Stony Brook University, Department of Music Course Descriptions
Spring 2018

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MUS 502: Proseminar in Tonal Analysis

Prof. August Sheehy

Wednesday, 2:30-5:30pm, Staller Center Room 2314


In this course, we will analyze music at the heart of the tradition often described as "tonal." To that end, our primary “texts” will be musical works by canonical composers such as Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven.. Drawing on influential articles and monographs on music theory and analysis, we will consider these musical works in terms of form, meter, tonal intuitions, and counterpoint. The relatively restricted range of compositions will allow careful and sustained, intensive analysis and interpretation; at the same time, the techniques we study can be applied to a broad range of music (e.g., some earlier and later music in the Western concert tradition, some styles of jazz, and some popular styles). Students will produce a final paper analyzing a musical work chosen in consultation with the instructor. Above all, we will strive for musical insights and build the skills for communicating such insights with clarity and elegance. 


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


3 credits




MUS 504: Analysis of 20th/21st Century Music: The 20th Century String Quartet

Prof. Daniel Weymouth

Thursday, 1-4pm, Staller Center Room 2314


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


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 share the results, in charts or some similar form, and especially a lot of writing. There will also be weekly assignments involving 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 counts as a Theory requirement for the MM and DMA, and is very suitable for performance students as well as historians, theorists and composers, but do expect to do graduate-level work. 


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


3 credits




MUS 507: Studies in Music History: Symphonies of Beethoven

Prof. David Lawton

Tuesday, 1-4pm, Music Library Seminar Room W1531


The symphonies of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) had an enormous impact during his lifetime, and provided an imposing, even intimidating body of work for most of the 19th—century composers who wanted to write symphonies. Even today, they remain the cornerstone of the symphonic repertoire. We will study all nine of his symphonies in this course, but will delve most deeply into Symphony No. 3 in E-flat (“Eroica”), op. 55, Symphony No. 5 in c minor, Op. 67, Symphony No. 6 in F major (“Pastoral”), op. 68, and Symphony No. 9 in d minor, op. 125. In part the focus on these four works is because there are fine monographs dedicated to each one of them: Cambridge Opera Handbooks for Nos. 3, 6, and 9, a Norton Critical score for No. 5, and a Yale Masterworks Series volume for No. 9. These five books will be on reserve for the course in the Music Library. There will also be a required text for the course, which will be available through Stony Brook's Amazon connection: Lewis Lockwood, Beethoven's Symphonies: an Artistic Vision (New York, W.W. Norton & C., 2015). I will post on Blackboard Powerpoint presentations with full scores of all the symphonies, with the measures numbered, and various supplementary materials. Particular topics to be addressed in the course include reception history (including the question of programmatic interpretations of these works); formal and structural analysis and interpretation; and issues of performance practice, including tempo (the controversy over Beethoven’s metronome marks), and orchestration (including traditional retouching of some aspects of his scoring by well-known conductors and composers, including Richard Wagner, Gustav Mahler, and Felix Weingartner). We will listen to many different recordings of these symphonies, particularly from the first half of the twentieth century, when differences in interpretation by conductors such as Willem Mengelberg, Felix Weingartner, Wilhelm Furtwängler, and Arturo Toscanini were much more pronounced than what one hears on recordings made today. The course is intended primarily for MM and DMA students. The final grade will be based upon two quizzes, two short written assignments, and a substantial final paper, which DMA students may develop into a DMA research essay.


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


3 credits




MUS 507: Studies in Music History: Romanticism and Modernism: Music, Literature, Philosophy

Prof. Stephen Smith

Thursday, 1-4pm, Music Library Seminar Room W1531


This seminar studies musical modernism and romanticism across the 19th and 20th 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.  Grades will be based upon attendance and participation, two presentations, and a final research paper. 


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


3 credits




MUS 516: Electronic Music Workshop

Prof. Daria Semegen

Tuesday, 7-10pm, Staller Center Room 3343


Electronic Music Composition Workshop includes timbral/textural design, structures, hearing sonic persona, aesthetic appreciation/analysis of creative tools, proportions, expression, tensions/contrasts (e.g. in wabi-sabi, kintsugi, ikebana and aspects of Dada, futurism, fluxus, Bauhaus stage proportions, performance art, etc.).  Hybrid patterns design, randomness, “how to choose”, audio-visual perception, somatics, motion-awareness, intuitive/subjective/objective awareness, evaluation/modification/mixing/editing techniques in all production phases.  Working with nuance: varying dynamic expressions of volumes, timbres, registers, densities.  Individual projects may involve fixed-media, visual art, lighting design, multi-media, movement, theater techniques, instrumental/vocal performance, concrète, electronic analog/digital means. If scored: may be conventional or experimental notation.  Experimental tools; designing innovative work strategies, controlled improvisation-play generation of new materials, modifying existing materials and applying degrees of random for new possibilities. Trouble-shooting, mastering and refining digital/analog editing techniques. Attention to technical, musical, aesthetic analysis and critique throughout.  Meeting time may be flexibly rescheduled to accommodate the student seminar group.  Questions?  Please email


Prerequisite: MUS 515 or the equivalent.  This counts as a “theory” course only for performers in the MM program.


3 credits




MUS 517: Introduction to Computer Music

Prof. Margaret Schedel

Wednesday, 5-8pm, Staller Center Room 3358


MUS 517 is a hands-on introduction to the use of computers in the creation and performance of music.  Topics include hard-disk recording and mixing, computer manipulation of natural sound, a bit of MIDI, software synthesis, and computer-interactive music.  In addition, there will be a "literature" component to the course — we will listen to important works of computer music, and discuss aesthetic issues and production techniques.


This is a graduate-level course.  There are lab assignments each week, as well as reading and listening assignments, usually with a short précis or chart in response.  There is also a final project, which may be a short piece, a program or a paper (or anything else that you and I think is interesting).  Weekly, you should expect to spend 3-9 hours on projects (some work may only be possible in the Studio), and 1-3 hours listening/reading in the library. 


The course is open to and appropriate for all Music Department Graduate students (others with prior permission). For composers, you need to have taken 515 first.  I do not assume extensive computer knowledge; I do assume basic computer literacy. I also assume musical training and background.  We usually get a lively mix of people with a broad range of expertise and interests: the more the merrier!


MUS 517 is counted as a non-studio Theory course for MM students —many performers have taken the course and have enjoyed it.  It is not considered a course from which one can develop a DMA paper, but DMA students are also welcome, and have also enjoyed the course.


This counts as a “theory” course for MM students.


3 credits




MUS 524: Topics in Music Composition: Writing Opera

Prof. Sheila Silver

Tuesday, 1-4pm, Staller Center Room 3317


MUS 524 will be a workshop in composing for opera.  We will compose an aria, then a duo, and then a scene.  We will be given texts to set.  If you have ideas for your own texts to be used, they must be approved before the class begins.  We will have a few singers to work with and will do a presentation, semi-staged, at the end of the workshop.  If we don't have a pianist, we may need to use pianists that are in the class.  Besides composing for opera, we will also review representative works from the repertoire.  The course is limited to 6.  If you wish to enroll, please let Prof. Silver know immediately. 


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


1-3 credits




MUS 537: Research Methods in Ethnomusicology: Baggage: Ethics in Ethnographic Fieldwork

Prof. Benjamin Tausig

Monday, 1-4pm, Staller Center Room 2310

Ethnographers cannot pack light. Fieldwork, always a journey of some kind, is freighted with the legacy of knowledge production and the life history of the fieldworker herself. Disciplines that use ethnographic methods, including ethnomusicology and anthropology, have reckoned with this baggage and its implications. What is an ethical ethnography? What do we bring to the field, and what do we leave there? This course will examine the extensive theoretical literature on ethnographic best-practices, especially around the baggage that all researchers carry with them when studying human communities. We will also read a number of ethnographic monographs (from a variety of time periods) that raise important ethical questions. 

There will be weekly readings and assignments, as well as semester-long individual ethnographic projects. Students are expected to have taken a proseminar in ethnomusicology prior to enrollment.

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. Tausig.


3 credits




MUS 542: Ethnomusicology and Social Theory

Prof. Margarethe Adams

Wednesday, 2:30-5:30pm, Music Library Seminar Room W1531


This course provides a firm foundation in social theory by establishing an understanding of historical trajectories in the disciplines of ethnomusicology and anthropology, and through studying influential theoretical areas of inquiry. Topics include temporality; place; embodiment; nationalism; copyright, ownership and cultural rights; semiotics; and ecomusicology. This is an upper-level 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. 


Intended for students who have taken at least one graduate-level musicology/ethnomusicology course.



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 first confer with Prof. Adams.


3 credits




MUS 547: Topics in Baroque Music: Sound, Music Conflict, 1570-1750

Prof. Erika Honisch

Monday, 1-4pm, Music Library Seminar Room W1531


What were the sounds of war in the early modern period? What were the sounds of peace? The period between 1570 and 1750—roughly coincident with the cultural era known in Western contexts as “the Baroque”—was characterized by almost continual conflict in Europe. Whether caught up in the French Wars of Religion, the English Civil War, the Thirty Years War, or the War of the Austrian Succession, Europe’s diverse citizens must have feared, with the philosopher Thomas Hobbes, that their lives were bound to be “poor, nasty, brutish, and short” (Leviathan, 1651). Music written during this period was shaped by the depredations of war. It gave voices to hopes for peace, to joy at survival or victory, to grief at loss and devastation. But music, and sound more generally, did not merely reflect the tumultuous world around it. Trumpet blasts, motets, anthems, hymns, bells, artillery salvos—all of these sounds induced people to act: to take up arms, to pray, to give thanks for being spared, to celebrate a victory and, sometimes, to accommodate dissent.


This course focuses on the sounds and music of conflict during the Baroque period, as deployed in music by composers from Monteverdi and Schütz, to Rameau and Handel. Together, we'll ask: What kinds of musical sounds represented conflict? What kinds of musical sounds promoted peace? How was music thought to work on its listeners? How can historically informed analysis illuminate music's intended effects? Readings will include relevant primary source excerpts (e.g. Monteverdi, Kircher, Hobbes, Louis XIV, Schütz), sonically oriented musicological texts (Fisher, Dillon), and foundational work on music, power, and conflict (Saunders, Van Orden, Weaver).


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 (20 minutes long) of which will be presented in the final class session. Twice in the semester, participants will lead discussion.


This seminar is primarily intended for MA/PhD students, although it will be accessible for MM/DMA students interested in the music of the Baroque.


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.


3 credits




MUS 553: Topics in 19th Century Music: Opera Studies, Performance Studies, Theater Studies: New Approaches to Opera and the Long 19th-Century

Prof. Ryan Minor

Wednesday, 2:30-5:30pm, Staller Center Room 2310


This seminar will operate on two tracks, simultaneously taking account of new scholarship on operatic practices and cultures in the “long 19th century,” and also coming to terms with the increasingly blurry boundaries separating opera studies from performance studies and theater studies.  Thus while the operatic works and cultures under purview will be those, roughly, from Mozart through Weill, the theoretical concerns will encompass a much broader repertoire, indeed even beyond opera.  Topics will include the turn to performance within recent musicological thinking; the “liveness” debates; mediation and remediation; the license and limits of performance studies; the scope and influence of post-dramatic theater; participatory spectatorship; and “radical” staging practices such as Regietheater viewed from the politics of Brecht’s epic theater, Artaud’s theater of cruelty, and Boal’s theater of the oppressed.


Participants will need to devote a substantial amount of time to viewing opera and theater 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.


3 credits




MUS 559: Topics in Analysis: Rhythm, Meter, Form, and Time

Prof. Matthew Barnson

Monday, 1-4pm, Staller Center Room 2314

As performers and composers we spend months, years, and lifetimes shaping moments into minutes and minutes into hours. Depending on our skill and desired outcomes, those moments might fly by, or, perhaps, make time stand still. 

In this course, we’ll explore theories and analytical strategies of rhythm, meter, form, and time advanced by scholars including Allanbrook, Berger, Butler, Cooper and Meyer, Demers, Kramer, Lehrdahl and Jackendoff, Little and Jenne, Perle, Reynolds, Roeder, and van den Toorn and applied to the music of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Berg, Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Thomas Adés, Éliane Radigue and electronic dance music artists.   

We will study several theories of rhythm and meter and examine how they can influence interpretive decisions by performers. Dance figures prominently in this course and we’ll look at the way composers, like Bach and Mozart, used inherited dance forms – already formalized and stylized,– to build much larger forms in their instrumental works, sacred music (Bach), and operas (Mozart). We’ll then look at similar practices in later composers like Berg (in Wozzeck), Thomas Adés, and Caroline Shaw. We’ll also look at the ways electronic dance music artists, like Jeff Mills, James Ruskin, and Kenny Larkin, sculpt larger sets.  

Finally, we’ll discuss the limits and problems of these theories, for instance, in hearing at the level of form (versus more locally), and especially in more recent music that doesn’t share formal conceits (like dance forms or rhythms), or even an interest in regular metrical structures. 

 This course is aimed at composers and performers and will include several model composition projects. The final project, depending on each student’s needs, might be a paper, a composition, or performance project. 

This course is both technical than philosophical. Students enrolling should have a good grasp of Western classical harmony and forms, along with some basic pitch-class set theory. 

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. Barnson.


3 credits




MUS 569: Perspectives on the Performance of Music Since 1945

Profs. Judith Lochhead and Eduardo Leandro

Tuesday, 1-4pm, Staller Center Room 2322


The course focuses on issues of performance of music written after 1945 from technical, conceptual and aesthetic perspectives.  Weekly assignments will be focused around 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. This year we will have guest appearances by each of the four members of the Yarn/Wire Ensemble: Percussionists Ian Antonio and Russell Greenberg, and Pianists Laura Barger and Ning Yu.


  • 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


  • Attendance is mandatory and only one absence is allowed (exceptional circumstances

will be considered).  Unexcused absences will lower your grade.

  • Grading is based on weekly assignments, participation in seminar discussion, and the

semester project.


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


3 credits






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