The string department offers a broad array of diverse courses.
Contemporary Arranging and Performing For Strings
Strings playing covers of non-string based popular music. Students pick the repertoire and write the arrangements.
Old Time Fiddle Ensemble
This ensemble explores ways to incorporate regional fiddle styles (including Appalachian/old-time, Celtic, Scandinavian, and related traditions) into varied small string ensemble formats, using extended concepts of modal harmony and contrapuntal strategies. Students will play and develop arrangements of traditional repertoire, the work of contemporary fiddle music composers and tunesmiths, and their own compositions in both traditional and experimental neotraditional styles.
Global String Ensemble
This ensemble will examine the way string instruments and improvisation are used in a variety of musical cultures including Greek, Bulgarian, Hungarian, klezmer, Romanian, and Charanga.
Rock Strings Ensemble
This ensemble offers string players the opportunity to study and play past and current rock violin styles, including the music of Jerry Goodman, Sugar Cane Harris, Jean-Luc Ponty, and Boyd Tinsley. Students will listen, transcribe, and perform weekly in a variety of rock violin styles, including specific use of effects. We will also use the work of great rock guitarists, such as Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton, as templates.
Improvisational String Ensemble
An ensemble consisting of a string quartet plus rhythm section. Emphasis will be on ensemble playing skills and improvisational vocabulary in diverse contemporary idioms. Incorporation of standard jazz vocabulary with that of other common improvisational string idioms, such as world/fusion, Western swing, and various traditional styles such as Appalachian- and Texas-style fiddling, Celtic music, and bluegrass. Instrumentation: violins, viola, cello, acoustic guitar, acoustic bass, plus optional rhythm section instruments such as hand percussion, mandolin, banjo, etc.
Classically trained students will use their classical skills to improvise in the classical vernacular. Topics will include creating a melody, accompanying that melody, and improvising counterpoint and harmony, all within familiar classical forms and using familiar classical vocabulary.
Contemporary Styles String Quartet
This ensemble offers study and performance of string quartets in a variety of contemporary styles. It provides students the opportunity to learn how to expand the historically and musically significant string quartet genre to a wide variety of contemporary styles. The same topics that occupy any working classical quartet (for example, intonation, ensemble, stylistic integrity) will apply to this contemporary styles quartet. However, the musical parameters of each style will determine what exactly is needed to give an authentic performance of the style being studied. Listening skills in the ensemble, instrumental skills needed for the style, and performance skills will be stressed and valued.
String Reading Lab
This class will teach string players how to be fluent and expressive readers of standard music notation. It involves learning how to process both the quantitative aspects (pitch, rhythm, and form) and the qualitative properties (phrasing, dynamics, articulation, etc.) of written music. Using a variety of styles, students in this class will work on recognizing common pitch patterns, rhythmic motives, and road maps (repeats, da capos, codas, parallel and contrast phrase structures, and typical harmonic progressions). Ear training skills will be emphasized to develop the strong inner hearing crucial for good reading. Upon completion of this course students will have improved their ability to read standard music notation fluently and musically in a variety of styles.
Advanced improvisational concepts and their application in strings. Reading charts with jazz phrasing, higher-level bowing, and left-hand development. Instrumentation: violin, viola.
Sound Reinforcement Techniques for Strings
This course provides an understanding of the technology available for effective performances in nonacoustic situations. Topics covered include pickups, microphones, electric instruments, amplifiers, effects, stage sound/monitors, mixers, recording acoustic instruments, recording electric instruments, and how to take care of your acoustic instrument.
Recording Techniques for String Players
This is an interdivisional course that offers students in the String Department, Professional Writing Division, and Music Production and Engineering Department insight into how to operate most efficiently in the recording studio. The course will be divided into three or four sections of three weeks each. In each section, all participants will meet in the recording studio to record one or more works written by a writing division student for strings, or strings with other tracks previously recorded.
String Class for Music Education Majors
Functional study of string instruments. Technical fundamentals of class instruction in music education. Use of representative elementary/secondary school methods and materials.