Introduction to the Analysis of Post-tonal Music
Professor Philip Ewell
This course offers an overview of 20th-century music from analytical and theoretical points of view. Topics include, but are not limited to: pitch centricity; motivic cells; symmetry; pitch-class set analysis; neoclassicism; twelve-tone topics; invariance and combinatoriality; total serialism; aleatoricism; and minimalism. Composers include, but are not limited to: Babbitt, Bartók, Berio, Boulez, Cage, Carter, Crawford, Dallapiccola, Debussy, Hindemith, Ives, Ligeti, Messiaen, Pärt, Reich, Rochberg, Schoenberg, Stockhausen, Stravinsky, and Webern. Grades are based on assignments, readings, quizzes, exams, class work, class participation, and model compositions. Students will be required to check Blackboard frequently during the semester. Also, the use of music-notation software, such as Sibelius or Finale, may be required. Attendance is mandatory at all classes; unexcused absences will adversely affect students’ grades.
Seminar in Ethnomusicology: Analysis of Rhythm
This seminar surveys fundamental principles of musical rhythm in selected practices from all continents. Relationships of older sets of procedures to techniques of twentieth- and twenty-first-century composers and theorists are a major concern. The workload includes oral and written reports as well as a larger analytic project; students may also choose to do a short series of ear-training exercises in place of one or two reports. Not open to auditors.
Professor Joseph Straus
Current Trends in Music Theory
A survey of recent developments in the field of Music Theory. Topics may include transformation theory, neo-Riemannian theory, Klumpenhouwer networks, atonal voice leading, embodiment, theoretical approaches to jazz, rock, pop, non-Western, and early music, recent theories of tonal form, semiotics, chromatic harmony, gender and sexuality, analysis and performance, and perception and cognition. The course will feature guest lectures from within and outside CUNY.
Professor William Rothstein
Bruckner, the Austrian Tradition, and the Limits of Schenkerian Analysis
Prerequisite: Intermediate Schenkerian analysis (Schenker 2) or permission of the instructor. This course counts as advanced Schenkerian analysis (Schenker 3).
An analytical study of selected works (especially sonata-form movements) by “progressive” austrian composers: Schubert, Bruckner, Mahler, and perhaps one or two others. We will survey recent analytical approaches to this music. The applicability of Schenkerian analysis will be a recurring question, one to which no answer will be assumed a priori. Formal, metrical, and harmonic approaches will also be pursued.
Professor Allan Atlas
Ralph Vaughan Williams: the Early Years (to W.W.I)
With a lens whose focus will shift back and forth between close-ups and bird’s-eye views, we will consider Vaughan Williams’s stylistic development and very conscious musical agenda up to World War I as he broke with his Victorian (read Austro-German) legacy and developed a personal style that quite uniquely synthesized (1) English folk and Tudor elements, (2) a sense of introspective soul-searching gained from his encounter with the poetry of Walt Whitman, and (3) his falling victim to what he jokingly (but quite accurately) called “French fever,” this after a brief period of study with Ravel.
After two introductory sessions (the second of which will consist of a rather lavishly illustrated biography), the topics to be covered will be: songs and song-cycles, involvement with folk music and hymnody, the first orchestral and chamber works, the encounter with Whitman, the bout of “French fever,” two Fantasies, and works on the eve of World War I. A series of “sidebars” (at the end of each session) will introduce music by sixteen of Vaughan Williams’s contemporaries.
Presentations and papers: each “seminarian” will make one oral presentation and write one paper that could serve as a twenty-minute conference paper (hence no more than seven or eight pages). At the opening session, I will distribute a packet of more than seven hundred pages of music (virtually all the music that we will listen to over the course of the semester); in addition, I’ll leave on reserve a set of home-burned CDs with all of the music in that packet, this with the hope that everyone will download them onto his or her own computer.
For session 1: please read Alain Frogley, “Constructing Englishness in Music: National Character and the Reception of Ralph Vaughan Williams,” in Vaughan Williams Studies, ed. Alain Frogley (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 1-22 (the entire volume is on reserve in the library—OR: if you wish to read the article before the library has its reserve materials ready, let me know and I’ll send a copy electronically).
Finally: the syllabus for the entire semester is just about complete; if you let me know that you registered for the class, contact me at email@example.com and I’ll be happy to send it on to you immediately.
Seminar In Music History: The U.S. In The 1970s: Music And Culture
(This Course Is Cross-Listed With American Studies–Ascp 82000)
During the 1970s composers and musicians dealt with the legacy of the 1960s, while facing a severe economic downturn. The continuing war in Vietnam, the fracturing of the Civil Rights Movement, the continued expansion of Second-Wave Feminism, political scandals, the rise of environmentalism, as well as new advances in electronics and recording technology impacting virtually all areas of American music. This course takes a cross-genre approach, dealing with popular music (soul, funk, hard rock, punk, the beginnings of hip hop), the “art music” sphere (particularly minimalism and electronic music), and other categories that are difficult to classify (such as trends in jazz “fusion” and Afrocentrism). Though readings will taken from a wide variety of primary and secondary sources, a central focus will be on listening—both in and out of class. The course will explore work by musicians and groups as diverse as Steve Reich, George Crumb, P-Funk, Stevie Wonder, Miles Davis, Pharoah Sanders, and The Ramones.