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music @ Bennington Collegeteacher/practitioner teacher/practitioner


Fall 2001


Bennington students explore music from many angles - improvisation, composition and performance. Music in Practice reflects this philosophy and offers the student who may not have experienced music closely up to now, the opportunity to hear from the inside. Along with work on musical fundamentals, students will improvise, compose for their own instruments and voices, and listen to music from many eras and genres around the world and close at hand.

Course meeting time: Wednesdays 10-12noon

Office/Classroom: Jennings 101

Credits: 2


Living in the 21st century U. S., you may rarely go a day without hearing music. But are you really hearing it?

There are many reasons you may not "hear" the music you hear. One reason could be that while most of us understand music intuitively, few have developed a more conscious, measurable grasp of music. You can’t see it. Some music seems abstract and impenetrable. What is it "saying"? Maybe you dismiss what you are afraid you don’t understand.

In this course you will develop a set of intellectual tools to help you "hear". You will use these tools to understand pre-existing music as well as your own musical reactions and impulses. You will make music so that you come to experience firsthand what it feels like to make musical choices.

The aim of this course is to help you become an active musical "citizen" in live dialogue with your musical environment whether as listener or musicmaker.


There will be little or no traditional reading for this course. Most of your preparation for class will be to listen to music. I caution you not to underestimate the time it takes to listen. I will use pop quizzes to make sure you stay current and can:

      1. identify the music of study by ear
      2. connect it to our class discussions

I will also ask you to create your own musical responses to our class discussions on a frequent and regular basis.

I will ask you to prepare a midterm exam and a final paper or project. These will be defined as we approach them.

Lateness and absence will not be tolerated. Talk to me immediately if you are having any problems understanding the course.


Your will need to purchase CDs containing the music of study from me for $5 a piece, the cost of duplication. This music is to be used for educational purposes only. For copyright reasons, the CDs themselves have no information. Lists of the music on the CDs will only be made available to students in this course by separate handout.


Weeks 1-2

  • Native American chants
  • What is music?
  • Introduction to 8 parameters
Listen to CD 1 selections 1-4

Create a chant to teach
to the class for Week 2

Weeks 3-4

  • Rhythm
  • The grid of time
  • American pop music
Listen to CD 1 selections 5-8

Create a rhythmic pattern
to teach to the class for Week 4

Weeks 5-6

  • Chant in the medieval Catholic Church
  • Melody, Contour, Scales
  • Restriction and Rebellion
  • Texture
  • Harmony
Listen to CD 1 selections 9-12

Prepare in teams to improvise
a polyphonic texture which shows
harmony and melody for Week 6