Spring 2014 Music Department Seminars


Music 450: Negotiating with Beethoven:  The Impact of the “Great Composer” on the Music of the 19th Century
Professor Deborah Heckert

Tuesdays/Thursdays, 1:00-2:20pm, Staller Center Room 2322

In this class we will study the music of the 19th Century, or what is often called “Romantic Music,” with a particular focus on how ideas about Ludwig van Beethoven’s life and works influenced how music was composed, performed, theorized and listened to during the century that followed his death. After a brief introduction to the new social, political and cultural developments that marked the beginning of the Romantic period, and a quick overview of the life and works of Beethoven, we will explore how ideas of the “great composer” and canon formation became extremely important to the music in the 19th century. Next we will examine the development of concert life and beginnings of “attentive listening” during the century, and the competition between audience reactions to virtuosic performers and authoritative composers. The second half of the semester will focus on the genres of the symphony and opera, examining how composers working within both genres had to negotiate with the influence of an almost mythic Beethoven. Topics during this second half will include Wagnerian music drama, the debate between proponents of absolute vs. program music, and nationalism.

3 credits



Music 502: Proseminar in Tonal Analysis
Instructor: David Lawton
Mondays, 1:00-4:00pm, Staller Center Room 2314

The musical forms of nineteenth century Italian opera were based upon conventions that were established early in the nineteenth century by Gioachino Rossini. The conventions involve relationships between dramatic action, poetic construction, and musical form. This course explores the operation of these conventions in the Introduzione, Cavatina or aria, grand duet, and central finale through readings in the musicological literature, and analysis of representative examples from Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia (1816), Bellini's Norma (1831), Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore (1832) and Lucia di Lammermoor (1835), and Verdi's Ernani (1844), Stiffelio (1850), Rigoletto (1851), La traviata, and Aida (1871) The second part of the course will explore related but different relationships in French operas, with examples both from Grand opéra and Opéra comique. We will study scenes from Meyerbeer's Les Huguénots (1836), Gounod's Faust (1859), Verdi's Don Carlos (1867, revised 1884), Bizet's Carmen (1875), and Massenet’s Manon (1883). We will also investigate the formal and structural organization of larger scene complexes as they operate in Verdi's Aida, Act III, and Gounod's Faust, Act II. There will be two papers, one on an Italian, and the other on a French piece. One of these papers may be developed into a doctoral essay. The course is intended primarily for MM and DMA students, but MA and Ph.D. students who want to learn more about this repertoire are also welcome. 

This course fulfills a music theory requirement for the MM/DMA programs.

3 credits 

MUS 504: Analysis of Music of the 20th and 21st Centuries: Post-Tonal Techniques
Instructor: Ilari Kaila
Mondays, 1:00-4:00pm, Staller Center Room 2322

We will study a diverse cross-section of post-tonal music from the past hundred years, using a wide array of formal, harmonic, melodic, and rhythmic analysis methods. In addition to (and in lieu of) presenting your findings as papers and charts, you will be encouraged to apply and deepen your technical understanding of the music by composing stylistic imitations of selected works. These style exercises will be presented and workshopped together in class. We will also inspect some of the analytical techniques themselves and their relationship to our perception, as well as the echoes and evolutionary remnants of the tonal system in 20th-century music. 

There will be weekly assignments—analysis, research, readings, written responses—as well as a final paper or final composition project. 

This course fulfills a music theory requirement for the MM/DMA programs.

3 credits 

MUS 507: Studies in Music History: Schubert, Nature and Form
Instructor: Stephen D. Smith
Tuesdays, 1:00-4:00pm, Music Library Seminar Room (Melville Library W1531)

Schubert’s works, especially his Lieder, often take nature as a central theme; and for a time, Schubert himself was often regarded as a “natural” composer, whose music flowed out of him as a river flows from a spring. At the same time, however, Schubert has also been interpreted as a sort of intimate antithesis of Beethoven, whose formal practices—particularly with respect to harmony, both locally and on larger formal levels—have subsequently been treated as a model of normativity far more often than Schubert’s; and in this sense, Schubert has also been regarded as an unnatural, composer—that is, a composer who deviates from normative harmonic and formal models.

This course will explore the complicated status of nature in Schubert’s works and their reception history, as well as in in depictions of the composer himself. Focusing especially on his Lieder, chamber music, and piano sonatas, we will explore a selection of the many ways in which Schubert’s works have been received and interpreted (including Schenkerian, neo-Riemannian, and hermeneutic methodologies, as well as methods drawn from feminist and queer studies). We will also work to situate Schubert’s compositions within a broader frame of intellectual and cultural history, and to this end, we will study selections from eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature and philosophy; here, we will focus especially figurations of nature, and the ways Schubert’s versions of nature differ from and resonate with those of his predecessors and contemporaries.

Grades will be based upon regular written responses to readings; in-class presentations on works and assigned readings; attendance and participation; and a final research paper assignment.

This course fulfills a music history requirement for the MM/DMA programs.

3 credits 

MUS 517: Introduction to Computer Music
Instructor: Margaret Schedel
Wednesdays, 5:30-9:30pm , Staller Center Room 3357

A hands-on introduction to the uses of computers in the creation and performance of music. Topics include software synthesis, computer manipulation of natural sound, MIDI instruments and their use, and interactive performance. There is a brief survey of the history, literature and repertoire of the field.

This course fulfills a music theory requirement for the MM program.

3 credits

MUS 543: Topics in Medieval Music: Exploring Thirteenth-Century Polyphony
Instructor: Catherine Bradley
Mondays, 1:00-4:00pm, Music Library Seminar Room (Melville Library W1531)

Sacred Polyphony of the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries is often regarded as a starting point for the history of polyphonic music. The repertory of organa, clausulae, conducti, and motets emanating from Notre-Dame in Paris is thought to represent the beginning of musical ‘composition’ as we now know it.  This course will provide a wide-ranging introduction to thirteenth-century polyphony: its distinctive sound-world, beautiful manuscript sources, and ingenious notational systems. It will investigate important historiographical issues and scholarly debates, engaging with the writings of (among others) Christopher Page, Sylvia Huot, Mark Everist, and Edward Roesner. We will also work with on-line manuscript facsimiles, learning to to read and transcribe thirteenth-century notation. There will be weekly readings and projects in transcription/analysis,

in-class presentations, and a final research paper.

This course fulfills a music history requirement for the MM/DMA programs.

3 credits

MUS 549: Topics in 18th-Century Music: Laughter at the Opera in the Eighteenth Century
Instructor: Keith Johnston
Thursdays, 1:00-4:00pm, Staller Center Room 2314

This course explores the practice of musical comedy in the eighteenth century.  Opera and comedy had a particularly rich and fascination relationship in the years leading up to 1800—years in which comic opera became an important incubator of new aesthetic principles.  By exploring the relationship between music and comedy in a dramatic context this class will tackle key questions which are relevant for historiography, contemporary comic and dramatic theory, and even scientific and psychological inquiry.  How can music make us laugh?  How do text and music conspire to create humour?  What traits do comedies share with serious works?  Is comedy life-affirming and therapeutic or ultimately cynical and even nihilistic?    

Coursework will include weekly readings and presentations on source material and recent scholarship.  Several short papers and projects will culminate in a research paper on a topic of the student’s choosing.

This course fulfills a music history requirement for the MM/DMA programs.

3 credits

MUSIC 553: Topics in 19th-Century Music: Opera and Romanticism
Instructor: Ryan Minor
Wednesdays, 2:30-5:30pm, Music Library Seminar Room (Melville Library W1531)

It’s a tired cliché to link opera to an ahistorical, “small r” romanticism; it’s a rigorous academic project to link the genre to the specific historical, cultural, and intellectual milieus of European Romanticism in the first half of the long nineteenth century.  This seminar is concerned exclusively with the latter project.

This is an advanced course intended for PhD students.  It is one of three “linked” PhD seminars across disciplines that simultaneously, and in tandem, are exploring the European and global manifestations of Romanticism; the others are in History (Prof. Kathleen Wilson) and English (Prof. Peter Manning).  For most of the semester the seminars meet independently, but for three meetings we will assemble together for some broader interdisciplinary discussions in conjunction with guest speakers.  

On the weeks we meet alone, readings will include historical texts (de Staël, Balzac, Stendhal, Kierkegaard; Hoffmann; Heine; Kleist), influential twentieth-century criticism of Romanticism (Bloch; Lukács; Adorno), and recent scholarship (Abbate; Tomlinson; Frigau-Manning; Wellbery; Albright; Dolan; Fend; Sayre and Lowy).  We will obviously be looking at a number of works as well (I Puritani; Guillaume Tell; Macbeth; Robert le Diable; La Damnation de Faust; Der Freischütz; Der Fliegende Holländer; Lohengrin), in addition to questions raised by their contemporary production in the opera house.

Participants will need to devote a substantial amount of time to viewing opera productions outside of class.  You should not enroll for this seminar if you are not willing to commit to these screenings, which of course are in addition to the readings and other work for the class.  Grades will be based on attendance and participation, weekly written responses, at least one in-class presentation, and a substantial research paper.

This course fulfills a music history requirement for the MM/DMA programs.

3 credits

MUSIC 559: Topics in Analysis:  Britten’s Turn of the Screw 
Instructor: George Fisher
Thursdays, 1:00-4:00pm, Staller Center Room 2310 

The course will be an in depth analysis of Benjamin Britten’s chamber opera Turn of the Screw (1954), which is being produced at Stony Brook in the spring.  The class will involve close study of the Britten score, adapting and developing analytic approaches most suited to addressing long-range formal and dramatic structures in the work.  Resources, in addition the score and recorded performances, will include the James novel plus secondary literature about Britten and analytic approaches to related repertory.   People involved in the Stony Brook production will be invited into the class as appropriate.  Weekly assignments in conjunction with score study will include listening and viewing various performances and productions, reading related articles, developing analytic sketches, and writing short papers.   Each student will also be responsible for an oral presentation and a final research paper based on that presentation.    

This course fulfills a music theory requirement for the MM/DMA programs.

3 credits

MUS 569: Perspectives on the Performance of Music Since 1945
Instructors: Eduardo Leandro and Judy Lochhead
Tuesdays, 1:00-4:00 pm, 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 course fulfills a music history requirement for the MM/DMA programs.


3 credits



Fall 2013 Music Department Seminars

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Music 450 Favorite and Forgotten Music of the Chamber, 1760-1825
Professor Keith Johnston

Mondays/Wednesdays 2:30-3:50 Fine Arts I, Room 2322

An examination of chamber works from the end of the long eighteenth century, the context of their performance, and place in musical historiography. The course will aim to enrich and challenge students’ understanding of chamber music and to equip them with the skills necessary to articulately discuss why this genre remains one of fascination for musicologists, historians, and performers alike. We will do this through three units. The first unit will outline a history of great chamber works from early Haydn to late Beethoven by examining selected works in detail (reinforced with weekly listening quizzes and culminating in a test). The second will examine the varied contexts and meanings of chamber music performance in the crucial years of its development in the late-eighteenth century (explored through weekly written responses to the readings and culminating in an assignment that examines a primary document). The third unit will present three case studies that will allow us to use our sharpened skills at musical, historical, and sociological investigation (this unit culminates in a final paper based on the issues explored in the course).


MUS 500 Proseminar in Musicology
Wednesdays, 2:30-5:30 pm, Music Library Seminar Room
Instructor: Mauro Calcagno

An introduction to the scholarly study of Western music. Topics may include: bibliographic tools for research; historical, theoretical, and analytical methodologies; textual scholarship; organology and iconography; performance practice; aesthetics and criticism; sociology of music; perception and cognition; gender and sexuality; musicology in today’s academia and society. Overview of the history of the field. Emphasis on recent trends in American musicology.

Mondays 1:00-4:00 pm, Staller Center, 2314
Instructor: Jamuna Samuel

An investigation of formal and expressive procedures in tonal music, using works and excerpts from Bach to Brahms as case studies. Units will include Classical phrase types and larger-scale forms used by Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven; detailed analyses of selected Brahms intermezzos, Chopin preludes, and Schubert Lieder; the relationship between form and drama as exemplified in excerpts from Mozart and Verdi operas.

Class sessions will rely upon a rotation of student presentations. Each student will present several times over the course of the term, and each presentation will be followed by a written essay. The culmination of the course will consist of both a final presentation and a related 15-page paper. Attendance is strictly mandatory, as is the completion of weekly assignments consisting of readings and written analyses.

This course fulfills a music theory requirement for the MM/DMA programs
3 credits

Thursdays: 1:00-4:00 pm, Staller Center, 2314
Instructor: Daniel Weymouth

The course will involve an in-depth study of several pieces, all string quartets from the (just) past century: Bartok, Berg, Jolas, Ligeti, Crumb, Reich and others. 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 usually want to see the results, in charts or some similar form, especially a lot of writing. There will also be readings and research work. Weekly work will also involve short written responses to assigned readings. Grading will be based on these weekly assignments, along with two papers. The course is suitable for performance students as well as historians and composers, but do expect to do graduate-level work.

This course fulfills a music theory requirement for the MM/DMA programs.
3 credits

Nationalism and Exoticism in 19th and 20th Century Music
Mondays, 1-4pm, Staller Center 2318
Instructor: Deborah Heckert

Music is one of the primary ways in which nations and ethnic groups explore aspects of their identity, and define themselves against differing groups they define as “other.” Music helps to construct the myths of nationhood and otherness, and at the same time, can offer a critique of those myths. This course will focus on the topic of music as an expression of national identity and definition of exotic “otherness” during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, exploring the range of music – solo and chamber music, orchestral music, and opera – that exploits these linked topics. A wide variety of music will be studied, including works by Bizet, Puccini, Dvorak, Debussy, Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Stravinsky, Krenek, McPhee, Copland, and Reich. Readings will include selections from key writers on nationalism and post-colonial theory from a broad socio-cultural perspective, as well as important examples from the growing body of work in musicology drawing on and contributing to our understanding of nationalism and exoticism from a post-colonial perspective. Requirements will include regular class participation, frequent reading responses, and a research seminar paper.

This course fulfills a music history requirement in the MM/DMA programs.
3 credits


Thursdays: 1:00-4:00 pm, Music Library Seminar Room (Melville Library W1531)
Instructor: Margarethe Adams

This introductory ethnomusicology course 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. Our study will take both musicological and anthropological approaches to these topics and students will gain an introductory look at important social theory scholarship along the way. A sample of topics covered include: 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 of the 1970s. Requirements include weekly readings, one article presentation, several short written assignments, and a final paper. Attendance and active participation in seminar discussion is mandatory.

This course fulfills a music history requirement for the MM/DMA programs.
3 credits

Music and Modernism: Natural, Unnatural, Supernatural

Mondays, 1:00-4:00 pm, Music Library Seminar Room
Instructor: Stephen D. Smith

In his 1936 essay on Nikolai Leskov, Walter Benjamin describes the generation that saw the cataclysmic transformations of the world around World War I. After the war, he writes, a “generation that had gone to school on a horse-drawn streetcar stood under the open sky in a countryside in which nothing remained unchanged but the clouds...” The experience of immense change that Benjamin describes remains in many ways recognizable for us today. And yet, in at least one important sense, Benjamin’s image has grown incomplete. Our own modernity confronts us ever more often with the face of a nature that grows unfamiliar, or even seems to vanish entirely. We, too, look upon a changed countryside; but we can no longer say that the clouds remain unchanged. 

This seminar will study some of the many ways in which musical modernism has registered the changing status of nature across the twentieth century, reaching back into the late nineteenth century, and forward into the early twenty-first. In particular, it will focus on the ways that images of nature decompose into the unnatural (the machine), the too natural (the animal) or the supernatural (the angel). Class meetings will be divided into two lines of inquiry. On the one hand, some meetings will deal primarily with composers and musical works, including music by Wagner, Debussy, Ravel, Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Varese, Cage, Carter, Babbitt and others. These sessions will examine the ways in which these works respond to, or are catalyzed by, a nature that is changed, changing, or vanishing. On the other hand, some meetings will deal with theoretical and philosophical literature—some pre-modern, some modern, some modernist, some contemporary—that seeks to conceptualize nature and its relationship with art in general, and music in particular.

Requirements will include in-class presentations on readings, and a final research paper. This course fulfills a music history requirement for the MM/DMA programs.

3 credits

MUSIC 557 Topics in Music Theory
Current Research in Music Theory

Tuesdays, 1:00-4:00 pm, Music Library Seminar Room (Melville Library W1531)
Instructor: Judith Lochhead

Participants in this seminar will survey current research in music theory, with a special emphasis put on theories of music of the 20th/21st centuries. We will be reading work in these areas: associational theories, mathematical approaches to pitch and voice leading, transformational theories (including Neo-Riemannian theory), cognition-based theories, formal theories, and others as appropriate. Throughout the semester we will consider how the theoretical approaches address musical works or repertoires.
Our goals in the seminar are: 1) a review of current thought in the practice of music theory, and 2) meta-theoretical consideration of how theories are constructed and how they function in musical discourse generally.

Course Requirements:
Attendance at all class meetings
Weekly précis on reading assignments and occasional seminar presentations on the readings
Participation in seminar discussions
Final Project: a major seminar paper (15-20 pages)
In-class presentation on your final project at the end of the term.

This course fulfills a music theory requirement for MM/DMA programs.
3 credits

MUS 559: Topics in Analysis
Analyzing Vernacular Music
Instructor: Peter Winkler
Mondays, 1-4 p.m. Music Library Seminar Room

How should we analyse popular music, folk music, or jazz? To what extent are analytical techniques developed for the study of Western Art music relevant? What aspects of the music do such techniques leave out or ignore? How can we address those aspects? In this course we will investigate various analytic approaches to vernacular music (primarily from the United States and England), including Jeff Todd Titon on blues, Alan Forte on pre-1950 American Popular song, Walter Everett on the Beatles, and the work of other scholars such as Robert Walser, David Brackett, and Philip Tagg. Most of the music we will study does not rely primarily on musical notation, so we will also need to consider the uses and pitfalls of musical transcription, with particular attention to Ruth Crawford Seeger's work on American Folk song.
There will be weekly readings and projects in analysis and transcription, and a term project. This course is intended for students with a firm foundation in music theory and analysis; at least one graduate-level theory course is a prerequisite.
This course fulfills a music theory requirement for MM/DMA programs.
3 credits

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