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Courses Offered

Spring 2020

 

MUS 502: Proseminar in Tonal Analysis

Instructor: Daniel Weymouth

Thursdays, 1-4pm, Staller Center 2314

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.

This is a very nuts-and-bolts, into-the-guts-of-the-music course.  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 and harmony is assumed.  

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 Music of the 21 st Century

Instructor: Nirmali Fenn

Tuesdays, 1-4pm, Staller Center 2310

“The impossibilities of today are the possibilities of tomorrow” - Charles Ives

Many post-tonal works embody Ives’s statement of music in search of frontiers. With each frontier search, musicians are involved with a widening spectrum of different musical aims and practices.  Each work tends to establish its own comprehensive contextual system – its own personal tradition.  This has led to an artistic plurality that continues from the end of the 20th century, where the concept of a ‘mainstream’ is no longer held viable. Various analytic methods pertaining to compositional matters in serialism, aleatoricism, spectralism, microtonality, quotation and music theatre will be thoroughly examined in this course.  There are two term papers required: the first focusing on the analytic debate between Allen Forte and George Perle; the second may be a substantial rewrite of the first, or a totally new paper on the post-tonal work of a personally chosen composer. An additional assessment will include interpretation and performance of Cardew’s The Great Learning.

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: New Vocalities in 20 th and 21 st Century Music

Instructor: Katherine Kaiser

Tuesdays, 1-4pm, Staller Center 2314

In this course, we will explore extended techniques and new aesthetics for voice developed by singers and composers in response to aesthetics of musical experimentalism, new music technologies such as tape and oscillators, and cultural exchanges afforded by globalization. The course will be centered around the mid-century “New Vocality” of singer/composer Cathy Berberian, and composers such as Luciano Berio, Mauricio Kagel, John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Dieter Schnebel, Luigi Nono, Meredith Monk, Steve Reich, Peter Maxwell Davies, and Pauline Oliveros. We will trace their origins in earlier modernist works by Arnold Schoenberg, Ernst Toch, and Pierre Schaeffer and their legacies in works by Laurie Anderson, Pamela Z, Juliana Snapper, and Caroline Shaw.  The course will consider such questions as: What are the ramifications of these new vocalities for the relationships between singers and composers? How does one notate new vocal sounds? What are the cultural contexts that non-Western vocal practices are embedded in, and what are the implications for their appropriation into Western concert works?  

Weekly readings will be taken from primary sources and recent scholarship. Students will be evaluated on weekly writing assignments, in-class presentations and discussions, and a final research project.  

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

3 credits

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MUS 524: Topics in Music Composition: Living in Sound

Instructor: Nirmali Fenn

Wednesdays, 2:30-5:30pm, Staller Center 2310

Did you know there is no such thing as an ear lid? The fraction of information lost with a blink is not lost on the ear. This course explores what information an open ear can give. It looks at the deep listening theories of Pauline Oliveros and the work of sound artists like Murray Schafer, Bernhard Leitner, David Dunn, Christina Kubisch, John Grzinich and Alvier Lucier. Its aim is to refine listening within natural and built environments. In addition to weekly assessments, the final project for the course involves the creation of a sonic art installation to be put on campus.

For composers in fulfillment of MA work or as part of the PhD contract.

1-3 credits

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MUS 536, Area Studies in Ethnomusicology: Music and Belief on the Silk Road

Instructor: Margarethe Adams

Mondays, 1-4pm, Melville Library W1531

This course examines the interplay of music and belief across the diverse but interlinked regions from the Middle East to Central Asia. We will study the importance of sung Sufi poetry across the vast areas of the Silk Road; the ensemble traditions of the great Silk Road cities of Bukhara, Samarkand, and Kashgar; the improvisatory performance of Arab and Iranian music modes; and the animist-influenced music of the steppe (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Siberia). This introductory ethnomusicology graduate seminar takes theoretical, anthropological, and musical perspectives, in case studies of diverse religious musical practices of Eurasia. Students will gain an introductory understanding of important scholarship in social theory of religion along the way. Requirements include weekly readings, weekly written assignments, one article presentation, 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: Archive, Ethnography, and the Knowledge Between

Instructor: Benjamin Tausig

Thursdays, 1-4pm, Staller Center 2310

Historical and ethnographic research methods have much in common -- at times, they may even be difficult to tell apart. This course examines these two domains of research methods, both practically and philosophically, and including their overlaps. Our readings will trace key genealogies and epistemologies of knowledge-gathering and evidentiary standards in both fieldwork and archival research, including a wide-ranging and ongoing conversation about "alternative" archives that spans many areas of the humanities today. These readings will compel us to reflect on the ways that fieldwork among living subjects can resemble archival research, and in turn how archival research can function like ethnography. In other words, we will challenge the very distinction between the two categories.

As a methods course, students will be asked to conduct their own fieldwork/archive project, either freestanding or as part of research they are already involved in, in order to apply the themes of the course in practice. These projects will span the course of the semester, and should ideally result in substantial final papers modeled after dissertation chapters, scholarly articles, or colloquium talks.

Coursework includes weekly readings and Blackboard postings, in-class presentations, and a final paper (with formal presentation).

This course is primarily intended for MA/PhD students, though DMA students may enroll with permission from the instructor.

3 credits

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MUS 547: Topics in Baroque Music: Music and Sound, 1550-1750:  Approaches to Historical Sound Studies

Instructor: Erika Honisch

Wednesdays, 2:30-5:30pm, Melville Library W1531

How does history sound? What kind of historical document is music? What does it mean to study past music as music, and what do we learn when we think of past music as sound? In this seminar, which expands the territory covered in the 2019 iteration, we will take up these questions together, applying them to the sounds of Europe—musical and otherwise—in the two centuries between 1550 and 1750. While music historians commonly understand this period to encompass the decline of the Renaissance and the flowering of the Baroque, we will draw on the (inter-) discipline of sound studies to understand this as an intellectual and perceptual shift: from sounding number to sounding sound. Together, we will work to develop a methodology for using music and sound to write history. If, as has recently been argued (Missfelder 2015), sound history is also the history of hearing, what is our archive? Whose ears, and whose voices, does “sound history”-as-“hearing history” help us uncover?

Our readings will range over musicological work that take a sound studies approach (Emma Dillon, Alex Fisher, Tim Carter) as well as foundational texts in history (Alain Corbin, Bruce Smith, Jan-Frieder Missfelder) and recent work on the resonant archive (Ana Maria Ochoa Gautier, Ann Stoler) and on resonance more broadly (Andrew Hicks, Robin James). Discussions will be anchored using a range of musical works from the period, by composers ranging from Lassus to Monteverdi to Rameau and Telemann. Readings (ca. 120 pp. per week) will be in English, although I will make reference to secondary literature and primary sources in other languages. Twice in the semester, participants will lead discussion. All students will write a research paper, a “conference” version (15 minutes long) of which will be presented in the final class sessions. This may be, in part, an engagement with an existing (digital) sound studies project that engages with the resonant past.

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. Honisch.

3 credits

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MUS 553: Topics in 19 th Century Music: Performance Studies for Music Scholars

Instructor: Ryan Minor

Mondays, 1-4pm, Staller Center 2310

This PhD-level seminar is an investigation of academic work in performance studies, and what that field offers—and has yet to offer—scholars of music.  The course is NOT an exercise in appreciating Callas/Celibidache/Cortot, and students who would prefer that approach (connoisseurship and journalism, as opposed to scholarship and theory) should look elsewhere.  Topics will include liveness, embodiment, mediation and remediation, performativity, textuality and hermeneutics, dramaturgy, and audience dynamics.  Research will be drawn from a variety of fields and archives.  The course will provide scholars in/of music the theoretical and interdisciplinary tools to think critically and rigorously about issues surrounding musical performance.

Participants will write a research paper, a “conference” version of which will be presented during the final week of class, and will also give at least two presentations on material unrelated to their paper topics.  A weekly response to the readings is required as well.

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. Minor.

3 credits

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MUS 559: Topics in Analysis: Analysis of Music by Living Composers

Instructor: Margaret Schedel

Thursdays, 1-4pm, Staller Center 2322

In this class we will be analyzing the music of living composers. How does analysis change when  you are able to ask the composer about their work? What about the perspective of the first performer of the work (if the work has a performer) . We will develop a diverse  list of works in the first few weeks of class and then learn about how to get an exception from the IRB to contact a research subject. Students should already have an understanding of analysis of post-tonal music. 

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. Schedel.

3 credits

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MUS 569: Perspectives on the Performance of Music Since 1945

Instructors: Judith Lochhead and Eduardo Leandro

Tuesdays, 1-4pm, Staller Center 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 topics such as:  notation; extended techniques; rhythmic practices; performing with electronics; structure and analysis; the theatricality of performance; music and the political; interpretation and style, including cross-cultural and cross-genre works; and indeterminacy/choice/improvisation. 

The course is designed to address the issues of performers, composers, and scholars, and is open to students in the MM/DMA and MA/PhD programs.

  • 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.
  • 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

 

Fall 2019 

MUS 500, Introduction to Music Research

Instructor: Ryan Minor

Wednesdays, 2:30-5:30pm, Staller Center 2310

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.

3 credits

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MUS 501, Compositional Skills of Tonal Music

Instructor: Prof. Daniel Weymouth

Tuesdays, 1-4pm, Staller Center 2314

An intensive study in tonal progression and the balancing of vertical and horizontal musical structures, otherwise known as “counterpoint.”  Our focus will be on tonal music, as it has an established vocabulary.  However, the principles learned, and the skill acquired, are be useful in any compositional language.  This is very much a hands-on course; there will be a lot of music writing.  Primarily intended for composers, but suitable for anyone with a keen interest in the nuts-and-bolts workings of tonal gravity and motion.

This course is intended primarily for composers. Any student interested in taking 501 should contact Prof. Weymouth

NOTE: This course is NOT designed to fulfill the DMA Theory Requirement.

3 credits

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MUS 502, Proseminar in Tonal Analysis

Instructor: TBD

Thursdays, 1-4pm, Staller Center 2314

Analysis is not just about the “what” of a piece, but also the “why.”  We will consider some very well-known works 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. The course is suitable for performance students (it counts as a “theory” course for the MM and DMA) as well as historians and composers.  Some familiarity with the vocabulary of tonal chords is assumed. 

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 Music of the 21 st Century

Instructor: Nirmali Fenn

Mondays, 1-4pm, Melville Library W1531

Musicians in the 21 st century are involved with a widening spectrum of different musical aims and practices. Each work tends to establish its own comprehensive contextual system – its own personal tradition. This has led to an artistic plurality that continues from the end of the 20 th century, where the concept of a ‘mainstream’ was no longer held viable. A contemporary musical work seems to be in the process of being transformed from an object intended primarily for aesthetic appreciation to a kind of document, a position statement concerning contemporary existence.

The gamut of music under study will be wide and the compositional matters that will be analysed dwell on such concepts as the distinction between tight ordering/mapping (serialism) and structural openness (aleotoricism); methods delving in spectralism and microsound; quotation/parody technique; music theatre and game behaviour. The course will focus, although not exclusively to music with text (sacred, theatric, operatic, synaesthetic, aleotoric, notational).

There are two term papers required, topic TBA.  The second may be a substantial rewrite of the first, or a totally new paper (again, topic TBA).  An additional assessment will include interpretation and performance of Cardew’s The Great Learning.

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

Instructor: Prof. Erika Honisch

Thursdays, 2:30-5:30pm, Melville Library W1531

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, de la Guerre, 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 musical responses to France’s political ascendancy that was written elsewhere in Europe and, where appropriate, work with the Stony Brook Ensemble to reflect on compositions they have programmed or to program compositions we have worked on in seminar.

Coursework includes weekly readings & Blackboard postings, one presentation on an assigned piece, a modern edition of an excerpt from a cantata or motet, and a final paper (with formal presentation).

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, Disruption and Commerce

Instructor: Prof. Benjamin Tausig

Thursdays, 1-4pm, Staller Center 2310

Capitalism thrives in chaos. That modern entrepreneurial buzzword, “disruption,” is in fact a centuries-old strategy. Displacement, upheaval, and even violence are each big business. This course, in five sections (war, diaspora, migration, climate, and technology), considers the ways that music has been implicated in disruptive economies, sometimes as a commodity and sometimes as a tool of critical comment. We will read about the music industries that flourish in conflict, about performance as a livelihood for dissidents, and about the economic transformations wrought by new sonic media over the past century and longer. We will carefully theorize disruption in its financial sense. But the majority of the class will be devoted to case studies of musical lives lived and careers carried out in turbulent times.

There will be weekly readings (50-75 pages), plus several short papers and a substantial final paper (in special cases, students can instead produce an integrated media project for their final).

This counts as a history course for performers, and is primarily intended for MM/DMA students.  MA/PhD students considering enrolling must confer first with Prof. Tausig.

3 credits

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MUS 538, Phenomenological Approaches to Music Analysis: The Affective Dimensions of Musical Meaning

Instructor: Prof. Judith Lochhead

Mondays, 1-4pm, Melville Library W1531

The course will introduce students to the founding ideas of phenomenological philosophy and to the historical development of the core ideas.  Authors considered in this introduction include:  Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and others.  We will focus on a phenomenology of sound through the work of philosopher Don Ihde and through its application to musical analysis in the work of Thomas Clifton and others.  After this introduction, the seminar will turn to recent theories of affect and sensation outside of music discourse as a way into thinking about how music as sounding presence produces meaning within a cultural context.

In the seminar, participants will focus on music of the 21 st century and how music of the contemporary classical tradition participates in discourses of feeling, meaning, and affect.  Through the close readings (analysis) of music, seminar participants will explore how musical sound projects the affective dimensions of musical meaning.

Reading and listening/analysis assignments will be substantial and participants in the seminar will complete weekly writing projects, and as a seminar we will experiment with different analytical approaches to musical analysis.  

Participants will produce a substantial term-end project, including a presentation to the seminar.

Absences:  Attendance at all seminar meetings is expected, anything less will affect the term grade.  Exceptions are made for documentable illness and other circumstances beyond your control.

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

3 credits

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MUS 539, Proseminar in Ethnomusicology

Instructor: Prof. Margarethe Adams

Mondays, 1-4pm, Staller Center 2310

This proseminar is an introduction to the field of ethnomusicology as practiced in Europe and North America over the past century. Theoretical and methodological approaches in ethnomusicology are examined as they relate to major periods in the history of ethnographic disciplines. Students will be introduced to important ethnomusicological scholarship, especially those scholars representing particular trajectories and developments in the history of the discipline. Designed as the first course in the Ethnomusicology series, this proseminar is required for Ethnomusicology MA and PhD students. Requirements include weekly readings, weekly written assignments, article presentations, and a final paper. Attendance and active participation in seminar discussion are mandatory.

This course fulfills a music history requirement for MM/DMA programs; MM/DMA students are asked to contact Prof. Adams prior to registering.

3 credits

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MUS 555, Topics in 20 th-Century Music

Music, Philosophy, Modernity

Instructor: Prof. Stephen Smith

Tuesdays, 1-4pm, Melville Library W1531

This seminar studies ways in which musicians and listeners (some of whom are philosophers) have heard music as a site where modernity is at stake.  Sometimes this will mean examining figures for whom music embodies modernity’s tumult, growing as clangorous and dissonant as the world in which it takes shape.  In other cases, it will mean studying works in which music is construed as serene and sovereign, a kind of preserve or reserve, untouched by modernity’s predations.  Still other cases will challenge us to rethink the very terms of our analysis, especially “music” and “modernity” themselves.  The focus of the course will primarily be on Western thought and art music from around 1800 until the present day, with an emphasis on intersections of music and philosophy.  Many of our readings, though, will challenge any semblance of closure or priority these spatiotemporal coordinates might seem to evince. The music and texts we study will comprise two streams.  One will work through broad definitions of modernity and modernism, ranging from classics in this domain to very recent interventions.  The other will take up a series of recent and prominent monographs in music studies, most of which have had a substantial impact on the field within the last five to ten years; we will read several of these in their entirety.  In this latter sense, the seminar can serve as an introduction to a number of prominent themes and debates in recent musicology.  Readings in music studies will likely include works by Brodsky, Gallope, Chua, Waltham-Smith, Watkins, and Ochoa-Gautier.  Grades will be based upon attendance and participation, small weekly writing assignments, in class presentations, and a substantial 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