Stony Brook University, Department of Music Course Descriptions
Fall 2014

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MUS 450
Seminar in Music History: Introduction to Sound Studies in Music
Tuesday, Thursday, 02:30 - 03:50 PM, Staller Center, 2322
Instructor: Katherine Kaiser

Over the course of the last century, loudspeakers, the recording studio, ringtones, iPods and other music technologies have altered the way we produce, listen to, and conceive of music.  From tape music to multimedia installations, composers have adapted to and driven these changes, blurring the line between sound and music. Sound studies, one of the fastest-growing and most influential scholarly discourses in music studies, offers a useful framework to both reconsider traditional concert music and understand experimental contemporary musical works in light of these technological and conceptual changes. During the course of the semester, we will consider questions such as: How does perceiving music as sound change the way we listen to and study music? What is the role of technology in shaping sonic expression?  How do 20thand 21st century works engage sound?

Course work includes reading the key texts in sound studies and music history and theory. Additionally, we will study works by Charles Ives, Leos Janáček, Pierre Schaeffer, Pauline Oliveros, Steve Reich, and Janet Cardiff, among others. Students will be asked to think critically and to write about the technological mediation of sound and the role of sound both in their daily lives and in contemporary music. Grades will be based on participation in class discussion, weekly reading and listening assignments, weekly blog posts in the style of key online sound studies journals, and a final research paper that draws on the themes and scholarship discussed in the course. MUS 352 should be taken as a pre- or co-requisite to this course.


MUS 501: Compositional Skills of Tonal Music
Monday, 1:00 – 4:00PM, Staller Center, 2314
Instructor: Sheila Silver

MUS 501 is an accelerated review of tonal harmony and counterpoint, focusing on a mastery of the principles.  We begin by perfecting the harmonization of a choral in the style of Bach and then move into species counterpoint with the goal of composing an Invention in two parts.  The goal of the course is not only to bring your tonal hearing to a higher level but also to increase your overall contrapuntal technique  -- relevant to any style in which you are composing.  While this course is designed for composers, qualified students from other programs may participate.  This course does NOT fulfill the DMA theory course requirement.    

MUS 502: Proseminar in Tonal Analysis
Thursday, 1:00 – 4:00 PM, Staller Center, 2314
Instructor: Daniel Weymouth

Analysis is not just about the “what” of a piece, but also the “why.”  We will consider some very well-known works (Mozart, Haydn, Schubert) along with some lesser-known ones.  By thinking about various ways of looking at the music – rhythmic, harmonic, linear, thematic, structural – we will attempt develop a way of looking at the whole piece.  As a consequence, we will also consider the nature of analysis: what it 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.  Weekly work may also involve short written responses to assigned readings.  Grading will be based on these weekly assignments, along with two papers (the second one can be a re-write).  You will work hard, but I promise that you will also learn a lot.  The course is suitable for performance students as well as historians and composers.  Some familiarity with the vocabulary of tonal chords is assumed.  

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

3 credits         

MUS 503 Music of the 20th and 21st Centuries: Music from 1945 to the Present
Monday, 1:00pm – 4:00pm, Melvlle Library, W1531

Instructor: Stephen Smith

This course studies music in the Western concert tradition, dating mostly from 1945 to the present. It will consider particular works in their historical contexts; texts relating to these works written by composers, theorists, performers, historians, and critics; performance issues raised by this music; and questions that arise in the process of analyzing these works.

Grades will be based upon in-class presentations, brief written responses to weekly readings, and a final research project.

This course is required for MA students in the History-Theory program and fulfills a music history requirement for the MM/DMA programs.

3 credits

MUS 504: Proseminar in the Analysis of 20th and 21st Century Music
Thursday, 1:00 – 4:00 PM, Staller Center, 2310
Instructor:  Matthew Barnson

Participants in this proseminar will explore methods and models for analyzing music created in the 20th and 21st centuries with a particular focus on notated post-tonal repertoires. 

During the first half of the course, we will study canonical 20th Century works and the attendant scholarship (including some set theory). We will then turn to recent music for which little or no secondary literature exists. Throughout the course we will consider how (now) classic post-tonal analytical methods illuminate or obscure, privilege or exclude some aspects of music, and how or if they might be used to understand new or neglected repertoires that might share qualities of “post-tonal” music even though they might not be strictly “post-tonal."

Many important works from the 20th Century were accompanied by manifestos, theoretical treatises, scholarship, publicity, and propaganda. Many Modernist composers or those in their circles - including scholars, performers, and philosophers - felt the need to explain and defend this music to a hostile or indifferent public. Thus, we will consider both the techniques and rhetoric of these analytical methods and the attendant possibilities and problems posed to scholars, performers, and composers employing them, as well as the expectations placed on audiences hearing the music described.  

Finally, participants will apply analytical techniques studied or provisionally developed in the course to a work created after 2010.

Course work includes weekly readings and listening, regular response papers, analytical assignments, and a final paper. 

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

3 credits

MUS 507: Studies in Music History: Death, Dying, and Consolation in Music from Bach to Britten
Monday 1:00 – 4:00 PM, Staller Center, 2318
Instructor: Keith Johnston

Participants in the seminar will study selected works that reflect composers' changing attitudes and individual creative approaches to terminal illness, bodily suffering, murder, suicide, trauma, grief, forgiveness, acceptance, and resilience in music.  Works include Schütz's Musikalische Exequien, Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito, Schubert’s Winterreise, Verdi’s La Traviata, Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, Brahms’s Requeim, Massenet’s Werther, Mahler's Kindertotenlieder, Vaughan Williams’s Dona nobis pacem, and Britten’s War Requieum.  We will investigate the way these works reflect and have influenced ideas about death through a comparative analysis of music, literature, iconography, and writings about death by authors including Montaigne, Hume, Goethe, Leopardi, Schopenhauer, Whitman, Owen, Philippe Ariès, and contemporary musicologists. 

Course work will include weekly written responses to the material, an in-class presentation, an individual research project, and class attendance and participation. 

This course is not designed to have participants gothically wallow in musical sadness or bugaboo.  It is instead designed to investigate the musical means by which artists have interpreted and represented this most profound certainty of human experience.  

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

3 credits

Music 514 and 344 Audio Engineering
Thursday, 1:00 - 4:00 PM, STALLER Center, 3361A
Instructor: Andrew Nittoli

Technical fundamentals of audio engineering for the serious practitioner, with primary emphasis on sound reinforcement and recording arts. Wave propagation and room acoustics will be examined, as well as the nature of sound and music, and their parametric representations in the time and frequency domains. The course focuses on measurement and critical listening, and investigates the basic operational theory of devices and systems including microphones, mixers, analog tape machines, interconnects, editing, and digital recording systems. We will discuss the operation of the basic Amplifier, Servo systems, and Digital theory beginning with the Uniform Sampling Rate Theorem, Quantization, and Dither. A qualitative approach will be taken in order to make concepts accessible to the musician and technical practitioner.

Course Requirements: Midterm exam and Final exam, plus a Project in Critical Listening.

This course fulfills a music theory requirement in the MM (only) program.

3 credits

Music 515 Fundamental of Electronic Music
Tuesdays, 7:00-10:00 PM, Staller Center 3343
Instructor: Daria Semegen

A technical or scientific background is not required. Graduate students may enroll (undergraduates need special permission). In this intriguing subject, you'll experience, observe and interpret categories of sounds, art forms and processes in new ways. Performers, composers and scholars improve their observation and evaluation of sounds, their sonic components and creation through focused parametric listening (hear what you’ve been missing!), basic acoustics, and hands-on electronic music studio work including: sound generation, recording, modification, mixing, timbral design analog/digital editing, post-production methods, musique concrète and analog voltage-controlled modular synthesis techniques (vintage Buchla, Moog, Arp synths).

Our one-of-a-kind classic analog studio with its custom-designed sound modification devices includes influential, pioneering German engineer Harald Bode’s “Klangumwander”, Bode Ring-Modulator; EMT Classic Electronic Reverberation units (Elektromesstechnik), a variety of band-pass, graphic, analog filters/equalizers, TSM flanger and other effects/signal generators. Observe, detect, compare how sounds behave within various contexts, understand their aural perception, psychological effect, strategies of use and their aesthetic and technical aspects. Included is a brief historical survey of electronic music and audio technology, discussion of landmark works, aesthetic concepts, creative approaches including combinations with other media/arts and technologies; analog and digital processes and their ergonomics: influences on thinking, choice of working methods, musical outcomes, sensory and aesthetic discernment. Pursue answers to philosophical and practical questions including: what is art? what is the purpose of pitch? why and how can noise be music? what are the psychological effects of silence and sound in different contexts? why is improvisation-play an essential basis for nuanced studio work? what are the basic tasks and thinking-tools of artists working in all media? are DJs virtuosos? how do we observe, understand and evaluate work using sonic+visual media?

Included are basic sound engineering skills and studio terminology; designing timbres, densities, transients for sonic gestures, editing in textural composition, spatialization, sonic depth of field; recognition, description and analysis of formal structures in electronic music with or without scores; composition strategies and improvisation methods, digital editing techniques in sound-art composition.

We hear and discuss students’ studio practice tasks and any original work. Periodic assignments may include audio tasks, brief research papers and critiques on listening, mixed media, musical/tech landmarks, individuals, styles/trends/devices/aesthetics/psychoacoustics, genres or related topics. This evening class has a refreshment break: complimentary coffees, teas, munchables.

This course fulfills a music theory requirement for students in the MM(only) program. It is required for MA/PhD composition students. Please contact Prof. Semegen with any questions:

3 credits

MUS 536: Area Studies in Ethnomusicology: Southeast Asian Music and Global Conflict
Thursdays, 1-4pm, W1531-Melville Library
Instructor: Benjamin Tausig

This introductory ethnomusicology course explores the deep connections between musical practice and geopolitical conflict that have existed in Mainland Southeast Asia for several centuries. We will listen especially closely to the 20th century, when colonialism, war, and industrialization were brought to bear on local musics in profound ways. Specific case studies include genocide and Cambodian popular music, the use of Thai mor lam as an anti-communist propaganda tool, the music of Hmong and Lao refugees in the postwar United States, and censorship in contemporary Burmese rock. We will examine each genre formally, and understand it through relevant critical readings in the theory of music in dynamic global societies.

Requirements include weekly readings and listening, class presentations, regular response papers and in-class discussions, and a final paper.

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

3 credits

Music 542: Ethnomusicology and Social Theory
Wednesday, 2:30 – 5:30 pm, Melville library W1531
Instructor: Margarethe Adams

The goal of this course is to provide a solid foundation in social theory in ethnomusicology by giving students an understanding of historical trajectories in the discipline and through studying influential theoretical areas of inquiry such as semiotics; aesthetics; place and embodiment; nationalism and transnationalism; copyright, ownership and cultural rights; music and emotion; and music and ecology. Requirements include two article presentations, bi-weekly written assignments on the readings, occasional in-class writings, a final paper and a final oral presentation.

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

3 credits

Music 547: Topics in Baroque Music--Rhetoric and Affect in Seventeenth-Century Music
Tuesday, 1:00 – 4:00 PM, Staller Center, 2314
Instructor: Erika Honisch

In the seventeenth century, composers were often referred to as “musical poets.” Developed most extensively in the German Lutheran tradition, this designation nevertheless reflects (and depends on) widely held assumptions about music’s status as a kind of discourse through which ideas could be persuasively and dramatically communicated. It also reflects music’s transfer—initiated by the rhetorically-minded humanists of the sixteenth century—from the mathematical quadrivium to the verbal trivium, and a growing interest in the power of utterance. Such momentous shifts displaced the venerable understanding of music as “sounding number.” In the new view, sound itself—not its numerical abstraction—was connected to affect: to borrow the opening line of René Descartes’s Compendium musicae (1618), “The object of music is sound. Its purpose is to please and arouse in us various passions.” In short, music was something to be heard, felt, and understood.

In this course, we will examine the changing relationship between sound, rhetoric, and affect in a century characterized by musical “polystylism,” the rise of instrumental music, and a gradual reorientation in pitch space from modal to tonal pitch structures. Bearing in mind Horace’s dictum that the poet should aim to delight (delectare), instruct (docere), and persuade (movere), we will consider the ways in which­­ composers ranging from Monteverdi to Schütz to Lully manipulated rhythm, texture, and style in order to craft effective and moving compositions––what might reasonably be called “musical orations.” We will adopt socio-historical, repertorial, and analytical approaches in order to tackle these problems. We will engage with a combination of primary source readings (e.g. Burmeister, Bernhard, Raguenet) and secondary literature (e.g. Eric Chafe, Mauro Calcagno, Tim Carter, Suzanne Cusick, Andrew dell’Antonio, and Bettina Varwig), teasing out the tangled threads of scholarly debates about the ways music was heard in the seventeenth century. In four weeks of the semester, we will focus on one specific place and cultural moment: Mantua, Venice, Dresden, and Paris/Versailles.

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 559: Topics in Analysis: Analyzing Early Music
Monday, 1:00 – 4:00 pm, Staller Center, 2318
Instructor: Catherine Bradley

While 19th- and 20th-century repertoires are richly furnished with multiple analytical methodologies, music written before 1600 often poses a challenge for the analyst. How might we talk about compositions for which we appear to lack an analytical vocabulary, since the rules of tonal harmony or concepts of structural and motivic unity seem inappropriate and unenlightening?  This seminar aims to develop alternative approaches and analytical criteria that prove more fruitful for the understanding of polyphonic music before 1600.

Repertoires studied will include: the earliest motets, fourteenth-century chansons and isorhythmic techniques, motets and Masses by Machaut, Dufay, Dunstaple, Josquin, Palestrina, and others. In addition to the detailed scrutiny of musical materials across a variety of styles and genres, we will engage with and critique existing scholarly debates surrounding specific pieces (particularly those which have prompted controversially differing interpretations in recent scholarship) and musical practices.

There will be weekly readings and analysis projects, in-class presentations, and a final research paper.

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

3 credits


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