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Classroom Courses

Smith College reserves the right to make changes to all announcements and course listings online, including changes in its course offerings, instructors, requirements for the majors and minors, and degree requirements.

Fall 2015

MUS 102 First Nights

This course serves as an introduction to the history of Western music by studying in detail the first performances of a small number of singularly important works in the Western tradition including Orfeo (Monteverdi), Messiah (Handel), the Ninth Symphony (Beethoven), the Symphony fantastique (Berlioz), and Le Sacre du printemps (Stravinsky). Using Thomas Kelly's textbook First Nights (which treats these five compositions), we will analyze musical monuments as aesthetic objects and consider their relation to such issues as exoticism, politics, and religious belief, as well as the status of this canon in the early twenty-first century. 4 credits.

MUS 106 American Sounds

This course surveys developments in the history of American music, with a primary focus on the twentieth century. We pay particular attention to blues and country music, two styles that arose early in the century and provided the foundation for much of what followed. The course may cover other styles such as: blackface minstrelsy, Tin Pan Alley, folk, jazz, classical, or varieties of Latino music. Throughout, we attend to musical aspects of these styles, and connnect them to larger historical themes and social issues concerning race, class, gender and the making of "American" identity through music. Formal knowledge of music is not required. Enrollment limited to 45. 4 credits.

MUS 110 Analysis and Repertory

An introduction to formal analysis and tonal harmony, and a study of familiar pieces in the standard musical repertory. Regular exercises in harmony. Prerequisites: ability to read standard pitch and rhythmic notation in treble and bass clefs, major and minor key signatures, and time signatures, and the ability to name intervals. (A placement test is given before the fall semester for incoming students.) A 50-minute ear training section required per week, in addition to classroom meetings. Class sections limited to 20. 4 credits.

AMS 220 Colloq: Dance Music sex Romance: Popular Music, Gender and Sexuality from Rock to Rap

Since the 1950s rock 'n' roll and other forms of youth-oriented popular music in the U.S. have embodied rebellion. Yet the rebellion that rock and other popular music styles like rap have offered has often been more available to men than women. Similarly, the sexual liberation associated with popular music in the rock and rap eras has been far more open to "straight" desires over "queer." This course will examine how popular music from the 1950s to the present has been shaped by gender and sexuality, and the extent to which the music and its associated culturarl practices have allowed artists and audiences to challenge gender and sexualr norms, or alternately have served to reinforce these norms albeit with loud guitars and a heavy beat. Enrollment limited to 20. 4 credits.

MUS 220 Topics in World Music: Popular Music of the Islamic World

Music is a thorny issue in many Islamic societies. There is often tension between hardliners who believe that music has no place in Islam and thus try to prohibit it and those who tolerate it, albeit within well-defined parameters. The debate intensifies in the case of popular music. Despite this, there is an incredible variety of vibrant popular music traditions throughout the Islamic world. In this course, we engage with Islamic debates on popular music, explore music in a variety of cultures (e.g. Afghanistan, Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan, Senegal and Turkey), and examine the ways they illuminate different themes (forms of Islam, issues of diaspora, gender considerations, musical diversity, etc.). No prerequisites, though MUS 101 will be helpful. 4 credits.

MUS 233 Composition

Basic techniques of composition, including melody, simple two-part writing, and instrumentation. Analysis of representative literature. No previous composition experience required. Prerequisite: 110 or permission of the instructor. 4 credits.

FLS 235 Colloq: Listening to Cinema

This course explores various aspects of film sound from both a theoretical and a historical perspective. Emphasis will be placed on the development of critical listening skills through regular exercises in close listening and audio-visual analysis. Topics to be addressed include the history of sound technology; the aesthetics and politics of sound design; the voice in cinema; and film music. While the historical scope of the course will range from the "silent" era to the present, two salient turning points will be the subject of focused attention: the introduction of the synchronous sound film in the 1920s and the development of digital surround sound in the 1990s. Enrollment limit of 25. 4 credits.

MUS 400 Special Studies

In the history of Western music, world music, composition and digital music, or musit theory analysis. For juniors and seniors, by permission of the department. 1 to 4 credits.