MUS 84200 Current Trends in Music Theory
Professor David Schober
Professor Joseph Straus
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.
Music 83600 Seminar in Ethnomusicology: Analysis of Sung Verse
Professor Stephen Blum
The seminar considers (1) diverse ways of theorizing interrelationships among words, rhythm, melody, instrumentation, and (where pertinent) other dimensions of musical experience; and (2) approaches to analysis of sung poetry that allow for consideration of different ways of theorizing developed by poets, composers, singers, scholars, and other pertinent social actors. Writings of musicians, music theorists, ethnomusicologists, and linguistic anthropologists are discussed. Work load includes short analytic exercises and a larger analytic project.
**Prerequisite: A strong interest in languages other than English and a reasonable degree of proficiency in at least one of them.
Not open to auditors.**
MUS 71500 D.M.A. Topics
Professor Norman Carey
D.M.A. Topics consists of two main areas: performance/analysis and an introduction to graduate studies aimed at D.M.A. students. The fall semester focuses primarily on analysis, looking forward to the D.M.A. First Exam given in the spring. The course will begin with a review of harmony and counterpoint and continue with form and phrase structure, harmonic rhythm, and some elements of set theory and serialism. We also examine some aspects of text/music relationships and elements of expression. Assignments will consist of analytical exercises and also analytical essays, which will help to focus on writing skills. (The second semester of the course will delve into research skills, leading to a mock dissertation proposal as a final project.
MUS 74100 Post-Tonal Music Theory I
Western concert music of the twentieth century (and beyond) represents a tremendous variety of approaches to harmony, rhythm, texture, and form. While it is not possible in one semester to study every important composer of the period, we will examine a broad selection of these compositional techniques. It is essential to understand post-tonal languages in relation to earlier music, not in isolation from it; some of these musical styles resemble their nineteenth-century “ancestors” more than others, but all of them are, in some sense, the colorful offspring of traditional tonality.
In addition to the standard topics of set-class theory and classical twelve-tone techniques, we will examine Impressionism, octatonicism, and self-contained “systems” developed by individual composers. A common theme throughout the term will be the pervasive role of symmetry
in post-tonal musical structure.
Students will regularly produce short model compositions and perform them in collaboration with their colleagues in the class. The principal text will be the scores themselves, supplemented by an assortment of analytical readings.
MUS 74500 Introduction to Schenkerian Analysis
Professor Eric Wen
Introduction to Schenkerian Analysis will aim to develop an understanding of large-scale musical coherence through a study of the voice-leading and tonal organization of selected compositions. Through the analytic techniques learned in this course, students will gain a deeper understanding of how the principles of harmony and counterpoint operate in tandem, and determine the criteria for structural coherence in music of the common-practice period. In the process of doing so, students will be introduced to the analytic system of graphic notation developed by Heinrich Schenker. Beginning with short extracts and themes, by the end of the semester, a complete work will analyzed. There is no textbook for the course, but all the musical works studied will be made available as photocopies.
MUS 82600 Seminar in Music History: Music and Democratic Speech
Professor Greil Marcus
“Poor boy, long way from home” . . . “The cuckoo, she’s a pretty bird, she warbles, as she flies/ And she never, hollers cuckoo, til the fourth day, of July” . . . “Sun gonna shine in my back door, someday/ Wind gonna rise up, blow my blues away”—those lyric fragments and thousands like them are part of a pool of floating lines and verses, melodies and cadences, that form the raw material of the commonplace, commonly-held American song.
Throughout American history people excluded from or ignored by the story the country teaches itself have seized on music to make money, escape work, attract women or men, and to make symbolic statements about the nature of the singer, the country, and life itself. These are big words for ordinary, anonymous songs like “The Cuckoo Bird” or “John Henry”—but it is in songs that seem to have emerged out of nowhere, and in songs that are self-consciously made to reclaim that nowhere, where much of the American story resides.
This course examines commonplace, authorless songs as elemental, founding documents of American identity. These songs can be heard as a form of speech that, with a deep foundation, is always in flux—especially in the work of Bob Dylan across the last fifty years. In that work, a single performer can be seen to have taken the whole of this tradition and translated it into a language of his own.
Extensive reading, with Dylan’s memoir Chronicles, Michael Lesy’s photo-history Wisconsin Death Trip, critical essays from the anthology The Rose & the Briar: Death, Love and Liberty in the American Ballad, and, read in full, novels including Colson Whitehead’s John Henry Days, Lee Smith’s The Devil’s Dream, and Percival Everett’s Erasure, with short papers at least every other week.