Music - History - Theory - Performance - Major - Minor - Course Catalogue Skip Navigation


(For 2016–2017 academic year) 

Professors Cheng, Klugherz
Associate Professors Cashman, Swain (Chair)
Assistant Professor Coluzzi, Endris
Visiting Assistant Professor Chase
Artists in Residence Pilgrim (voice), Heyman (piano)
Teachers of Applied Music Campbell (flute; orchestra manager), Cashman (saxophone), Cleveland (violin, viola), Decock (piano), Ferlo (guitar), Haddock (voice), Hane (bassoon), Johns (drums), Kime (organ; staff accompanist), Klugherz (violin/viola), Koen (piano), MacDowell (clarinet), Meredith (trombone), Montalbano (jazz piano), Ogilvie (French horn), Pugh (bass, jazz bass), Sharpe (oboe), Solazzo (jazz piano), Stockham (jazz trumpet), Sweet (cello)

Many students come to Colgate with significant musical experience behind them, won through arduous and focused study. The fundamental aim of the curriculum in music is to develop that experience to its utmost potential. Performance ensembles and private instruction build directly on that experience, while classroom instruction introduces student musicians to important ideas, histories, and various cultures that inform and broaden that experience. Qualified students can choose to develop in ways that most interest them. Those who choose to major in music will find their development guided by a balanced program of performance and classroom studies. Graduating majors have gone on to graduate study in every area of music or have immediately entered careers in arts management, mathematics, medicine, law, business, sound engineering, and many other fields.

Another fundamental aim of the curriculum is to introduce students with little or no musical background into the world of music as part of Colgate’s liberal arts program. These students should begin with MUSI 103, 111, 151, 161, or 221.

Upper-level courses divide into three groups: history, theory, and performance. The history courses are designed to give students an understanding of music through a study of composers and historical periods. The theory sequence teaches how music is put together and how to write it. The performance courses offer opportunities for students to engage in the art of performance and to gain credit in department-sponsored ensembles and private instruction.

Students with some musical background are encouraged to take MUSI 215 and 216 or MUSI 203 first. MUSI 215 and 216 can be taken in any order.

The music department offers extensive performing opportunities open to all qualified students regardless of major. The Colgate University Orchestra and Colgate University Choral Ensembles are the large performing organizations (auditions required). Performance opportunities are also offered in the Colgate Chamber Players (chamber music) and Colgate University Concert Jazz Ensemble. Private instruction in most instruments and in voice is available to students at an additional fee. All of these programs (except private instruction) may be elected on a credit or non-credit basis, and they are open to all Colgate students regardless of major.

Major Program

  1. Three courses in music theory: MUSI 203, 204, and 301
  2. Two courses in music history: MUSI 215 and 216
  3. One of the following: MUSI 245 or 302
  4. One of the following: MUSI 111, 161, or 221
  5. One elective course above the 100 level, excluding performance courses. However, MUSI 208 may serve as an elective.
  6. All music majors must participate in one of the following performance ensembles through graduation: Colgate University Orchestra, Colgate University Choral Ensembles, Colgate Chamber Players, or Colgate Concert Jazz Ensemble. A minimum of four semesters is required, no exceptions for off-campus study.

A music major must have a GPA of at least 2.00 in the above courses to graduate. The department recommends that students planning graduate work in musicology acquire background in foreign languages. 

Minor Program 

  1. Two courses in music theory: MUSI 203 and 204
  2. Two courses in music history: MUSI 215 and 216
  3. One elective course above the 100 level, excluding performance courses. However, MUSI 208 may serve as an elective.
  4. One of the following: MUSI 111, 161, or 221.
  5. All music minors must participate in one of the following performance ensembles through graduation: Colgate University Orchestra, Colgate University Choral Ensembles, Colgate Chamber Players, or Colgate Concert Jazz Ensemble. A minimum of four semesters is required, no exceptions for off-campus study.

Honors and High Honors  

Candidates for honors in music must

  1. Have or exceed, by the time of graduation, a major GPA of 3.50 and an overall GPA of 3.20.
  2. Complete an honors project (MUSI 470) with a grade of at least A–.
  3. Pass a general examination in music history and theory. 

Candidates for high honors in music must

  1. Have or exceed, by the time of graduation, a major GPA of 3.80 and an overall GPA of 3.20.
  2. Complete an honors project (MUSI 470) with a grade of at least A–.
  3. Pass with distinction a general examination in music history and theory.

To elect MUSI 470, the candidate must provide the department chair with a written proposal for the project by April 15 for a fall-semester project or December 1 for a spring-semester project. The project should have as its outcome a thesis, a composition, or a recital. It is both approved in advance and graded by the entire department.


See “Honors and Awards: Music” in Chapter VI. 

Transfer or Advanced Placement Credit

Credit may be given at the discretion of the department faculty to students who have completed music courses at other institutions or taken an AP exam in music. 

Study Group  

The Venice off-campus study group offers credit courses in music. For more information, see “Off-Campus Study” in Chapter VI, as well as MUSI 311 and 313. 

Course Offerings

MUSI courses count toward the Human Thought and Expression area of inquiry requirement, unless otherwise noted.

Course Offerings: History and Appreciation

111  The History of Rock
M. Cheng
Rock is a dominant force, a phenomenon. It began as the language of youth and grew to its present centrality. This music course examines innovative songs and artists, primarily from the ’50s through the ’70s, the era of classic rock. The goals of the course are to broaden students’ knowledge of rock history for this period, to gain insights into the music and lyrics, to learn how to listen and analyze music, and to think critically. Since rock reflected 20th-century society, broad issues of culture, art, and history are also discussed.

141  Traditions of Catholic Music
J. Swain
A survey of liturgical and para-liturgical music of the Roman Catholic tradition from c. 800 AD to present times, considered from purely musical but also liturgical and theological perspectives. Students learn to distinguish by ear plainchant, classic polyphony, operatic-symphonic, and popular idioms (including some of non-western cultures) as well as the history of each. The course also covers the principal liturgies of the Roman rite and some of the more important 20th-century legislation regarding liturgical music. This is a 0.25 credit, 8-week course. Prerequisites: none.

151  The Musical Experience
R. Endris, J. Kapusta
This introductory course is designed to acquaint the listener with some of the masterpieces of Western classical music from the Renaissance to the present and to develop an awareness of the role of musical elements, such as melody and orchestration, in the works studied. While it is not expected that students have played an instrument or read music, the course does attempt to develop some skills in score reading and notation. This course may not be elected after a 200-level course has been taken.

161  The History of Jazz
G. Cashman
A study of American jazz from 1920 to the present, through readings, intensive study of recordings, and class lectures. Several topics are studied in depth: listening skills, the quality of swing, group interaction, the development of solo improvisation, the blues, and the evolution of jazz performance practice. Important composers, bands, and soloists are highlighted, including Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, and the Miles Davis groups. 

215  Music History I
J. Kapusta
A survey of music history from Gregorian chant to Bach and Vivaldi. Music is studied both by itself and within contemporary social context.

216  Music History II
J. Swain
A survey of music history from the era of Mozart and Beethoven to the present. Music is studied both by itself and within the political events of the time. 

221  World Music
J. Kapusta, L. Klugherz
A study of music as a cultural phenomenon. Using as a context the diverse societies of Latin America and the cultures that have influenced them, the course examines how music relates to many aspects of life, identifies social classes, embodies political issues, shapes ceremonial practices and creates cultural identity. Students attend extra musical events during the term and complete listening assignments. No musical experience is necessary. 

311  The Arts in Venice during the Golden Age
J. Swain
The republic of Venice offers a special opportunity to study the interaction of the various fine arts that flowered simultaneously at the peak of one of Europe’s greatest cultural centers. The course examines artistic achievements of the Renaissance and early Baroque ages (ca. 1400–1700), chiefly in architecture and music. Students make frequent excursions to exemplary churches and palazzi, may attend local concerts, and learn to sing some Italian Renaissance music. Major credit by permission of the department. Prerequisite: admission to the Venice Study Group. This course is crosslisted as ARTS 311.

313  The Italian Opera Tradition
J. Swain
After an introduction to the principles of music drama, this course concentrates on operas representative of all important periods of the Italian tradition. The composers include Monteverdi, Mozart, and Verdi. The remaining operas studied are determined according to what is offered in the opera houses in and around Venice during a particular season. Offered only in Venice. Prerequisite: admission to the Venice Study Group.

Course Offerings: Theory

103  Basic Musicianship and Songwriting
R. Chase, R. Endris
This course teaches students about the basic musical materials of music theory. This involves learning to read, notate, compose, and study music. The course focuses primarily on Western art music (“classical music”) and, to a lesser extent, jazz. Since these two broad musical categories represent the roots of many other, more specific styles, the lessons from the course can be applied to a wide variety of music. In addition to written and aural exercises and exams, students compose several short musical works. No ability to read music or experience with music theory is necessary. Students with high school music performance experience should take MUSI 203.

203  Harmony I
J. Swain
An introduction to the harmonic language of Bach, Beethoven and the Beatles. Students learn to make basic chords and coordinate them with melodies to create sensible progressions in all keys. The course includes ear-training skills.

204  Harmony II
J. Swain
A continuation of Harmony I. The first part of the course is an intensive review of harmonic principles that develops greater fluency with them. The second part covers chromatic harmony and completes the chord grammar begun in Harmony I. The third part applies all the harmonic principles in an extensive analysis of a major composition such as a Beethoven symphony. Laboratory time devoted to ear training is required as in Harmony I. Prerequisite: MUSI 203 or permission of instructor.

220  Digital Music Studio
R. Chase
A workshop class focused on creating music using digital media. Students learn to use software-based Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) to develop skills in creating, recording, editing, mixing, and mastering musical works. Students also learn the principles of signal processing and audio routing techniques by studying works of other musicians and engineers. Student projects are heard in a final public presentation. Prerequisite: permission of instructor.

245  My Music: Composition
A hands-on experience of musical creation. Students learn why some melodies are so memorable, what connects the music of John Williams, Tchaikovsky, Debussy and Stravinsky, and how harmony and rhythm work. The course will investigate how different composers created and orchestrated their music. Students will compose their own original pieces for various instruments. New compositions are performed in a public concert at the end of the semester. Prerequisite: MUSI 103 or 203, or permission of instructor.

301  Criticizing Music
J. Swain
Can music be evaluated (criticized) rationally and objectively? After a review of traditional harmonic theory, the course covers critical theories of the 20th century, which students then apply to compositions of Western masters ranging from Bach to Brahms in order to test their claims. The course concludes with students’ own critical evaluations of an important composition. Prerequisite: MUSI 204.

302  Composition in Historical Styles
J. Swain
In this course, students study music history by trying to imitate the composers that made the history. During the term students complete a Renaissance motet, a fugue in the style of Bach, a sonata movement in the style of Mozart, and a prelude in the style of Chopin. Prerequisite: MUSI 204.

Course Offerings: Performance

205  Popular Songwriting Workshop
G. Cashman
A study of the compositional techniques employed in popular songwriting with the goal of writing two fully formed original works that combine music and lyrics. The course will cover pop introductions, endings, standard popular chord progressions, melodic construction, forms and structure, and lyric writing. In addition to various composition assignments, activities include analysis of classic and contemporary pop songs by The Beatles, Stevie Wonder and others. Students must be able to read and write music as well as possess knowledge of basic chord structures and major and minor scales. The mid-term and final projects will be performed and recorded at a basic demo level. Prerequisite: MUSI 103 or permission of the instructor.

208  Jazz Theory/Improvisation
G. Cashman
This course offers the study of basic jazz theory and its application in jazz improvisation. Topics include chord/scale relationships, musical line construction and development, jazz as a language, tension and release techniques, analysis of transcribed solos recorded by jazz masters, ear training, and jazz phrasing. Students play in class and practice outside of the classroom with pre-recorded rhythm section tracks. Theoretical material and several jazz compositions are memorized with students learning to play this material from memory on their instruments. Exams include written and performance segments. It is expected that enrolling students can read music and have played their instrument for at least three years. The completion of MUSI 203 is recommended before taking this course. This course is open to wind, string, and keyboard musicians. Prerequisite: permission of instructor.

217, 317  Chamber Music I, II
L. Klugherz
The Colgate Chamber Players (strings, pianists, winds) explore and perform a diverse and rich chamber music repertoire in 4–5 yearly concerts, both on and off campus. A bi-yearly concert tour features series concerts, outreach activities and repertoire research. Unless separated by off-campus study, two consecutive terms are required for a student to receive a single credit. Prerequisite: audition.

230, 330  University Orchestra I, II
M. Cheng
The 68-member student and professional orchestra offers four major concerts on the music department concert series every year. We perform outstanding works of the orchestral repertoire, the same repertoire as any major urban professional orchestra. Students learn about the works technically, stylistically and historically and they also learn how to give 100 percent in performance. To take orchestra for credit, a student needs two consecutive terms in order to receive one course credit. Prerequisite: audition.

232, 332  Colgate Concert Jazz Ensemble I, II
G. Cashman
The ensemble rehearses and performs works by the top contemporary jazz writers as well as classic charts from the standard big band repertoire. Represented composers include Bob Mintzer, Thad Jones, Shelly Berg, Bill Holman, Sammy Nestico, Count Basie and Duke Ellington. The course also introduces basic elements of jazz improvisation (blues) and includes interaction with nationally and internationally recognized guest artists. May be taken for credit; two consecutive semesters of participation count as one credit. Two credits may be elected. Prerequisite: audition.

234, 334  University Chorus I, II
R. Endris
A performance course in choral music. The University Chorus rehearses and performs the choral masterworks, often with an accompanying guest orchestra. The Chamber Singers, an advanced 18-voice chamber choir, is selected from the University Chorus membership and focuses on the rehearsal and performance of a cappella repertoire. Unless separated by off-campus study, two consecutive terms are required in order to receive a single credit. Prerequisite: audition.

236, 336  Private Instruction I, II
Credit for private study in voice or musical instruments is offered to advanced students, who must be continuing pupils of an instrumental or vocal instructor, with a minimum of one prior term of private study at Colgate. The course consists of one-hour lessons each week during the term and may include a public performance. An application to the department chair must be completed and meet with department approval during the term prior to enrollment.

Independent Studies

291, 391, 491  Independent Study
These courses offer students opportunities for individual study in musical areas not covered by other course offerings, under the guidance of a member of the staff. Prerequisite: permission of instructor and department chair. 

470  Senior Seminar
Given on an independent studies basis, this course is the requirement for honors or high honors in music. Taken in the senior year, the independent study may be in whatever the student and faculty adviser regard as the student’s major musical strength. Prerequisite: permission of academic adviser and department chair.