“Music is the means by which the sage stirs heaven and earth, moves the spirits, shepherds the multitudes, and perfects the myriad things.” —Ying Shao

“Musical training is a more potent instrument than any other, for rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul.” —Socrates

  • A student learning guitar

Musicality, developed through musical training, consists of skills, sensibilities, and knowledge used to understand, reflect upon, and respond to musical content and context. A sense of its significance is universal among cultures; yet approaches to understanding this significance are as diverse as the musics of the world. Students in DRBU’s Music strand draw such approaches from the world’s classics traditions and integrate them with an embodied engagement in each musical tradition in order to explore and develop their musicality.

Students begin this exploration of musicality through direct engagement with primary sources, reading and listening in order to broaden their musical horizons. As students gain familiarity with the symbols, language, and style of each work, they will also practice exercises drawn from each musical tradition. This combined engagement in practice and analysis is simultaneously deeply intellectual and emotional, revealing over time not only the interconnected relationships between one’s own feelings and ideas, but also opening up new understandings of others’ perspectives and experiences.

The yearly curriculum is organized around musical skills grouped into topics that develop and unfold as various musical approaches are applied to them. This exposes students to musical styles from across cultures and centuries through a pedagogical focus around specific musical skills. Students develop skills to listen, understand, and communicate in yet another “language” while also gaining an appreciation of the diversity of expression possible in musical languages.

Sophomore Year

The first year of the Music strand begins with the topic of common musical elements. We will examine correspondences between music and musical instruments, relationships with poetry and ritual, and perspectives on rhythm and pitch. Examples include uses in religious ritual, the human voice and other musical instruments, rhythmic patterns, repetition, and systems of musical notation. Students will begin to explore skills in listening and performing both through practice and textual explorations of the significance of these skills in different traditions.

Junior Year

The second year will explore the topic of melody, including intonation, phrasing, and texture. The course will begin by looking at instrumental timbre and its relationship to pitch class and proportion. Tuning systems will be discussed from the perspectives of a number of musical traditions and their corresponding instruments as students begin to understand more deeply the significance of melodic voice and texture in various styles of music. Students will continue to develop basic musical skills with greater depth as they both broaden and deepen their musicality.

Senior Year

The third year will explore the topic of musical form, including systems of organization of large-scale musical works and the contribution of form to different contexts. Examples include storytelling, repetition and variation, and functional harmony. Students will integrate skills developed over the course of the three-year program, reflect on their own development of musicality, and apply critical thinking to each work, its context, and its potential significance.

Selection of composers and works explored in the Music strand


  • Bharatamuni, Treatise on Performing Arts
  • Confucius, The Classic of Rites
  • Nicomachus, Manual of Harmonics
  • Rameau, Treatise on Harmony



  • The VedasThe Koran, Gregorian Mass, Metta Sutta, Lotus Sūtra
  • Traditional, The Great Ambush
  • Varimezovo, Makedonsko Horo
  • Traditional, Sala Kpa Kpa
  • Brubeck, Three to Get Ready and Four to Go
  • Shankar, An Introduction to Indian Music
  • Traditional, Gending Bortang Babar Layar
  • Josquin, Pange Lingua Mass
  • Traditional, Dikobo Damu Da Sombe
  • Bach, Fugue in C-Sharp Minor
  • Monteverdi, Orpheo
  • Mozart, The Magic Flute
  • Beethoven, Symphony No. 9 in D Minor
  • Smetana, Ma Vlast
  • Traditional, Jin Yuan Seeks Her Son