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 Is it possible to put musical experience into words? Can you hear history in musical sounds? How have musical values changed across place and time? How can music not only reflect culture but create it? This class develops techniques and vocabulary for describing musical experiences through a range of case studies that explore musical sounds in their social and historical contexts. Musicians studied include but are not limited to Wendy Carlos, Ludwig van Beethoven, Dolly Parton, Miriam Makeba, Franz Schubert, and Hildegard of Bingen. All levels of musical experience are welcome-no previous training required. 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. Wilkins
[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
MU120s    Music and Animals What do our musical values tell us about our values about animality? Why do we say that humpbacks sing? Why would violinists want to play for an audience of cows? Why are there so many cat music videos on social media? How can music help us understand the goals and history of factory farming? And what's going on when your dog sings along with your piano practice, anyway? This interdisciplinary writing-intensive class will introduce students to basic questions and methodologies of Human Animal Studies and music studies. Four credit hours. A, W1. Altizer
MU153s    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, Saunders
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. Saunders
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.
[MU214]    Music Performance with Electronics Explores music performance using multiple software platforms, including Ableton Live, Max/MSP, Supercollider, and other Live Coding applications. Students will design their own performance system using the laptop as the central point, along with wired and remote equipment such as MIDI controllers and OSC-capable devices. Case studies will be utilized to learn how this type of performance has historically evolved. Coding experience is not necessary but recommended. At least one semester of Music Theory or comparable experience is required. Prerequisite: Music 153 or 181. Four credit hours.
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
MU219j    Musical Theater Workshop: Project Broadway The Music and Performance, Theater and Dance departments collaborate to bring musical theater to Strider Theater! Students will work with noted professionals in the field and receiving training in vocal techniques, movement, musical expression, acting, and choreography. The culmination of the course will be two live shows on Feb. 3 and 4, 2023, that feature scenes from the workshopped musicals. Daily participation may be required during the tech week and the production week. Nongraded. Three credit hours. A. Kiat Chia
[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
[MU234]    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.
MU237s    Film Music and Sound This class surveys how sound design and music create and communicate cinematic, cultural, and historical meanings, and it introduces students to sound in film on multiple scales: single scenes, particular films, genres, directorial outputs, technologies, locations, and time periods. Students will engage in weekly writing and have opportunities to research sound design in films of their choice and/or complete a creative audiovisual project. Students must be able to attend at least two film screenings at Railroad Square Cinema in Waterville: Sunday April 2 at noon, Wednesday April 12 at 7 PM, Wednesday April 19 at 7 PM, and Sunday April 30 at noon. Four credit hours. A. Altizer
[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.
[MU242]    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.
MU244s    Borrowing Sound, Sampling Culture Offers both practical application and theoretical discussion on the art of audio sampling. Students would learn basic and advanced sampling techniques inside the DAW (Ableton) while the theoretical portion will present several anthropological and ethnographic issues of audio sampling. Based in case studies across multiple music genres and artistic practices, students will engage discussions such as the (un)ethical use of sampling, authorship in cultural borrowing, and the role of sampling in the dissemination of culture. In this simultaneous study of the practice and the politics of cultural borrowing and sampling, students will be presented with a bigger picture of cultural blending in our postmodernist society that will enrich and inform their creative processes. Prerequisite: Music 181. Four credit hours. A. Martinez
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. Yamin
[MU261]    Topics in Theater Performance: The Musical as Dramatic Literature Listed as Theater and Dance 261. Four credit hours. A.
MU262s    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. Yamin
MU275fs    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. Concludes with a public recital of student compositions. Primarily for music majors. Prerequisite: Music 281. Four credit hours.
MU297f    Music of Bali Explores the music of Bali, specifically that performed on the percussive ensemble of bronze gongs and metallophones called "gamelan." Combining academic study of gamelan's musical and cultural context with opportunities to perform on traditional instruments, students will learn Balinese musical values while examining its interrelationships with Balinese history, religion, and culture, as well as other forms of creative expression (dance, painting, shadow puppetry). Readings and repertoire will include examples drawn from traditions sacred and secular, ceremonial and popular, covering examples from gamelanɥs origins to its recent global reception. Culminates in a final performance by the class, but no prior musical experience is necessary. Four credit hours. A, I. Yamin
MU297Bf    Soundscape and Sonic Narratives Explores the multiple possibilities of storytelling with audio. Students will experiment with the use of various sound recording and transmission technologies to craft soundscapes and tell stories. Based on case studies we will learn how artists have used audio as a cultural and technological tool to craft diverse narratives. Four credit hours. A. Martinez
MU298s    Global Pop and Global Warming Uses examples drawn from the global music industry to make audible the various forms of injustice that characterize our current experience of planetary crisis. At a time dominated by concerns over shrinking rainforests, rising oceans, and species extinctions, this class will consider how industrial capitalism also exploits human bodies and creativity. Examining the interplay of social and environmental issues in various forms of popular music made across the world, modules will address topics like the environmental impact of vinyl record production, musical appropriation in (post-)apartheid South Africa and elsewhere, neoliberal capitalism in K-pop, and finally attempts to resist such injustices through the act of making music. Prerequisite: Any W1 course. Four credit hours. A, I. Yamin
MU341f    Music in American Musical Life, c. 1850-present How have the sounds and practices of American music-making changed over time? How have composers and performers expressed "American" identities in their music? How have institutions such as the symphony orchestra and the university shaped modern music-making and music education? This course will consider the shifting soundscapes of classical music in the United States from the mid-19th century to the present. Composers and musicians studied include but are not limited to Florence Price, Lowell Mason, Aaron Copland, Duke Ellington, Jennifer Higdon, John Cage, Pauline Oliveros, Dorothy Ashby, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Kronos Quartet, Jessie Montgomery, and the Silk Road Ensemble. For the final project, students will create a podcast episode on a musical case study of their choice. Prerequisite: Music 111 and 182. Four credit hours. Altizer
MU345s    Composition Seminar A combination of lectures, seminars, and workshops addressing the practice and art of music composition. Lectures will expose students to multiple musical genres and techniques utilized by creators in the last century; seminars will address their analytical and philosophical relationship with music by approaching works by composers from multiple traditions and thought-provoking readings; workshops will promote discussion of the studentsƸ musical compositions, opening their creative process to feedback from their peers and the instructor. Prerequisite: Music 181. Four credit hours. A. Martinez
MU483f    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. Faculty
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: Seeing/Hearing This seminar is a close comparison of the ways in which painters Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky credited musical timbres, rhythm, and form as the inspirations for their visual art, and for the ways in which the sonic worlds of composers Pierre Boulez and Morton Feldman are heavily indebted to the picture plane, brush techniques, and abstract expressive modes of Klee, Kandinsky, Pollock, and Rothko. Using a combination of assigned readings, presentations, and graphic design and music composition projects students will explore what these interdisciplinary artists might have seen/heard in their counterparts' domains and also use their research and imagination to produce their own sonic and graphic art/visual responses to the work of these artists. Prerequisite: Music 182. Four credit hours. Nuss