In the College of Arts and Sciences .
R. Moseley, chair; X. Bjerken, director of undergraduate studies; B. Piekut, director of graduate studies; C. Appert, X. Bjerken, B. Boettcher, M. Fall, L. Fitz Gibbon, J. Haines-Eitzen, R. Harris-Warrick, A. Hicks, R. Isaacs, A. Kim, C. Kim, A. Lewandowski, A. Madrid, E. Marshall, P. Merrill, C. Miller, R. Moseley, M. Papalexandri Alexandri, P. Pastore, J. Pepinsky, J. Peraino, R. Sierra, M. Sparhuber, J. Spinazzola, S. Spinelli, L. Tayeb, M. Yampolsky, D. Yearsley, N. Zaslaw. Emeritus: M. Bilson, A. Groos, M. Hatch, S. Monosoff, D. Randel, D. Rosen, S. Tucker, J. Webster
Musical Performance and Concerts:
Musical performance is an integral part of Cornell’s cultural life and an essential part of its undergraduate academic programs in music. The department encourages music-making through its offerings in individual instruction and through musical organizations and ensembles that are directed and trained by members of the faculty. Students from all colleges and departments of the university join with music majors and minors in all of these ensembles:
- Chamber Singers
- Glee Club
- Brazilian Ensemble Deixa Sambar
- Chamber Flute
- Chamber Music Ensembles
- Chamber Orchestra
- Cornell Hip-Hop Collective
- Gamelan Ensemble
- Performing Chamber Wind Music
- Jazz Band
- Jazz Repertory Ensemble
- Jazz Combos
- Music Improvisation Ensemble
- Percussion Group
- Steel Band
- Symphony Orchestra
- Wind Symphony
Information about requirements and conditions for academic credit can be found in the following listings for the Department of Music. Announcements of auditions for vocal and instrumental ensembles are posted at music.cornell.edu/performance during registration each fall semester and, where appropriate, each spring semester as well.
The university is also home to many student-run musical organizations not affiliated with the Department of Music, including the Big Red Marching Band and Big Red Pep Band, and several a cappella groups. Information is available directly from each group.
The Department of Music and the Faculty Committee on Music sponsor more than 140 formal and informal concerts each year by Cornell’s ensembles, faculty, and students and by distinguished visiting artists. The great majority of these concerts are free and open to the public. Lectures and concerts are listed at music.cornell.edu. Additional information is available through the events office (607-255-4760).
Cornell faculty members offer individual instruction in voice, organ, harpsichord, piano and fortepiano, violin, viola, cello, percussion, and some brass and woodwind instruments to those students advanced enough to do college-level work in these instruments. Lessons are available by audition only. They may be taken for .5 credit (MUSIC 3511 and MUSIC 3512 ), 1 credit (MUSIC 3513 ), 2 credits (MUSIC 3514 ) or 3 credits (MUSIC 4501 ). For more information, please go to music.cornell.edu.
Lessons for beginners: The Department of Music does not offer lessons for beginners.
Auditions: Auditions are held at the beginning of each semester for lessons for advanced students. Contact the music department office in 101 Lincoln Hall for information.
Fees: For information about the fee structure for lessons, see the department’s web site or contact the music department office. All fees are nonrefundable once lessons begin, even if the course is subsequently dropped.
Scholarships: Music majors are granted a waiver of lesson fees per semester. All scholarships are intended only for lessons in the student’s primary performing medium. Scholarship/registration forms, available in the music department office, are to be returned to the office within the first three weeks of classes.
Individual Instruction in Musical Composition:
Analogously to private instruction in performance, Cornell faculty members offer private instruction in musical composition. Music majors may receive a waiver in lesson fees, just as for performance lessons. For nonmajors, fees are structured just as for performance study. Students may register for these courses in successive semesters or year although individual instruction may not be available during semester where classroom composition courses are offered simultaneously.
The faculty members authorized to supervise composition study, both within Cornell and outside, are K. Ernste, P. Merrill, and R. Sierra.
Prerequisites: Satisfactory completion of MUSIC 2101 .
Auditions: Students must present a portfolio of previous compositions in order to assist the faculty in determining placement.
Musical Organizations and Ensembles:
Students may participate in musical organizations and ensembles throughout the year. Permission of the instructor is required, and admission is by audition only (usually at the beginning of each semester), except that the World Music Choir and the Cornell Gamelan Ensemble are open to all students without prior audition. Registration is permitted in two of these courses simultaneously and students may register in successive years, but no student may earn more than 8 credits in these courses. Membership in these musical organizations and ensembles is also open to qualified students who wish to participate.
The Music Major:
The Department of Music offers broad training in the study, creation, and performance of a broad spectrum of music. The music major provides avenues for students to capitalize on the strengths, experiences, and training that they bring to the program while providing a broad exposure to unfamiliar sounds, traditions, and ways of thinking and behaving musically. Course offerings reflect the breadth of faculty expertise; regularly offered topics range across global and local musical practices and activities (Western art music in all periods, historical and contemporary Latin American music, African and Afro-Caribbean music, Javanese music, jazz, rock and pop music, improvisation, experimentalism, sound art, electronic music, digital game music, performance practices, etc.).
The music major is a Bachelor of Arts degree that trains students in a variety of skills within a liberal arts environment. The degree equips students with the specific skills for a wide range of career paths within the music industry and the academic study of music; our emphasis on music as a historically situated cultural technique – as a human activity entangled with personal identities, social structures, psychological states, and aesthetic ideals – also provides students with an array of analytic, historical, argumentative, and creative skills that provide a solid foundation for careers in business, law, and other professional endeavors.
As a music major, you will take courses in three areas: Materials and Techniques, History and Culture, and Collaborative Performance and a minimum of 35 credits are necessary to complete the major. You will also have the opportunity to specialize in a sub-area by pursuing a sequence of courses that investigate topics in more detail. Our many ensembles provide practical experience and training in collaborative music making, and offer regular opportunities to get involved in arts outreach and arts organizing in both local and international contexts.
Upon completion of the degree, all music majors will have acquired:
- training in musical creativity across a spectrum of performance traditions, media, and techniques
- an ability to comprehend, analyze, and synthesize historical sources, scholarly arguments, and sounds from a variety of historical periods and global contexts;
- the listening skills necessary for analyzing organized sounds, participating in collaborative music making, negotiating improvisatory contexts, and engaging social, cultural, and acoustic difference;
- an ability to think complexly, creatively, and sensitively about cultural difference;
- an ability to communicate the results of musical practices and scholarly activities in various written forms, musical performances, public presentations, and other audio-visual media; and
- training in social dynamics and communication through ensemble work and small classroom settings
Incoming students who intend to major in music should schedule a Pre-Major Advising Consultation during Orientation Week by signing up at the Arts & Science Open House or by emailing the Director of Undergraduate Studies. At this consultation, students will discuss their musical background and demonstrate their level of experience with theory and performance.
Students who decide to pursue the music major after their Freshman Year should contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies to devise a program of study.
We recommend, but do not require, students to enroll in MUSIC 1101 - Elements of Music in the fall semester of their Freshman Year. This course introduces students to the range of concepts and issues in the field of music, and familiarizes students with many members of our faculty.
Potential majors should enroll in MUSIC 2201 - Introduction to Music Studies in the Spring, which is a required course for the major.
MUSIC 2101 - Theory, Materials and Techniques I and MUSIC 2102 - Theory, Materials and Techniques II form a two-semester sequence that will generally be taken in the Sophomore Year. Potential majors should also attend the first meeting of MUSIC 2101 in the Fall semester, when a music theory diagnostic exam will be administered. This will indicate whether students should proceed with MUSIC 2101 , which is required for the major, or switch into MUSIC 1105 , in which case they should plan to take MUSIC 2101 in Fall 2020.
Students in the College of Arts and Sciences usually declare their majors during their sophomore year. Prerequisites for admission to the major are completion of MUSIC 2101 - Theory, Materials and Techniques I and MUSIC 2201 - Introduction to Music Studies with an overall grade of B or better in each course. In consultation with the director of undergraduate studies, students are expected to have chosen an advisor from among the department faculty before acceptance into the major, which is decided by the faculty as a whole. Once admitted to the major, students design their program of study with their advisor.
Music majors must complete the Core Curriculum plus at least two electives. The electives allow students to focus in diverse areas, such as composition, performance, jazz studies, Western art music, Asian music, vernacular musics, etc. Elective courses are generally numbered 3000-4000 and are 4 credits. A selection of 1000-2000 courses can be enhanced with additional content and an extra credit by combining the course with MUSIC 3901 - Supplemental Study in Music : students should consult the relevant instructor for information on this option’s availability and the extra work it entails. Students intending to pursue graduate study or professional work in music should consult with their advisors about taking further advanced courses in addition to the two required electives.
The following courses are pre-requisites for the major. A grade of B or better in needed to qualify.
Core Curriculum Requirements:
Note: In addition to the major requirements outlined below, all students must meet the college graduation requirements .
Majors are expected to meet the following curriculum requirements with a grade of C or better:
2. Materials & Techniques
4. Collaborative Performance
Two semesters of Collaborative Performance in a musical organization or ensemble is required. If the organization or ensemble is not sponsored by the Department of Music, participation must be registered and overseen via a 1-credit independent study with a faculty member. (Courses are typically numbered 3601-3660 and 4601-4651.)
In addition to the above required courses, majors must take either one further 3000 or 4000-level elective (History & Culture, Materials & Techniques, or a suitable course cross-listed in another department), or 4 credits of Individual Instruction (MUSIC 3511 , MUSIC 3512 , MUSIC 3513 , MUSIC 3514 and/or MUSIC 4501 ).
When to Take Courses:
A form is kept in the department office through which music majors and their advisors keep track of the student’s progress through the music curriculum. The ideal sequence of required classroom courses for a music major would be as follows:
Freshman Year: 1000/2000-level H&C or M&T course (preferably MUSIC 1101 in the Fall); MUSIC 2201 in the Spring
Sophomore Year: MUSIC 2101 (Fall); MUSIC 2102 (Spring); MUSIC 2207 , or MUSIC 2208 , or MUSIC 2209
Junior Year: MUSIC 3211 ; one 3000/4000 H&C or M&T
Senior Year: Remaining 3000/4000 H&C or M&T; additional 3000/4000 elective (if student does not take 4 credits of Individual Instruction)
Any year: Collaborative Performance (at least two semesters)
Aside from this particular sequence, there are many paths though the Music Major. Students should discuss the possibilities with their advisors or the Director of Undergraduate Studies.
Completing the music major with honors offers outstanding music students the opportunity for advanced, independent research that results in an approximately 50-page scholarly thesis or an extended music-making project. For many students, the sustained, original work undertaken for honors over the course of their senior year is the most challenging and rewarding study they pursue as undergraduates at Cornell. Successfully completing honors provides you with an extended piece of critical writing or portfolio that can be of great value to your applications to graduate programs and also constitutes a substantial scholarly or creative achievement in its own right.
Honors projects require preparation, dedication, enthusiasm, and the ability to work independently. They can be difficult to sustain and bring to completion. It is important to recognize that they are not for everyone: as an alternative, taking two 3000-or 4000 level classes in the music department during your final year at Cornell might provide a more structured but equally satisfying course of study.
Students who are interested in pursuing an honors project should talk to their faculty advisor and other department faculty members as early as possible, and no later than the beginning of the Spring semester of your Junior year. They should also attend the Department of Music’s annual Honors Showcase (held during Study Week), which features presentations of honors projects by current Seniors.
For more information about honors, please visit the Music Department’s website.
In addition to its performing, instructional, and concert activities, the department offers numerous courses for nonmajors, many of which carry no prerequisites and presuppose no previous formal training in music. Consult the following course listings, and for further information consult the Director of Undergraduate Studies or the department office, 101 Lincoln Hall (607-255-4097).
The Music Minor:
Admission to the minor must be declared no later than the second semester of the junior year.
- Submit the online Music Minor Application Form.
- Please submit the application by the end of the Junior year.
- Based on your interests, select and obtain the agreement of a faculty member who is willing to serve as the minor advisor.
After the start of the seventh semester, admission is by petition only. Such students should attach a statement outlining their credentials and reasons for wishing to pursue a minor in Music.
All students must submit an exit statement to the advisor and the DUS articulating the intellectual interests that were developed by work done for the minor and how his or her program of musical studies reflects a coherent learning agenda.
Those enrolled in the Music minor are considered members of the Music department and are encouraged to participate in all program activities.
The following courses are required to fulfill the undergraduate minor in Music:
1. Theory, Materials, and Techniques (3-5 credits)
At least one three to five credit course in the category of Theory, Materials, and Techniques.
2. History and Culture (3-4 credits)
At least one three to four credit course in the category of History and Culture.
3. Performance (3 credits)
At least three credits of courses in the category of Collaborative Performance and/or Individual Instruction. At least two credits must come from Collaborative Performance courses. Students may earn the remaining credit from a course in either category.
4. Electives (8 credits)
Eight credits from any other Theory, Materials, and Techniques, History and Culture, or Collaborative Performance courses. A maximum of five of these credits may be earned from Collaborative Performance courses.
Computing in the Arts Undergraduate Minor:
A minor in Computing in the Arts with an emphasis on music is available both to music majors and to students majoring in other subjects. This program remains open for current students (those due to graduate between 2020 and 2023), but will cease to be available for students due to graduate after 2023. Students should contact the Director, Graeme Bailey, for advising about the minor.
Music Library. The Sidney Cox Library of Music and Dance in Lincoln Hall has an excellent collection containing periodicals, books, scores, parts, sound and video recordings, microforms, rare materials, and electronic resources. Its depth and breadth serve the needs of a wide variety of users on the campus and its listening and video viewing facilities are open to all members of the Cornell community.
Concert Halls. The Department of Music sponsors more than 140 concerts annually. Cornell’s principal concert halls are Bailey Hall Auditorium (about 1,400 seats), Sage Chapel (about 800), and Barnes Hall Auditorium (about 280).
Rehearsal Spaces and Practice Rooms. Departmental ensembles rehearse primarily in Lincoln Hall, Bailey Hall, Barnes Hall, and Sage Chapel. Twenty-six studios in Lincoln Hall are available for individual practice by pianists, vocalists, and instrumentalists who are members of the Cornell community. Of these, seven have grand pianos, five have upright pianos, and one has percussion instruments.
For information about access to the practice rooms, see music.cornell.edu/practice-rooms or contact the department office.
Instruments. Six concert grand pianos are available for performances in the various concert halls, plus several historical keyboard instruments, including fortepianos, harpsichords, and clavichords. Four distinctive organs are available to qualified individuals for lessons and practice. In addition, the music department owns a limited number of string, wind, and percussion instruments that may be used by members of the department’s ensembles.
Cornell Electroacoustic Music Center (CEMC). The Cornell Electroacoustic Music Center comprises three project studios, a 14-workstation teaching lab in the Music Library, and a primary multichannel studio. Several live performance and recording rigs are also available, from hand-held to solid state. A combination of commercial and open-source software solutions service an array of student and faculty interests, including sound manipulation and sound specialization, live performance, multimedia, intelligent music systems (adaptive and algorithmic composition), music notation, sound art and experimentation, and high-resolution recording. The center operates its own web server with space for web hosting, data backup, and remote login. CEMC’s facilities are state-of-the-art and can accommodate almost any creative inclination.