Document Actions

 

Music

The music program at Simon’s Rock combines a thorough grounding in essential musical skills with explorations of diverse musical languages, including the gamut of Western classical periods and styles, jazz, electronic music, and many “non-Western” forms of music. Students explore music’s connections to other dimensions of human experience, expression, and inquiry.

The program offers historical, theoretical, comparative, and applied course sequences as well as performing opportunities. The historical sequence acquaints students with the trends and literature of Western music and with the stylistic development of jazz. The comparative musicology sequence (ethnomusicology) starts with Music in World Cultures and continues with various special courses (i.e., Music of India) that may tie in with subjects such as anthropology. The goal of this sequence is an understanding of music as a universal human activity.

The theory sequence moves through harmonic, contrapuntal, and analytic units. The composition courses may be seen as components of the theory sequence, which is equally relevant to all advanced-level courses and practical musical activities.

The applied sequence offers many opportunities for developing performing skills. Private instruction in piano, voice, string, brass, woodwinds, and percussion is available through the Community Music Program at an additional fee. Students may earn one credit for private instruction. Advanced students may earn one or two additional credits by preparing and performing the major portion of a solo recital. Advanced students planning to take three combined applied performance credits in a semester are also required to file an Independent Music Project Contract at the beginning of the semester, outlining their goals and strategies.

Other courses encourage students to pursue additional directions in the world of music, including electronic music using a state-of-the-art MIDI (Music Instrument Digital Interface) laboratory, jazz improvisation, and composition in which students creatively explore many forms, styles, and methods.

Simon’s Rock is the home of South Berkshire Concerts, a series that brings distinguished professional artists to campus several times each semester.

Community Music Program/Private Musical Instruction
Music 100/400 Staff
1 credit
Simon’s Rock offers private lessons to its students and to residents of Berkshire County through the Community Music Program. The music faculty also provides supplementary enrichment such as group classes and frequent performing opportunities. Qualified music students may work toward one academic credit per term by registering for Music 100/400. Music lessons are graded Pass/Fail. Advanced students who have taken lessons for at least one semester at Simon’s Rock may take lessons on a graded basis by submitting a form to the Office of Academic Affairs. Students can earn additional credit for solo performances and advanced study. Instruction is regularly available in voice, guitar, oboe, violin, and piano; lessons on other wind, string, and percussion instruments may also be available. Lessons are arranged through contracts for 13 or 26 lessons, and are offered at an additional fee. To complete registration, a Music Lesson Contract must be submitted. Lesson schedules are arranged through the Office of Academic Affairs. No prerequisites.
Musicianship
Music 103 Wu
2 credits
Students without previous experience in notation or those wishing to renew their acquaintance with musical fundamentals should register for this course. It is recommended for all students taking music lessons, as well as those taking music theory or composition courses. The course covers melodic dictation, rhythmic drills, the composition of simple pieces, and instruction on recorders.
This course is generally offered every three or four years. Last taught S12.
Chorus
Music 117 Brown
1 credit
The rehearsal and reading of works from part-song and choral literature from the Middle Ages to present. Chorus is open to all students and community members by audition. Previous singing experience and some music reading ability are desirable preparation.
This course is generally offered every semester.
Independent Music Projects
Music 201/401 Staff
2/4 credits
Intensive private study is available through a limited number of independent music projects. These expanded lessons include an additional component, such as public performance, applied theoretical study, or repertory expansion. Prerequisite: High intermediate level of performing ability (minimum six years of lessons) and permission of the instructor.
This course is generally offered every semester.
Medieval Music
Music 202m Wallach
2 credits
The music of the church (ca. 600–1400) in chants and early forms of harmony, the rich variety of secular forms that address the broad range of the medieval experience, the evolution of musical notation, the role of music in society: These topics are explored not only through recordings, readings, and discussions, but through performances by the members of the class. No prior experience is necessary, but those who do read musical notation can assist those who do not.
This course is generally offered once every three or four years. Last taught F11.
Renaissance Music
Music 203m Wallach
2 credits
“Nothing worth listening to was written until forty years ago,” wrote Tinctoris, ca. 1500. At the apex of the aristocracy, unhindered by a fragmented church, individual creativity was released in a continuous celebration of human capacity and human experience by means of a new-found technical sophistication in the arts. Music underwent a profound transformation as musicians discovered the power of sensuously appealing tones to convey the intimacy and intensity of their private experiences. The course covers the period from 1450 to 1600.
This course is generally offered once every three or four years. Last taught F11.
Earlier Baroque Music
Music 204m Wallach
2 credits
The modern musical era was born in a concentrated period of revolutionary activity focusing on the creation of opera and of free-standing instrumental forms. This module explores music written between the beginning of the 17th century and the birth of Bach (1685). In addition to opera and monody, it focuses on the creation of sonatas, fugues, concerti, and music built around the Lutheran chorale. Composers include Monteverdi, Gabrieli, and Schütz. No prerequisites, but some music-reading ability is useful.
This course is generally offered once every three or four years. Last taught S12.
Later Baroque Music (Bach and Handel)
Music 205m Wallach
2 credits
This course focuses on the music of the later baroque period (ca. 1680–1750), which was dominated by the two contrasting German masters Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frederick Handel. We will become familiar with the musical languages, styles, genres, forms, and social functions of the music of this era; develop listening skills; and learn about the artistic standards and expectations of the times. This will be set against the background of the biographies of the two composers as well as of the other arts (literature, painting), philosophy, religion, science, technology, politics, and social life in contemporary Europe. No prerequisites, but some music-reading ability is useful.
This course is generally offered once every three or four years. Last taught S12.
Theory I and II: Introduction to Tonal Harmony
Music 206–207 Myers, Wallach
3 credits
Theory I introduces the tonal system through the composition and analysis of simple melodies. The course gradually builds the picture of harmonized melody by developing bass-lines and inner voices utilizing triads in all inversions. It also builds basic musical skills, emphasizing interval identification and minimal keyboard familiarity. Theory II introduces the use of dissonance in the form of suspension and seventh chords, and chromaticism in the form of secondary harmonies and modulatory progressions. Chromatic harmonies (Neapolitan and augmented sixth chords) and enharmonic relations complete the tonal picture. Short whole pieces from the Baroque period are used as first examples of whole-piece analysis. Prerequisites: Intermediate music-reading ability and permission of the instructor.
This course is generally offered once a year.
Composition
Music 210/310 Wallach
3/4 credits
Students present original compositions for examination, discussion, and performance by the class. Course work includes writing for combinations of instruments or voices, with the possibility of public performance available. Exercises in counterpoint and arranging are included. Where relevant, contemporary compositions are studied through scores and recorded performances. Prerequisites: Completion of one semester of music theory, or equivalent.
This course is generally offered once a year.
Introduction to Electronic Music
Music 211 Davis
3 credits
An introduction to the processes of sound synthesis and sound assembly through the structure of a computer-controlled MIDI studio with backup sequencing and notational software. The course covers digital and sampling synthesis, compositional structures that can be programmatically manipulated through editing and real-time intervention, and many other facets of creating music with the studio-as-instrument. Prerequisites: Musical background comparable to one semester of Theory and permission of the instructor. Enrollment is limited due to constraints on studio access.
This course is generally offered once a year.
The Music of India
Music 213/313 CP J. Myers
3/4 credits
This course focuses on contemporary performance practice of Hindustani (North Indian) classical music and on the theoretical, historical, and philosophical background of this vital tradition. The class learns several ragas through representative compositions and develops improvisation techniques in alap and tan. Although each class member is required to develop a strong comprehension of musical material, semester projects may center on other aspects of the culture and history of the Indian subcontinent (including Pakistan and Bangladesh). By the end of the semester, musically advanced students do extensive systematic improvisation in at least one raga. Prerequisite: No previous musical experience is required for Music 213 CP. Music 313, which requires a previous CP Seminar in music or permission of the instructor, meets concurrently, and includes a substantial written, semester-long research project, and class presentation.
This course is generally offered once every three or four years. Last taught F10.
Beethoven and Schubert
Music 214m Wallach
2 credits
A continuation of Music 215m that can also be taken separately, this module explores the outcome of 18th-century developments in the early 19th century through the works of two contrasting figures, Beethoven (1770–1827), a composer of concert music who worked in the public eye, and Schubert (1797–1828), whose most successful works were meant for homes and salons, and whose moment of fame arrived several generations after his death. Both composers’ innovations were built on the solid foundations of the classical forms and classical tonality, but each created a highly personal style. Individual works are examined in depth but with attention to the larger historical context. Student work includes response journals and one paper/project on a self-selected topic. Either an acquaintance with musical notation or some historical or literary background are suggested but not required.
This course is generally offered once every three or four years. Last taught S10.
Haydn and Mozart
Music 215m Wallach
2 credits
Emphasizing listening and the development of individual responses, this course explores the work of two pivotal figures in late 18th-century music, one of whom changed the direction of European music decisively toward instrumental forms (sonata, quartet, symphony), while the other mastered these forms with astonishing speed and also brought the older form of opera to its historical pinnacle. Individual works are examined in depth but with attention to the larger historical context. Student work includes response journals and one paper/project on a self-selected topic. Either an acquaintance with musical notation or some historical or literary background are suggested but not required.
This course is generally offered once every three or four years. Last taught S10.
Music of the Romantic Era
Music 216 Wallach
3 credits
Music developing in post-revolutionary Europe was influenced by both Napoleonic artistic politics and the rising middle class; it reflected a new flexibility of social class and social roles. It courted and sometimes won the mass public with a style that alternated erratically between the intimate, privileged space of the visionary and the inflated rhetoric of the virtuoso. Good taste and good marketing jockeyed for position; the outcome can be seen in the overwhelming influence of Wagner, affecting those who reacted against him even more than those who set out to follow him. All students are encouraged to love or hate any of the music we study as long as they have fun doing so and saying so. Prerequisite: Some music reading ability.
This course is generally offered once every three or four years. Last taught F10.
Music since World War I
Music 217/317 Wallach
3/4 credits
This course invites students to treat music written in the 20th century as an open text and to write their own histories of it based on their perceptual and aesthetic interactions with a wide variety of musical gestures while considering the views of such writers as Adorno, Benjamin, McLeary, Nattiez, and Attali. The class focuses especially on the “loose canon” of early 20th-century masters, particularly exploring the values influencing the continual reassessment of the works of Schoenberg. The issue of relationship to audience is investigated. The class views videos of modern operas and attends a concert in New York or Boston. Students do listening/reading assignments and three self-generated investigations (paper/projects). Some music reading ability is recommended.
This course is generally offered once every two years. Last taught S11.
Jazz: An American Encounter
Music 218/318 CP J. Myers
3/4 credits
This course explores the historical development, artistic traditions, and cultural meanings of jazz. Jazz is studied both as a musical phenomenon and as a vehicle for an ongoing cultural dialogue that continues to have a profound impact upon many dimensions of American life. The course is organized around the emergence and continuation of dynamic styles such as ragtime, New Orleans, swing, be-bop, polymodal, fusion, and free-form. Individual musicians are studied in the context of historical trends in music and culture. Course work includes listening assignments, readings, and research projects. Prerequisite: No previous musical experience is required for Music 218 CP. Music 318, which requires a previous CP Seminar in music or permission of the instructor, meets concurrently, and includes a substantial written, semester-long research project, and class presentation.
This course is generally offered once every two years. Last taught S11.
Jazz Improvisation Workshop I and II
Music 219/319 J. Myers
3/4 credits
This course develops essential skills in jazz, with particular focus on improvisation. Activities include application of melodic and harmonic concepts to a broad range of standard professional repertoire, harmonic analysis, and possible public performances. Prerequisite: Performing experience, music theory at the level of Musicianship (Music 103) or higher, or permission of the instructor.
This course is generally offered once every two years. Last taught F10.
Jazz Ensemble
Music 222 J. Myers
1 credit
This course features the reading and rehearsal of jazz literature in a wide range of styles. It is open to all students and community members by audition. Some ability to read music is required.
This course is generally offered every semester.
Vocal Performance: Opera and Musical Theater
Music 225/325 Teeley
3/4 credits
This course has an emphasis on performance technique and focuses on various styles of vocal repertoire, including operatic and musical theater. We will discuss the elements that singers need to integrate, such as vocal range, care of the voice, breathing technique, the physiology of singing, and different styles and how to approach them. The work will be on an individual basis, with each student presenting a prepared song or aria, as well as in groups working on duets, trios, or scenes. Students should have some background in singing, the ability to learn and memorize music independently, and be ready to work in front of the class. We will be working toward a performance workshop at the end of the semester. Prerequisite: Some performing experience, an audition or interview, and permission of the instructor.
This course is generally offered once a year.
Opera and Musical Theater in Concert
Music 226m Teeley
2 credits
This course offers students the opportunity to improve their performance skills in opera, operetta, and musical theater in a music-focused environment. Each year, one work by a significant composer will be selected for intensive study, leading to a concert-style production at the end of the module. Each student will prepare one or more roles in the production as his or her primary performance experience. Beyond the single work chosen for performance, students will study other works by that composer, as well as those by related composers whose work emerges out of a similar musical and cultural milieu. In addition, students will explore the relationship between drama and music inherent in all of the music drama genres, and they will develop their skills in realizing dramatic situations through musical choices. This course is intended for experienced singers who are capable of learning music independently, and who are strong in both solo and harmony singing. Prerequisite: Theater 115, a 200-level theater course, and an audition.This course is generally offered once every three or four years.
This course is generally offered once every three or four years. Last taught S11.

 

Music in World Cultures
Music 227/327 J. Myers
3/4 credits
This course is an introduction to a variety of traditional and contemporary musical styles from contrasting cultures. It also explores the ways music interacts with and reflects worldviews and social systems, and how it is connected with other expressive forms of communication. No previous musical experience is required for Music 227 CP. Music 327, which requires a previous CP Seminar in music and/or permission of the instructor, meets concurrently and includes a substantial written, semester-long research project and class presentation.
This course is generally offered once every three or four years. Last taught F08.
Music in Film
Music 229 Burke/Wallach
3 credits
Eight films with their soundtracks are the subject of intensive analysis in order to answer the question: How does music mediate the structure and message of the film? The course considers a variety of styles of cinema and music, arranged historically, from the classic Hollywood film with its neo-Wagnerian score, to European pre- and post-war alternative styles, to post-classic Hollywood and independent films that utilize a variety of musical strategies. Directors include S. Eisenstein, A. Hitchcock, S. Leone, B. Bertolucci, and E. Morris; composers include W. E. Korngold, S. Prokofiev, B. Herrmann, E. Morricone, and P. Glass. The class will meet for three hours every third class to view the film under consideration in its entirety. Student work will include journaling their analytical observations, two in-class presentations of sequences from the film under consideration, and a final project that is either analytical or creative, depending on the student’s interests and background. Prerequisite: Class in music, film, literary criticism, or instructors’ approval. Readings: Readings are drawn from Music and Cinema, ed. Buehler, Flinn, and Neumeyer, and selected articles.
This course is generally offered once every two years. Last taught S10.
Collegium
Music 278 Bardo
1 credit
The Collegium (early music ensemble) explores early music through singing and playing period instruments such as recorders and viols. Guitarists, violinists, and cellists may also be accepted. Each semester will focus on music of a particular country or genre. Simon’s Rock owns a tenor and bass recorder as well as treble, tenor, and bass viols, which are free to the users. Students wishing to play recorder should expect to bring their own soprano and/or alto recorders. Plastic recorders, which work very well, can be purchased very inexpensively. Rental instruments may be available for a modest fee. Music will usually be provided, with the caveat that during some semesters students may be required to buy a particular collection of music as part of specific studies. Participation in a final concert as well as regular class attendance is required for receiving credit and a Pass/Fail grade. Students will be expected to practice outside of classes.
This course is generally offered every semester.
Madrigal Group
Music 280 Brown
1 credit
This chamber choir of six to 10 voices rehearses and performs a cappella vocal music concentrating on the vast repertoire of Renaissance madrigals and motets. It may also perform vocal music from the Middle Ages and contemporary a cappella madrigals. It is open to all students by audition. Previous choral experience and basic music reading skills are required.
This course is generally offered every semester.
Chamber Ensemble
Music 289 Legêne
1 credit
The chamber ensemble is engaged in the reading, rehearsal, and performance of classical and modern literature for larger chamber and smaller orchestral ensembles. It is open to students of intermediate to advanced skill on orchestral instruments (strings, woodwind, brass). Individual students may be selected to perform solo concertos with the ensemble.
This course is generally offered every semester.
Theory III: Modal and Tonal Counterpoint
(16th and 17th Centuries)
Music 308 Staff
4 credits
This course offers an accelerated survey of species counterpoint, up to three parts in fifth species. The tonal segment of this course includes analysis based on Schenker’s concepts of tonal layers, as studied in Theory II, integrated with the more rigorous description of dissonance treatment that emerges from the contrapuntal approach. The work of the second half of the semester culminates in the composition of an extended polyphonic work utilizing contrapuntal techniques. Prerequisites: Music 207 or equivalent.
This course is generally offered once a year.
Theory IV: Analysis, Baroque Counterpoint, and Chromatic Harmony
Music 309 Staff
4 credits
This course is a continuation of both Theory II and Theory III. It includes the analysis of 18th- and 19th-century works of increasing complexity (Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Brahms, Debussy) following the study of form and chromaticism in Theory II, and it extends the contrapuntal exercises of Theory III to further work in tonal counterpoint through short student compositions in the baroque style. Prerequisite: Music 308.
This course is generally offered once a year.
Theory V: Approaches to 20th-Century Music
Music 311 Wallach
4 credits
A rough chronological study of the posttonal languages of “art” music in the 20th century. The class considers theoretical writings by composers and theorists such as Schoenberg, Schenker (as adapted by Salzer), Forte, Perle, Yeston, Hindemith, Boulez, Cage, and Tenney. Attention is paid to the realignment of musical parameters (timbre, texture, rhythm) as architectural elements. Students do short analytic assignments, developing familiar graphic techniques and exploring alternative methods of visual presentation. Each student selects a composer or theorist for in-depth investigation and presentation of findings to the class. Prerequisite: Music 207 (minimum); Music 308 and Music 309 (recommended).
This course is generally offered once every three or four years. Last taught F09.
Music Tutorial
Music 300/400 Staff
4 credits
Under these course numbers, juniors and seniors design tutorials to meet their particular interests and programmatic needs. A student should see the prospective tutor to define an area of mutual interest to pursue either individually or in a small group. A student may register for no more than one tutorial in any semester.