Department of Music

Spring 2022: Music Courses

We are excited to announce our course offerings for the Spring 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 3B | Global Soundscapes: Performing Musical Tradition Across Time and Place

Professor Bradford Garvey

T/F 9:30-10:50 a.m. | Offered in person

What 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. Open to all students.

MUS 32B | Elements of Jazz

Professor Bob Nieske

T/F 12:30-1:50 p.m. | Offered in person

Examines the development of Jazz styles from the origins of Jazz in the late 1800's through today's Jazz masters. Early Jazz, Swing, Bebop, Cool, the year 1959, and Avant Garde are some of the styles we will be examining through recordings, videos, and in-class performances by local jazz musicians. The emphasis will be on learning how to listen to the various layers of the music and recognize specific stylistic techniques.

MUS 39B | Protest Through Song
Bradford Garvey poses in a garden

Professor Bradford Garvey

T/F 11 a.m.-12:20 p.m. | Offered in person

Examines the historical context, stylistic development, and cultural significance of rock and roll and other closely related genres, spanning the 1950s through the present. Close attention is paid to how political and social changes have interacted with technological innovations through commercial music to challenge, affirm and shape ideas of race, gender, class and sexuality in the United States. 

MUS 101B | Western Classical and Popular Music I: How It's Made, Part 2
Portrait of David Rakowski

Professor David Rakowski

M/W/Th 1-1:50 p.m. | Offered in person

MUS 103B | Western Classical and Popular Music II: How It's Made, Part 2
Mark Berger plays the viola

Professor Mark Berger

M/W/Th 1-1:50 p.m. | Offered in person

MUS 106A | Undergraduate Composition
Portrait of Yu-Hui Chang

Professor Yu-Hui Chang

T/Th 2-3:20 p.m. | Offered in person

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 113B | Introduction to Conducting
Robert Duff conducting an orchestra

Professor Robert Duff

M/W/Th 10-10:50 a.m. | Offered in person

Prerequisite: MUS 103a,b or permission of instructor. Covers the fundamentals of choral and instrumental conducting techniques and is designed for all students interested in conducting musical ensembles. Fundamentals include basic metrical patterns, dynamic shading, cues, entrances, cutoffs, and uses of the left hand. All students have the opportunity to conduct several times throughout the semester.

MUS 116B | Chamber Music: From Page to Stage

Professor Mark Berger

Group coachings to be scheduled | Offered in person

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 131A | Music in Western Culture: Early Medieval to the 16th Century
Karen Desmond teaches a musicology seminar

Professor Karen Desmond

T/F 11 a.m.-12:20 p.m. | Offered in person

Prerequisites: MUS 101a and b, or by permission of the instructor. A survey of music history from the early medieval period through the sixteenth century, considering major styles, composers, genres, and techniques of musical composition from a historical and analytical perspective. Topics include plainchant and the beginnings of western music notation--the songs of the crusades, the emergence of written polyphony in the west, the motet and madrigal, and Monteverdi and early opera.

MUS 133B | Music in Western Culture: 17th and 18th Centuries
Portrait of Emily Frey

Professor Emily Frey

M/W 3:30-4:50 p.m. | Offered in person

Prerequisite: MUS 101a and b. A survey of music from Vivaldi, Bach, and Handel through Beethoven and Schubert. Major styles, genres, and techniques of musical composition are discussed from historical and analytic perspective, based on a study of representative works.

Seminars (Undergraduate & Graduate)

MUS 160B | Electronic Music Composition and Production
Taylor Ackley plays the mandolin

Professor Taylor Ackley

W 10 a.m.-12:50 p.m. | Offered in person

Preference given to students who have taken MUS 107a or have permission of the instructor. Intended for graduate students and advanced undergraduates. Builds upon topics from MUS 107a and develops these into the professional skills of recording, production, and electronic composition. Students will refine these skills in both individual and collaborative projects. Work is carried out in BEAMS (Brandeis Electro-Acoustic Music Studio), but every effort will be made to equip students to compose on their own computers and to work collaboratively using contemporary tools, especially the Internet. Foundational concepts and approaches for this course will be drawn from both 20th century Avant Garde electronic composition and the commercial/popular music industry.

MUS 188B | Proseminar: Music of the Eighteenth Century
Portrait of Emily Frey

Professor Emily Frey

W 9-11:50 a.m. | Offered in person

In addition to tracing the evolution of the principal genres (e.g., sonata, symphony, string quartet, opera buffa, opera seria), the course assesses the historical position of the major figures from Bach and Handel to Mozart and Haydn. Particular emphasis is placed on understanding the phenomenon of the "style shift" from baroque to classical style.

MUS 196B | Sound and Space: Sound Installation and Movement Staging in the Field of Music Composition
Portrait of Erin Gee

Professor Erin Gee

T 2-4:50 p.m. | Offered in person

Students will design their own sound installation and learn how to build meaning through space and sound In relation to a cross-disciplinary research topic. This research will be modeled on methods cross-disciplinary project-building In various disciplines. Students will be informed by historical precedent In this field, design (and fulfill) a research goal around the production of the installation, and understand how to create (and to actually create by the end of the class) an intellectually rigorous and engaging interaction between the aural and visual.

MUS 200B | Teaching Music 
Portrait of David Rakowski

Professor David Rakowski

10 a.m.-12:50 p.m. | Offered in person

Approaches to teaching music subjects at the college level. Subjects include strategies for teaching music appreciation, history and theory; evaluating and choosing textbooks; crafting a syllabus; grading; and teaching philosophies. 

MUS 203B | Seminar: Music, Language, Interaction
An image of a musical celebration

Professor Bradford Garvey

M 2-4:50 p.m. | Offered in person

This graduate seminar develops and applies methods for the descriptive and analytical study of musical and linguistic performance by studying their co-production in concrete interactive contexts. Focuses on the analysis of musical interaction in a variety of musical contexts from around the world by studying dance, gesture, language use, and musical expression as situated semiotic activity. Check out the class flyer for more!

MUS 205A | Musicology Lab
Portrait of Emily Frey

Professor Emily Frey

Th 10-11:20 a.m. | Offered in person

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 221A | Topics in American Roots Music: Technologies of the Folk
Taylor Ackley plays the mandolin

Professor Taylor Ackley

W 2-4:50 p.m. | Offered in person

American Roots music genres like country and bluegrass have a long history of being anachronistically located in an imagined past with very real political, cultural and artistic ramifications. Musical artists have been inspired by this nostalgia, listeners have found in it a salve for the woes of modernity and the commercial music industry has marketed it successfully for nearly a century, all while utilizing cutting-edge technologies to create and proliferate their music and ideas. In this course we will examine the unexpected intersections of Roots music and technology in order to develop a set of analytical tools applicable to a wide variety of musical styles and traditions.

Ensembles (Undergraduate & Graduate)

Robert Duff, conductor

M/W 2-3:20 p.m. | Offered in person

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

M/W 3:30-4:50 p.m. | Offered in person

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 6:30-9:50 p.m. | Offered in person

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 6:30-9:50 p.m. | Offered in person

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

M 6:30-9:20 p.m. | Offered in person

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. | Offered in person

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 5-6:20 p.m. | Offered in person

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.

MUS 89B | Roots Music Ensemble

Taylor Ackley, director

T 2-4:50 p.m. | Offered in person

Study and perform repertoire from Roots music traditions including blues, country, swing, bluegrass and Appalachian folk. Students will learn to play these styles by ear while developing skills in arranging, harmonizing and improvising. Participation is open to instrumentalists and vocalists from any musical background (including those who play instruments not usually associated with these styles).