Department of Music

Fall 2022: Music Courses

We are excited to announce our course offerings for the Fall 2022 semester!

We hope that these introductory videos and/or descriptions will be helpful as you decide on your courses.

Please reach out to the course instructor or email with any questions. For a full list of Department offerings, log in to Workday and use the 'Find Course Sections Brandeis' report to view and search the schedule.


Undergraduate Classes

MUS 1A | Exploring Music

Sheets of overlapping musicProfessor Bradford Garvey

T/F 9:35 -10:55 a.m. | Slosberg Recital Hall

A general introduction to the materials and forms of music and their role in human social life with examples drawn from around the world. Training in analytical listening, based on selected listening assignments. Open to non-majors who are assumed to have little or no previous knowledge of music. 

MUS 5A | The Beginner's Toolbox: Fundamentals of Music Notation and Performance

Professor David Rakowski

M/W/Th 10:10-11 a.m. | Slosberg Room 212

Explores the basic elements of music including pitch, rhythm, timbre and feel. Students will learn to understand music through listening and reading musical notation and chord-charts and will develop vocabulary for discussing music from a variety of traditions and styles. No previous experience with music or knowledge of how to read music is required.

AMST/MUS 55A | Music in Film: Hearing American Cinema

A film still featuring Harold Lloyd hanging from a clock towerProfessor Taylor Ackley

T/F 11:10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. | Slosberg Room 212

Examines the aesthetics and the history of music in film. Through lecture, class discussions, screenings, and readings, the course teaches students how to critically read image, script, and music as an integrated cultural text, ultimately helping one understand and appreciate the progression of film and sound technology from the 1890s to the present.

MUS 101A | Western Classical and Popular Music I: How It's Made, Part 1

Professor Justin Casinghino

M/W/Th 12:20-1:10 p.m. | Slosberg Room 212

A first course for students who already read music, but wish to develop a deeper involvement. Students investigate how music "works" by composing exercises based on examples of tonal music and literature that students are practicing for performance. Focuses on elementary harmony and voice-leading, counterpoint, analysis, and model composition. In the required one-hour lab (MUS 102A), students practice sight-singing and dictation, skills essential to music literacy.

MUS 103A | Western Classical and Popular Music II: How It's Made, Part 1

Mark Berger plays the violaProfessor Mark Berger

T/Th 2:20-3:40 p.m. | Slosberg Room 215

This course builds on MUS 101. Chromatic tonal harmony is covered, and short pieces of nineteenth century music are analyzed in depth. Students will analyze pieces on their own and write analytical papers. Students will also harmonize various chorale melodies. The required ear training and keyboard lab (MUS 104A) meets separately.

MUS 106A | Undergraduate Composition

Professor Taylor Ackley

T/Th 5:30-6:50 p.m. | Slosberg Room 234

Prerequisite: MUS 5a or equivalent experience. Offered exclusively on a credit/no-credit basis. May be repeated once for credit. Students are introduced to a variety of compositional issues by writing five or six short pieces and one longer project. Concurrently, pertinent examples from the twentieth-century classical repertoire will be discussed.

MUS 107A | Introduction to Electro-Acoustic Music

Eric Chasalow poses with multiple computers and keyboardsProfessor Eric Chasalow

T/Th 2:20-3:40 p.m. | Slosberg Room 233 (BEAMS)

Prerequisite: Any music course or permission of the instructor. A course designed to give students basic studio skills and a context for listening to and working in electronic music. Topics include basic acoustics, sound design, digital and analog recording techniques, and assignments on the pioneers and current practitioners of electro-acoustic music. Involves hands-on experience in the use of MIDI-controlled synthesizers, samplers, production equipment, and includes individual studio projects based on individual studio time.

MUS 111A/112A: Private Instrumental and Vocal Study

Instrumentalists: Professor Bob Nieske  | Vocalists: Professor Robert Duff

Individual lessons to be scheduled

Lessons are taught either by members of the Brandeis faculty or by members of Boston's large and talented community of professional musicians. Course fee: $700 for non-Music program students; $250 for non-performance track undergraduate Music majors and Music graduate students; no fee for undergraduate Music performance track majors and Leonard Bernstein Fellows. Click here for detailed information about registration and lesson requirements. 

MUS 116A | Chamber Music: From Page to Stage

Professor Joshua Gordon

Group coachings to be scheduled

Musicians bring their own experience, instinct, and theoretical knowledge to music-making through study and performance of chamber music in a supportive master class setting. Through coaching by a professional performer, readings, and listening to recordings, this course examines how performance practice, basic structural analysis, and historical context affect interpretation. Individual and ensemble preparation required. Class meetings include coaching, discussion/listening salon, masterclass and rehearsals, to be scheduled. Final public performance.

MUS 135A | Music in Western Culture: 19th Century to Today

Professor Katie Callam

T/F 12:45 -2:05 p.m. | Slosberg Room 212

May not be taken for credit by students who took MUS 134b or 135a in prior years. In this class, we will survey Western music history ca. 1830 to the present, considering major styles, genres, and techniques of musical composition from historical and analytical perspectives. We will consider works by Schumann, Wagner, Debussy, Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Bartók, Eastman, Saariaho, and others, exploring styles ranging from impressionism and expressionism to atonality, serialism, and aleatoric music, as well as minimalism, post-minimalism, and spectralism.

Seminars (Undergraduate & Graduate)

MUS 172B | Proseminar in Theory and Composition

Professor Yu-Hui Chang

M 2:30-5:20 p.m. | Slosberg Room 234

Required of all composition MFA and PhD students. May be repeated for credit. Advanced study of chromatic and non-tonal harmony, as well as various analytical approaches to the 20th and 21st century music. Work includes writing exercises, keyboard harmony, and score study.

MUS 193B | Proseminar: Topics in Analysis of Contemporary Music

Taylor Ackley plays the mandolinProfessor Taylor Ackley

T 2:20-5:10 p.m. | Slosberg Room 234

Open to graduate students in Music and undergraduates who have completed MUS 104b. Detailed examination of selected works since 1951.

MUS 205A | Musicology Lab

Professor Taylor Ackley

F 2:20-3:50 p.m. | Slosberg Room 234

Required for all graduate students in musicology, this two-credit lab meeting seminar is centered on professional development. We meet once a week to run through any upcoming conference papers, edit and proofread job, internship, and grant application materials, work on abstracts for conferences, discuss best strategies for success in the job market, research and writing strategies, and any other topics that the students would like to work on with the group.

MUS 222A | Seminar: The Institutions of Opera: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives

A lavish scene from an operaProfessor Emily Richmond Pollock

Th 2:20-5:10 p.m. | Slosberg Room 234

This seminar is tied to Pollock's past work on opera in twentieth-century Germany and her current research on American opera festivals. Students will be immersed in the historical literature on the institutions that shaped what opera became in different places at different times. We will also work to understand the institutional landscape contributing to the practice of opera in the 21st century.

MUS 232A | Political Economies of Music

Professor Bradford Garvey

Th 9:05 a.m.-12:05 p.m. | Slosberg Room 234

This graduate seminar examines the musical constitution of political economies as well as the role of music within political economies with examples drawn from around the world and throughout history. Focuses on musical networks and markets, the music/culture industry, pageantry, music and exchange, and labor.

Ensembles (Undergraduate & Graduate)

Sarah Mead, director

T/Th 5:30-6:50 p.m. | Slosberg Recital Hall

Explore the music and performance practices of Western Europe in the Renaissance and early Baroque eras using the music department's large collection of historical instruments. Singers and instrumentalists of all kinds are welcome. All must have basic music-reading skills and some kind of ensemble background.

Robert Duff, conductor

T/F 11:10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. | Slosberg Recital Hall

This 24-36 voice choir is chosen from the entire student body on the basis of experience and musicianship skills. It is for singers who wish to explore unusual repertory, Bach cantatas, 16th-century motets and madrigals, 17th-century oratorios, 19th-century lieder and 20th-century works.

Robert Duff, conductor

T/F 12:45-2:05 p.m. | Slosberg Recital Hall

The Brandeis University Chorus draws its members from the entire Brandeis community. Every year the chorus performs a major work drawn from the vast choral repertory. There are often opportunities for student soloists.

Bob Nieske, director

W 7:15-10:05 p.m. | Slosberg Recital Hall

The Brandeis Jazz Ensemble, open to the entire Brandeis community by audition, is composed of 15-20 musicians led by one of Boston's best-known jazz musicians. In addition to classic jazz repertory, the ensemble performs original compositions written specifically for the group.

Neal Hampton, conductor

Th 7:05-9:55 p.m. | Slosberg Recital Hall/Wellesley College

Directed by Neal Hampton, entrance to the Brandeis-Wellesley Orchestra is gained through audition at the beginning of the Fall and Spring semesters. The orchestra comprises students, faculty, and staff at Brandeis University, Wellesley College, and Babson and Olin Colleges, and is dedicated to bringing inspiring performances of the great orchestral literature, both past and present, to a new generation of musicians and audiences. 

Tom Souza, director

T 7:05-9:55 p.m. | Slosberg Recital Hall

The Wind Ensemble is a 35-50 member group that performs a wide variety of music. The ensemble performs two or three concerts each year and is conducted by Tom Souza. Membership is open to the Brandeis and surrounding communities.

The Brandeis Improv Collective performs on the Slosberg stage

Tom Hall, director

T 6:30-9:20 p.m. | Slosberg Room 212

Improvisation is always an essential part of our daily life, but during uncertain and challenging times, our ability to improvise becomes more important than ever! Join the Brandeis Improv Collective (BIC) and learn how to become a more fluid, creative, and joyful improviser by exploring improvisation, both individually and in a group. The BIC is open to all Brandeis students, regardless of skill or experience in improvising.

Ben Paulding, director

M/W 5:40-7 p.m. | Slosberg Recital Hall 

Fafali studies and performs the music, song and dance of Ghana, and has performed at Night for Africa, Culture X and even for the President of Ghana! Historically a highly international ensemble, Fafali's members have come from Ghana, Togo, Jamaica, Tanzania, Cape Verde, China, the United States and many other countries from around the world.