Conducting Strategies
MPE 5510
/ 2 credits / Spring
A seminar that explores how conductors approach musical challenges. Studies and assignments incorporate score analysis, orchestral arranging, and conducting techniques. Students conduct short works that they have arranged or composed for small ensembles formed in the class. Limited to graduate students concentrating in instrumental or vocal performance.

Improvisation for Non-Jazz Majors
MPE 5530
/ 1 credit / Fall
Covers improvisation in every form, including all harmonic progressions and tonalities. It is taught by a jazz pianist who has a clear understanding of classical music and the sensibilities of its players.

Jazz Orchestra
MPE 5550
/ 2 credits / Every semester
The Jazz Orchestra is a 17-piece big band that performs jazz from every era. From staples like Ellington and Basie to more modern works by today’s leading composers and arrangers, this orchestra swings and is always a pleasure to listen to. Limited to graduate jazz studies students.
Prerequisite: Audition

Contemporary Ensemble
MPE 5560
/ 2 credits / Every semester
Presents the opportunity to study and perform contemporary works by established composers for diverse instruments, in all styles. Open to all graduate music majors with permission of instructor.

Purchase New Music
MPE 5565
/ 2 credits / Every semester
Presents the opportunity to study and perform contemporary works by student composers for diverse instruments, in all styles.

Collaborative Piano
MPE 5610
/ 1 credit / Every semester
Study of the art of accompanying singers and instrumentalists. Members of the class perform regularly.

Purchase Latin Jazz Orchestra
MPE 5620
/ 2 credits / Every semester
Focuses on the music of the Machito Orchestra, Tito Puente, Chico O’Farrill, and Dizzy Gillespie, among others. The conversion of standard jazz repertoire to what is currently known as Latin jazz is emphasized through an in-depth study of clavé (the rhythmic pulse found in Afro-Caribbean music) and the variety of rhythms incorporated in this genre. Orchestra members are encouraged to contribute original arrangements.
Prerequisite: Audition

Klezmer Ensemble
MPE 5660
/ 2 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
The study and performance of traditional and contemporary repertoire from the Eastern European Jewish music tradition known as klezmer. Students develop improvisational skills using the traditional ornaments and modal melodic language. They also learn the klezmer approach to ensemble playing, which combines unison playing, call and response, and improvised solos. This course culminates in a performance as final project.
Prerequisite: Permission of instructor

Jazz Combos
MPE 5700
/ 2 credits / Every semester
These combos are thematically based and speak directly to the firsthand performing experiences of faculty mentors. Focusing on repertoire derived from the master composer/bandleaders from all eras of jazz, elements of group interaction, group dynamic, improvisation, arranging, and stylistic interpretation are integrated into a professional ensemble experience. Limited to graduate jazz studies students.

Purchase Symphonic Winds
MPE 5750
/ 2 credits / Every semester
An ensemble comprised of wind, brass, and percussion instrumentalists. Repertoire is chosen from the vast spectrum of literature written and transcribed for concert band setting. The ensemble engages in rigorous preparation that culminates in an end-of-semester concert performance. Membership is by audition for Conservatory of Music students as well as area music teachers and professionals at the invitation of the instructor.
Prerequisite: Permission of instructor

Master’s Recital
MPE 5991, 5992, 5993
/ 1 credit / Every semester
A 60-minute recital of repertoire or original compositions, demonstrating the ability to design and execute a substantial program at a professional level. String players must include a substantial work (from the mid-20th century through the contemporary era) in one of their recitals. Students register as follows: MPE 5992, jazz studies recitals; MPE 5993, studio composition recitals and/or recordings; MPE 5991, all other master’s recitals.

Performers Certificate Recital
MPE 5994
Artist Diploma Recital
MPE 5995

1 credit (per recital) / Every semester
A 60-minute recital of repertoire demonstrating the ability to design and execute a substantial program at a professional level.

Arrow up icon 

Music History, Theory, and Musicianship: Graduate

Research and Writing for the Modern Musician
MTH 5000
/ 2 credits / Fall
Develops skills in music research and writing through guided assignments (e.g., a research paper, a concert review, liner and program notes, grant proposals, and “pitch letter” to a potential sponsor or concert presenter).
Prerequisite: Excellent proficiency in written English

Harmonic and Contrapuntal Techniques
MTH 5005
/ 2 credits / Fall
A review of species counterpoint. Exploration of canon, fugue, chorale prelude, and variations. Emphasis is on the music of Bach, especially his Well-Tempered Clavier, and on composers just before Bach. Regular written assignments.

Structure and Analysis
MTH 5010
/ 2 credits / Fall
Analysis of the structure and design of melody, tendency tones, and rhythmic stress; relationship of melody to harmony; serialism; tension, rhythmic units; and techniques of minimalism. From Gregorian chant to Nixon in China.

Practicum in Music Pedagogy
MTH 5025
/ 2 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
MM students selected for the graduate honors program in music prepare five to seven lectures and/or lecture-demonstrations under the direct supervision of the director of graduate studies. Most of these are presented in undergraduate musicology courses at Purchase. One lecture-demonstration is presented in a semiannual honors program show to an audience of faculty, staff, students, and community members. Serves in lieu of one MTH course in the MM curriculum.
Prerequisite: Permission of instructor

History and Theory of Baroque Performance Practice
MTH 5055
/ 2 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
Illustrates the most important principles of Baroque performance practice, from early monody through Bach. The key concepts and skills discussed include special playing techniques, theories of articulation and accentuation, improvisation (including improvised ornamentation), execution of symbolized ornaments, and basso continuo realization. Lectures are enlivened by occasional hands-on exercises.
Prerequisite: MTH 5000

Overview of Performance Practice
MTH 5060
/ 2 credits / Fall
Reviews the main issues involved in the attempt to perform music of the past 500 years in ways that acknowledge the historical realities of the works’ periods of origin. Attention is paid to instruments, textual interpretation, contemporary writings, and performing approaches and conditions.

Post-Tonal Theory and Analysis
MTH 5075
/ 2 credits / Alternate years (Spring)
Students examine and contextualize many of the important works from the Second Viennese School and beyond. Special emphasis is given to the impact of such early 20th-century figures as Schoenberg and Stravinsky, opera, innovations in the work of Oliver Messiaen, and music by living composers. Major political and social changes during the century are factored into the musical discussions.
Prerequisite: Permission of instructor

20th-Century Harmony/Counterpoint
MTH 5100
/ 2 credits / Fall
Intensive study of impressionist and expressionist techniques, plus serialism and pandiatonicism. Excerpts from Debussy, Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Bartok, Stockhausen, Crumb, Penderecki, and Reich.

Electroacoustic Music I
MTH 5180
/ 2 credits / Fall
A historical overview of electroacoustic music, beginning in the late 1940s with the devotees of musique concrète, recorded natural sounds, and synthesized tone construction. Students learn about the gradual evolution of technology and composition and its impact on many music traditions and trends.

Electroacoustic Music II
MTH 5190
/ 2 credits / Spring
An overview of current creative trends in electroacoustic music. Contemporary digital music systems offer unprecedented dynamic control over timbre. This course reviews aspects of musical acoustics and psychoacoustics and explores electroacoustic simulation through recent experimental examples.
Prerequisite: MTH 5180 or permission of instructor

Mozart and Da Ponte Operas
MTH 5220
/ 2 credits / Alternate years (Spring)
Three of the greatest operas in the history of Western music—Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Così fan tutte—are the product of the collaboration between Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Lorenzo Da Ponte. Students analyze these works and gain an understanding of their historical context and why these works, from this unlikely duo, became watershed contributions to the genre of opera.

The Opera and Vocal Works of Benjamin Britten
MTH 5230
/ 2 credits / Alternate years (Spring)
Focuses on the War Requiem and operas by Benjamin Britten. Students engage in a close reading of the texts, participate during class in musical renderings of selected sections, and become familiar with Anglican worship and musical traditions. Central themes, including class conflict, desire, and repression, are discussed when relevant. Substantial outside reading required.

Bach Cantatas
MTH 5240
/ 2 credits / Alternate years (Spring)
Examines secular and sacred cantatas of J.S. Bach, including the four that make up the Christmas Oratorio and the double cantata that was the basis for the now-lost Markuspassion. Topics include symbolism, text painting, neo-Platonism, instrumental concerti and sinfonias in the cantatas, the history of Bach editions, and the light shed on Bach’s attitude towards Judaism in BWV 42.

Sondheim and American Musical Drama
MTH 5260
/ 2 credits / Alternate years (Fall)
A study of Stephen Sondheim as a synthesis of American film, opera, and musical theatre traditions. Formal, motivic, harmonic, and structural analysis of Sondheim’s principal works, supplemented by readings in philosophy, music theory and harmony, and American politics from the 1970s through the present. Extensive viewing outside of class.

Music Theory for Jazz Graduate Studies I and II
MTH 5280
and 5290 / 2 credits (per semester) / I: Fall; II: Spring
Over two semesters, students strengthen their functional understanding of music theory through the lens of jazz music. From its inception roughly 100 years ago to the present day, entirely new harmonic paradigms have been introduced, developed, and used in jazz—and fluency in them is essential.

The Magic of the Fugue
MTH 5320
/ 2 credits / Alternate years (Spring)
Provides training in composing and analyzing fugues based on teaching methods outlined in The Art of the Fugue (1750) by J.S. Bach. Each lecture illuminates one of Bach’s teaching points and is followed by written assignments. The final exam is the composition of a fugue on a given subject.

The Analytical Musician
MTH 5330
/ 2 credits / Fall
Demonstrates how analysis of a given work can influence artistic interpretation. Students present their own works alongside research on historical context, the composer’s biography, contemporary style, analysis (formal, harmonic, melodic, contrapuntal), and content. The goal is to understand that complete analysis does not offer a single “correct” interpretation, but rather focuses the creative mind by offering multiple paths towards artistic understanding.

World Traditions in Music and Cultures
MTH 5340
/ 2 credits / Every semester
A survey course introducing students to the major musical traditions of the world. Topics include structures, scales, instruments, and cultural elements of music from Asia, Africa, Europe, Australia and the Americas, supplemented by historical and contemporary recordings and films.

The Musics of China
MTH 5350
/ 2 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
Chinese music is surveyed through the lens of geography and time. Students learn to sing Chinese folk songs and experience traditional instruments through writing assignments.

Late Romantic German Lieder
MTH 5360
/ 2 credits / Alternate years (Fall)
A study of Schubert, Schumann, and Wolf settings of Heine, Moericke, and Goethe. Includes text setting techniques (both the meaning and mechanics of poetry), the innovative role of the pianist, and the composer’s ability to portray both physical and psychological journey in the Liederkreis (song cycle).

Shakespeare in Verdi
MTH 5380
/ 2 credits / Alternate years (Fall)
How does the composer preserve the essential nature of these plays, while conforming to the late 19th-century Italian operatic traditions and (his own) innovations? Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Othello, and Merry Wives of Windsor are examined, comparing them to Verdi’s adaptations of these texts.

Topics in Music History
MTH 5540
/ 2 credits / Spring
Provides a contiguous understanding of music history and prepares students for the comprehensive examination. A stream of guided readings and oral reports is designed to help students broaden and deepen their knowledge of the subject. Study groups work together on areas of common interest.
Prerequisite: Proficiency in English and sufficient prior studies in music history

Improvisation for Classical Musicians
MTH 5570
/ 2 credits / Alternate years (Spring)
Students are set on a path of lifelong learning with the goal of being able to improvise in all the genres they perform. Instructors provide a graded series of tasks that begins with rudimentary ornamentation of existing lines and concludes with the improvisation of convincing fantasias, cadenzas, and dance-based pieces. Open to graduate students in the classical instrumental performance, voice/opera studies, and composition concentrations.

The Music of Alban Berg
MTH 5610
/ 2 credits / Alternate years (Spring)
An intensive graduate course in the vocal and instrumental music of Berg, examining both his orchestral and previously unpublished early vocal works and his operas Wozzeck and Lulu. Topics include the influence of Freud, Weill’s opera Mahagonny, Berg’s satire of capitalism, the conventions of expressionist cinema, and source study of Wedekind, Brecht, and Pabst. Knowledge of German is helpful.

Music, Culture, and Ideas
MTH 5710
/ 2 credits / Spring
A survey of traditional and recent perspectives on music as an object of philosophical and cultural inquiry. Questions raised include: Does music have a “metaphysical” nature? Is musical form separable from its emotional or social content? Has the postmodern culture of reproductive media changed the nature of musical experience? What are the causes of stylistic change in the arts?

Aesthetics of Film Music
MTH 5715
/ 2 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
Film music remains on of the least theorized branches of contemporary music. Building on the work of Royal S. Brown, Claudia Gorbman, and Max Winkler, this course explores diegetic vs. nondiegetic scoring, leitmotivic construction, and the genre’s stylistic debts (particularly to Viennese fin de siècle composers). Students view films both in and outside of class and provide analyses.
Prerequisite: Permission of instructor

Arrow up icon 

Additional Studies: Graduate

Acoustics and Design
MUS 5030
/ 2 credits / Every semester
A study of room acoustics and architectural design, along with the underlying math. The objective is for students to gain an understanding of how acoustics work in various venues and the skills to solve problems in their own acoustic environments and to design corrective treatments.

MUS 5250
/ 2 credits / Every semester
A mixed ensemble of vocal performance with students from all areas of the campus. The chorus performs a varied repertoire of music and presents concerts on campus and in touring venues with orchestra and professional soloists.
Prerequisite: Prior choral experience

Advanced Jazz Arranging I and II
MUS 5310
and 5320 / 3 credits (per semester)
I: Fall; II: Spring
Covers advanced arranging concepts in both big bands and small groups, centering on the styles of Thad Jones, Bob Brookmeyer, Gil Evans, and Duke Ellington. Students have opportunities for performance and recordings of their work.

Topics in Jazz Seminar
MUS 5350
/ 3 credits / Fall
Problematic aspects of each student’s playing are remedied through transcription and analysis of solos by master players. Students are assisted in reaching the next level of their playing ability and in developing a passion for life through music.

Seminar in Jazz Styles
MUS 5360
/ 3 credits / Spring
This seminar focuses on fostering students’ creativity in their original compositions, arrangements, and related original works. These works prepared and presented for live in-class group evaluation.

Seminar in Studio Pedagogy I and II
MUS 5375
and 5385 / 2 credits (per semester)
Special topic (offered irregularly; I: Fall; II: Spring)
Practical classroom and tutorial experience in the concepts of teaching. Assignments may include teaching assistantships in theory, ear training, basic keyboard, music history, and recording technology.

Advanced Music Theory I and II
MUS 5435
and 5440 / 2 credits (per semester)
I: Fall; II: Spring
Offers incoming graduate students the opportunity to advance skills in the terminology and application of music theory. Covers musical style and language from the late Renaissance through the end of the Classical period in the fall semester and from the Romantic period through the 20th century in the spring semester.

Topics in Professional Development
MUS 5455
/ 1 credit / Spring
A moderated series of guest lectures that address practical concerns of the professional musician. Topics may include dealing with injuries and injury prevention, tax strategies and tax-related record keeping, advertising and self-promotion in the age of the Internet, travel and airport security issues for the touring musician, and union protections and benefits.

New Modalities in Chamber Music
MUS 5470
/ 2 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
Examines the varied career paths open to composers and performers in the changing musical ecosystem. Contemporary, classical, jazz and world, indie rock, electronica, multimedia work, and more are explored. Analysis of different artists, ensembles, presenters, and festivals, trips to New York venues, and interviews with leaders in the field provide unique insights. Students create and present a performance project.

The Art of Programming Music in the 21st Century
MUS 5480
/ 2 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
A concert program should be more than a random selection of works. How is a concert program put together? What are the reasons for choosing each piece? Is there an underlying concept or stylistic concern? Are there political issues involved? What are the public-relations ramifications? This course examines the philosophical, aesthetic, and practical considerations in concert programming today.

Independent Study
MUS 5900
/ Variable credits / Every semester
Independent study at the graduate level is intended to address special artistic, philosophical, ethnomusicological, technological, or entrepreneurial issues.
Prerequisite: A special course contract, filled out by the student and a faculty advisor, specifying goals, criteria, and credits

Graduate Project
MUS 5990
/ Variable credits / Every semester
Graduate projects allow innovative presentation of materials not particularly suitable for live performance or score/tape review (e.g., transcription, recitation, or other nontraditional recital postures).
Prerequisite: Faculty recommendation and approval of the conservatory director

Arrow up icon 

Please direct updates for this page to the managing editor in the Office of the Provost and Academic Affairs. To add a course, please refer first to the Faculty Handbook.

For course schedules:
course search 

Graduate programs:

Classical Music:


- Strings (includes harp)
- Piano
- Brass
- Percussion
- Woodwinds
- Classical Guitar
- Voice and
  Opera Studies


Jazz Studies

Music and Technology:

Studio Composition

Conservatory of Music