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Courses Offered

Spring 2019

MUS 502: Proseminar in Tonal Analysis: Beethoven’s String Quartets, Op. 18
Professor August Sheehy
Monday, 1-4pm, Staller Center Room 2310

Beethoven’s first six string quartets (Op. 18) are among the most beloved in the repertoire. Written at the end of the eighteenth century, they are original, challenging, and dazzling works through which the composer sought to assert his mastery in an already well-developed genre. In this course we will analyze the Op. 18 quartets from a variety of perspectives, including harmony and counterpoint, rhythm and meter, form, and transformational theory. In so doing, we will be pursuing three goals: a broader knowledge of contemporary tonal theory, a sharpening of music-analytic skills, and a deeper understanding of tonal music. Above all, our aim will be to communicate musical insights with clarity and elegance; each student will have the opportunity to do so in a substantial final research paper.

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


MUS 504: Analysis of 20th/21st Century Music: The 20th Century String Quartet
Professor Daniel Weymouth
Tuesday, 1-4pm, Staller Center Room 2314

The course will involve an in-depth study of several pieces, all string quartets from the past century: including 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.


MUS 507: Studies in Music History: Nationalism and Exoticism in 19th and 20th Century Music
Dr. Deborah Heckert
Tuesday, 1-4pm, Staller Center Room 2318

Music is one of the primary ways in which nations and other social groups explore aspects of their group identity and define themselves against those people they consider as “other.” This is particularly true of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a period that the historian Eric Hobsbawm has characterized as a time when the primary global activity was “nation building.” On the one hand, 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 a 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 Wagner, Bizet, Mussorgsky, Dvorak, Debussy, Vaughan Williams, Stravinsky, Britten, 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. Assignments will include weekly readings, listening assignments, and reading responses, and a final seminar paper.

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


MUS 507: Studies in Music History: Romanticism and Modernism
Professor Stephen Smith
Thursday, 1-4pm, Staller Center Room 2310

This seminar studies musical modernism and romanticism across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It will examine musical works alongside a wide range of historical documents and objects, in order to think through the position of musical practices within broader social, cultural, and political contexts. Readings may thus be drawn from music history, music theory, philosophy, literary criticism, and art history, as well as writings by composers and other artists. One of our principle lines of inquiry will entail asking to what degree these categories—romanticism and modernism—continue to condition our own contemporary practices as performers, composers, listeners, and thinkers. We will also ask whether they can be understood as overlapping or appearing within each other. Is musical romanticism already a modernism? And what kinds of romanticisms might musical modernism conserve and sustain? Grades will be based upon attendance and participation, weekly reading assignments, class presentations, and a final research paper.

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


MUS 541: Topics in the Cross-Cultural Studies of Music: Time and Temporality in Ethnomusicology
Professor Maggie Adams
Monday, 1-4pm, Music Library Seminar Room W1531

How does the marking of time frame political and social narratives? What do sonic and visual imaginings of the past and future reveal about the present? In what ways has the modernist conception of time shaped the ideational architecture of the 20th and 21st centuries? Drawing on philosophy, anthropology, film and media studies, queer theory, and ethnomusicology, we will explore these and other questions about time. We look at temporality and modernity, examining the narratives of industry and progress, and the temporality of labor. We will explore feminist concepts of futurity and happiness, as against normative temporal narratives of gender and sexuality. We will engage with temporality across space through the consideration of diaspora, transnationalism and historicized narratives of home. Specific topics include: queer temporalities in film; feminist futures and “posthuman divas” in popular music; performance, time, and “flow.” This course is an advanced seminar with a significant weekly reading load. Requirements include weekly written responses, article presentations, a final paper, and a final oral presentation. Attendance and enthusiastic participation in discussion is mandatory.

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


MUS 547: Topics in Baroque Music: Music and Sound, 1550-1750-Approaches to Historical Sound Studies
Professor Erika Honisch
Wednesday, 2:30-5:30pm, Music Library Seminar Room 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, 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 studies that take a sound studies approach (Emma Dillon, Alexander Fisher, Tess Knighton, Tim Carter) as well as foundational texts in history (Alain Corbin, Bruce Smith, Mark Smith, Richard Cullen Rath, Jan-Friedrich Missfelder). Discussions will be anchored using a range of musical works from the period, by composers ranging from Lassus and Handl, to Monteverdi and Schütz, to François Couperin, Rameau, and Telemann. One meeting will take us off-campus to the Special Collections of a New York-area library, so that we can look at, listen to, and think through documents from the period firsthand.

Readings (ca. 120 pp. per week) will be in English, although I will make reference to secondary literature and primary sources in other languages. Participants will write a research paper, a “conference” version (15 minutes long) of which will be presented in the final class session. This may be, in part, an engagement with an existing 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, MM/DMA students considering enrolling must first confer with Prof. Honisch.


MUS 553: Topics in 19th Century Music: Operatic Spectatorship from Gluck to Wagner
Professor Ryan Minor
Thursday, 1-4pm, Music Library Seminar Room W1531

All musical genres presuppose, and in turn generate, a particular audience. But there is arguably no genre in classical music that is as embarrassed—or enthralled—by its own audience as opera, an art form that almost from its very beginning has been preoccupied by the communities of listeners and spectators drawn into its orbit.

This Ph.D seminar represents one attempt to think through this phenomenon historically, focusing on the coterminous projects of inventing German opera while simultaneously investing that new genre with an especially potent political agency through its spectatorial ambitions. The repertory will focus primarily on Gluck, Mozart, and Wagner, but we will devote some time to “intermediary” figures—Lortzing, Weber, Marschner—as well, in addition to relevant correlates in spoken theater. For the sake of comparison we’ll also take stock of contemporaneous developments in France and Italy. Finally, we’ll end the semester with a brief look ahead historically by considering Brecht’s ambivalent relationship to the fraught legacy of Wagnerian spectatorial politics.

Readings will include historical tracts (Schiller, Wagner, Brecht) and literature (Stendhal, Baudelaire), as well as recent scholarship on operatic spectatorship (Calico, Levin, Risi, Morris, Johnson) and other forms of theatrical immersion (Fried, Ward, Puchner, Rancière). We will also view selected opera productions relevant to the theoretical issues raised in the readings (Konwitschny, Neuenfels, Corsetti, etc.).

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. Grades will be based on attendance and participation, weekly written responses, at least one in-class presentation, and a research paper.

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


MUS 557: Topics in Theory: Theories of Timbre and Timbre Analysis
Professor Judy Lochhead
Tuesday, 1-4pm, Music Library Seminar Room W1531

Timbre has emerged as the predominant organizing feature of much music composed or created since the middle years of the twentieth century in virtually all styles of music. But while timbre has become increasingly important as an organizing and expressive principle of musical works, an instrumental concept of timbre and a productive form of timbral analysis have proved resistant.

The seminar focuses on a broad range of readings that aim toward conceptualizing timbre as an operational concept, considering historical and present attempts to conceptualize and analyze timbre. And throughout the seminar, participants will explore the timbral logics of particular works (broadly conceived).

Below is a list of potential readings and topics:

  • Interdisciplinary Readings  
    • Philosophies of color and new materialism  
    • Linguistic approaches to vocal and linguistic timbre  
    • Embodied cognition
  • Music Studies about timbre and its relation to sound analysis software  
    • Mid-twentieth century approaches to timbre theory and analysis (Wayne Slawson, Chou Wen-Chung, Robert Cogan, Sue Carole DeVale).  
    • Twentieth and twenty-first century approaches to electro-acoustic sounds from analytical and compositional perspective (Pierre Schaeffer, Denis Smalley, and more).  
    • Twenty-first century writings about timbre from the perspectives of ethnomusicology and critical musicology (Cornelia Fales, Nina Eidsheim, the Oxford Handbook of Timbre,and others). \
  • Compositional approaches to timbre  
    • Compositions and compositional styles that explicitly engage timbre
  • Theories of analysis
    • Reading about analysis and its potentials and limitations (Ian Bent, Nicholas Cook, Judy Lochhead)

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 timbre.

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

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

Fall 2018

MUS 502, Proseminar in Tonal Analysis
Professor Daniel Weymouth
Tuesdays, 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.


MUS 504, Analysis of Music of the 21st Century
Professor Judith Lochhead
Tuesdays, 1-4pm, Staller Center 2322

The course will be devoted to the analysis of several recently composed works (i.e., composed after 2000. At the beginning of the term, we will focus on two works: George Lewis’s Assemblage and Kaija Saariaho’s Emilie Suite. Additional works will be considered in consultation with seminar participants. In addition to analyzing particular works, we will consider larger questions about how analysis contributes to musical understanding generally and how it contributes to the practices of composition and performance.

As a class, we will examine the music from a variety of perspectives, with particular emphasis on how the sounding domains of timbre, texture, rhythm and pitch articulate formal organization. We will use existing methodologies for the description of pitch and rhythm and develop new methods for taking account of timbre and texture.

Class participants will be expected to use set theoretical descriptors to identify chord types and relations, as relevant to the works being studied. And we will also be “inventing” new methodologies as appropriate to the works considered. Class participants will be required to complete weekly reading and analysis projects, one short mid-term paper on an assigned topic, and a larger, semester-end project on a 21st century piece that each participant chooses. Grading is based on weekly assignments, one short paper, and the semester project.


MUS 507, Studies in Music History “The Terrifying Giant:” Beethoven and the Music of the Long 19th Century
Dr. Deborah Heckert
Thursdays, 1-4pm, Staller Center 2310

This class will explore the music of the long 19th Century with a particular focus on how various composers, critics and particular works negotiated with - as Berlioz referred to him - the “terrifying giant” that was the looming figure of Beethoven in the century following his death. After beginning by looking at ways that influence, allusion, and artistic anxiety have been theorized by critics such as Harold Bloom, the course will next examine the construction of the myths of Beethoven during his lifetime and immediately after his death. We will then spend the remainder of the semester examining how these Beethoven myths interacted with emerging ideologies of ethnicity and nationalism, gender and masculinity, listening and concert life, and the formation of the canon, among others. A wide selection of composers and genres across the century will be considered, including symphonic, chamber and operatic works by composers such as Schubert, Mendelssohn, Berlioz, Schumann, Brahms, Wagner, and Mahler. Requirements will include weekly reading and listening assignments, a class presentation, and final seminar paper.


MUS 515, Fundamentals of Electronic Music
Professor Daria Semegen
Tuesdays, 7-10pm, Staller Center 3343

A technical or scientific background is not required. Composers, performers, scholars expand their observation, analysis of sonic components through systematic parametric listening and comparison (hear what you’ve been missing). We observe how individual defense reactions and tendencies affect perception, intuitive feedback and consequent choices. Learn to observe, compare and understand how sounds behave in different contexts, their effect on perception, aesthetic and technical outcomes.

A brief historical survey of electronic music and audio technology includes discussion of a few landmark musique concrète and electroacoustic works, aesthetic concepts, creative structural approaches and combinations with other media, arts and technologies. We consider the uses of pitch, noise, combined media, artists’ methods and thinking-tools. Included are basic studio engineering skills, analysis of sounds: timbres, densities, textures; recognition/description/analysis of formal structures in electronic music works with/without instruments and scores; composition strategies, improvisation methods, editing and mixing techniques, improvisation, experimental methods.

Hands-on studio work includes sound generation, recording, methods of working with register/speed/spatial modifications, mixing, volume definition , timbral/textural design, structures, sonic persona, editing techniques; evaluation and modification in mixing/editing in post-production. Experimentation is integral to this genre: we design strategies for experiments and improvisation-play to generate new material, modify existing material and apply degrees of random to yield unexpected new results in creative studio work. Refining editing techniques (where/why/how to hear, compare, choose) is of paramount importance in creating work that rises above an ordinary demo. In class we hear and discuss students’ hands-on technical practice and creative work. (This evening class has a midpoint refreshment break.)

The one-of-a-kind analog classic electronic music studio has a custom array of sound generation and modification devices, analog voltage-controlled synths including vintage Buchla, Moog, Arp and German pioneering engineer H. Bode’s Klangumwander and Bode Ring Modulator used by K. Stockhausen. Included are Elektromesstechnik reverb, Eventide Harmonizer; band-pass, graphic, parametric analog filters; TSM analog flanger.


MUS 535, Lecture-Workshop in the Performance of Baroque Music
Professor Arthur Haas and Professor Erika Honisch
Thursdays, 1-4pm, Staller Center 2322

How are we to perform, today, music from the Baroque era (ca. 1600-1750)? The diverse styles of the instrumental and vocal music composed during this period—preserved in sources of varying quality and specificity—elicit a wide and intriguing array of responses from instrumentalists and singers attuned to pre-Romantic performance practices. In this discussion-driven and performance-centered course we will take in the many possibilities available to the intrepid and historically-engaged performer. We welcome instrumentalists (of all kinds!) and vocalists who are interested in building familiarity with the traditions and conventions that were essential components of the Baroque musician's toolbox.

The topics we will explore together include Baroque sound, ornamentation, vibrato, improvisation, tempo and meter, rhythmic alteration, dynamics, tuning and temperament, and basso continuo. A recurring theme will be the importance of language, and the close relationship between music and text. The issues we cover will become concrete through conversations about the mechanics of period instruments as compared to their modern descendants, and the perusal of the many primary source documents— music manuscripts and prints, iconographic and literary sources, as well as music-theoretical treatises—now available online. In this way, students will learn how to approach modern editions critically and use primary sources to guide their performance practice decisions. We will take care to situate our exploration of detailed musical issues within larger historical and critical contexts. In the first place, we will address the importance of national preferences (e.g. dance in France, rhetoric in Germany). At the same time, we will turn a critical eye on ourselves, exploring the ideologies of the early music movement as it has taken shape in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Students should come to class having carefully read the assigned readings, as the success of this class hinges in large part on the quality of student preparation and participation. Students should also be prepared to perform on their respective instruments, both in the context of small oral presentations, and as part of a larger presentation that complements the final paper. We anticipate a lively classroom as we engage in the large debates that animate early music performance today.


MUS 536, Area Studies in Ethnomusicology: Music and Belief
Instructor: Prof. Margarethe Adams
Mondays, 1-4pm, Staller Center 2318

This introductory ethnomusicology graduate seminar explores intersections of music and belief from both theoretical and musical perspectives, through scholarship examining questions about religion, modernism, and secularism; and through a study of diverse religious musical practices in ethnomusicological case studies. Topics 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 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 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.


MUS 541, Topics in the Cross-Cultural Studies of Music: Current Topics in Music and Electricity   Prof. Benjamin Tausig
Thursdays, 1-4pm, Melville Library W1531

This course examines electricity in relation to circuits of musical practice and musical thought. Adopting a broad historical and geographic vantage, we will consider how scientific knowledge about electricity has shaped sound and aurality, particularly from the 19th century forward, feeding into different musical discourses. And of course electrification is always charged; plugging in (in different places and at different moments) sparks complex discussions about modernity, progress, nature, and humanity. Our readings will span a breadth of electrical epistemologies and traditions, and we will read a combination of historical and ethnographic work, in addition to primary sources.


MUS 555, Topics in 20th -Century Music: Music and Sound: Nature, Modernity, Modernism
Prof. Stephen Smith
Tuesdays, 1-4pm, Melville Library W1531

This seminar will study the ways that music responds to changing pictures of nature in modernity, while also examining the ways that these modern natures relate to new understandings of music and sound alike. Its historical materials will focus mostly on the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries, though it will drawn on some earlier materials at times. Our study will be framed by questions like the following: What becomes of nature in modernity? Can nature itself have a modernity? Can it be modern? If so, what are the relationships between such a modernity of nature and the various modernisms of music? How do modernisms—in thought, in art, especially in music— respond to the natures of modernity? Readings will be drawn from music history, music theory, ethnomusicology, ecomusicology, sound studies, art history, and philosophy. Students will be encouraged to pursue detailed investigation of repertoire and rigorous theoretical investigations of the problems we take up. Grades will be based upon participation in seminar conversations, two presentations (one dealing with a musical work, object, or event, one dealing with theoretical texts), and a final research paper.


MUS 559, Topics in Analysis: Schenkerian (Psycho-)Analysis
Instructor: Prof. August Sheehy
Mondays, 1-4pm, Melville Library W1531

Sigmund Freud had no musical patience. “Some rationalistic, or perhaps analytic, turn of mind in me rebels against being moved by a thing without knowing why I am thus affected,” he wrote in 1914. Perhaps Freud should have talked with Heinrich Schenker, self declared witness to “the immutable laws of music.” He could have, after all; the two were almost exact contemporaries in fin-de-siècle Vienna. In the event, Freud’s tin ear never encountered Schenker’s notorious ego.

This seminar brings these two figures, and their theories, together. Following the resurgence of musicological interest in psychoanalysis, we will seek to better understand how music seduced Schenker and how Schenkerism seduced American music theory. Among the questions we will ask: What does Schenkerian analysis bring to consciousness? What does it repress? What does it repeat? Can psychoanalysis help explain practitioners’ identities as the field seeks a more diverse membership? Such understanding is impossible without a thorough understanding of the theory itself. Accordingly, the seminar will also serve as an intensive introduction to Schenkerian analysis, which remains a vital music theoretical tool. There will be weekly readings and analysis assignments, as well as a term project.

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