MUS 520: Topics in Music from 1600 to 1800: Women and Music in Seicento Venice: Barbara Strozzi

The seminar focuses on the seventeenth-century composer and Barbara Strozzi, whose eight published volumes of music fully exploit the expressive potential of mid-seventeenth century music. The adopted (and perhaps illegitimate) daughter of Giulio Strozzi, Barbara was renowned as a singer for her performances in Venetian academic circles associated with her father. MUS 520 explores Strozzi’s music and life in early modern Venice; her relationship to other composers and “exceptional” female artists; early modern academies and contemporary views about gender and sexuality; performance practice and editing.

MUS 527: Seminar in Musicology: Animal Music

This seminar considers various responses to the question: Do animals make music? We approach the question in an interdisciplinary manner, and from three broad perspectives: from the perspective of composers, from the perspective of the history of science, and from the vantage of contemporary animal behavior science. The seminar aims to give participants a solid, if not exactly comprehensive, view of the field. We examine composers such as Messiaen, Respighi, Pamela Z, and David Dunn, and the writings of ornithologists and cetologists past and present.

MUS 528: Seminar in Musicology: History of Music Listening in the West

A sampling of views from the history of music listening: Appreciation of music requires understanding. The sweetness of musical sound is incomprehensible. Musical sound is mere vibration of air. Musical sound has mind-altering powers; it is unsafe without edifying text. Music, when freed from text, can reach transcendence. Without text, music is agreeable at best. Music has meaning. Music depicts. Music expresses. Music dies with the final chord, and is a reminder of death. Musical sound carries life-giving spirit; it animates. How do we make historical and philosophical sense of all this? That will be the challenge we face in this seminar.

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.

MUS 534: Ends and Means: Issues in Composition

This seminar is taught in collaboration with SO Percussion Princeton University’s Ensemble in Residence. Participants are asked to explore various approaches to composing for percussion in a series of exercises that are read by SO and discussed by the entire seminar. As the semester draws to a close participants begin work on original compositions which are performed by SO later in the Spring term.

MUS 541: Seminar in Music Composition

Composing for improvisers. In this class we explore composing open-form pieces for both skilled and unskilled improvisers. The class is mostly practical, with regular composition exercises, leading to a concert in the spring. We also study existing compositions that make effective use of improvisation.

MUS 545: Contexts of Composition: Idiosyncratic Instruments

A forum for exploring instrument design and the development of instruments for specific composition or music-making contexts. An Idiosyncratic Instrument might be a prepared conventional instrument, a Max for Live Ableton device, a sensor-based dance interface, an instrument in just-intonation scordatura, a modular synthesizer patch, and so on. We look at a range of examples and relevant readings/music. While we won’t be directly teaching programming in the seminar, composers interested in fulfilling their language requirement with a programming language could find this a good context for building a project to do so.

MUS 560: 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.