Current and Recent Courses

  • Music 227/228, “Introduction to the Perception and Cognition of Music” (with lab)
    Covers basic issues in auditory perception and cognition with an emphasis on the perception of musical pitch, including sensory discrimination, categorical perception, roughness and dissonance, absolute pitch, and auditory streaming. Other topics covered include the processing of language and music, and emotional responses to music. View the Music 227/228 syllabus.
  • CGSC 396, “Directed Research in Cognitive Science”
    Senior majors in cognitive studies work with the director to develop a thesis proposal for their comps project. View the CGSC 396 syllabus.
  • Music 110, “Theory I: The Principles of Harmony”
    An introduction to the materials of western tonal music, with an emphasis on harmonic structure and syntax. It covers basic harmonic syntax (through secondary dominants), melodic phrase structure and cadences, and small musical forms, along with related theoretical concepts and vocabulary. Student work involves readings, analysis and composition exercises, and short essay assignments. View the MUSC 110 syllabus.
  • Music 204, “Theory II: Musical Structures”
    An investigation into the nature of musical sounds and the way they are combined to form rhythms, melodies, harmonies, and form. Topics include the nature of musical pitch, the structure of musical scales and their influence on melody, chords and their interval content, the complexity of rhythmic patterns, and chromatic harmony and modulation. Student work includes building a musical instrument, programming a drum machine, writing computer code to create harmonies and timbres, and an extended music analysis project. View the Music 204 syllabus.
  • Music 131, “The Blues from the Delta to Chicago”
    A history of the Delta blues and its influence on later blues and popular music styles, tracing its movement from the Mississippi Delta in the 1920s to Chess Records and the Chicago Blues of the 1940s and 50s (especially Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters). Music and musicians discussed include the classic blues singers of the 1920s, early country music (Jimmie Rodgers), and the legacy of Robert Johnson. Issues of authenticity and “ownership” of both the music and its cultural legacy is also discussed. The course involves readings, listening assignments, and some transcriptions of early recorded blues. View the Music 131 syllabus.
  • CGSC 130, “Introduction to Cognitive Science: The Musical Mind”
    An interdisciplinary examination of issues concerning the mind and mental phenomena involved in the uniquely human activity of making and understanding music. The course draws on psychology, neuroscience, linguistics, computer science, biology, and philosophy. Topics discussed include: the embodied cognition of rhythm; linguistic syntax and musical structure; mental representations of musical sound and action; musical learning and development; tone and beat deafness; and perfect pitch and neural plasticity. View the CGSC 130 syllabus.
  • Music 239, “Introduction to the Philosophy of Music”
    What is Music, and what exactly is a “musical composition,” especially in the age of recorded music and sampling? Can music tell a story, express an emotion, or convey a proposition? And if music can do any of these things, how does it do it? Last but not least, how are we to judge the value of musical pieces and musical practices? Do we need to judge popular music differently from so-called “art” music?  To address these questions we listen to a wide range of musical examples, from Bach and Mozart to the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix, and we read a wide range of writings about music, from Plato, Rousseau, and Kant to current philosophers, including Scruton, Kivy, Davies, Carroll, and Gracyk. View the Music 239 syllabus.