Reed College Catalog

Mark Burford

Music history, nineteenth-century music, twentieth-century American popular music.

Virginia Hancock

Music history, music theory, choral conducting.

Morgan James Luker

Ethnomusicology, music of Latin America, cultural politics.

David A. Schiff

Composition, conducting, twentieth-century music including jazz, American musical theater.

The music department offers a wide range of courses and performance opportunities for majors and nonmajors, as well as private instrumental and vocal lessons. Many courses have no prerequisites.

Pursuit of the music major prepares students for a senior thesis in music history or analysis, ethnomusicological research, or composition. Majors should complete two units of music theory (Music 211 and Music 312), Music History I and II (Music 221 and Music 222), and one unit of ethnomusicology (Music 150) before beginning the second semester of their junior year, and take the junior seminar.

Majors are expected to participate in performance activities; therefore, fees for private instruction in one instrument or voice are waived for junior and senior music majors.

For the junior qualifying examination in music, students will write analytic essays on selections of notated and recorded examples of music and a critical essay on selected music literature.

Independent study courses (Music 481) in subjects not offered in the regular curriculum are available for junior and senior music majors.

Requirements for the Major

  1. Music theory—Music 211 and 312;
  2. Music history—Music 221 and 222;
  3. Ethnomusicology—Music 150;
  4. One unit of ensemble from among 104 (orchestra), 105 (chorus), 107 (Collegium), 108 (jazz ensemble), 109 (chamber music); 
  5. One unit of private instruction (vocal or instrumental);
  6. Junior seminar;
  7. Three additional one-unit courses in the department at the 200 level or above, one of which must include either Music 343 or an additional ethnomusicology course;
  8. Thesis (470).

In addition to the requirements for all music majors, the following courses of study are recommended for students writing a senior thesis in ethnomusicology or composition:

  • Students planning a thesis in ethnomusicology should take two units of anthropology for either Group B or Group X and three additional units in ethnomusicology.
  • Students planning a thesis in composition should take Music 343 and Music 481 (independent study in advanced composition).

Senior Thesis
Before beginning their senior year, students planning to do a thesis in music must demonstrate their competence in the particular area in which they wish to work. That is, they may not use the thesis as an occasion to explore an entirely new area. The thesis may be an extended historical, ethnomusicological, or analytical project, which may include a performance; or a composition thesis, which must include a printed score, a recording of a performance, and an analytical essay. At the beginning of the senior year, students prepare short written proposals describing the nature of their theses for discussion with the entire music department prior to submitting proposals to the Division of the Arts for approval.

Music department facilities include Kaul Auditorium, where the orchestra, Collegium, and chorus perform; the Reed chapel, which is used for Friday at Four concerts and other chamber music; the instructional media center (IMC), where students can borrow audio sound media equipment; and the Performing Arts Building, which houses the performing arts resource center (PARC), teaching studios, practice rooms, and a large rehearsal hall for Collegium, chorus, jazz, and chamber ensembles. The PARC has a library of scores, recordings, and videos; workrooms; and a computer lab. Practice rooms are available 24 hours a day to students enrolled in music courses. All current members of the Reed community (students, faculty, and staff) are invited to use the facility from 8:30 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. daily.

Performing Opportunities
Many Reed students participate in performance activities sponsored by the department as solo players or singers, in chamber music ensembles, or in the ensembles conducted by faculty and staff members. Registration procedures for lessons and ensembles are explained in the schedule of classes and also on the music department web page at The Friday at Four series, consisting of 10–15 concerts each year, features performances by students, faculty, and guest artists. The orchestra, chorus, and Collegium perform concerts in Kaul Auditorium each semester.

The department also helps organize and coach chamber and jazz ensembles, which are available by audition for students interested in playing together in small groups. In addition, coaching sessions with members of the music performance staff can sometimes be substituted for private lessons.

Private Instruction—Denise VanLeuven, director
Reed offers individual instruction in piano, organ, harpsichord, voice, guitar, and all orchestral instruments, as well as jazz and a variety of ethnic instruments. Our teachers, all of whom are accomplished performers, are selected from the best available in the Portland community. Some are members of the Oregon Symphony, the Portland Opera Orchestra, the Portland Baroque Orchestra, and various chamber, jazz, and ethnic ensembles in the area, and have appeared as solo artists with these groups. Instructors are added to the staff as need arises. Please visit the music department website,, for a detailed listing of private music instructors.

Fees for private instruction (Music 101) are $500 each semester for twelve 45-minute lessons; some scholarship aid is available. Private instruction fees are waived in one instrument or voice for junior and senior music majors, who are expected to enroll in private instruction for at least two of their final four semesters.

Academic Credit for Music Performance
All students participating in music performance courses (Music 101, 104, 105, 107, 108, and 109) must be registered; these courses are graded on a credit/no credit basis. The courses carry variable credit: either one-half course or zero credit for one semester. To qualify for credit, students must have taken or be currently enrolled in a one-unit course at level 111 or above at Reed, for which they can receive two half-units of credit for a music performance course, one-half unit per semester (the only exception is Orchestra, Music 104; see the description below). No more than one-half credit may be earned per semester. A second one-unit course at level 111 or above qualifies the student for two additional half-units of credit for music performance. No more than two units may be received for the same music performance course. A third one-unit course at level 111 or above qualifies the student for two more half-units of credit in a different music performance course. These credits in music performance may be used toward the quantity requirement of 30 units for graduation, though not toward the Group A or Group X requirements. If the accompanying classroom course is dropped, credit for music performance must also be relinquished.

Music 101 - Private Instruction

Variable credit: either one-half course or zero credit for one semester of individual instrumental or vocal instruction. Students taking this course for one-half credit are encouraged to participate in at least one student recital. See “academic credit for music performance” above for pre- or corequisite credit.

Music 104 - Reed Orchestra

Variable credit: either one-half course or zero credit for one semester. Availability of credit is dependent on instruments needed for repertoire to be performed in any given semester. Because there are two rehearsals per week, the pre- or corequisite of enrollment in other music courses to earn credit is waived, although the restrictions on the amount of credit that can be earned still apply. The orchestra rehearses and performs works from the eighteenth to the twenty-first century. It presents one or two concerts each semester. Prerequisite: audition required.

Music 105 - Reed Chorus

Variable credit: either one-half course or zero credit for one semester. The chorus, open to all members of the Reed community, rehearses and performs works from all periods of music, often with the orchestra. (No audition required). See “academic credit for music performance” above for pre- or corequisite credit.

Music 107 - Collegium Musicum

Variable credit: either one-half course or zero credit for one semester. The Collegium rehearses and performs vocal music from many historic periods suitable for a small group. Prerequisite: audition required. See “academic credit for music performance” above for pre- or corequisite credit.

Music 108 - Jazz Ensemble

Variable credit: either one half-course or zero credit for one semester. Jazz ensembles selected by the instructor rehearse regularly and give several performances each semester. Rehearsals include improvisational techniques, soloing, and accompanying. Prerequisite: audition required. See “academic credit for music performance” above for pre- or corequisite credit.

Music 109 - Chamber Music

Variable credit: either one-half course or zero credit for one semester. Available by audition when there are enough advanced students to form an ensemble of one player per part. This course consists of weekly coaching sessions and several performances during the semester. Prerequisite: audition. Corequisite: participation in the Reed Orchestra (except for keyboard players). Prerequisite: audition required. See “academic credit for music performance” above for pre- or corequisite credit.

Music 111 - Theory I

Full course for one semester. This course examines notation of pitch and rhythm; scales and key signatures; intervals, triads, and diatonic seventh chords; and writing in four parts. It begins with the basic elements of music, but moves swiftly through the contents of a first-semester college-level music theory course. Labs include sight singing, dictation, and keyboard. Lecture and laboratory.

Music 142 - Latin American Popular Music

Full course for one semester. This course examines Latin American popular musics within their social, political, and cultural contexts. Musical genres to be studied include tango, samba, son, nueva canción, tropicália, rock nacional, and funk carioca, among others; themes to be discussed include music and the nation, music and dictatorship, and the crisis of cultural inclusion and exclusion in contemporary Latin America. Understanding how these musics are framed by broader assumptions regarding race, class, gender, and ethnicity will be a key concern of the course. Our focused listening will be complemented with analytical, critical, and contextual readings, including relevant selections from Latin American literature in translation and occasional film screenings. Lecture-conference.

Not offered 2015—16.

Music 150 - The Cultural Study of Music

Full course for one semester. Music carries a tremendous range of meanings and functions, serving as both a symbol and generator of other forces in social life and history. Taking a comparative approach to a variety of world musical cultures (including selected examples of folkloric, popular, and art musics from Africa, the Middle East, India, Asia, the Americas, and Europe), this course will examine how music communicates and is made meaningful within specific historical and cultural contexts. We will focus on developing the critical vocabulary and listening skills needed to account for music as a cross-cultural phenomenon. Lecture-conference.

Music 211 - Theory II: Intermediate Harmony and Species Counterpoint

Full course for one semester. This course continues the laboratory skills acquired in Music 111. Students are introduced to principles of melodic construction, modal counterpoint, and more advanced tonal harmony, applying them to appropriate musical examples. Prerequisite: Music 111 or equivalent skill, determined by a placement examination given at the beginning of the academic year. Lecture-conference-laboratory.

Music 221 - Music History I

Full course for one semester. This course is an introduction to the study of music history, through focus on repertories of sacred and secular music cultivated in Western Europe from the medieval period to the mid-eighteenth century. The course is not intended to be a comprehensive survey of European art music. Rather, students will develop the listening, analytical, and critical skills necessary to formulate and engage music-historical questions relating to aesthetics, social context, and intellectual history. Rudimentary ability to follow a score or permission of the instructor required. Lecture-conference.

Music 222 - Music History II

Full course for one semester. This course is an introduction to the study of music history through focus on selected examples of art music cultivated in Western Europe, the United States, and globally since the mid-eighteenth century. We will study the features of major genres of concert music and of popular song forms, while also considering manifestations of Enlightenment thought, romanticism, modernism, and avant-gardism in music. Students will develop the listening, analytical, and critical skills necessary to formulate and engage music-historical questions relating to aesthetics, social context, and intellectual history. Rudimentary ability to follow a score or permission of the instructor required. Lecture-conference.

Music 230 - Tango: Music, Culture, History

Full course for one semester. Tango is a rich and diverse cultural practice. Focusing on music and its connections to other expressive forms, especially dance and verbal art, this course will examine tango in its cultural and historical contexts. We will develop a detailed knowledge of the history and stylistic development of tango as a global genre, and explore how musical debates within tango have both reflected and contributed to the broader transformations of twentieth-century society, culture, and politics in Argentina and beyond. Lecture-conference.

Not offered 2015—16.

Music 235 - The Symphony Between the Revolutions

Full course for one semester. The symphony emerged as a recognizable genre in the early 1700s, but only attained prestige as the preeminent form of European orchestral music toward the end of the eighteenth century. Focusing on works composed by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Schubert, Berlioz, and Schumann between the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789 and the continent-wide upheavals of 1848, this course will examine the development of the symphony as a musical genre and as a vehicle for social, cultural, and aesthetic discourse. Students will learn how the reception of the symphony during this period was shaped by a cluster of developments, including changes in musical language, the elevated status of the composer, a metaphysical reconception of the “musical work,” philosophical ideas that reimagined the act of listening, Austro-German nationalist desires, and a consolidation of the modern orchestra rooted in new attention to the materiality of sound. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or consent of the instructor. Lecture-conference.

Not offered 2015—16.

Music 242 - Opera

Full course for one semester. Although the orientation of this course is largely historical, its primary focus will be listening to and viewing some of the greatest and most enduring operas in the repertory—works by, among others, Monteverdi, Mozart, Wagner, Verdi, Puccini, and Britten. Students will be required to see the Portland Opera production of Bizet's Carmen during the spring semester and at least one of the Metropolitan Opera's HD videocasts; those who plan to take the course should also, if possible, attend the Metropolitan Opera videocasts of Verdi's Macbeth and Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro in the fall. Successful completion of writing assignments will not depend on the ability to read music. Lecture-conference.

Not offered 2015—16.

Music 266 - The Music of Duke Ellington

Full course for one semester. As composer, arranger, songwriter, bandleader, and pianist, Duke Ellington (1899–1974) stood at the center of American music. His works mirror the development of jazz from ragtime to hot jazz, swing, bebop, and beyond. We will trace the development of Ellington’s style, the evolution of his orchestra and the influence of its players on his music, and his collaboration with Billy Strayhorn. We will also examine Ellington’s exploration of different genres, including extended jazz compositions, musical theatre, and religious music. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Lecture-conference.

Music 268 - Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, and the Sixties Soul Era

Full course for one semester. This course will explore the sound and cultural politics of popular music after World War II through study of the lives and careers of three African American male vocalists: Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, and Otis Redding. All three singers died tragically before the age of 45, but they continue to be celebrated as paragons of a style—soul music—linked to the energies of a 1960s black pride movement that positively asserted African American cultural identities. Yet their bodies of work as performers, songwriters, and producers also exhibit a diversity of stylistic orientations—encompassing gospel, pop, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, doo-wop, jazz, rock, and Tin Pan Alley—that suggest broader artistic and professional aspirations. Operating out of Los Angeles, Detroit, and Memphis, respectively, Cooke, Gaye, and Redding also enable us to assess the dialogue between “soul” discourse and the postwar popular music industry from a regional perspective. Students will assess the music-historical significance of these three artists through close scrutiny of recordings, critical analysis of primary and secondary sources, and committed investigation of the historical moment. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing. Conference.

Music 271 - Studying Popular Music

Full course for one semester. This course is an introduction to some of the key aesthetic, theoretical, and methodological concerns in the burgeoning field of popular music studies, which has explored the performance, (re)production, and consumption of popular music. Seeking to develop listening skills and drawing on both field-defining work and new scholarship, the course will explore topics including the analysis of recorded music, the politics of style and genre, the role of technological and social mediation, the production of intersectional identities, and fan reception. Though the focus will be music originating in the United States, students will also consider the circulation of popular music in international contexts. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Lecture-conference.

Music 277 - Music and Politics

Full course for one semester. This course will examine the relationship between music and politics in a variety of historical and cultural contexts, exploring how and why music has been such a powerful carrier of ideology. Grounded in core readings on the politics of music and the arts, we will address themes of musical nationalism, censorship, cultural policy making, the cultural industries, musical activism and social movements, and the broader expediency of musical culture in the global era. Conference.

Music 302 - Sound Studies

Full course for one semester. This course will provide an introduction to sound studies, an emerging field of inquiry situated at the intersection of critical music scholarship, anthropology of the senses, science and technology studies, and a wide range of sonic practices, artistic and otherwise. Students will read foundational texts in the field (including R. Murray Schafer, Steven Feld, Jonathan Sterne, and Emily Thompson, among others), listen to and discuss a wide variety of sonic practices (musical performance, sound art, acoustic ecology, etc.), and conduct original research projects on current issues regarding the making, experience, meaning, and power of sound in social life and history. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Conference.

Music 305 - Musical Ethnography

Full course for one semester. This course will introduce the theory and practice of musical ethnography, the key mode of ethnomusicological research and representation, to advanced students in ethnomusicology, anthropology, and related disciplines. Combining critical readings on ethnography from music scholarship, anthropology, and a variety of disciplines with hands-on projects (including the production and analysis of field recordings, musical transcriptions, and various forms of qualitative ethnographic data), the course will prepare students to both conduct and critically reflect upon ethnographic research. Conference. Cross-listed as Anthropology 305.

Music 312 - Theory III: Advanced Harmony

Full course for one semester. This course will examine the development of harmonic resources in late nineteenth- and twentieth-century musical idioms through compositional and analytical exercises. In particular we will study contemporary jazz and popular harmony; the impressionist harmonies of Debussy and Ravel; and the early modernist idioms of Stravinsky, Bartók, and Schoenberg. Prerequisite: Music 211. Conference with musicianship lab.

Music 314 - Composition

Full course for one semester. This course is an introduction to contemporary composition. Students will compose and perform short works. The course will deal with problems of instrumentation, notation, and performance, as well as the larger aesthetic issues of coherence and gesture, within a broad range of styles and media. Prerequisite: Music 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Music 343 - Theory IV: Form and Analysis

Full course for one semester. This course prepares students to analyze the fugue as exemplified in the music of J.S. Bach and the sonata forms found in the music of Beethoven; as well as later examples of both genres. Prerequisite: Music 211. Conference.

Music 344 - Junior Seminar: Ideologies of Improvisation

Full course for one semester. This junior seminar will examine improvisation as a musical practice, analytical object, and subject of critical discourse in a variety of historical and cultural contexts, attending to the musical techniques and artistic ideologies of improvisational performance in equal measure. Case studies will engage a diverse selection of historically significant improvisational practices in world musical culture and reflect the scope and range of critical music scholarship on these issues. Students will also conduct and workshop significant research projects on an improvisatory practice of their choice, together developing the methods and skills needed to undertake substantial independent projects. Prerequisite: Music 150, 221, 222, 312, and junior standing. Conference.

Music 345 - Stravinsky and the Ballets Russes

Full course for one semester. The Ballets Russes, founded by Serge Diaghilev, was a center for the development of modernist ideas about music, dance, theater, and the visual arts from its founding in 1909 to Diaghilev’s death in 1929. We will study the collaboration of composer Igor Stravinsky with the Ballets Russes from the folkloristic Firebird of 1910 to the neoclassical Apollo of 1928. We will trace the evolving aesthetic, cultural and political frameworks for Diaghilev’s dance company, paying attention to the choreographic languages of Fokine, Nijinsky, Massine, Nijinska, and Balanchine as well as the scenic designs. Conference. Cross-listed as Dance 345.

Not offered 2015—16.

Music 352 - Johann Sebastian Bach

Full course for one semester. We will investigate Bach’s life and music, with attention to works he wrote for the conditions of his employment at different times in his career. The histories of the genres in which he composed—Lutheran church music and other vocal works; and instrumental works, including those for keyboard instruments, other instruments, and orchestra—will also be considered. Prerequisites: sophomore standing and the ability to read music. Conference.

Music 354 - Vocal Chamber Music in History and Practice

Full course for one semester. Designed for experienced singers, this course will focus on the historical study, analysis, and one-on-a-part ensemble performance of selected repertory. The course will address some of the unique challenges of vocal chamber music, including balancing techniques of solo and ensemble singing; expanding musicality through exposure to a diverse repertory; performing without a conductor; and making collaborative musical choices in moving from score to performance. Reading, conference discussion, research, and writing assignments on composers, texts, historical contexts, and social functions will be based on course repertory, which students will be expected to learn efficiently outside of class for study and execution during conference. Conference. Prerequisites: concurrent enrollment in Music 105 or Music 107, and consent of the instructor. Conference-studio.

Music 360 - Music and the Black Freedom Struggle, 1865–1965

Full course for one semester. The civil rights movement in the U.S., demanding full citizenship for African Americans, is often equated with the momentous sociopolitical developments of the 1950s and 1960s. Increasingly, scholars have situated this “classical” period within a broader historical arc encompassing an ongoing black freedom struggle that dates to Reconstruction. Through close study of historical texts and musical repertory that will include the spiritual, the blues, jazz, and concert music, this course will explore how ideas about musical sound and musical performance played an essential role in articulating the stakes of this struggle and the meanings of freedom. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Conference.

Not offered 2015—16.

Music 363 - Mahler and His Influence

Full course for one semester. Although he died in 1911, Gustav Mahler exerted a wide influence on the music of the twentieth century, both as a composer and as a conductor. In this course we will explore how aspects of Mahler’s compositional style were appropriated and developed by composers as different as Arnold Schoenberg, Anton Webern, Alban Berg, Kurt Weill, Aaron Copland, Dmitri Shostakovich, Benjamin Britten, Leonard Bernstein, Luciano Berio, George Crumb, and Uri Caine. We will attempt to discover the historical and political circumstances that favored, or discouraged, a Mahlerian legacy, and also examine how composers negotiated such a powerful precedent in formulating their own styles. Prerequisite: ability to read music. Conference.

Not offered 2015—16.

Music 364 - The Blues: Forms, Styles, Meanings

Full course for one semester. In this course we will study one of the most important wellsprings for twentieth-century popular music, the blues, proceeding along three lines of inquiry: musical elements that characterize the blues, focusing on formal and harmonic structure, melodic and poetic ideals, and improvisational strategies; stylistic manifestations of the blues, including country blues, “classic” blues, postwar commercial styles, and influences on gospel music, rock, and jazz; and interpretations of the “blues aesthetic” as a cultural signifier, as reflected in music criticism, documentary film, literature, its production and consumption, and international reception. Conference.

Not offered 2015—16.

Music 365 - Avant-Garde Music

Full course for one semester. The term “avant-garde” was applied to music, such as Schoenberg’s "Pierrot Lunaire" or Varèse’s "Ionisation," that broke with techniques of the past, but also to works like Satie’s "Relâche," which challenged and destabilized the very notion of an art work. These tendencies flowered after World War II with the music and ideas of Cage, Boulez, Stockhausen, Xenakis, Berio, and Feldman; this course will primarily study this literature. We will also study composers of the American “maverick” line, such as Ives, Cowell, Harrison, Partch, and Lucier. Conference.

Not offered 2015—16.

Music 368 - The Music of Elliott Carter

Full course for one semester. Elliott Carter (1908–2012) was one of the most important and innovative figures in the music of the second half of the twentieth century and the first decade of the twenty-first. His works for many different instrumental and vocal forces explore new concepts of rhythmic, harmonic and formal organization. We will trace the evolution of his music through analysis of the scores and readings from the large body of critical and theoretical literature devoted to his music. Prerequisite: Music 312 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2015—16.

Music 373 - Junior Seminar: Brahms and the Symphonic Ideal

Full course for one semester. The focus of this junior seminar will be the four symphonies composed by Johannes Brahms. Premiering between 1876 and 1885, at the height of his career, the symphonies were completed within a relatively concise period in Brahms’ half century as a composer. In differing ways, these works were deeply engaged with challenges posed by the elevated artistic prestige and compositional expectations associated with the post-Beethovenian symphonic ideal. In this course, we will consider Brahms’ orchestral language and analytic approaches to the symphonies, as well as questions pertaining to genre, listening practices, late-Romantic style, and cultural identity following German national unification in 1871. Prerequisites: Music 150, 221, 222, and 312, and junior standing. Conference.

Not offered 2015—16.

Music 470 - Thesis

Full course for one year.

Music 481 - Independent Study

One-half or full course for one semester. Prerequisite: approval of instructor and division.