Music Courses

The Music Program specializes in all forms of music associated with American Culture, including jazz, rock, film, popular music from around the world, and music of the Western European tradition (e.g. classical music). 

The Music Program also has close ties with Film & Media Studies; Campus Ministry; American Studies; and Communication, Culture & Technology.

Spring 2020 Courses

Igor Stravinsky was one of the most successful and influential composers of the 20th century and the most significant part of his output was in music for dance. His involvement with the Ballets Russes in Paris from 1909 to 1929 and his nearly fifty years of collaboration with the choreographer George Balanchine put him at the center of the dance world in an era where dance was the center of the art world, involving most of the great visual, theatrical, and musical artists of the century. This course will examine key works from The Firebird (1910), his inaugural work for the Ballets Russes, to Violin Concerto, choreographed by George Balanchine for the New York City Ballet’s massive Stravinsky Festival of 1972 in memory of the composer, and will include multiple versions of ballets like The Rite of Spring, Les Noces, and Pulcinella. We will approach each work as a collaboration, involving music, choreography, design, performance, and cultural history. Readings will complement listening, viewing, and discussion, and will include philosophy, art history, and anthropology as well as music and dance. Students will design their own projects throughout the course, building a portfolio suited to their interests but also stretching their boundaries (for instance, music students will have to come to grips with visual sources, and students without musical training will explore other ways of dealing with sound structures.). Pre-requisites: MUSC-114 or MUSC-141 or permission of instructor.

3 credits

Professor Robynn Stilwell

MW 2:00pm-3:15pm

DPAC 025

Levels: MN or MC Graduate, Undergraduate.

MUSC-350 builds on the skills the student has gained in the prerequisite MUSC-250 “Recording Arts I” digital audio recording course. It is open to music majors and minors and to the general student body, provided the student has satisfactorily completed that prerequisite course. The central themes of this course are: sharpening the artistic ability of critical listening, and enhancing the skills needed to apply that aural acuity to plan and execute evocative audio recordings in more complex projects.

Students will learn:

  • Digital interconnection protocols and sync/clocking requirements
  • topologies and techniques for more complex audio interfaces and virtual control surfaces
  • comparative advantages of minimalist miking and multi-tracking for live and studio events
  • effective monitoring techniques for studio sessions and live on-location events
  • advantages and disadvantages of high resolution digital recording
  • automating mixdown parameters of large multi-track sessions
  • additional experience in critical listening through ear training drills and real-life audio challenges

MUSC-350 students will have access to the Department of Performing Arts’ Control Room D facility in the basement of New North, and to its linked performance spaces in McNeir Hall and Studio D, as well as the facilities of the Gelardin New Media Center. This will take students beyond basic computer audio interfaces into more advanced interfaces and digital control surfaces for computer DAWs.

The course will deepen the exploration into Avid’s Pro Tools digital audio production software begun in the prerequisite MUSC-250 course. Pro Tools is a recognized platform in settings from casual hobbyist recordings to top-flight professional installations. But the course will also introduce students to other tools, both hardware and software, for working with music and other audio. The raw materials for this study will be students’ personal music projects, as well as prepared audio recordings from previous musical performances and other sources, plus the ongoing range of live events and other performances, voices and sounds on the campus and beyond. Some recording projects will be undertaken as a class group; others will be conceived and completed by individuals or pairs of students. Music Performance Fee: $150. X-List: Film and Media Studies. Levels: MN or MC Graduate, Undergraduate

3 credits

Professor Toby Mountain

R 2:45pm-5:15pm

LAU AV158

This is an advanced music course designed for students interested in orchestral conducting. Our focus rests on a practical study of the analytical techniques and skills involved in the conducting of select instrumental scores, representing diverse styles, compositional methods, and composers. Students will develop a critical methodological approach (based on the teaching of Sergiu Celibidache) involving analysis, research, interpretation, and performance. Levels: Undergraduate.

3 credits

Professor Angel Gil-Ordóñez

W 5:30pm-7:30pm

W 8:00pm-9:00pm

New North Studio A

As an introduction to the history of film music, this course is organized around three central goals: – to explore the diverse relationships between image and music in film. – to examine the craft of soundtrack design, particularly in the interactions between music, sound effects, and dialogue. – to study the historical reasons why composer have used different styles of music in their film score. 3.00 Lecture hours.Levels: Undergraduate. X-List: FMST.

3 credits

Professor Carlos Simon

TR 1:30pm-2:45pm

LAU AV158

The required Monday evening time is for course film screenings. City Symphony In the early years of cinema, a number of daring filmmakers drew from the form of musical symphonies, leaving aside character and narrative to make poetic experimental films about cities. What was soon called the “city symphony” gave music to silent films in a novel way: by using only the ideas of music, presenting, for instance, rhythms of transitions and motion, harmonies of ordinary urban images, and dissonantly juxtapositions of unusual perspectives. These portraits of urban life often celebrated a particular spirit of the inhabitants. At other times, the films revealed degradations of modern life. This course will begin by examining the classic films of this period, studying the blurring together of sound and image and unearthing musical concepts presented visually. What musical concepts can be expressed visually? What drove filmmakers to focus on cities during this historical moment? How did this approach continue in the history of cinema? We will move beyond the 1920s through periodic revivals of the genre to contemporary hybrid films that continue to insist in the union of music and image. Throughout the course, we will investigate concepts and techniques by doing—producing our own city symphonies. Levels: Undergraduate. X-List: FMST

3 credits

Professor Benjamin J Harbert

M 6:30pm-8:15pm

TR 9:30am-10:45am

New South FSC

Membership by audition. The Concert Choir is a large mixed voice ensemble dedicated to the performance of exceptional choral repertoire. The ensemble rehearses and performs a wide range of literature including traditional choral pieces, large masterworks, eastern vocal traditions and the avant-garde. Also, there is substantial training in theory and aural skills as it applies to choral singing coupled with the instruction of vocal health and production mechanics. The choir functions as an integral part of the growing and increasingly unified choral music program at Georgetown. The Concert Choir performs at least one formal concert per semester on the Georgetown University Campus. They also represent the university in performances at Honorary Degree ceremonies, Faulty Convocations and Commencements. Recent concerts have featured performances of Stravinsky Symphony of Psalms, Mozart’s Requiem in D minor, Vivaldi’s Gloria, Handel’s Messiah and Schubert’s Mass in G. Last fall the ensemble performed at the Kennedy Center as part of the “Our Ocean Conference” hosted Secretary of State John Kerry and conducted by Eric Whitacre. Prerequisites: None – Open to both graduate and undergraduate. 
Music Performance Fee – $100

MUSC 100: 1 credit
MUSC 101: 3 credits

Professor Frederick Binkholder

MW 6:30pm – 8:30pm

New North, McNeir Hall

When American and European scholars began studying music outside of Europe, they found that the task required such new tools for thinking about music’s relation to global cultures—so much so that a new discipline was established. As ethnomusicology developed, a more geographically diverse group of scholars began to question just what “culture” means in relation to music. Ethnomusicology now is an international study of global musical practices. This course introduces students to the history of the field, beginning with its association with anthropological theory and culminating in a present day perspectives on how music is entangled with critical issues in our world. We will read the influential texts that have shaped ways that ethnomusicologists think about music—all while learning to listen critically to the rich musical traditions of the world. Students will conduct fieldwork and analysis on a topic of his or her choice as a way of learning how ethnomusicologists do research. 3.00 Lecture hours. Levels: Undergraduate. Schedule Types: Lecture, Seminar

3 credits

Professor Benjamin J. Habert

TR 11:00am-12:15pm

DPAC 025

This class will focus on healthy vocal technique though the understanding of the breath mechanism, phonation, resonance, articulation and posture. Through a group voice class format, every student will work upon their personal repertoire, performance practice and strengthening their overall musicality. The final exam will be a combined voice recital with three selections that have been refined over the semester.
Music Performance Fee – $50

1 credit

Professor Frederick Binkholder

MW 12:30pm – 1:45pm

New North, McNeir Hall

Membership by audition – fall only! The Georgetown University Chamber Singers is a select mixed vocal ensemble dedicated to the performance of exceptional choral repertoire for the chamber ensemble. Past performances have included the Missa Papae Marcelli by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina at the conference Trent and its Impact, and the cantata Membra Jesu Nostri by Dietrich Buxtehude accompanied by the professional Baroque ensemble Modern Musick. Academic collaborations have included the recording of Gregorian chants as ancillary support for a massive open online course (mooc) in study of the Purgatorio from Dante’s Divine Comedy. The ensemble has worked extensively with the eminent musicologist, Father Piotr Nawrot and his work in the preservation of the music of the Jesuit reductions in early 18th century Bolivia. In 2015, the ensemble gave the premier performance of his new critical edition of Villancicos en honor a San Ignacio de Loyola, for Jesuit Heritage week at Georgetown University. In April of 2016, the ensemble traveled to Bolivia to headline at the 11th Biennial International Festival of American Renaissance and Baroque Music. 

Prerequisites: Audition – Open to both graduate and undergraduate.

Music Performance Fee – $100 

MUSC 100-02: 1 credit

MUSC 101-02: 0 credits

Professor Frederick Binkholder

MW 8:30pm – 10:30pm

New North, McNeir Hall

Audition required. The Georgetown University Orchestra performs music of diverse styles and genres from a broad repertory. Rehearsals combine intensive concert preparation with occasional readings of works not scheduled for performance. Open to all – students do not need to be a music major or minor. Pass/Fail only.

Music Performance Fee – $100

MUSC 100-04: 1 credit

MUSC 101-03: 0 credits

Professor Angel Gil-Ordóñez

MW 8:00pm – 10:00pm

New North, Studio A 

Audition required. This course explores the study and performance of chamber music literature on the highest level through individual weekly coaching sessions, masterclasses with the regular instructors and visiting ones, and public performances.  This course will focus on the development of musical skills (including interpretive and technical abilities), musical understanding, cooperative abilities, communication skills, and historical/theoretical knowledge. The opportunity to perform in the public concert will be available to groups demonstrating adequate preparedness at the end of the semester. Pass/Fail only.
Music Performance Fee – $100.

MUSC 100-05: 1 credit

MUSC 101-04: 0 credits

Professor Netanel Draiblate

TR 8:00pm – 10:00pm

New North, McNeir Hall

Audition required. This course explores the study and performance of chamber music literature on the highest level through individual weekly coaching sessions, masterclasses with the regular instructors and visiting ones, and public performances.  This course will focus on the development of musical skills (including interpretive and technical abilities), musical understanding, cooperative abilities, communication skills, and historical/theoretical knowledge. The opportunity to perform in the public concert will be available to groups demonstrating adequate preparedness at the end of the semester. Pass/Fail only.

MUSC 100-06: 1 credit

MUSC 101-05: 0 credits

Professor Paul Bratcher

TR 8:30pm – 9:30pm

New North, Studio A

Audition required. Georgetown Jazz is an 18-piece jazz ensemble dedicated to promoting the American art of jazz. The focus is primarily on the historical big band sounds of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Stan Kenton and other great bands from the 1930s to the present. We also perform some contemporary arrangements and our own versions of classic tunes. All participants will develop some level skill with jazz improvisation. Georgetown Jazz performs in and around the Washington DC area, and at many university functions. Some smaller combos will also be formed. Pass/Fail only. Concert TBD. 

1 credit

Music Performance Fee – $100

Professor Paul Bratcher

TR 6:15pm – 8:00pm

New North, Studio A

Audition required. The Guild of Bands is a performance course much like orchestra or choir. Bands will learn the process of covering and writing songs, basic pop theory, and performance skills. We will meet weekly to critique each other’s work, attend masterclasses, and handle concert preparation. Audition required. Pass/Fail only. 

Music Performance Fee – $100.

You must email Prof. Murray at dm1469@georgetown.edu to schedule your audition before the first class

MUSC 100-08: 1 credit

MUSC 101-07: 0 credit

Professor David Murray

M 7:00pm – 10:00pm

New North, Studio D

Afro-Cuban Percussion is a performance course in which students explore the sounds and patterns of the core instruments of an Afro-Cuban percussion section: tumbadoras (conga drums), timbales, bongos, bells, guiro and chekere. The class also addresses improvisation and ensemble playing. No prior experience is required.

Music Performance Fee – $100.

MUSC 100-09: 1 credit

MUSC 101-08: 0 credit

Professor David Murray

M 5:00pm- 6:30pm

New North, Studio C

The Pep Band performs at home games for men’s football, men’s basketball, and women’s basketball. The band performs current rock, pop, and hip-hop tunes of today providing excitement and a major cheering section to pump up the crowd and the team. The conductor chooses the appropriate music with help from students, integrating new cheers and rehearsing the band to be prepared at a moment’s notice. Audition required.

0 credit

Professor Ron Lignelli

M 5:00pm – 6:30pm

New North, Studio A

The World Percussion Ensemble performs a variety of percussion based literature from world drumming to classical percussion ensemble music.

Audition required.

0 credit

Professor David Murray

Sun. 11:00am – 2:00pm

New North, Studio A

This listening-intensive course looks at music as a component of cultural identities and collisions through the dual lens of ethnomusicology (anthropology of music) and “world music” (a popcultural/journalistic/marketing view). The syntheses that arise from the interactions of the dominant Western culture with its “others” are politically charged as much as they may be musically potent, and are increasingly dependent upon globalization and technology for their creation and dissemination. Case studies will examine the dynamics of different forms of cultural interaction over the past couple of centuries, from Cold War nationalism in the Bulgarian Radio Choir to the impact of the Chernobyl meltdown on the underground rock scene of the Belarusan intelligentsia; from the meteoric rise (and fall) of Anglo-Indian pop of the 1990s to the complex multi-ethnic mix that has driven flamenco across a millennium from Moorish Andalucía to the art-school scene of Barcelona of the 2000s. Other subjects include Javanese gamelan and its confluences with Western art music, South African township jive echoing the arc of apartheid, the alliance of dance forms with nationalism in 20th century South America, the colonial and diasporic sources of the Riverdance phenomenon, and the multiple Francophone audiences of Cajun-American rocker Zachary Richard. Fulfills HALC requirement. X-List: Justice and Peace Studies, Sociology.

3 credits

Professor Robyn Stilwell

MW 5:00pm- 6:15pm

New North, McNeir Hall

Jazz is a genre broad in scope that has crossed lines of race, class, geography, politics, religion and genre. This course explores the origins and proliferation of jazz, from its beginnings in New Orleans, Chicago, San Francisco and New York to its most recent appearances in Europe and Asia. Key to the history of jazz is its connection to recorded sound. Jazz was the first musical genre shaped by modern sound technology — the first world-wide music phenomenon. Exploring the various facets and histories of jazz is the central goal of this course. Students will read a wide array of primary and secondary sources, and listen to a range of recordings — all with the goal of discovering the various processes, meanings, functions, and experiences of jazz. This class places a strong emphasis on developing listening skills. But no previous music experience is necessary. Fulfills HALC requirement. X-List: African American Studies and American Studies.

3 credits

Professor Anna Celenza

MW 2:00pm – 3:15pm 

New North, McNeir Hall

This course is a continuation of MUSC-041: Elements of Music with a focus now on chromatic harmony. Students will refine their musicianship through modules on the classical style, rock and pop, the blues, jazz, and hip hop. Advanced Harmony is intended for majors and minors as well as general music enthusiasts.

Professor Carlos Simon

3 credits

TR 11:00am – 12:15pm  

New North, Studio A

This is a writing-intensive course that explores all aspects of writing about music, introducing students to music journalism, script writing for radio/film documentaries, script writing for musical theater, non-fiction essays, scholarly articles, music-inspired fiction and the basics of grant writing for non-profit performing arts groups and fellowship applications (i.e. Fulbright). It is designed specifically for students interested in pursuing future careers in music, journalism, media studies, creative writing, arts management and/or entertainment law.

X-List: Journalism

3 credits

Professor Anna Celenza

MW 11:00pm – 12:15pm

New North, Studio A

This course engages students in three ways: 1) They encounter live music, from a wide array of traditions and cultures, performed by professionals in the intimate setting of McNeir Hall 2) prior to each concert, students read essays and participate in discussions that explore the cultural context of the music 3) they gain deeper insights about the local DC music scene by attending concerts at local venues off campus and performances by their peers on campus. The course is designed in coordination with Georgetown University’s long-standing Friday Music Concert Series. In general, Wednesdays will be devoted to lectures and group discussions that will prepare students for the live, in-class concert on Fridays. After each Friday concert, there will be a Q & A with the performers. This will give students the opportunity to talk with performers about their craft. The artists/repertoire scheduled each semester largely dictate the various humanities fields covered in the course. For example, this semester the styles of music presented will range from American classical to jazz, Brazilian to Cuban to Hip Hop. Students will write a short essay in response to each concert. For the final project, students can either design a ten-concert music series or create an annotated playlist based around a specific theme/topic. This course also serves as an excellent opportunity for students to meet the core faculty of the music program, who will each curate concerts.

3 credits

Professor Anthony R Del Donna

WF 12:30pm – 1:45pm

New North, Studio A (W) and New North, McNeir Hall (F)

View a list of music courses through the Schedule of Classes online.