Music Department

Courses of Study

MU091fjs    Music Lessons: Noncredit or JP Noncredit instruction in voice and instruments for qualified students. Regular offerings include violin, viola, violoncello, piano, voice, flute, guitar (classical, American traditional, and jazz), and selected brass and woodwind instruments. One 30- or 60-minute lesson weekly in fall and spring; two 45-minute lessons weekly in January. For additional information concerning fees, scheduling, and related matters visit Noncredit. Faculty
MU093fs    Applied Music: Ensemble, Noncredit Noncredit participation in musical ensembles sponsored by the Music Department. See description for Music 193. Noncredit. Faculty
MU111f    Introduction to Music An exploration and celebration of the art of listening. Develops techniques and vocabulary for critical listening, emphasizing student listening to a range of musical works in a variety of styles. Surveys the history of Western art music from the Middle Ages to the present, emphasizing the relationship between music as a historical and cultural artifact and as an object of aesthetic delight. Special attention to the structure of musical works, their place in Western culture and history, and the ways in which sounding music reflects the beliefs and values of those who made (and make) it. No previous musical experience is assumed. Four credit hours. A. Altizer
MU114j    Jazz Improvisation Basic jazz theory and improvisation, including melody-, scalar-, modal-, and chord-based improvisation. Introduction to arranging for jazz groups and interactions between soloists and background musicians; jazz style and performance practices. Includes semiprivate instruction and performances in large groups and smaller combos. Listening assignments include jazz greats. Instrumentalists and vocalists welcome. Prerequisite: Ability to sing or play major scales. Three credit hours. A. Osarczuk
[MU116]    Acoustic/Electric Grunge/Rock Songwriting: A Composition Seminar Students will engage in intensive and sustained listening exercises in order to develop an understanding of form, melody, harmony rhythm and text in a wide range of contemporary and commercial musical genres: grunge, crossover, rock, trance, among others. Students will use their developing knowledge/musical skills to complete multiple small-scale composition projects in preparation for a a recording and public performance of one completed composition for multiple musicians. Prerequisite: Basic knowledge of music terminology and concepts. Three credit hours. A.
MU118j    African Music An introduction to the music of Africa, an integral and defining aspect of the culture of Africa. Hands-on experience with various instruments (e.g., drums, rattles, bells), as well as singing and dancing, to provide important insights into the cultures of Africa. Various African music themes will be explored through films and recordings. Culminates in a final performance by the class. Nongraded. Three credit hours. A. Benissan
MU120fs    Exploring Music and Gender Explores the rich intersection between music and gender, providing students with an introduction to seminal topics in the field. Students will hone their listening skills and develop the necessary vocabulary with which to analyze, discuss, and write intelligently about music. They will explore a range of scholarly approaches to analyzing music and gender and learn to write essays of varying lengths and styles. Students will also be walked through the steps of writing a research paper, from navigating online resources to crafting solid arguments, writing persuasively, and organizing a coherent essay. Four credit hours. A, W1. Zelensky
MU153f    Introduction to Music Theory through Digital Audio Workstation An examination of the basic components of music theory as studied inside a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). Topics covered will include rhythm, melody, harmony, and formal structures, as well as sound design and signal processing techniques. In the course of the class, students will learn to compose and develop their musical ideas from single melodies to a complete song. Additionally, they will learn to move comfortably between the graphic representations of music used in most DAWs and its traditional notational counterpart. Some of the musical genres to be covered include EDM, IDM, hip-hop, electronica, house, techno, DnB, Dubstep, among others. Primarily for students without extensive training in music theory. Four credit hours. A. Martinez
MU181f    Music Theory I The first in a sequence exploring the language and composition of Western tonal music. Just as learning a foreign language involves mastering a variety of skills, becoming musically conversant requires the ability to hear, notate, analyze, compose, and perform. Assures that students are fluent in the elements and structure of music, including intervals, scales, triads, seventh chords, basic counterpoint, harmony, and keyboard-style writing. Students compose in a variety of styles and study ear training and sight singing. Concludes with a public recital of student works. Primarily for students with some prior musical training (see also Music 153). Four credit hours. A. Martinez, Nuss
MU182s    Music Theory II A continuation of Music Theory I that further refines students' command of diatonic harmony and counterpoint and introduces modulation and other important aspects of chromatic harmony. Includes regular work in ear training, studies of musical form, and several composition projects. Concludes with a public recital of student works. Primarily for music majors and others with prior training in music. Prerequisite: Music 181. Four credit hours. Nuss
MU191fjs    Music Lessons: Credit Instruction in voice and instruments for qualified students. Regular offerings include violin, viola, violoncello, piano, voice, flute, guitar (classical, American traditional, and jazz), selected brass and woodwind instruments, and African drums. The student's performance in the course will be evaluated by faculty jury at the end of the semester. For additional information concerning fees, scheduling, and related matters visit May be repeated for additional credit. Prerequisite: Music 153,or 181 (may be taken concurrently). One or two credit hours. Faculty
MU193fs    Applied Music: Ensemble for Credit Credit for participation in musical ensembles sponsored by the Music Department. In addition to the large ensembles listed below, the department frequently offers a flute choir, vocal ensemble, a guitar ensemble, a trumpet choir, a string ensemble (master class), and small chamber music groups. Interested students should consult the department for additional information before registering. May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: Music 153, 154, or 181 for graded credit (may be taken concurrently). One credit hour.

African Drumming. Performance of music from various African cultures, with hands-on experience with various instruments, including drums, rattles, and bells, and exposure to several traditions of African singing and dancing. The group presents concerts on campus and throughout the state of Maine. BENISSAN

Chorale. Sings music of major styles and periods of the choral canon, folk music, world music, American music, and new compositions. Performs concerts each semester and also for formal College functions and the annual Carols and Lights celebration. Also collaborates with the Colby Symphony Orchestra in a performance of a major work for orchestra and chorus. Enrollment is confirmed through non-competitive auditions at the beginning of each semester. PERRY

Collegium. A vocal and instrumental ensemble devoted to the performance of a wide range of musical styles and genres ranging from traditional choral music, rock/pop songs, a cappella ensembles, world music, jazz, and new works. Performs frequently in concert, for various College functions, and off campus. Enrollment is confirmed through non-competitive auditions at the beginning of each semester. PERRY

Jazz Band. Presents a standard big band setup, performing swing, Latin jazz, funk, soul, R & B, and bebop styles for concert, tour, and college functions. Brass, wind, and percussion players by audition. THOMAS

Orchestra. A symphony orchestra composed of students, local amateurs, and professionals. Performs four concerts per year of works spanning the entire range of major symphonic literature. Noncompetitive auditions are held at the beginning of each semester. PARK

Wind Ensemble. Each semester the ensemble presents a concert of works drawn from standard literature, symphonic works, movie music, marches, etc. Open to all interested brass, wind, and percussion players without audition. THOMAS

[MU213]    Introduction to the Laptop Orchestra Examines the novel creative possibilities that can result from assembling an ensemble of amplified instruments, laptops, and controllers with the objective of providing a computer-mediated performing environment in which each member controls their own sonic identity and participates in the creation of a composite compositional gestalt. Topics and activities include instrument design, sound synthesis, programming, and live performance. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. Four credit hours. A.
MU218j    Seeing, Then Hearing: Graphic Design for the Music Industry While it may seem counterintuitive, visual attraction is a central concern in the business of music. Getting music to the attention of the widest possible audience demands an increasingly refined, international visual fluency. We will look at and listen to well-known releases with an eye to the differences in the visual publicity and packaging in the European, Asian, and American markets. Students will use readings and hands-on work with Adobe Creative Suite to formulate and debate answers to a number of complex multicultural design problems. Three credit hours. A. Jee
[MU222]    Maine's Musical Soundscapes: Ethnography of Maine What are the musical cultures outside of Colby and what are the communities making this music? We will engage this question through direct interaction, observation, and engagement with members of Maine's various musical communities. Students will learn ethnographic field methods and conduct interviews at sites that make up the rich tapestry of Maine's soundscape, focusing on the Penobscot, Lebanese, Somali, Russian, or Franco-American communities, depending on the year. We will consider issues of representation and of conducting fieldwork, culminating in a short documentary film based on the material gathered. Four credit hours. A.
MU223j    Perception of Music An inter-disciplinary exploration of music and psychology. Our discussion will focus on the fundamental aspects of music theory and musical structure. Using these ideas as a foundation, we will consider some of the predominant theories of how we perceive music, including ideas about memory and music. We will draw upon concepts central to cognitive psychology, melodic and rhythmic grouping, schematic frameworks, and hierarchical structures in music. Students will actively experience and create music and relate what they are hearing to the theoretical models. Central to the class is discussion of each student's individual responses to music and exploration and development of ways to map their experiences. Intended for students with little or no background in music theory. Three credit hours. A. Helm
MU234s    From Rockabilly to Grunge: A History of Rock 'n' Roll A survey of rock music, from its roots in country and blues to the alternative rock scene of the 1990s. Rock music will be considered in relation to race, sex, gender, drugs, technology, marketing, and politics to better understand its powerful position in constructing, challenging, and reinforcing various positions of identity. Students will learn to discuss the musical characteristics of a work, identify its genre and era of composition, and contextualize it within a broader framework of American culture and politics. Four credit hours. A. Zelensky
[MU241]    Topics in Early Music History An exploration of Western art music from c. 800 to c. 1700, including principal genres from the Middle Ages (chant, organum, motet, chanson), Renaissance (mass, motet, madrigal), and the 17th century (opera, instrumental music). Focuses on compositional concepts and processes, historical music theories, institutional patronage, and the connections between music and such areas as theology, philosophy, and the visual arts. Students develop analytical and writing skills through listening, writing, and analysis. Prerequisite: Music 111 and 181. Four credit hours.
MU242f    Topics in Baroque and Classical Music Focuses on music of the High Baroque, Classical, and early Romantic periods, including works of Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, and Schumann. Students develop critical, analytical, and listening tools for dealing with these repertoires and hone their bibliographic, oral, and written skills. Theoretical issues include the relationship between musical structure and cultural context, music's relationship to literature and the visual arts, tonality, music and drama, and aesthetics. Prerequisite: Music 111 and 181. Four credit hours. Altizer
MU252f    Introduction to World Music Examines a range of classical, traditional, and contemporary musics from areas as diverse as India, West Africa, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East, among others. Each unit engages a broader sociocultural issue to enable students to think deeply and critically about the music in question, exploring such topics as music and Apartheid, the Arab Spring, and the appropriation of "world" music by Western musicians. Students will have the opportunity to perform some of the music they study, including West African drumming patterns, salsa dance steps, and Bulgarian vocal practices, among others, and there will be guest performances. No prior musical experience necessary. Four credit hours. A, I. Zelensky
[MU261]    Topics in Theater Performance: The Musical as Dramatic Literature Listed as Theater and Dance 261. Four credit hours. A.
MU262f    Music in Life, Music as Culture: Introduction to Ethnomusicology Provides students with a theoretical and methodological introduction to ethnomusicology, a discipline that is rooted in exploring music not merely as an aesthetic object, but as a cultural force that reflects and shapes our everyday lives. Topics include music and medicine, migration, war, ethnicity, and spirituality, among others. Topics will be explored through a close reading of seminal texts and an examination of relevant theory. Students will also learn the fundamentals of conducting ethnographic fieldwork through attending a religious ceremony and a concert, and creating a podcast based on the soundscapes of Colby's campus. Four credit hours. A, I. Zelensky
MU275s    Cultured Tough Guys: Samurai Devotion, Music, Poetry, and Art Generally known as the warrior class of medieval and early modern Japan, the samurai have a long history in the Western imagination. Famous Japanese warrior movies of the 1950s and 60s, more modern images of crafty ninjas, and characterizations in Western media most often present the samurai men and women as one-dimensional automatons ready to fight and die at a moment's notice for their superior's cause. Experiential learning activities (including Zen chanting and meditation), historical readings, music performances, recordings, and films present a more refined view of the samurai that highlights their elegant contributions to every aspect of the visual, literary, and musical arts of Japan. Four credit hours. A, I. Nuss
MU281f    Music Theory III A continuation of Music Theory II, covering advanced chromatic harmony and modulatory techniques, counterpoint, and formal analysis. Beginning with chromatic harmony from the late classical period, students will gain insight into the harmonic innovations of Romantic and Impressionist composers, applying this knowledge to regular composition exercises. The course serves as a bridge connecting tonal language in Theory I and II to post-tonal language in Theory IV. Prerequisite: Music 182. Four credit hours. Nuss
[MU282]    Music Theory IV The study of post-tonal musical languages in Western art music of the 20th century, analytical approaches to non-Western music and the music of composers influenced by non-Western musical forms and material, and form and harmony in the music of the American Broadway musical great, Stephen Sondheim. Concludes with a public recital of student compositions. Primarily for music majors. Prerequisite: Music 281. Four credit hours.
MU298As    Topics in Computer and Electronic Music Four credit hours. Martinez
MU298Bs    Film Music A survey of how sound design and music create and communicate cinematic,cultural, and historical meanings. Introduces students to the sonic element of film ona variety of scales: single scenes, particular films, genres, directorial outputs, technologies,locations, and time periods. Students will respond to course content with weekly writing and have opportunities to pursue films of their choice in larger projects. Films discussedinclude but are not limited to Casablanca (1942), The Watermelon Woman (1996), CityLights (1931), Within Our Gates (1920), Singin' in the Rain (1952), The Shape of Water(2017), Forbidden Planet (1956), Under the Skin (2013), Coco (2017), The Farewell (2019), and The Fits (2015). Four credit hours. Altizer
MU341s    Topics in Music since 1850 An overview of 19th- and 20th-century music with a focus on the evolution of musical styles and the manner in which they have been impacted by concurrent artistic, cultural, and political events. Students will acquire a fundamental knowledge of those composers considered to have had a significant impact on music from the late 19th century to the present and their position within the larger sociocultural milieu. Prerequisite: Music 111 and 182. Four credit hours. Altizer
MU398s    Composition Seminar Four credit hours. Martinez
[MU483]    Honors Research I Substantial original research or completion of a major creative project under faculty supervision, culminating in a written paper and/or a public presentation. Prerequisite: 3.25 overall grade point average, 3.5 major average at the end of the junior year, and permission of the department. Three credit hours.
MU491f, 492s    Independent Study Individual topics in areas where the student has demonstrated the interest and competence necessary for independent work. Primarily for senior music majors. Prerequisite: Permission of the department. One to four credit hours. Faculty
MU493s    Seminar Prerequisite: Music 281 or 282. Four credit hours. Nuss