Whether part of a performance that resembles experimental theater, through the ear buds of an iPod, through a dorm-room wall or as the song of the mockingbird at 3 a.m., the Music program at New College recognizes that music challenges as often as it comforts and represents conflict as often as it communicates a message of peace and understanding.
Through developing skills of basic musicianship and introducing students to a wide array of musical styles in the Western art music tradition, world music, and forays into social theory, as well as many opportunities to compose, the New College Music program educates students to listen, observe, interpret and create. Students concentrating in Music can elect to focus on historical, anthropological, critical, compositional, technological or theoretical approaches to music.
Diverse guest lectures, theater and dance performances, art exhibitions and musical events are regularly held on campus including a cutting-edge contemporary music series, New Music New College, in which Music students and non-Music students frequently collaborate.
Within the program you can choose to pursue Music as a stand alone Area of Concentration (AOC), combine it with another major (a “slash” AOC as we call it), or you can concentrate on Music as part of an AOC in Humanities. Regardless of your choice, you will work closely with faculty who will challenge you to test the boundaries of what exactly music is and explore it from a variety of perspectives, including:
Graduates from our program lead successful careers in a wide variety of fields, including teaching at all levels from K-12 through college, and many are active performing artists and composers. Two of our recent graduates also received Fulbright Scholarships for international travel and research.
Our students must complete seven contracts, three Independent Study Projects and a senior thesis project to graduate. Contracts consist of three to five academic activities — courses, tutorials, internships, independent reading projects, etc. — that will develop your personal educational goals during a semester.
Here’s a list of recent course offerings in Music:
Introduction to Music
Designed for non-readers of Western musical notation, this course introduces the fundamentals of Western music reading, writing, and theory. These basics include the following: recognize pitches, durations, meters, phrasing, and other musical characteristics and reproduce them on an alto recorder and by singing; Understand and be able to reproduce correctly the basics of stems, beams, rests, clefs, bar lines, double-bar lines, first and second endings, key and time signatures, and other elements of written music. Identify intervals by size and quality (major, minor, perfect, augmented, diminished) Major and minor scales, the 24 keys (represented by 12 different key signatures), Simple duple and triple, compound duple and triple meters (represented in time signatures), Triads, Triads built on major and minor scale degrees, seventh chords, and basic I-IV-V-I harmonic progression. Students will be assigned homework on a daily basis to reinforce concepts learned in class. Whenever possible these homework assignments will involve creative work that employs the new concept in a musical context.
Music Theory I
Music Theory I is a comprehensive introduction to music theory. Our emphasis is on the theoretical principles and development of harmony as exemplified in Western art music; areas of inquiry include melodic construction, rhythm, and form. Work includes exercises in model composition, performance, theory, and ear training, all of which are intended to complement a student’s everyday activity as a musician.
Music Theory II
Building on the foundation established in Music Theory I, topics to be covered this term include: the formal implications of equal temperament and chromatic tonal harmony. Daily assignments will include work in analysis and composition. In addition to attending lecture sessions, students will be required to participate in two aural skills sessions each week.
Music and the Environment
Sound plays an enormous role in how we shape our environment and how our environment shapes us. In order to examine this dynamic relationship we will study a variety of topics related to the environment as heard. These subjects include R. Murray Schafer’s concept of “soundscape,” the pastoral in the tradition of Western art music, how the sounds of the canopy inspire musical expression among rainforest dwellers such as the Kaluli of Papua, New Guinea and the Temiar of Malaysia, bird whistlers in the US, birding by ear, installations by Eric Satie, Edgard Varèse, and Brian Eno, and muzak. This is a writing-intensive course and part of New College’s Seminars in Critical Thinking; it is recommended for students who want to improve their critical thinking and writing skills.
Early Music and Its Notation
In this class we will transcribe early music, investigating a number of systems that arose from the ninth century until about 1600. When music is notated at any historical moment it is an incomplete representation–something of its sound is always left to the imagination. Questions as to how to understand and realize a musical style represented in an old piece of music multiply as we get to know the work. The process of transcription is a bit like solving a puzzle, a bit like composing, and a bit like performing. Depending on the piece or the repertory, the balance among the skills needed can shift. A successful transcription reflects the musical knowledge and sensibilities of the transcriber, who must go through the original document note-by-note in the process of putting a successful piece together in a way that a reader of modern European notation might understand. In addition to transcribing bits and pieces of music, we will listen to recordings and discuss performances, analyze published transcriptions, and learn about Gregorian chant, polyphonic settings of the Ordinary and the Proper of the Mass, motets, chansons, and madrigals. We will also consider modality as a governing force for the structure of monophonic and polyphonic pieces.
The roots of modern music production are in the radical innovations of the twentieth century. Pop and art rock, electronica, and hip-hop owe much of their sound to early experimentalists who broke from traditional ideas of music and aesthetics. This course will survey the techniques, sounds, and history of electronic music, emphasizing hands-on training with digital technologies that are available on today’s personal computers. We will begin by exploring MIDI, sampling, sequencing, filtering, and spectral re-synthesis using Digital Audio Workstation technology, which is used to produce most popular and electronic music today. In the second half of the course, we will learn how to construct our own sounds using synthesis (additive, FM, and waveform) and how to shape them (using envelopes, filters, and LFOs). Evaluation emphasis will be on creative projects, online participation, and knowledge of historical context.
European Music from 1600-1750
The course will focus on the range of musical styles associated with the “Baroque era” of European art music, as well as the cultural dynamics that led to the developments of these styles. In addition, students will develop their writing skills through a series of short assignments. We will describe music in prose, use excerpts of music as primary evidence, evaluate sources, construct arguments, draft and revise, and address musicological audiences. Students may also be asked to compose short musical examples in to demonstrate their understanding of musical style and perform their work in class. Writing assignments are designed to help members of the class integrate the short reading assignments with the listening assignments and “digest” the information, making it their own.
Experimental music can be defined as music that privileges process over product: the process may be rigorously controlled but the outcome will be to some extent indeterminate. This course will address the theory and history of experimental music since 1950 with an emphasis on compositional applications. Following a consideration of relevant theories of modernity (Hegel, Adorno, Dahlhaus, Bürger), the focus will shift to the music of John Cage and his various successors, principally the Fluxus composers and the composers gathered around Cornelius Cardew and the Scratch Orchestra. We will also explore the music of Pauline Oliveros, as well as music created by members of New Music New College.
Languages of Modern Music: Analytics and Aesthetic Perspectives
In Languages of Modern Music, we will encounter and engage the languages of art music in the early to mid-Twentieth Century. Our approach will be close readings of seminal works through listening, analysis, and reading contextual sources, with the goal of re-examining and assessing some of the labels typically applied to music of this period: impressionist, modernist, serialist, expressionist, neo-classical, freely-atonal, poly-tonal, modal. Works studied will include those by Debussy, Sibelius, Scriabin, Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Berg, Webern, Messiaen, Ligeti, and others.
New College Chorus
This is a choral ensemble dedicated to singing music in a variety of styles. The exact repertory will be determined during the course of the semester as the director gets to know participants and what pieces will be best suit the ensemble. Our goal is to produce a cohesive, quality sound in ensemble, and to enjoy doing it along the way. Students may earn a module of credit for a semester’s participation. The class will end with a concert at the end of the term, TBA. Evaluations will be based on attendance and preparation of assigned music.
Opera, Ballet, and Supernatural
From their beginnings as entertainments for European courts, operas and ballets have featured gods, demigods and other immortal beings in their plots, these mythological subjects continuing to occupy operatic and balletic stages to this day. Mozart’s Don Giovanni features a walking, talking statue from hell, and toys and puppets come to life through numerous nineteenth-and twentieth century ballets and operas. It is almost as if opera and ballet have the capacity as genres to open a portal to metaphysical realms. This course will investigate the marvelous, the fantastic, the uncanny, and the supernatural as it relates to such plots and the theatrical expression that adorns them. Music and dance in this context invites consideration of metaphysical realms, and we will consider why this is so. Genres and pieces considered will include Lully and tragedy lyrique, Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Schneitzhoeffer’s La Sylphide, Adam’s Giselle, Wagner’s Flying Dutchman, Delibes’ Coppelia, Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffman, Humperdinck’s Hansel und Gretel, Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, and Stravinsky’s Petrouchka. We will consider such fundamental texts as Freud’s essay on the uncanny and Todorov’s essay on the fantastic in addition to other readings associated with the subject.
Group Tutorials and ISPs
In addition to traditional classes, students in Music at New College augment their interests by taking individual and group tutorials, as well as independent study projects (ISPs), arranged with their instructors. Below are some examples of recent group tutorials and ISPs in Music:
Composition for Chamber Ensembles
Each year a select group of New College student composers create music for one of the Sarasota Orchestra’s resident chamber ensembles: Sarasota String Quartet, Sarasota Wind Quintet, Sarasota Piano Quartet and Sarasota Brass Quintet. The students hear their music rehearsed throughout the year and benefit from the guidance of the Symphony’s experienced musicians.
The study of counterpoint, the art of composing for multiple independent parts, is fundamental to the education of composers. This group tutorial focuses on the keyboard music of J. S. Bach, specifically his two-part inventions and three-voice fugues, the latter from The Well-Tempered Clavier. Students first analyze Bach’s music and then compose works of their own.
Independent Study for students who need keyboard skills to fulfill the Music AOC requirements. Full term participation is required for one module of credit. Interested students need to submit an application before the fourth day of classes.
For a complete list of courses, click here.
Adele Fournet ’09 is pursuing her Ph.D. in music at New York University. While at New College, Fournet earned a Fulbright to study Gender in Musical Structure: Female Rock Artists in Lima, Peru. Provost Stephen Miles said. “Classical and pop music were always in two separate categories for Adele, but she was able to bring those together at New College.” While a student at New College, Fournet composed music for the Sarasota string and piano quartets and wrote a senior thesis called “Chicks with Picks, an ethnography of the Tampa, Female Rock Musicians in the Tampa Bay Music Scene.” As part of her work, she looked at female musicians — not singers necessarily, but instrumentalists and asked the questions: What was their path to music? And what has been their experience professionally? A version of her thesis was published in a peer-reviewed online journal called Music in Arts and Action.
New College is proud of the many Music and non-Music graduates who have contributed to the field. Here’s a sampling of some of our graduates:
Sample of Graduate Schools Attended by NCF Students in Music
Each academic experience builds toward your senior thesis project, which is required for graduation. Students tell us that while the thesis project is demanding, it’s also one of the most rewarding experiences of their lives.
Within Music, our students’ senior thesis projects range from musicology and theory to original compositions and performances. Here are some examples of recent thesis projects in Music.
Musicology and Theory
“Genre Vs Individualism: Claude Debussy and the Evolving Parisian Artistic Landscape” by Abigail Carissa Lindo
“A Historical and Algorithmic Study of Schoenberg’s Approach to Counterpoint” by Walter Maisel
“To Be Black As You Are: Jimi Hendrix, Ofwgkta, Bob Kaufman, and The Marginalization of Black Cultural Traditions” by Jakilah Mason
“American Hybridity in the Music of George Gershwin” by Brendan Rivers
“Chicks with Picks: An Ethnography of Female Rock Instrumentalists in Tampa, FL” by Adele Fournet
“The Circus Tune Everyone Knows” by Lindsay Benet Crowe
“”Join in a Song with Sweet Accord”: Creating Community and Maintaining Harmony among Sacred Harp Singers” by Jessamyn Doan
“Dissonance and the Body in Contextual Atonality: A Phenomenological Analysis” by Brian Oberlander
“Something Borrowed, Something New: Traditions, Cliches, and Symbolism in Igor Stravinsky’s Les Noces” by Chelsea Evangeline Famiglio
“Sergei Prokofiev’s Modern Interpretation of Sonata Form as Seen in Piano Sonata No. 3, Op. 28” by Margaret Stanny
“The Critique of Sample-Based Music: Creating a Foundation for Understanding” by Eliot Chayt
“The Perception of Meter in Stravinsky’s Histoire du Soldat” by Eric K. Napier
“Communicating Protest: The Rhetoric of Violeta, Parra, Social Activist Cantora of the Nueva Canción” by Heather Williams
“In the Middle of the Field: Arvo Part and the Pursuit of popularity, Prestige, and Authenticity” by Jeffrey D. Lundy II
“To Blast away the Things that Block Men’s Ears’: Adorno’s Relevance for Contemporary Music” by Thomas W. Patteson
“Technology and Creativity: The Role of Compositional Tools in the Shaping of Music” by Audrey R. Troutt
“Examining Schubert’s Piano Sonatas His Innovations and his Conservative Shift to a More Classical Style of Composition” by Sara Wood
“African Music Through a Western Lens” by Allison Fremont
“Perceptual Coherence in the Atonal Music of Arnold Schoenberg” by Erin Hannon
Original Compositions and Performances
“Meaning in Music: A Hybrid Composition/Analysis Project” by Susanna Payne-Passmore
“Beyond The Mash-Up: A Composition Inspired by Configurable Culture” by Caegan Quimby
“Songs of the Mountains, Songs of Resistance: A study of protest music against “King Coal” in Southern Appalachia, historically and today” by Sara Henry
“Mandala Music” by Sara Stovall
“Parallelpiped: Sounds Serious” by Thomas Wheat
“Ain’t Nothin’ To It But To Do It: Collaboration and Reflexivity in Experimental Performance” by Caitlin McMullen
“Walpurgis Night in Sarasota: For Chamber Ensemble” by Alejandro Castano
“Winterreise: In Study and Performance” by Brandon Evans
“Systematizing intuition: Musical Composition as Process” by Justin Crowell
“Synthesis of Popular and Institutional Music; Original Compositions and Essay” by Silas Durocher
“The Process of Composing “Brass Quintet”” by Kevin James
“Negotiating Voices: Performing Aaron Copland’s Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson” by Tara Lee Nixon
“Bario’s Sequenza III: An Aesthetics of Otherness” by Amber Vistein
“Le Rythme de la Vie” by Taylor Briggs
“Twinkle’: An Original Musical for Children” by Emily M. Payne
“Eight Pieces for Brass Quintet Combining Serial and Minimalist Compositional Techniques” by Michael Ferguson
“Four Colours” by Jason Rosenberg
Located adjacent to the world-renowned John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art, New College’s Caples Fine Arts Complex is dedicated to students in the fine, visual and performing arts and includes the following:
Each is the setting for performances and exhibitions throughout the year.
Within the Caples Fine Arts Complex, music students enjoy classrooms and practice rooms designed for their needs, as well as a Mac lab for students in all areas of the arts. Sainer Pavilion is also home to the College’s Steinway B grand piano.
Performance at New College is seen as an opportunity to integrate theory and practice. A great example is our New Music New College (NMNC) series, which each year brings world-class performers to campus for concerts and master classes. Students attend the master class sessions for free and are involved in at least two of the performances including Crossroads, an outdoor concert held each spring that brings together musicians from backgrounds as diverse as rock ‘n’ roll, blues, guitar, piano and more. Students who participate may or may not be working toward a Music AOC.
As part of the New Music New College series, alumna Erica Gressman returned to campus recently to present her master’s thesis performance from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. “Wall of Skin” is a multimedia theatrical piece that is emotional and stunning. As a New College student, Gressman performed twice at Crossroads concerts as a drummer and vocalist for the student band Tyger Beat.
New College also offers composers opportunities to hear their work played by professional musicians. Every spring semester a chamber ensemble associated with the Sarasota Orchestra (the Sarasota String Quartet, Sarasota Woodwind Quintet, or Sarasota Brass Quintet) rehearses the works of New College student composers, which culminates in the Composers’ Concert.
Beyond the extensive NMNC programming, students may also sing in the New College Chorus and arrange their own chamber groups. Or they can sing in Acapellago, our four-part mixed a capella choir intent on warming people’s hearts with harmonies and performances throughout the year. New Cats, the College’s eclectic jazz ensemble, is another popular alternative for students in music.
Music faculty are also available to help students make connections with musicians in the Sarasota community who teach private lessons, although students must pay for those lessons over and above the tuition and fees that New College charges.