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Matan Rubinstein

Music courses at Marlboro are designed for liberal arts students, and there is something for everyone. We offer courses for experienced musicians and for those who are absolute newcomers. We offer courses that are practical and performance-based, and those that are historical and theoretical. Music courses often complement Plan work in fields other than music. The music department gives students both a comprehensive background in traditional Western theory and history and an opportunity to explore less traditional fields after one has completed the regular course of study.

We offer three categories of courses:

  1. Skills: These courses include: Chorus, designed for anyone who enjoys singing, even if he or she has never participated in a chorus; Madrigal Choir and Chamber Music, which require some ability to play an instrument and read music; Solfege, which teaches sight singing, reading, transcription and rhythmic development. Applied music is offered on a number of instruments through the Brattleboro Music Center (BMC) and Vermont Jazz Center (VJC). Students interested in arranging for music lessons through the BMC or VJC should see Stan Charkey. Instrument instruction may not be taken for more than one credit in the freshman or sophomore years.
  2. History: These courses are for both musicians and non-musicians who have an interest in music. There are no prerequisites, and the courses are designed to help students better appreciate and understand music of a particular period. These are particularly useful to students working in history, philosophy or cultural history and are as much about history and cultural theory as music, although music is the lens through which we conduct our examination.
  3. Theory and Composition: Theoretical courses are designed for students who want to learn the nuts and bolts of music, its grammar and structure. Students should begin with Theory Fundamentals, which is an introduction to basic principles and notation. It is a prerequisite for all other theory courses, which include Harmony, 16th-Century Counterpoint and 18th-Century Counterpoint. These are challenging courses for those interested in serious musical study. Composition Workshop is open to students who wish to explore writing music and the expressive possibilities of sound. An ability to read music, play an instrument or sing, and an understanding of basic theory are prerequisites.

Electronic music is also offered. Students who want to explore electronic music can do so as part of a complete music program. Any student who wishes to do a Plan in electronic music will be held to the same requirements as students doing Plans in other areas of music. Minimum Requirements:

  • Two years music history
  • Two years theory
  • Two years performance ensemble

Areas of Interest for Plan-level Work:

  • Historical musicology
  • History, philosophy or cultural history through the lens of music
  • Electronic music
  • Music composition
  • Music performance

Starting Points (Basic and Introductory Courses)

A study of the development of both sacred and secular forms and styles in music and its relation to social and cultural conditions of the time. Prerequisite: None     Multi-level | Credits: 4

A study of the development of musical forms during the period 1600-1750 and its importance in the society of this period. Ability to read music recommended. Prerequisite: None     Multi-level | Credits: 4

End of the Baroque era, 18th-century Italian opera comique and Singspiel Gluck Reform, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven. Prerequisite: None    Multi-level | Credits: 4

A study of the relationship between music and ideas in the 19th century. Emphasis on the transformation of the sonata and the development of the symphony. Prerequisite:  None     Multi-level | Credits: 4

This course will begin by understanding music—all music—as a form of human behavior involving producers and consumers, apologists and detractors. It will consider the intersection between the history of this period and its historiography. This course will look at the period between (and including) Beethoven and Gustav Mahler, and will involve one to three hours of listening per week. There is also one main verbal text: Richard Taruskin’s Music in the Nineteenth Century. Other supplemental readings from figures as diverse as Foucault, Herder, Hegel, Peter Bürger and Nietzsche will serve to illuminate our investigations of this wildly diverse and provocative period of artistic-political history. At the end of the semester there will be a listening exam, and students will also be expected to make a presentation on some topic relating to 19th-century music, chosen in consultation with the instructor by mid-semester. Prerequisite: None     Multi-Level | Credits: 4

A study of works of Debussy, Ravel, Stravinksy, Schoenberg, Hindemith, Bartok and others. The works will be put into a socio-historical perspective. Students present a talk on a 20th-century composition of their choice. Prerequisite: None     Multi-level | Credits: 4

A study of music from non-Western cultures and “folk” traditions of Europe and the United States using contemporary ethnomusicological concepts and procedures. Goal: To give the student an understanding of approaches to the study of music of Western and non-Western and/or traditional cultures through a series of case studies from a variety of regions and cultures. Ongoing journal of listening and observations (twice weekly), a final project and class presentation. This course entails a great deal of listening. Prerequisite: None     Multi-level | Credits: 4

The course will make an inquiry into the last century of “Western” music from an initial vantage point of five works written from 1913 to 2004: Igor Stravinski’s Rite of Spring; George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess; Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Gesange Der Jünglinge; Ornette Coleman’s The Shape of Jazz To Come; and DJ Danger Mouse’s The Grey Album. Each work will serve as a springboard for consideration of a wide range of notions that have gained special prominence in music of this time. Modes of transmission and reception, developments in technology and their effect on both production and dissemination, “high brow” vs. “low brow”, artisanship vs. industry, authenticity and fakeness, all inform these works in

different and multifaceted ways. Course work will involve focused listening to those works and others related to them, reading of related materials drawn from both primary and secondary sources and some on-going writing projects about music, as well as regular presentations of assigned topics as starting point for discussion. Prerequisite: None     Introductory | Credits: 4

This course approaches its topic by way of the idea of culture—historically shared behavior among a group of humans—here expressed as musical behavior and sound. We will consider our topic broadly, and with a particular emphasis on the theoretical aspects of its study. Thus we will consider Latin-American, African-American, and Country music, among several others, and we will do so not only by thinking of music structurally, but also as a form of behavior—thus anthropological/ethnomusicological concerns will be highlighted. There will be one textbook for the course—Michael Campbell’s And the Beat Goes On, which is accompanied by several CDs that will serve as listening material for the course. There will be several supplemental readings as well, including works by John Blacking and Laura Malvey. There will be short, weekly writing assignments, a final listening exam and a final oral presentation. Prerequisite: None     Introductory | Credits: 4

This course seeks to examine the elements of its title: the origins, theory and practice of a peculiarly Western way of understanding and examining musical practices that are not those of Western art music. We will begin by speaking of how music is and has been thought of in the culture that gives rise to the field of ethnomusicology, then move through the examination of several musical ethnographies and theoretical texts, and finally devise, as a class, a final group project that involves ethnomusicological work, the guidelines for which will be defined by the class as a whole. There will be weekly readings (some complex), most of which will be on reserve or Moodle, and students will be expected to keep a reading journal as the course progresses which will be a factor in their final grade. Vigorous class participation is necessary to successful completion of this course. Prerequisite: None     Introductory | Credits: 4

In this course we will examine jazz from two points of view: musical and historical. We will begin each session by listening to a relevant piece of music and discussing the actual building blocks that went into its creation. Over the course of the semester, we will build a limited but significant familiarity with the breadth of musical techniques involved in jazz and the critical significance of interplay. Using audio and video recordings we will then observe the evolution of jazz from its origins and follow its course through New Orleans, swing, bebop, modern jazz, the avant-garde and rock eras. We will also witness how jazz has been influenced by music from other cultures. We will learn methods to listen to jazz with a discerning ear, so that we understand the distinctions between different time periods and the characteristics of different styles. Prerequisite: None     Introductory | Credits: 4

Study and performance of great works of choral literature. Second semester concert will be of a cappella religious music from the Renaissance. Some opportunity for solo work. Course may be repeated for credit.Prerequisite: audition in first week of fall semester or consent of instructor     Multi-Level |
Credits: 2

Ensemble singing for more experienced choristers. Ability to read music and sight-sing. An exploration of repertoire from Renaissance to contemporary music for small choral ensemble. Course may be repeated for credit.Prerequisite: Audition or permission of instructor     Multi-Level | Credits: 1

This course performs an eclectic repertoire of traditional, classical and pop music. Special attention is given to the male part-songs of Franz Schubert. Course may be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: Previous choral experience or permission of instructor     Multi-Level | Credits: 1

We will sing a variety of traditional, contemporary and originally arranged material from Quebec, the Republic of Georgia, Africa, Appalachia and the like. We will work on opening the voice and listening, as well as rhythm, ensemble and improvisational skills. Ability to read music is helpful, but not required. We will perform our work at the end of the semester. Course may be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: Audition and permission of instructor     Multi-Level | Credits: 1

An opportunity for students to meet on a weekly basis to read and rehearse music from the standard chamber music repertoire. Woodwind, string, brass instruments welcome. Course may be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: Ability to play an instrument and read music    Multi-Level | Credits: 1

An ensemble for guitarists exploring repertoire for guitars and for practice of sight-reading and ensemble skills. Course may be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: Ability to read music     Introductory | Credits: 1

Jazz Ensemble presents an opportunity for students to come together to study and perform music that is improvisational in nature. Ensembles begin with simple song forms such as the blues, and evolve from there depending on the levels and desires of the students. Participants will learn the interactive skills necessary to play in jazz combos and study various jazz forms, composing skills and improvisational styles. After an ensemble has been established, we will choose a focus that suits the group, such as composing original music or studying a particular composer (Monk, Trane, Miles, Dave Holland) or a certain style (free, bebop, Latin, fusion). We will often listen to the original versions of songs as an opportunity to cultivate an appreciation for the music’s history and creativity. This class will meet with the instructor each week, as well as rehearse once a week without supervision. The Marlboro College Jazz Ensemble will stage at least one performance at the end of the semester. Course may be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: Basic musical proficiency on your instrument     Multi-Level | Credits: 3

A study of musical signatures, meter, rhythm and basic chordal structure. Prerequisite: None     Introductory | Credits: 4

Work towards proficiency in reading treble clefs; sight singing, dictation, simple and compound rhythms. Prerequisite: None     Introductory | Credits: 3

We will engage in improvised music practices and the conceptual frameworks, techniques and musical vocabulary associated with them. As a general rule, we will divide our time between improvisation in workshop format and a seminar setting with readings on and by improvisers, intensive listening to recordings and discussion of the topics—equal parts practical music making and academic enquiry. Prerequisite: Proficiency with a musical instrument or in singing; music literacy, while recommended, is not necessary     Introductory | Credits: 4

The electronic music course provides an outlet for students with or without music recording experience to both explore the historical context of electronic music production and development as well as learn some basic recording and editing techniques. This course combines lectures, demonstrations and critique sessions, with hands-on experience in computer-based audio recording, editing mixing and mastering. It offers both a practical and theoretical foundation in electronic music history, sound production and recording, while encouraging creative expression and critical analysis. Topics covered include basic techniques, field recording techniques, basic audio production, basic digital signal processing, various sound synthesis techniques, simple microphone set-ups, use of digital audio editing software, multi-track mixing and mastering techniques. Prerequisite: None     Introductory | Credits: 2

Pursuing Interests (Intermediate and Thematic Courses)

A course that meets once per week to practice sight-reading in parts. This course may be repeated each semester.  Course may be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: Ability to read music    Intermediate| Credits: 1

This course is a continuation of Music Theory Fundamentals. It deals with major and minor triads and the rules that link them. Four-part writing up to and including the dominant seventh chord. Prerequisite: Music Theory Fundamentals or permission of instructor     Intermediate| Credits: 4

Study of counterpoint in the style of Palestrina. Two-part and three-part writing. Imitation, canon and free counterpoint will be covered. Prerequisite: Theory Fundamentals; sight-singing ability or permission of instructor     Intermediate | Credits: 4

Study of contrapuntal techniques of the 18th century. Two-part invention, chorale elaborations and fugue in the style of Bach will be covered. Prerequisite: None     Intermediate | Credits: 4

A course intended for musicians interested in exploring music composition. Students should have facility on an instrument (or voice) and have some sight reading ability. Short compositions will be written and performed every week. Musical structure, notation, etc. will be discussed in relation to the student’s work. Course may be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: Ability to read music; basic theory; ability to play an instrument     Intermediate | Credits: 4

This semester the workshop will emphasize compositions for small choir or vocal ensemble. Students will write compositions weekly which will be performed by fellow students in workshop. Course may be repeated for credit. Prerequisites: Theory fundamentals, ability to sight-read and sing     Intermediate | Credits: 4

A continuation of Solfege IA. Prerequisite: Solfege IA     Intermediate | Credits: 3

Students will design and execute a series of projects or create a major work or research project. Prerequisite: Electronic Music I     Intermediate | Credits: 2

This course provides advanced electronic music students with an opportunity to use real analog subtractive synthesizers to develop an electronic music portfolio of analog synthesis studies in the form of an independent CD production. Students will investigate the architecture, history and development of several versions of subtractive analog synthesizers. They will have a chance to experiment with sound creation techniques as they familiarize themselves with some of the following models: Yamaha CS01; Paia “Fatman”; Arp Axxe; Realistic Concertmate MG-1 (Moog built); Akai AX60; Technosaurus Microcon II; Moog Voyager. Prerequisite: Instructor’s permission and successful completion of Electronic Music I     Intermediate | Credits: 2

This course is designed for students interested in creating a series of electronic compositions that trace the development of electronic music. Movements and developments studied will include musique concrète, synthesizers and sequencers, Krautrock, samples, ambient, loop electronica and industrial. Through weekly assignments, members of the class will give brief presentations of these topics as well as share their versions of them through audio projects. We will use two analog modeling synthesizers as well as software-based synthesizers, sequencers and audio editing software to create our audio projects. Prerequisite: Successful completion of ART 658, Electronic Music I, or instructor’s permission     Intermediate | Credits: Variable

In this course, we will investigate various studio and performance techniques used by electronic musicians and composers, including analog and digital synthesizer sound manipulation, editing, mixing and mastering practices, as well as live performance methods and practices. Guest lecturers/performers will supplement the syllabus. Assignments will employ hands-on application of course concepts using the computers and synthesizers in the lab. Class attendance is mandatory. Prerequisites: ART 658 and 758 or permission of instructor     Intermediate | Credits: 2

In this course, we will investigate some of the more common software and studio techniques used by electronic musicians and composers, including analog and digital synthesizer sound manipulation, sequencers, drum machines, software-based advanced editing, mixing and mastering practices, as well as live performance methods and practices. Guest lecturers/performers may supplement the syllabus. Assignments will employ hands-on application of course concepts using the computers and synthesizers in the lab, as well as vintage synthesizers assembled by the instructor. Class attendance is mandatory. (This course meets in the evening.) Prerequisites: ART 658 and 758 or permission of instructor     Intermediate | Credits: 2

To be run at the same time/place as Electronic Music II. This is for students in Electronic Music II who are more advanced.    Advanced | Credits: 2

Good Foundation for Plan

Students who wish to pursue a Plan in music should think ahead through their four years and take the sequence of music history classes, as well as basic music theory classes: Theory Fundamentals, Preliminary Harmony, Harmony and either 16th- or 18th-Century Counterpoint. Solfege (ear training) is strongly recommended. If historical musicology is of interest, at least three semesters of language study is recommended, since it is required for graduate work. Students are required to be in a performance group while on Plan in music. This requirement can be met by Chorus, Chamber Music or Madrigal singers.

By graduation, students with a Plan in music should have completed 20 credits of music history courses (non-tutorial), 20 credits in theory (non–tutorial), and six credits in performance groups (chorus, chamber, etc.). (Note: Students may place out of theory courses through examination, given on request at the beginning of each semester. Students who place out may take Harmony and/or Counterpoint their first year, or may elect to begin a music history sequence.)

Sample Tutorial Topics

Stan Charkey

  • Readings in Musical Aesthetics
  • Harmonic Analysis
  • A Study of the Fugue
  • Music Composition