Stony Brook University, Department of Music Course Descriptions
Spring 2016

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GRADUATE COURSES

 

MUS 500: Proseminar in Musicology
Prof. Catherine Bradley
Wednesday, 2:30-5:30pm, Music Library Seminar Room

What is musicology? How does it differ from history, from performance, or from cultural studies? This course offers a broad introduction to scholarly writings on Western music and to the issues surrounding its historical and theoretical investigations. We will engage with questions of historiography; aesthetics; criticism; gender and sexuality; subjectivity; authenticity and performance practice; musical analysis; sound studies; and the idea of what might constitute a musical “work”. The course offers a comprehensive overview of the field and its key questions, examining the most recent trends in musicology as well as texts that have achieved a classic status within the discipline. There will be weekly readings and tasks, in-class presentations, and a final research paper.

This seminar is primarily intended for MA/PhD students. Though it counts as a “history” course for performers, any MM/DMA students considering enrolling must confer first with Prof. Bradley.

3 credits

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MUS 502: Proseminar in Tonal Analysis
Prof. Sheila Silver
Tuesday, 1-4pm, Staller Center Room 2314

Music 502 deals with the fundamentals of tonal analysis. We will examine in depth several representative works. We will discuss aspects such as phrasing, harmony, counterpoint, and voice leading. There will be weekly written assignments and three short papers. For DMA students, one of these papers may be developed into the DMA essay. This course is also designed to prepare history and composition students for the tonal component of the Comprehensive Analysis Exam.

This counts as a “theory” course for performers, and is intended for all graduate students.

3 credits

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MUS 504: Analysis of 20/21st Century Music: The 20th Century String Quartet
Prof. Daniel Weymouth
Thursday, 1-4pm, Room TBD

The course will involve an in-depth study of several pieces, all string quartets from the past century: Bartok, Berg, Jolas, Ligeti, Reich and Xenakis. We will also consider the nature of analysis and different analytical techniques and what they can (and cannot) tell us about the music.

Students should plan to spend 9 to 12 hours per week on this course outside of class. You will have to do a significant amount of analysis, and I will generally want to see the results, in charts or some similar form, and especially a lot of writing. There will also be readings and research work; weekly assignments will also involve short written responses to assigned readings. Grading will be based on these weekly assignments—on the readings, and on the analyses—along with two term papers. The course is very suitable for performance students as well as historians and composers, but do expect to do graduate-level work.

This counts as a “theory” course for performers and is intended for all graduate students.

3 credits

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MUS 507: Studies in Music History: Music and Power in France from the Sun King to the Revolution
Prof. Erika Honisch
Monday, 1-4pm, Music Library Seminar Room

Music and power have perhaps never been more closely and publicly linked than in absolutist France. Music was an essential component of the ritualized world of the French court under Louis XIV: Lully’s tragédies en musique celebrated the King’s virtue and might; dance rhythms dictated the movements of his courtiers; splendid Te Deum ceremonies asserted the Sun King’s divine protection. The musical traditions he forged and the political system he constructed ultimately collapsed with the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789. In this course we will study the politics underpinning musical genres cultivated in France from the Ancien Régime to the Revolution, and assess how music by composers ranging from Lully, Couperin, and Charpentier to Rousseau, Gluck, and Grétry reinforced—and in some cases resisted—state politics in public and in private. We will focus on French compositions, but we will also consider an important musical response to France’s political ascendancy that was written elsewhere in Europe: Handel’s serenata O come chiare e belle (which will be performed by Stony Brook’s Baroque Ensemble this spring) responds to events triggered by the accession of Philip V, a member of the French Bourbon dynasty, to the Spanish throne. Coursework includes weekly readings, 2 short in-class presentations, a modern edition of a solo or chamber work, and a final paper.

This counts as a “history” course for performers, and is primarily intended for MM/DMA students.

3 credits

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MUS 536: Area Studies in Ethnomusicology: Music and Belief
Prof. Margarethe Adams
Wednesday, 2:30-5:30pm, Staller Center Room 2314

This introductory ethnomusicology graduate seminar examines intersections of music and belief, including the major world religions, as well as older belief systems (animism, shamanism), and religion/philosophy complexes like Confucianism and Taoism. A sample of topics covered include: a study of Taoist ritual priests in northern China; Confucian and Taoist influences in the philosophy and performance of the Chinese zither (guqin); throat-singing and animism in Tuva (Siberia); Sufi influence in the sung poetry and zikr traditions of Central Asia; Christian rock and evangelism. Our study will take both anthropological and musicological approaches to these topics and students will gain an introductory look at important scholarship in (ethnomusicological) social theory along the way. Requirements include weekly readings, one article presentation, bi-weekly written assignments, and a final paper. Attendance and active participation in seminar discussion are mandatory.


This counts as a “history” course for performers, and is primarily intended for MM/DMA students.

3 credits

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MUS 537: Research Methods in Ethnomusicology: Ethnography
Prof. Benjamin Tausig
Thursday, 1-4 pm, Music Library Seminar Room

Ethnography has grown increasingly central to the scholarly study of music. The engagement of living subjects can illuminate music and musical practice from all times and places. And yet, ethnographic methods are not easily defined, no less learned. The challenges of writing human lives compels us to think ethically, legally, interpersonally, and philosophically, often all at once. This course will thus ask students to read extensively in the history of ethnography, reflecting on its key arguments and genealogies. We will learn together how to navigate the special pitfalls of working with human subjects, from making and sustaining friendships in the field to representation, from documentary technology to IRB compliance. At times the course will be exceedingly practical; at others, we'll grapple with heavy-duty aporia. Each student will spend the semester working on an ethnographic project, and your final deliverable will be a scholarly paper based on your findings. 

We will read roughly one book each week, with articles and research guides occasionally thrown in as well. This course is intended for students interested in developing long-term ethnographic research projects, or ethnographic components within broader projects.
This seminar is primarily intended for MA/PhD students. Though it counts as a “history” course for performers, any MM/DMA students considering enrollment must confer first with Prof. Tausig.

3 credits

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MUS 549: Topics in 18th-Century Music: The Decent and the Depraved in 18th-Century Opera
Prof. Keith Johnston
Monday, 1-4pm, Staller Center Room 2314

Eighteenth-century opera has often been examined as a series of so-called “reforms.” At several points throughout the century librettists and composers made self-conscious attempts to change the tone and construction of both opera seria and opera buffa. Metastasio, Goldoni, and Gluck are three of the most prominent figures in this narrative.

This course will investigate these reforms—their nature and impact—through the study of contemporary aesthetic and moral criticism. Eighteenth-century writers often asserted that dramatic topics and musical styles exerted a moral force upon the audience. Impropriety on the stage was therefore not simply a breach of good taste but also a societal evil. Examining the choleric tone of criticism during this period will be one of its most fun experiences. Topics include French Classical thought, the Arcadian Academy, the comedies of Carlo Goldoni, sentimentalism, Weimar Classicism, the phenomenon of the castrato, and influence of classical economics.

Coursework includes intensive weekly discussions, a short paper, class presentation, and on on-going research project that culminates in paper.

This seminar is primarily intended for MA/PhD students. Though it counts as a “history” course for performers, and MM/DMA students considering enrolling must confer first with Prof. Johnston.

3 credits

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MUS 555: Topics in 20th Century Music: Mahler, Philosophy and Musical Thought
Prof. Stephen Decatur Smith
Tuesday, 1-4pm, Music Library Seminar Room

This course combines detailed study of Mahler’s major works with study in the histories of philosophy and musical thought. These three lines of inquiry (music, musical thought, philosophy) will sometimes be clearly linked, as when, for example, we study Mahler’s works alongside texts by Nietzsche or Wagner. At other times, however, we will seek new and unexpected resonances, as our readings range widely through the second half of the 19th century and the first years of the 20th. Readings in the history of music theory and musical thought will include studies of Helmholtz, Riemann, Kurth, Hanslick, and Schenker. Readings in the history of philosophy will include studies of Stumpf, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Marx, as well as the broader movements ofLebensphilosophie and neo-Kantianism. Grades will be based upon class participation, reading responses, in-class presentations, and a final research paper.

This seminar is primarily intended for MA/PhD students. Though it counts as a “history” course for performers, any MM/DMA students considering enrolling must confer first with Prof. Smith.

3 credits

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MUS 559: Topics in Analysis: Parody and Proliferation: The Music of Luciano Berio, Pierre Boulez and Wolfgang Rihm
Prof. Matthew Barnson
Thursday, 1-4pm, Room TBD

Good artists copy; great artists steal.
- Igor Stravinsky, Pablo Picasso, T.S. Elio, Lionel Trilling, William Faulkner and/or Steve Jobs

Great or otherwise, for many artists stealing or “appropriating” is rarely an end in and of itself. This is not to discount motives which may be noble or nefarious, or working habits ranging from idle to industrious, or composers trying emulate great masters or emancipate themselves from them. Rather, it is simply the case that appropriation is often only the beginning - the impetus for elaboration. In this course we will study important “parody” works by Boulez, Berio, and Rihm - works based on other (earlier) works.

In order to give us historical context, we will look a few earlier examples of parody like Palestrina’s motet and mass on the plainchant, Assumpta est Maria, as well as several parody Magnificats by Lassus (supplemented by David Crook’s study.)

We will then turn to important works by Berio (Sequenza VI for viola/Chemins II/Chemins IIb/Chemins IIc, Sequenza VII for Oboe/Chemins IV), Boulez (Anthèmes I/Anthèmes II, Incises/Sur Incises), and Rihm (Chiffre-Zyklus, Gedrängte Form/Gejagte Form/Verborgene Formen/Jagden und Formen). Hunting for allusions is insufficient. In studying these works, we will look at the startling number of ways that the appropriated material is elaborated. To supplement our analysis, we will examine texts by authors like Jonathan Goldman, David Osmond-Smith, and Seth Brodsky.

Composers, theorist, musicologists, and ethnomusicologists are most welcome. Final projects/papers can be tailored to students’ area(s) of focus and theoretical frameworks as long as the papers and projects require rigorous technical analysis. MM/DMA students are welcome, especially those interested in performing works by Rihm, Boulez, and Berio (particularly the Sequenzas). A working knowledge of pitch class set theory will be useful and probably essential.

This seminar is primarily intended for MA/PhD students. Though it counts as a “theory” course for performers, any MM/DMA students considering enrolling must confer first with Prof. Barnson.

3 credits

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MUS 569: Perspectives on the Performance of Music Since 1945
Profs. Judith Lochhead and Eduardo Leandro
Tuesday, 1-4pm, Staller Center Room 2322

The course focuses on issues of performance of music written after 1945 from technical, conceptual and aesthetic perspectives. Weekly assignments will be focused around these topics: notation; extended techniques; rhythmic practices; performing with electronics; structure and analysis, the theatrical and the political; indeterminacy/choice/improvisation; recent music and its listeners; and, interpretation and style. For instance, during one week we will compare performances of Boulez’s Le Marteau sans Maître and toward the end of the term we will do a case study on preparing a performance of a particular work (determination of the work will be based on student enrollment).

Seminar participants will prepare a seminar project at the end of the term which will consist of both a short lecture-recital or colloquium and a written paper based on that topic.

The course is designed to address the issues of performers, composers, and historians, and is open to students in each of these programs

Attendance is mandatory and only one absence is allowed (exceptional circumstances will be considered). Unexcused absences will lower your grade.

Grading is based on weekly assignments, participation in seminar discussion, and the semester project.

This counts as a “history” course for performers, and is intended for all graduate students.

3 credits

 

 

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