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Music, Theater and Sound Studies

Music and Theater (MUSC and THEA)

Dr. Mark A. Pottinger, Ph.D. Musicology
Chair of the Department

The Department of Music and Theater offers a Major in Sound Studies and Minors in both Music and in Theater.

The Sound Studies Major presents a critical approach to the act of listening that is informed by a study of the socio-economic forces that shape our world. Combined with a larger liberal arts curriculum, sound studies redefines traditional music study (i.e., historical musicology, music theory and composition, music performance studies) by integrating it with the science of sound (i.e., music technology, music recording and editing, and the science of acoustics). The core areas of the major include music theory and analysis; music history and culture, including the history of audio technology; performance studies via a particular instrument such as piano, voice, or guitar; digital audio recording; and sound design. The investigation of how sound and by extension music influences who we are and what we desire to be is the main curricular focus of this program, which thus aligns sound studies with the college’s mission of social justice and community engagement.

Over the course of a 30-credit program of study, students will develop a critical awareness of the history of music and music recording technology and their impact on society; create, capture, and edit sound data in order to cultivate and apply new approaches to music performance, research, and education; and support collaborations between music, science, and technology.

Major in Sound Studies Requirements

Majors in Sound Studies must take a minimum of 30 credits in music and audio taken from the following five areas:

Music Theory: 6 credits
MUSC 220Fundamentals of Music Theory3
MUSC 320Advanced Music Theory3
Total Credits6

*Students entering with AP Music Theory credit (4 or 5 test score) can satisfy the course requirement of MUSC 220.

Music History, Culture and Analysis: 9 credits
MUSC 290Early Music History: Antiquity to 18003
MUSC 300History of Rock and Roll3
MUSC 310History of the Broadway Musical3
MUSC 323Music & Romanticism3
MUSC 325Modern Music & The Avant-Garde3
MUSC 330History of Jazz3
MUSC 380History of Sound Recording & Audio Technology3
Performance (Piano, Guitar, or Other): 3 credits*
MUSC 208Piano Skills and Techniques3
or MUSC 209 Guitar Skills and Techniques

*Three semesters of MUSC131, MUSC 132 or MUSC133 (Ensemble Performance with instrumental lessons) OR MUSC 129/130 (Vocal Instruction) may be used to satisfy the 3-credit performance requirement. Although only 3 credits are required in performance, Sound Studies Majors are encouraged to continue their study of voice, piano or guitar in more advanced areas, including MUSC 258 or MUSC 259 and MUSC 308 or MUSC 309, or MUSC 410 (Independent Study).

Digital Audio and Sound Studies: 9 credits
MUSC 390Digital Audio Recording and Editing3
MUSC 393Audio Mixing & Music Prod3
MUSC 395Acoustics & Sound Control3
MUSC 375Internship At a Music Recording Studio can satisfy 3 credits3

Senior Project/Capstone: 3 credits*

MUSC 405Senior Seminar: Contemporary Sound Design (Prerequisites: MUSC 380, MUSC 393, MUSC 395)3

A minimum final grade of C is required for courses to satisfy all Major requirements. Majors must have a contract signed and approved by the Department Chair no later than their junior year.

Minors in Music and Theater

The minor in Music and the minor in Theater are both designed to supplement majors in numerous disciplines. In addition to examining broad historical and cultural contexts, courses provide opportunities for individual creativity and performance as well as an introduction to the theory and technology shaping contemporary theater and music today. To fulfill certain areas of the minor, students may elect to participate in one of the many award-winning ensembles on campus, including the MC Orchestra, MC Jazz Band, MC Singers, MC Pep Band, MC Pipes and Drums Corps, and the MC Players (see Clubs and Organizations).

A minor in Music or in Theater is an ideal choice for a variety of careers. In addition to preparing students for advanced training in music and theatrical performance, the minors offer career opportunities for actors, historians, sociologists, theater managers, dramaturges, psychologists, teachers, playwrights, copyright lawyers, non-for-profit business managers, journalists, librarians, sound engineers, stage designers, and advertising executives. Minors in the Department of Music and Theater may take advantage of several internship programs in New York City that give students an introduction to the professional working environment in both the music and theater industries.

Minor in Music Requirements

MUSC 150Roots: Music3
or MUSC 216 Introduction to World Music
MUSC 208Piano Skills and Techniques *3
or MUSC 209 Guitar Skills and Techniques
MUSC 220Fundamentals of Music Theory3
Electives (300 Level or above)6
Total Credits15

*Three semesters of MUSC 131 (MC Singers), MUSC 132 (MC Orchestra), or MUSC 133 (MC Jazz Band), may serve as a substitute.

Minor in Theater Requirements

THEA 190Acting Skills and Techniques3
THEA 260Introduction to Theater3
MUSC 310History of the Broadway Musical3
or ENGL 400 The Theater and the City
Electives (at least 3 credits at 300 level or above)6
Total Credits15

Beyond the full list of three-credit THEA courses listed in the course catalog, ENGL 205 (Reading & Writing the Theater), ENGL 276 (Introduction to Drama), ENGL 329 (Shakespeare: Comedies, Histories, and Hamlet), ENGL 330 (Shakespeare II), ENGL 361 (Masterpieces of British Drama), ENGL 381 (Masterpieces of American Drama), and three semesters of THEA 134 (MC Players) may serve as a Theater elective.

A minimum final grade of C is required for courses to satisfy all minor requirements. Minors must have a contract signed and approved by the Department Chair.

Music Courses

MUSC 091. Music Elective. 3 Credits.

MUSC 129. Beginning Vocal Instruction. 1 Credit.

The elements of vocal production, breathing, control and proper placement of the human voice. May be repeated or combined with ART 130 for a maximum of three credits.

MUSC 130. Advanced Vocal Instruction. 1 Credit.

Continuation of MUSC 129. Study of more advanced vocal literature. May be repeated or combined with MUSC 129 for a maximum of three credits. Prerequisite: MUSC 129 or permission of instructor.

MUSC 131. Manhattan College Singers. 1 Credit.

The study and performance of works for mixed vocal ensemble. May be repeated for credit. A public concert is given each term. The student must attend all rehearsals, sectionals, and the final performance for credit. Two hours a week. All students who participate in the ensemble for credit receive ten individual lessons from the director or an outside professional, which are graded for individual development, attendance, and artistic maturity.

MUSC 132. Manhattan College Orchestra. 1 Credit.

The study and performance of works for string and wind orchestra. May be repeated for credit. A public concert is given each term. A short audition is required. The student must attend all rehearsals, sectionals, and the final performance for credit. Two hours a week. All students who participate in the ensemble for credit receive ten individual lessons from the director or an outside professional, which are graded for individual development, attendance, and artistic maturity.

MUSC 133. Manhattan College Jazz Band. 1 Credit.

The study and performance of works for jazz ensemble. May be repeated for credit. A public concert is given each term. A short audition is required. The student must attend all rehearsals, sectionals, and the final performance for credit. Two hours a week. All students who participate in the ensemble for credit receive ten individual lessons from the director or an outside professional, which are graded for individual development, attendance, and artistic maturity.

MUSC 150. Roots: Music. 3 Credits.

An intensive and critical examination of major works of music from the medieval period to the present that contribute to an understanding of the modern world.

MUSC 151. Roots:Music-1st Year Seminar. 3 Credits.

An intensive and critical examination of major works of music from the medieval period to the present that contribute to an understanding of the modern world. First Year Seminar.

MUSC 208. Piano Skills and Techniques. 3 Credits.

A course for those with much, little or no previous experience designed to promote the understanding of different styles of music through the study of the piano. The course includes instruction in piano techniques, ear training, music theory, sight reading, and music composition.

MUSC 209. Guitar Skills and Techniques. 3 Credits.

A course for those with much, little or no previous experience, designed to promote the understanding of different styles of music through the study of the guitar. The course includes instruction in guitar technique, ear training, music theory, sight reading and music composition.

MUSC 216. Introduction to World Music. 3 Credits.

A select study of the world's musical traditions from regions in Africa, the Americas, the Middle East, and South and East Asia. Through listening and class discussion, students will become familiar with various forms of music making in their historical and cultural contexts.

MUSC 220. Fundamentals of Music Theory. 3 Credits.

A study of the rudiments of music and the basic principles of harmony. Topics include rhythm, musical notation, scales, key signatures, intervals, triads, seventh chords, harmonic function, harmonic progression, and elementary counterpoint. Activities include simple composition, harmonization, analysis, ear-training and dictation drills.

MUSC 240. Catholic Mass and its Music. 3 Credits.

A Catholic Studies course surveying the structure of the Roman Mass in relation to the major reforms and debates throughout the history of the Catholic faith, including the Church's transition during the Carolingian Renaissance, the Council of Trent, the Thirty-Years Was, the reforms of Pope Pius X, and the Second Vatican Council. Ultimately, students will engage in the role of music in faith formation and how the major reforms in the Church's history have influenced the worship music of today.

MUSC 258. Piano Skills & Techniques II. 3 Credits.

A continuation of MUSC208, students will study increasingly sophisticated piano works, further develop practice skills with metronome and finger technique, and integrate principles learned in fundamentals of music theory. The course will also explore use of the dynamic pedal (more complex than one may think) and tonalities created by its use. Pre-requisites: MUSC 208 and MUSC 220.

MUSC 259. Guitar Skills & Techniques II. 3 Credits.

A continuation of MUSC209, students will study increasingly sophisticated guitar works, further develop guitar fretboard placement beyond first position, both in tenns of sight-reading and chord movement, as well as integrate principles learned in fundamentals of music theory. Pre-requisites: MUSC 209 and MUSC 220.

MUSC 290. Early Music History: Antiquity to 1800. 3 Credits.

Examines the repertoire and history of Western music from Ancient Greece to 1800. The course will work to familiarize the student with early modal scales and rhythmic practices, as well as the repertoire that establishes the foundations of functional harmony in Western Music. Students are expected to read music. Pre-requisites: MUSC 208 or MUSC 209 or MUSC 220.

MUSC 300. History of Rock and Roll. 3 Credits.

Presents a thoughtful approach to the appreciation and understanding of the history of rock and roll. Students will be introduced to a variety of factors that influenced the creation of this music, including historical, social, philosophical, and aesthetic influences. The musician's intent, working conditions, and biographical factors will also be discussed as they pertain to the creative process. Students will reinforce and expand their analytical skills by reading about and discussing the various styles of music combined to create rock and roll, including blues, country, bluegrass, and gospel music.

MUSC 303. Rock & Pop Album Composition. 3 Credits.

Presents a semester-long study of a particular rock or pop album of historical significance to the world of American or British popular music. Past albums studied in the course include "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" (The Beatles, 1967), "Revolver" (The Beatles, 1966), "Abbey Road" (The Beatles, 1969), and "Tapestry" (Carole King, 1971). All students will be required to read music and have a general understanding of functional harmony and analysis. The analysis and discussion of each song on the album will culminate into a final performance by all members of the class with faculty from the Performing Arts Department and musicians from The Manhattan College Orchestra and The Manhattan College Jazz Band.

MUSC 305. Music in France: Paris. 3 Credits.

An on-site study of different aspects of the political, socio-economic, and cultural life of France as witnessed through the music of Paris and the surrounding region from Ancient Gaul to present-day France. The course is offered in France during the summer.

MUSC 308. Piano Skills & Techniques III. 3 Credits.

A continuation of MUSC258, students will study increasingly sophisticated piano works, further develop practice skills, and integrate principles learned in advanced music theory and digital audio recording and editing. The course will also work to develop skills in accompaniment and music collaboration within a studio environment. Pre-requisites: MUSC 258 or MUSC 320 or MUSC 390.

MUSC 309. Guitar Skills & Techniques III. 3 Credits.

A continuation of MUSC259, students will study increasingly sophisticated guitar works, further develop practice skills, and integrate principles learned in advanced music theory and digital audio recording and editing. The course will also work to develop skills in accompaniment and music collaboration within a studio environment. Pre-requisites: MUSC 258 or MUSC 320 or MUSC 390.

MUSC 310. History of the Broadway Musical. 3 Credits.

Presents the history of the Broadway musical within the larger context of staged musical productions, from the beginning of operetta to the current trends happening on Broadway today. The primary focus of study is the development of musical theater in New York City and its implications for the genre worldwide. Students will learn about various musical and theatrical concepts, as well as the political and socio-economic concerns of the Broadway musical of the past and of today. The opportunity for field study will be encouraged through backstage tours, attendance to current productions on Broadway, and lecture presentations at various theaters or other relevant locations in the city. Excursion Fee: $150.

MUSC 320. Advanced Music Theory. 3 Credits.

A study of the advanced principles of harmony, rhythm, and musical structure. In addition to Western music of the common practice period (1600-1900), contemporary vernacular styles, including blues, gospel, rock, jazz , and electronica, will be the primary focus for this course. Prerequisite: MUSC 220.

MUSC 323. Music & Romanticism. 3 Credits.

In the nineteenth century, U.S. and European composers explored music's potential to express deeper and more powerful emotions than any other time in Western history, including those of unconscious dream states. The old "Classical" musical structures (e.g., the music of Haydn and Mozart) began to crumble under the weight of this emphasis on feeling. Understanding how this came about will be one of the main objectives for this course. Although the primary focus of this course will be the rhetorical properties of sound, a reading knowledge of music is not necessary for success in the course.

MUSC 325. Modern Music & The Avant-Garde. 3 Credits.

This course presents an introduction to Modern music from the end of the 19th century to the present. Throughout the semester, we will examine the many artistic movements in modernisms wake, including impressionism, expressionism, American idealism, and others as well as the rise of the avant-garde and the development of computer-generated music. This course includes visits to Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

MUSC 330. History of Jazz. 3 Credits.

This course investigates the evolution of jazz from its origins in late 19th-century New Orleans to its present-day manifestation as an international musical idiom. With emphasis on contextualization, specific focus is directed to the diverse but interconnected issues of race, culture, politics, commerce, and technology. Equal focus is directed to the music itself. Through the practice of critical listening, students will be conditioned to recognize various jazz styles and their constituent (musical) parts related to rhythm, improvisation, harmony, form, and instrumentation.

MUSC 345. Psychology of Music. 3 Credits.

Presents an overview of leading theories in the areas of music cognition, the perception of pitch, melody, harmony, and rhythm, the effect on emotion, the origins of music, and the nature of musical performance and composition. This course is designed to provide a working knowledge of the processes involved in listening to and creating music.

MUSC 375. Internship. 3 Credits.

Students participate in an off-campus training experience closely related to their area of study. Frequent meetings with the internship advisor and a paper are required. Internships are arranged through the Center for Career Development and must be approved in advance by the chair and the Dean of the School of Arts.

MUSC 380. History of Sound Recording & Audio Technology. 3 Credits.

Examines the history, culture, and aesthetics of music and technology as deployed in experimental and popular music from the 19th century to the present. The course includes an instrument lab to allow students a critical tactile understanding of various musical instruments in relation to sound production, texture, and timbre. Materials Fee: $75.

MUSC 390. Digital Audio Recording and Editing. 3 Credits.

An introduction to music and digital technology designed to help students gain familiarity with the language of music editing, recording, and production. Although the Apple-based program Logic will be the main software used for recording musical and other sonic schemes, ProTools, Finale, and GarageBand will also be used. Students will have access to Apple MacIntels, MIDI Controllers, Condenser Microphones, Monitor Speakers, Digital Pianos, and DigiDesign Mbox2 Sound Modules. Some minor musical knowledge is highly recommended. Materials Fee: $100.

MUSC 393. Audio Mixing & Music Prod. 3 Credits.

An advanced course designed to elevate students to a professional level of audio mixing and music production. The course will be taught in a Pro Too ls environment, while Logic Pro and Ableton Live will be used for post-production. Students will have access to Apple Maclntels, MIDI Controllers, Condenser Microphones, Monitor Speakers, Digital Pianos, and DigiDesign Sound Modules. Pre-requisites: MUSC 208 or MUSC 209 or MUSC 220 or MUSC 390. Materials Fee: $100.

MUSC 395. Acoustics & Sound Control. 3 Credits.

Examines the science and theory of acoustics via sound production and capture in various mediums and in various controlled spaces. This course is designed to introduce the fundamentals of acoustics, with a focus on sound capture and control for recorded music and live performance. Prerequisites: MATH 100 or MATH 151 and MUSC 380 or MUSC 390.

MUSC 400. Special Topics: in Music. 3 Credits.

Special Topics: Music: "An intensive study of a single composer, genre, period, culture, or issue facing music scholarship today. The subject studied will vary from semester to semester. Previous special topic courses include "History of Opera," "Popular Music Criticism and Journalism," "Issues in Contemporary Popular Music," "Gender and Sexuality in Popular Music," and "Music of the Caribbean".".

MUSC 405. Senior Seminar: Contemporary Sound Design. 3 Credits.

The capstone course for the sound studies major. Students explore the contemporary theories within acoustic studies, sound recording, instrument construction, experimental music composition, architecture, and performance practice that are a necessary resource for sound designers and sound consultants today. Prerequisites: MUSC 380, MUSC 393, and MUSC 395.

MUSC 410. Independent Study. 3 Credits.

Individual study of a major composer or an aesthetic issue facing music scholarship today with a member of the department. Open only to students who secure the approval of the Chair of the Department and the consent of the individual instructor. A student may elect this course only once for credit towards the Minor in Music.

Theater Courses

THEA 134. The Manhattan College Players. 1 Credit.

The study and performance of theatrical works for small and large ensembles. A public performance is given each term, along with a number of cabaret and/or vaudeville presentations. Prior theatrical experience is not required. May be repeated for credit (a maximum of three credits). Three hours a week. All students who participate in the ensemble for credit receive ten individual lessons from the director or an outside professional, which are graded for individual development, attendance, and artistic maturity.

THEA 190. Acting Skills and Techniques. 3 Credits.

Focuses on the basic techniques of sensory awareness, memory, improvisation, voice, character study and role preparation with emphasis on the works of Constantin Stanislavsky. Special projects include presentations and rehearsal techniques for scene study. Excursion Fee: $150.

THEA 250. Modern Dance:Thought & Motion. 3 Credits.

Introduces the art of the modern dance and topics that shape current thinking about the purpose and value of dance in Western society. Dance topics include modernity and autonomy, community and agency, American idealism, spirituality and the body, and post-modernism and movement. Although no dance experience is necessary, students are expected to actively participate in the creation of dance throughout the course. Course is cross-listed in Kinesiology. Excursion Fee: $75.00.

THEA 260. Introduction to Theater. 3 Credits.

Provides an introduction to the analysis, research, and production of the theatrical arts and performance studies. Students will read performance texts from a variety of cultures and traditions as well as attend live performances. Lectures provide context from theater history, theory, and practice to enable nuanced reading and understanding of play texts and performances. Furthermore, students will learn about the process of creating theater (including acting, design, directing, dramaturgical work, the rehearsal process, etc.), as well as analyze and discuss plays by exploring their historical and social contexts. Excursion Fee: $150.

THEA 350. Contemporary Dance Composition. 3 Credits.

Introduces principles of contemporary dance and practical methods that explore the craft of choreography. Dance topics include improvisation, Alexander Technique, motif development, randomness and aleatoric dance, movement and language, and the relationship between music and dance. Some dance experience is highly recommended as students are expected to progress quickly throughout the course. Course is cross-listed in Kinesiology. Excursion Fee: $75.

THEA 375. Internship. 3 Credits.

Students participate in an off-campus training experience closely related to their area of study. Frequent meetings with the internship advisor and a paper are required. Internships are arranged through the Center for Career Development and must be approved in advance by the chair and the Dean of School of Arts.

THEA 400. Spl Tpc: In Theater. 3 Credits.

An intensive study of a playwright, choreographer, director, genre, period, or issue facing theater scholarship today. The subject studied will vary semester to semester. A student may elect this course only once for credit towards the Minor in Theater.

THEA 405. Independent Study. 3 Credits.

Individual study of a major playwright, director, or aesthetic issue facing theater scholarship today with a member of the department. Open only to students who secure the approval of the Chair of the Department and the consent of the individual instructor. A student may elect this course only once for credit towards the Minor in Theater.