The music theory sequence that is required for the major consists of Music 121-122 (Music Theory) and one of Music 221 (Musical Counterpoint) or Music 222 (Musical Structure and Analysis).
We strongly encourage majors through our academic advising to take both Music 221 and 222, especially those students who wish to pursue graduate studies in music; however, both courses are not required. This sequence of courses provides a full spectrum of written theory, from harmony and voice-leading through counterpoint, form and analysis, and twentieth-century techniques. As an adjunct to written work, aural skills are integrated into the first-year music courses (121-122). Also included in all theory classes are several composition assignments in addition to traditional written harmony exercises. All courses in the sequence are open to non-majors who meet the prerequisites either by coursework or by placement exam.
Music theory at Kenyon is taught with an awareness of its connections with the liberal arts. For instance, students in Music 222 compare musical principles of structure with the same principles in other arts, such as painting, architecture, and poetry. They learn that although terminology may differ across disciplines, the basic ideas are often the same. The holistic view of music theory is crucial to the purpose of the liberal arts.
While our music theory students spend a good deal of time analyzing pieces by breaking them apart and observing their structures, they also are asked to approach their study of music from the opposite perspective; that is, through putting pieces together on their own. Composition is included as often as possible in theory classes, even in the first-year course. In this way, students can demonstrate their understanding of harmonic and formal principles not only through standard methods of analysis, but also through guided study and composition of model pieces. In addition, an upper-level composition seminar is available for those students wishing to concentrate on writing skills. Similarly, other advanced music theory classes (e.g., Jazz Theory and Arranging, Instrumentation/Arranging, and even Conducting) approach music from two sides: they each stress both analysis and synthesis.