Courses

MUS 105: Music Theory through Performance and Composition

MUS 105 is an introduction to music theory concentrating on harmony but also examining rhythm, melody and timbre. Though its focus will principally be on functional tonality, as it manifests itself in the common-practice period of classical music, we will also examine modal music and tonal/modal harmony in other musics such as rock and folk, and there will be a unit on African Rhythm. After a review of the rudiments, we will proceed to examining harmonic function, voice-leading, form and model composition. The course is designed to help you develop your understanding of music, analyze existing musical works, and compose your own.

MUS 204: Musical Instruments, Sound, Perception, and Creativity

Musical instruments reside at the intersection of varied topics: sound, perception, embodiment, music theory, social values, and more; how has their design influenced the development of music and how might they be reinvented to spur new ideas? We will explore these questions through readings, listening, analysis, labs, and composition. Specific topics include: harmony and the keyboard; tuning and temperament; preparing the piano, digital and analog. More generally, we will consider the productive tension between qualitative and quantitative understandings of musical concepts.

MPP 213: Projects in Instrumental Performance: Chamber Music

Instrumental chamber music class of the standard repertory of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. Preparation for performance of ensembles. Each ensemble’s repertoire will be determined in consultation with the instructors during the first week of classes.

MPP 219: Opera Performance

This is a workshop course, taught by conductor Gabriel Crouch and director Mark deChiazza, focusing on the new opera Olagón, composed by Dan Trueman with text by Paul Muldoon. 8-12 students will form a ‘vocal consort’ which will form a central character in the opera, with other roles filled by various visiting artists including Iarla Ó Lionáird (voice). There will also be places on the course for a small instrumental ensemble.

MUS 221: History of Western Choral Music

A survey of vocal literature (excluding opera) from the fifteenth century to the present day. Lectures focus on representative works that illustrate historical developments in musical style, vocal texture, and text-music relationships; attention is also given to choral music’s role as an institution of social engagement, an expression of collective identity, and the societal ability to rejoice, celebrate, critique, and mourn on an impersonal level.

MUS 230: Music in the Middle Ages

Introduction to European musical culture in the period 600-1400. The course is divided in the following main periods (1) chant in Carolingian and post-Carolingian Europe, (2) the Enchiriadis tradition of polyphony; (3) troubadours and trouvères, (4) Ars Antiqua, and (5) Ars Nova. The course will make intensive use of primary sources, scores, and will also feature an extensive playlist. The objective is to provide students with a thorough introduction tp fully 800 years of music history.

MPP 231: Princeton University Steel Band

The course will teach students the basics of playing the steel drum as well as delve deeply into the historical context behind the development of the steel drum as the national instrument of Trinidad and Tobago.

MUS 238: Music of the Romantic Era

A survey of major styles, genres, and modes of performance in European art music from about 1814 to the 1890s, ranging from Beethoven to Rachmaninoff and including opera, ballet, the symphony, concerto, and song.

MPP 252: Jazz Fundamentals II

This 12-week performance course builds on MPP 251 to work toward fluency in the language of jazz and the navigation of standard song forms through the study of classic improvisations. The course will focus on developing listening acuity, vocabulary, memory, analysis, and historical grasp of the music’s evolution in the mid 20th century. By the end of the course, students should be able to improvise through a variety of forms with technical competence and confidence in their ability to produce melodies spontaneously.

MUS 261: Introduction to Jazz Arranging, Composition and Harmony

In this course, we’ll explore the building blocks of melody, harmony, counterpoint, rhythm, and form using practical examples from the jazz literature, exercises, transcriptions, presentations, and composition/arranging projects as a means to internalize concepts. We’ll examine representative works by important jazz composers and arrangers, and develop strategies for writing idiomatically for jazz ensembles of up to 9 musicians.

MPP 298: Independent Instruction in Voice or Instrument (Non-credit)

Independent instruction in voice or instrument is an intensive immersion in all aspects of recreating music for performance. Lessons are geared towards the development and embedding of solid technique, and the application of this technique to proper style and musical expression. Issues explored include but are not limited to interpretation, stylistic appropriateness, historical context, theoretical/syntactical underpinnings, the avoidance of injuries, audition and performance strategies, and career planning.

MUS 300: Junior Seminar

This course introduces students to key methodological, technical, creative, and disciplinary issues entailed in the study and making of music. The class will involve making, writing about, and analyzing music. The seminar is also intended as a space for music concentrators to convene and collaborate.

MUS 303: Actor-Musicianship

A practical class. This is a workshop based class for those interested in multi-skilled performance and in how performance skills can illuminate new forms of theatre making. Ideally participants should have musical skills and be able to bring an instrument to work with. A lack of instrument would not preclude somebody from participating. It is helpful, but not necessary if students can read music. The course is also open to those interested in directing or other aspects of storytelling. It is also available to music students who are interested in all aspects of performance.

MUS 310: Advanced Workshop in Musical Composition

A composition course for independent, self-directed composers. Most of the class will be spent working on a single piece. Students will present their work-in-progress to the class weekly or biweekly depending on enrollment. We will have a concert of final projects at the end of the semester, with all student pieces to be performed by So Percussion, the music department’s world-renowned ensemble-in-residence.

MUS 314: Computer and Electronic Music through Programming, Performance, and Composition

An introduction to the fundamentals of computer and electronic music. The music and sound programming language ChucK, developed here at Princeton, will be used in conjunction with Max/MSP, another digital audio language, to study procedural programming, digital signal processing and synthesis, networking, and human-computer interfacing.

MUS 326: Composing Like Beethoven

An exploration of Beethoven’s style through model composition and analysis. We will consider a series of idioms or “schemas” that are central to Beethoven’s style, including specific routines for handling parallel and contrary motion in the classical tradition, favorite sequences, and idioms that defy standard analysis. Students familiarize themselves by writing a series of model composition exercises, starting with small phrases and progressing to an entire sonata-form movement. We will consider how these patterns are embedded in specific Beethoven compositions. We may also explore the use of idioms in classical-style improvisation.

MUS 341: Reimagining Counterpoint

This course will explore various ways of approaching polyphonic composition. In the first half, we will learn how to balance horizontal and vertical aspects of harmony via surveying the rules and techniques associated with Renaissance counterpoint. The second half is dedicated to rethinking the musical materials that define contrapuntal languages, specifically the role of timbre, register, and tuning in the classifications of consonance and dissonance. We seek to uncover the tendencies of 21st-century counterpoint and to reinvigorate the art of linear composition.

MUS 345: Songs and Songwriting

This class will study songs and songcraft in an intense, supportive small-group setting. Songs are mysterious musical forms, inherently multidisciplinary, engaging one’s ear for language as much as for music. We will seek insights from a wide selection of music with a focus on both American vernacular forms (spirituals, folk, contemporary pop, hip hop) and unclassifiable outliers. We will establish a regular working rhythm and mutual interdependence of listening, analyzing, and creating with the ultimate goal being to write better songs.

MUS 350: Studies in African Performance

This course presents a cross-disciplinary and multi-modal approach to African music, dance, and culture. Co-taught by a master drummer and choreographer (Tarpaga) and an ethnomusicologist (Steingo), students will explore African and African diasporic performance arts through readings, discussions, listening, film analysis, music performance, and composition.

MUS 351: Music and the Moving Image

Composers and film-makers explore the role of music within Film and moving image work. A look at historic examples, scoring styles and techniques, and the choices that directors and composers make, focusing particularly on films from the silent era, films without dialogue, documentaries, experimental (animation) films and finally narrative films. Composers will be encouraged to respond creatively by composing the score for a short film, or composing one to three cues (around five minutes of music) to a given score. Non-composers will be encouraged to write about a music cue or score that they find especially interesting.

MUS 513: Topics in 19th- and Early 20th-Century Music: Russian Ballet

An analysis of the construction, music, dance, and sociopolitical context of Russian ballet from the time of St. Leon through Petipa, the Ballets Russes, and Balanchine.

MUS 528: Seminar in Musicology: Current Topics in Empirical Musicology

This seminar engages students with current tools, questions, debates, and methods in empirical musicology. The course is designed so that, no matter what the student’s primary research interest in musicology, they come away from the class with ideas about how empirical approaches do or could interface with their material.

MUS 530: Topics in German Media Theory & History: Sonic Politics

In the wake of a series of recent events “Havana syndrome,” acoustic devices for suppressing protests, etc.–the weaponization of the acoustic has gained widespread public attention. But these dystopic accounts obscure the fact that sound has always been intimately connected to the political. This seminar explores the many political dimensions of the acoustic: from tonality as a colonizing force to the algorithmization of listening; from acoustic regimes of urban space to the ecological dimensions of audio technologies; from questions of noise and sonic pleasure to the deployment of sound both for protest and as a mechanism of control.

MUS 531: Composition

Emphasis is placed upon the individual student’s original work and upon the study and discussion of pieces pertinent to that work.