The goal of the Music Department is to enable a broad range of students to explore a wide variety of musical experiences and practices. Supported by their development of musicianship and technical skills, concentrators will acquire a more sophisticated understanding of music in historical and cultural contexts, theory and composition, and performance, while pursuing one of these areas in greater depth.
Music study at Hamilton encompasses many areas of performance, scholarship, and creativity. For a complete list of courses, view the Course Catalogue.
You can also explore courses by topic:
Music Technology and Composition
Courses in composition and creative applications of music technologies include Music 368 (Seminar in Musical Composition), Music 270 (Introduction to Music, Sound, and Technology), and Music 370 (Advanced Audio Production). Students create new musical works for each other and for visiting artists, using the state-of-the-art facilities in the Kennedy Center for Theatre and the Studio Arts.
Music History and Cultures
Courses in music history and cultures include Music 220 Chant to Bach, Music 221 Bach to Bartók, Music 254 World Music, Music 259 and 260 History of Jazz, as well as courses in Roots Music to Country Music, Music and American Film, Opera, and African American Popular Music.
Visiting artists on our Performing Arts series offer further opportunities to experience music from a broad range of musical styles and cultures; recent examples include Taiko drums San Jose, jazz pianist Christian Sands, Ping Chong & Co.’s Beyond Sacred program, the Albany Symphony, and JACK string quartet.
Regardless of your background in music theory, we have the course for you—one that will help you be a better listener, performer, musician, arranger, and/or composer. Courses in music theory include Music 110 (Music Theory for Non-Majors), Music 210/211 (Fundamentals and Chromatic Harmony), and Music 310 (Counterpoint and Musical Forms), as well as Aural Skills (Music 180 and 280) and Keyboard Skills (Music 181 and 281).
Students with a strong background in music theory can place directly into Music 211 or 310 with appropriate performance on the optional music theory placement test.
Performance is central to Hamilton's music program, and the opportunity both to perform and to experience world-class performances is provided for all students, regardless of academic concentration:
- Private lessons in orchestral and jazz instruments, piano and organ, and voice
- Ensemble performance: Orchestra, Chamber Music, Jazz Ensemble and Combo, Choral Ensembles
- Performing Arts Series and department concerts
Requirements for a Concentration or Minor in Music
A concentration in music comprises 10 courses: 210 or 211, 201 or 220, 202 or 221, 254 or 259 or 260, 310, the Senior Project (452), and
- 100 and three full-credit electives at the 200-level or above (including at least one at the 300-level), or
- four full-credit electives at the 200-level or above (including at least one at the 300-level).
Concentrators must also pass proficiency exams in aural and keyboard skills, and demonstrate basic skills in music technology. They are also expected to participate in department ensembles in each semester. Students who need to prepare for the proficiency exams should consider taking Music 180 and 181.
Students contemplating graduate work in music should consult with a member of the department at an early date. Department honors can be earned by students who have at least a 3.5 average in their coursework that counts toward the concentration as well as through distinguished achievement in Mus 550-551 (Honors Senior Project I-II).
A minor in music comprises five courses: one theory course (110, 210, or 211) and four others from among these possibilities:
- Music 100
- one course credit in group performance, applied music, or solo performance
- full-credit courses at the 200-level or above
Sample 4-Year Plans for Music Concentration
The following is only a suggestion of how the student might schedule his/her courses for the concentration. Depending on the Music Theory Placement Exam results, a student may be able to begin Music Theory studies with Mus 210 rather than 110. The department strongly recommends that students enroll in 180, 181, 280, and 281 when they begin Music theory classes (Mus 110, 210, and 310). Mus 180, 181, 280, and 281 may be repeated for credit as necessary in order to pass proficiency. Students are also expected to participate in department ensembles in each semester.
|Year||Fall Semester||Spring Semester|
|Year 1||100||110, 221, 181|
|Year 2||210, 180, 220||310, 280, 254/259/260*|
|Year 3||281, 200, or 300-level elective||
200- or 300-level elective
|Year 4||200- or 300-level elective||452|
|Year||Fall semester||spring semester|
|Year 1||210, 180, 181||310, 221, 280, 281|
|Year 3||200- or 300-level elective||200- or 300-level elective|
|Year 4||200- or 300-level elective||452|
*Only one of these two courses are required. Each is offered every other year, one each year.
- Sight read in treble and bass clef diatonic melodies in all major keys (with leaps and steps) within a one octave range using solfege syllables or scale numbers.
- Sight read in treble and bass clef diatonic melodies in all minor keys (with leaps and steps) within a one octave range using solfege syllables or scale numbers. Exercises will include natural, melodic, and harmonic minor scales.
- Sight read rhythms in simple meters with subdivisions of four and triplets (including dotted and tied rhythms).
- Sight read rhythms in compound meters with subdivisions of two (including dotted and tied rhythms).
- Intervals: identify any interval (ascending or descending) played up to an octave.
- Triads: identify the quality of any triad (major, minor, diminished, augmented, major-minor 7th).
- Chord progressions: identify authentic and plagal cadences (V-I and IV-I)
- Notate short (four-measure) diatonic melodies (with leaps and steps) in simple and compound meters within a one-octave range (after four hearings).
Proficiency in Aural Skills may be demonstrated by:
- Completing Mus 180 (Basic Aural Skills) with a grade of B or higher OR
- Meeting with Prof. Hamessley and demonstrating competency in the above skills.
- Treble and bass clef note identification; keyboard note location.
- Intervals: play any interval up to an octave above or below any given note.
- Major scales: either hand, play in any key, two octaves ascending and descending, correct fingering memorized.
- Minor scales: either hand, play in any key, two octaves ascending and descending, correct fingering memorized.
- Triads: play any triad given the root, 3rd, or 5th.
- Chord progressions: play the following in any major or minor key (two hands) – IV-V-I, ii6-V-I.
- Seventh chords: play any one given the root, 3rd, 5th, or 7th.
- Basic note reading (as in a beginning piano book).
- Sight read a hymn or four-part chord progression.
Proficiency in Keyboard Skills may be demonstrated by:
- Completing Mus 181 (Basic Keyboard Skills) with a grade of B or higher OR
- Meeting with Mr. Best and demonstrating competency in the above skills.
- Music notation software: prepare a rehearsal-ready score and parts using Finale, Sibelius, or MuseScore.
- Audio recording and digital distribution: record yourself or someone else singing or playing an instrument, and make this publicly available online (e.g., on SoundCloud or YouTube).
Proficiency in music notation software may be demonstrated by:
- Completing Mus 368 (Seminar in Musical Composition) with a grade of B or higher OR
Meeting with Prof. Carter and demonstrating competency in the above skills.
Proficiency in audio recording and digital distribution may be demonstrated by:
- Completing Mus 270 (Introduction to Music, Sound, and Technology) with a grade of B or higher OR
- Meeting with Prof. Carter and demonstrating competency in the above skills.
In addition to these courses, resources for learning music technology skills are offered through Lynda courses and LITS. Contact Ben Salzman for details.
Lydia Hamessley, Chair
Clinton, NY 13323