Courses

MUS 514: Topics in 19th- and Early 20th-Century Music: Tchaikovsky

Tchaikovsky is famous for all the wrong reasons: He was not a suffering melancholic; he did not write music about death in anticipation of his own; his music was not about his life, although his music has been reduced to his life to the detriment of both. This seminar honors the life and works as separate. It relies on archival documents, including unexpurgated letters and diaries, and digs into the political and cultural contexts of his music, both the famous works and the rarities.

MUS 527: Seminar in Musicology: Music of the Twelfth-Century Renaissance

The twelfth century witnessed an effusion of new musical styles and creative practices, stimulated by societal changes that have been controversially dubbed a “Renaissance.” We examine the century’s available expressive idioms against this dynamic socio-historical context (the rise of urbanism, universities, and religious orders and the waning of older, feudal modes of life). Topics include: vernacular lyric song in Arabic, Hebrew, Provençal, and English; settings of Latin verse; Parisian polyphony; liturgical composition; the works of Beatrice de Die, Hildegard of Bingen, St Godric, Adam of St Victor, and Peter Abelard.

MUS 528: Seminar in Musicology: Introduction to Textual Criticism

Introduction to textual criticism, as method and as theory. The focus is not primarily on the reconstruction of Urtexts, but rather on the workings of textual culture at different times and different places. The conventional stemmatic approach seems to work well for Renaissance polyphony. Yet it breaks down in the transmission of, for example, organum purum, Vitry’s Ars nova, Docta sanctorum, and the work of editors in printing houses. This invites critical reflection on issues like authorial revision, units of transmission, orality, corruption and contamination, editorial change, standards of scribal professionalism, and so on.

MUS 532: Composition

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

MUS 534: Ends and Means: Issues in Composition

Seminar examines music as a response to culture. We analyze music from around the world that stands as guides for the social and political ethos of their time, and examines the methodologies that contributed to their becoming iconic echo-locators of history. From West-African Highlife and American protest songs, to folkloric music of Haiti and Brazilian Tropicália, we examine the crossroads of musical form, function and identity. We analyze music-making through an inclusive lens of sonic ecology, and compose music that is explicitly reflective of our time. Course serves as a forum for discussion, collaboration, and discovery.

MUS 537: Points of Focus in 20th-Century Music

Seminar on extended just intonation and various nonstandard temperaments. We will review the necessary mathematics involved in interval calculations and cent-ratio conversion. Two notational systems will be introduced: Ben Johnston and HEJI (Extended Helmholtz-Ellis Just Intonation). We will learn how to set up microtonal notation/playback system in Dorico and compose music inspired by our expanded awareness of pitch resources. We will investigate limits of precision that can be expected in performance. In addition to composition and ear-training, we will also conduct in-depth analyses.

MUS 542: Instrumentation and Performance

Collaborations with varied ensembles and performers from around the world and here at Princeton, presented in concert on the Princeton Sound Kitchen concert series.

MUS 545: Contexts of Composition: Composing Fast

In this class we think about what it means to develop a musical style: the techniques and habits that make us who we are. To force us to think about this issue, we try the experiment of composing very, very quickly — in real time or close to it. We also study a few examples of earlier composers who developed distinctive musical styles.

MUS 561: Music Cognition Lab

Under the direction of a faculty member, and in collaboration with an interdisciplinary group of students, visitors, and postdocs, the student carries out a one-semester research project chosen jointly by the student and the faculty. Open to any graduate student in Music, this course provides a hands-on opportunity to learn the tools, skills, methods, and perspectives of music cognition research.