Liberal Arts Courses
This course builds on the Japanese language skills developed in Japanese 3. In this course students continue developing the four language skills (speaking, listening, reading, and writing) through pattern drills, communicative activities, and tasks. Students learn 80-100 additional kanji characters. Students develop skills to learn to use complex sentences. Upon the satisfactory completion of the course, students will be able to speak, read, and write paragraphs on topics such as personal history, personal experiences, and familiar people and places. Note: This course is not available to students for whom Japanese is one of their primary languages and/or primary languages of instruction.
This course explores the ways music and musicians affect social change and peace. It is a laboratory for both study and action and intellectual and experiential learning that operates on four levels: (1) studying conflict and peacemaking from the interdisciplinary perspectives of international relations, political science, psychology, religion and spirituality, and the arts; (2) learning from artists, activists, and academics who will visit the course to share their projects and perspectives; (3) researching the ways music and peace intersect in history and society; and (4) creating a music and peace project individually and/or as a group. Contemporary music can be a powerful vehicle for expressing and transcending pain caused by violence, racism, poverty, war, and injustice. The course deepens understanding of political, ethnic, racial, national, and religious differences in our own lives and society, while experimenting with ways to respond.
Music and Society Topics allow students to choose from a variety of course themes that change each semester. In Music and Society Topics courses, students explore racial, ethnic, or collective identities, narratives, history, and/or cultural expression as expressed by artists and society. Students are presented with key terminology in the disciplines represented in music and society, such as gender and global studies. Individual course descriptions for each semester are available on the Liberal Arts department webpage.
This course is designed to introduce the students to a comprehensive study of the principal thoughts, concepts of beauty, and aesthetics in the art of India. The articulation of Indian art will reveal the relevance of the philosophies of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. The course will provide a socio-historical approach to the understanding of Indian art, dance, and music. The course will also include brief histories of Eastern Civilizations as frameworks for the understanding of their aesthetic and philosophical concepts as presented in works of art. The history and aesthetics of Indian classical and contemporary traditions of visual art, music, and dance will be introduced to the students and some comparisons to the Western tradition will be used to help students relate, contrast, and compare them to their own creative practice that will complement their art, study and in turn grasp a deeper understanding of Indian art, music, and culture.
This course provides an introduction to issues, trends, and arguments in contemporary ethnomusicology, or the cultural study of music. As we listen to a variety of musical examples from Hindipop to hip-hop, we will examine these approaches actively through discussion, listening, and small-scale research projects. We will also engage with themes including youth culture, commercial music production, and cultural hybridity. Finally, we will ask how globalization has transformed musical practices and how we understand them today.
In this course, students will explore the history of the American music industry from 1790 to the present day. Students will study the role of instrument manufacturers, sheet music publishers, and record labels in transforming a basic human activity—music making—into a commodity. Students will also examine the race, class, and gender stereotypes that shaped the creation and marketing of popular music in different eras. Additionally, the course will examine the complex relationship between technological innovation and intellectual property law, studying the industry’s efforts to combat piracy and control how consumers use its products. By focusing on such key moments in the industry’s history as the birth of sound recording and the invention of the electric guitar, students will finish the course with a deeper understanding of the legal, technological, and social structures that inform the creation and consumption of popular music.
This course focuses on musical analysis, contextual cultural explorations, and study of the sociohistorical circumstances fundamental to the emergence of Cuban music and its subsequent evolution as part of the larger cultural and social history of the Americas and the Caribbean, from about the 18th to the 21st century. In addition to an introduction to key figures in the development of Cuban music, we will analyze African-derived musical traditions rooted in ritual and religious practices (e.g. bembé, abakuá, palo) and their affects on the birth of characteristic secular urban and rural genres like contradanza, son, son montuno, comparsa, and rumba. The continuing influence of these major genres on contemporary Cuban music styles such as timba, as well as their longstanding international reach, will be investigated from the perspectives of artistic innovation and aesthetic synthesis, ongoing processes of musical hybridization, and the implicit social struggles of both musicians and cultural carriers at the core of many of these musical expressions.
This course examines the history of the music, artists, business leaders, and practices of one of the most important music genres of the 20th century: R&B/soul. Students explore the influence of the R&B/soul music personalities, and examine how they shaped business practices specific to the field and created a bluprint for the current pop music field dominated by hip-hop moguls such as Russell Simmons, Jay-Z, Sean Combs, the Williams brothers, and Lil' Wayne. The impact of the genre's artists and business people—including artists Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Stevie Wonder, Sly Stone, and Marvin Gaye; and producers Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, Teddy Riley, L.A. Reid, Babyface, Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff, Ahmet Ertegun, Berry Gordy, and Dick Griffey—will be investigated through listening, lecture, discussion and research.
This course explores the concepts of transformational power in music using musical examples from several different cultures. The desire to connect spiritually through music has been found to be virtually universal, but music can communicate that which is beyond language in both sacred and secular settings. Western culture's 21st-century influence has shown that the pervasiveness of music and emphasis on entertainment can cause us not to always recognize its power. How do we define power and music in current cultural trends? Through guided listening to recordings of music from around the world, viewing films, interviews with guest speakers and musicians, and class discussions, students explore the forms and context of music from different places around the world and make connections between music, transformation, and spirituality.
This course is a comprehensive study of influential female songwriters of the 20th century and their relationships with their cowriters and producers. Students explore the work of Dorothy Fields, Jerome Kern, Laura Nyro, David Geffen, Carole King, Gerry Goffin, Joni Mitchell, David Crosby, Diane Warren, Jack White, and others, and examine these songwriters' inspirations, as well as their impact on subsequent writers. Students also study the interaction of these songwriters with other contemporary artists and thinkers, including other musicians, writers, and visual artists. Students analyze the influence of George and Ira Gershwin, Leonard Bernstein, and doo wop on the songwriters' work, as well as the songwriters' own personal and political lives. In addition, students analyze the elements that brought these exemplary songwriters to the top of the music industry at a very competitive time and investigate the combination of factors that led to success.
This course encompasses the study of musicians who lived in Laurel Canyon, in Los Angeles, California, between the years 1964--1970, including Joni Mitchell; Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; Mama Cass; Frank Zappa, Jim Morrison; and many others. Students explore the evolution of popular music in this particular place and time. Students also examine the ways that the events and culture of the time contributed to this musical evolution, and the ways that the musical response affected culture. By exploring these connections, students come to see how songwriters engage with their environment as they attempt to write music that reaches and influences a large audience. The class emphasizes the importance of artists considering the world around them, and their place in it, as they create work that feels fulfilling to them, and also inspirational to others.
This interdisciplinary course explores how writers, filmmakers, musicians, political figures, and citizens continue to struggle with the diversity and tensions of Celtic identity. The focus of the course will vary from year to year to include a broad range of topics centered on the fusion in Irish, Scottish, and Celtic life of culture, politics, religion, history, drama and film, and music. Sample topics include films by Jim Sheridan, Neil Jordan, and Paul Greengrass; contemporary Celtic music such as Altan, Solas, and Capercaillie; literary works by such authors as Joyce, Yeats, J.M. Synge, Frank McCourt, Martin McDonagh, and Seamus Heaney; the Great Famine; emigration; the resistance to British rule; the Irish Civil War; "The Troubles" in Northern Ireland; and Scottish nationalism. Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Cape Breton, and other traditional musicians will visit the class to perform and discuss Celtic music and society.