Spring 2021: Music Courses

We are excited to announce our course offerings for the Spring 2021 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 music@brandeis.edu with any questions. For a full list of Department offerings, please refer to the Office of the Registrar's Schedule of Classes.


Undergraduate Classes

MUS 1A | Exploring Western Music
Mark Berger with his viola

Professor Mark Berger

M/W 2-3:30 p.m. | Offered Remotely

A general introduction to the materials and forms of music, and a study of western musical literature. 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 notation.

MUS 3B | World Musics: Performing Tradition through Sound

Professor Judith Eissenberg

T/Th 2-3:30 p.m. | Offered Remotely

What are we listening for, and who are we listening to? Applies engaged listening skills and critical analysis for a deeper appreciation of (non-Western) music as a cultural expression. Focuses on particular traditions as well as social context, impact of globalization, cultural production, cultural rights, etc. Guest artists join us throughout the semester.

MUS 10B | What to Listen for in Music: An Ears-on Approach
Joshua Gordon teaching cello lesson

Professor Joshua Gordon

M/W 4-5:30 p.m. | Offered Remotely

Introduces the fundamental materials and forms of music through ear training and the study of western musical literature and popular music, with listening assignments. For non-majors having little previous knowledge of music.

MUS 37B | Back to the Future: Digging for the Roots of Western Music

Professor Sarah Mead

T/Th 10-11:30 a.m. | Offered Remotely

Dig for the roots of polyphony in the Western tradition. Unearth new concepts (from half a millennium ago) for understanding, hearing, and making music of any period. Compose melodies, improvise counterpoint, and learn to hear intervals with fresh ears.

MUS 56B | Romanticism in European Music and Literature: Breakups, Breakdowns, and Beauty

Professor Emily Frey

T/Th 12-1:30 p.m. | Offered Remotely

Romantic art abounds in depictions of hallucinators, madwomen, obsessives, and other individuals whose thoughts and behaviors deviate sharply from societal norms. We'll seek to understand the cultural and historical significance of the ways in which late eighteenth- and nineteenth-century music and literature portray exceptional emotional, mental, and physiological states, and investigate the connections among madness, genius, physical illness, and the supernatural in the Romantic imagination.

MUS 101B | Theory/Musicianship I: Part 2
Portrait of Justin Casinghino

Professor Justin Casinghino

M/W 6-7:30 p.m. | Offered Remotely

This semester introduces broad concepts of theory and begins the process of learning to write and analyze music. By the end of the year, students will gain experience in counterpoint, harmony, and formal analysis, and will compose in a simple form. Throughout the year, the relationship of repertoire and theory is stressed. The required ear-training and keyboard lab meets separately.

MUS 103B | Theory/Musicianship II: Part 2
Portrait of Erin Gee

Professor Erin Gee

M/W 6-7:30 p.m. | Offered Remotely

A continuation of MUS 103A. Twentieth century styles and techniques are covered, including extended tonality and atonality. Several compositional projects are assigned and performed in class.

MUS 116B | Chamber Music: From Page to Stage

Professor Mark Berger

T/Th 2-3:30 p.m. | Offered in Hybrid Form

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.

MUS 135A | History of Music III: Romantic and 20th Century
Scattered Sheet Music

Professor Eric Chafe

M/W 4-5:30 p.m. | Offered Remotely

Surveys western music history from c.1830 to the present, considering major styles, genres, and techniques of musical composition from a historical and analytical perspective. Styles and composers represented include Chopin, Liszt, Wagner, impressionism, serialism, Debussy, Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Bartok, and Babbitt.

MUS 162B | Seminar in MAX/MSP
Portrait of Davide Ianni

Professor Davide Ianni

T/Th 10-11:30 a.m. | Offered Remotely

MUS 162B seeks to expand the students’ aesthetic, technical and theoretical knowledge relative to sound processing and electronic music composition. Specifically, students design sound-processing tools and interactive-media environments aimed at the creation of original musical work. To this end, the course focuses on introducing and developing programming skills using the programming environment MAX/MSP, a powerful platform that accommodates and connects a wide variety of tools for sound, graphics, music and interactivity.

MUS 175A | Instrumentation and Orchestration

Professor David Rakowski

M/W 10-11:30 a.m. | Offered Remotely

Technical projects in the art of writing for instruments and for groups of instruments, from chamber groups of various sizes to full orchestra. Score study of examples from 1770 to the present. Additional focus on notation and on rules for instrumental parts.

Seminars (Undergraduate & Graduate)

MUS 190A | Proseminar in Music since 1900
Portrait of Emily Frey

Professor Emily Frey

M/W 4-5:30 p.m. | Offered Remotely

Examines music developing in Europe and the United States after 1900. The course divides into four periods - 1900-WWI, the Interwar years, WWII and the early cold war, and 1960s to the present - and explores select developments in compositional style, as well as interactions of music with cultural and political history within each of these periods.

MUS 192A | Topics in Analysis of Early Twentieth-Century Music
Portrait of Erin Gee

Professor Erin Gee

M/W 2-3:30 p.m. | Offered Remotely

Detailed examination of selected works composed between 1908 and 1951.

MUS 219A | Seminar: Wagner
Portrait of Richard Wagner

Professor Eric Chafe

M/W 12-1:30 p.m. | Offered Remotely

This seminar will study one of Wagner's major works in depth and from a variety of approaches: analytical questions; the sketches and drafts; Wagner's writings. Special emphasis will be given to Wagner's Schopenhauerian aesthetics.

MUS 224B | Seminar in Medieval Music

Professor Karen Desmond

T/Th 2-3:30 p.m. | Offered Remotely

This seminar focuses on the Roman de Fauvel, a 14th-century poem copied in a beautiful manuscript filled to the brim with gorgeous illustrations and 169 music compositions that comment on the story of the horse Fauvel, who in this poem, becomes king of France. We’ll examine the codex closely, thinking about notation, scripts, and music, but also about the political and social contexts and ponder the resonances that the tale of Fauvel has for our world today.

Ensembles (Undergraduate & Graduate)

Sarah Mead, director

T/Th 6-7:30 p.m. | Offered Remotely

Using its large collection of historical instruments including recorders, krumhorns, sackbuts, curtals, viols, lutes, harps and harpsichords, the Brandeis Early Music Ensemble explores the music and performance practices of Western Europe in the Renaissance and early Baroque eras.

Brandeis Chamber Singers pose casually while on a European Tour

Robert Duff, conductor

T/Th 2-3:30 p.m. | Offered in Hybrid Form

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.

Chorus members, in formal dress, perform on risers in the Slosberg Music Center

Robert Duff, conductor

T/Th 4-5:30 p.m. | Offered in Hybrid Form

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 7-10 p.m. | Offered Remotely

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.

Members of the Brandeis Wellesley Orchestra rehearse with conductor Neal Hampton

Neal Hampton, conductor

T/Th 4-5:30 p.m. | Offered in Hybrid Form

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. In Spring 2021, the orchestra will meet on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.

Tom Souza, director

M 6:30-9 p.m. | Offered in Hybrid Form

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 6:30-9:30 p.m. | Offered in Hybrid Form

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 6-7:30 p.m. | Offered in Hybrid Form

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.