The study of music at Franklin & Marshall College is as deeply embedded in the creation and performance of music as it is in the understanding that music is inextricable from the worlds it is a part of. The Department of Music provides an approach to music that models the very essence of the liberal arts: an inherently interdisciplinary pursuit that hones processes of critical inquiry and analysis while simultaneously fostering and nourishing the creative mind.

The Music major at F&M is designed to allow students with varying backgrounds in music to thrive and carve their own individual paths. Courses cover genres and cultures from around the world and can be divided into three interrelated areas: history and culture, theory and composition, and performance. The major is bookended by MUS 2xx: Music, Culture, and Society, a gateway course designed to introduce students to foundational questions, issues, and methodologies in music studies, and by a 400-level senior project that serves as the culmination of one’s studies. By way of its emphasis on electives, the major gives students an opportunity to gain depth in a category of their choosing and allows students considerable agency in designing a trajectory most in line with their strengths, areas of interest, and post-college plans. Past majors have conducted grant-funded archival research and fieldwork throughout the world; presented at academic conferences; attended internationally renowned music programs throughout North America, Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, and East Asia; performed solo recitals in F&M’s own world-class Barshinger Center for Musical Arts; and conducted orchestras in programs featuring their original compositions. 

 

Many students choose to complete a major or minor in music whether or not they intend to undertake a career in music. The writing, analytical, critical thinking, and creative skills that the major and minors foster undoubtedly play a pivotal role no matter a student’s post-college trajectory. Students who have graduated with degrees in Music not only have gone on to Ph.D. programs in Musicology, Ethnomusicology, and Composition and successful careers in performance and the music industry but have also gone on to careers in medicine, law, and computer science (to name only a few). 

The majority of courses in the Music Department are open to students with no formal background in music while all of its ensembles are open to the entire student body. At the same time, there are many offerings in the academic and performance realms for students who have already made music an important element of their lives.

A major in Music consists of 10 course credits:

  • MUS 272: Music, Culture, and Society (as this course functions as a gateway into the major, students are encouraged to take it as early in their course of study as possible)

  • Three credits in Music Theory and Composition: MUS 278: Tools and Concepts of Theory and Composition; MUS 224: Musicianship 1 and MUS 225: Musicianship 2; and one elective in Theory and Composition at the 200-level or higher.

  • Three credits in History and Culture: two electives at the 200-level and one elective at the 300-level

  • One credit in Music Performance, drawn from studio lessons, ensembles, or conducting

  • One 300-level elective drawn from either History and Culture or Theory and Composition 

  • MUS 490: Independent Study or MUS 38X-48X Senior Recital 

Students considering a major in Music are strongly encouraged to design their course of study with the guidance of the Music Department Chair (or other designated advisor from the Music faculty) as early as possible and to pick a selection of electives that provides appropriate breadth and depth. 

The major culminates in a recital, research project, or creative project of the student’s choosing, typically completed in the student’s senior year. Students are strongly encouraged to start discussing the plans for their senior project with their advisors by the spring semester of their junior year. Students who would like to be considered for Honors should begin this process early in their junior year as well. 

The writing requirement in the major is met by the completion of MUS 2xx: Music, Culture, and Society and by taking 200- and 300-level electives in History and Culture.

Students majoring in music are encouraged to participate in one of the College’s choral or instrumental ensembles for at least four semesters.

Majors in the Department of Music have studied abroad in the following programs in recent years: IES programs in Milan, Italy and Vienna, Austria. See the International Programs section of the Catalog for further information.

A general minor in Music consists of six course credits:

  • MUS 272: Music, Culture, and Society (as this course functions as a gateway into the major, students are encouraged to take it as early in their course of study as possible);

  • Two credits in Music Theory and Composition: MUS 278: Tools and Concepts of Theory and Composition; MUS 224: Musicianship 1 and MUS 225: Musicianship 2; 

  • Two History and Culture credits at the 200-level or above; 

  • One 300-level elective drawn from either Theory and Composition or History and Culture. 

A performance minor in Music consists of six course credits:

  • One and one-half credits in Music Theory and Composition: MUS 278: Theory and Composition 1: Tools and Concepts; and MUS 224: Musicianship 1;

  • Two History and Culture credits at the 200-level ;

  • Two and one-half performance credits selected in consultation with the department chair. Ideally, the performance credits should include courses selected from both ensembles and studio lessons given at the College. If such diversification is not possible, the chair may recommend another performance-oriented course (such as conducting).

A maximum of four transferred credits from another institution may be counted toward the major, and of these, no more than one may be at or above the 300-level. Two transferred credits may be counted toward the minor. Further details about transferred credits can be obtained from the chair of the department.

 

Revised Curriculum Courses in Music History, Culture, and Theory

MUS100 Fundamentals (A)
A first course in music for students with little or no formal training or background. Emphasis on basic musicianship including keyboard orientation, and the ability to read and sing simple melodies in treble and bass clefs, in both major and minor modes, and in a variety of meters. Additional topics include the notation of pitch and rhythm, scales, key signatures, time signatures, intervals, triads, and basic score navigation. No musical background required.

MUS101 Intro to Western Art Music (A)
Survey of Western art music designed to develop perceptive listening, with emphasis on the study of rhythmic, melodic, and harmonic organization, color, texture and form. No musical background is required.

MUS176 Global Popular Music (A) (NW)
This course will survey selected popular music traditions from around the world, focusing in particular on the musics of the Global South and the way those musics travel around the world. But more than a simple introduction to various global genres, this class will also ask: What gets to be popular? What does not? What are the structures of power that determine popularity? How have people around the world used popular music as a form of agency they have otherwise been denied? The first portion of the class will consist of an introduction to the theories and ideas that will guide our exploration of the case studies to be examined in the remainder of the semester. Case studies will include selections from Afrobeats, Reggaeton, Música norteña, and musics of migrant and refugee populations in the West. The class will culminate in a project on a song, genre, or artist of the student's choosing. No previous music experience required.

MUS224 Musicianship I (A)
The course develops ear-training and keyboard skills by way of melodic, harmonic and rhythmic dictation, sight-singing, and beginning harmonization at the keyboard (one-half credit).

MUS225 Musicianship II (A)
The continuation of Music 224. Additional topics include modulation and score reading (one-half credit). Prerequisite: MUS224 and permission of the instructor.

MUS230 Music History 1: Antiquity – 1750 (A)
Western art music from early Gregorian chant through the florid art of the Baroque period. Includes the major stylistic developments as found in the works of Josquin, Monteverdi, Bach, Handel, and other composers. Prerequisite: Ability to read music.

MUS231 Music History 2: 1750 – Present (A)
The stylistic development of Western art music in the Classical, Romantic, and Modern eras. Selected works from each era are the focal point of the study. Prerequisite: Ability to read music.

MUS272  Music, Society, & Culture (A)
This course explores foundational questions in music studies. Using perspectives from musicology, ethnomusicology, cultural studies, and the social sciences, we will consider how music functions in different social and cultural contexts, the myriad ways that it creates meaning, and its complex interactions with politics, religion, and expressions of identity. Case studies will be drawn from a broad range of musical traditions from around the globe. Students will develop critical listening, writing, and research skills. This course serves as the prerequisite to most 300- and 400-level courses in Music.  Ability to read music required for this course.

MUS274 Music in Theatre (A)
This course will examine music's role in theater through a selection of well-known musical theater works, operas and incidental music. Spanning the Baroque era through modern day, we will consider musical devices and applications that support, enhance, and deny theater's text, staging, and dramatic action. The repertoire will be synthesis of American and German theater, with opportunity to broaden this scope through students' individual final projects. Our study will include such works as Cabaret, Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), West Side Story, Hänsel and Gretel, Hamilton, Salome, and Porgy and Bess.  Ability to read music at a fundamental level required.  

MUS276 Why Music? (A)
One of the most moving moments at the beginning of the pandemic was seeing people throughout Italy making music from their balconies. What was it about this scene that resonated with people throughout the world? This class will serve as an exploration of the role music plays in our lives--the ways it brings communal joy; the ways it engenders belonging; and the ways, in the darkest of moments, it can make life seem livable. This class will serve not only as an exploration of these questions, but as an examination of how, through the practices of fieldwork and ethnography, these questions have been approached by scholars in the past (and the ethical implications of such work). Through the cultivation of a semester-long ethnography project of the student's choosing, students will cultivate skills such as grant writing, interviewing, and writing and speaking to a general audience.

MUS278 Theory 1: Tools and Concepts (A)
An introduction to music-theoretical thought and areas of inquiry. This course surveys topics in rhythm and meter, tonal systems, pitch relations, harmony, form, melody, and voice-leading, drawing on a diverse array of repertories and styles of music to illustrate key concepts. Students develop skills critical to music performance, composition, and analysis. It serves as a prerequisite to most 300- and 400-level courses in Music. The ability to read music in both treble and bass clefs is required, as is a rudimentary knowledge of scales, key signatures, and intervals.  Prerequisite: MUS 100 or its equivalent, completion of music theory placement test, or permission of the instructor.

MUS279 Theory 2: Harmony, Writing, Form (A)
An introduction to music-theoretical thought and areas of inquiry. This course surveys topics in rhythm and meter, tonal systems, pitch relations, harmony, form, melody, and voice-leading, drawing on a diverse array of repertories and styles of music to illustrate key concepts. Students develop skills critical to music performance, composition, and analysis. It serves as a prerequisite to most 300- and 400-level courses in Music. The ability to read music in both treble and bass clefs is required, as is a rudimentary knowledge of scales, key signatures, and intervals. Students are advised to take MUS279 and MUS225 concurrently.  Prerequisites: MUS222 and MUS278 (Fall 21) or permission of instructor.

MUS323 Theory 3 (A)
Analytical study of the rhythmic, harmonic and formal practices of Debussy, Stravinsky, Bartok, Schoenberg, Messiaen and other composers of the last century. Includes atonal and serial music, with an introduction to set theory. Composition of short pieces using course materials. Prerequisites: MUS223 or permission of the instructor.

MUS373 Middle Eastern Music and Culture (A) (NW)
This interdisciplinary course will explore the musical identities of the Middle East and North Africa in terms of the complex sociological, historical, and political processes that have shaped the region. We will proceed from the idea that music is a powerful agent in the negotiation of power and identity, an examine the ways in which it has been utilized throughout transformative periods of history. Particular attention will be given to the transnational and diasporic nature of the musics under consideration. Classical, folk, and popular musical traditions will be considered, as will the roles of art, popular culture, and mass media. 

MUS430 Music Criticism (A)
A seminar studying various genres of writing about music including musical diaries, analyses, musicological essays, program notes, and reviews of performances. Major works being performed in New York City or on campus provide the central repertory for the seminar. Satisfies the writing requirement in the music major. Prerequisites: MUS230, MUS231, MUS222, or permission of the instructor.