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.

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 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 347: Multidisciplinary Musical Storytelling – Tularosa: An American Dreamtime

Using the musical story-work “Tularosa: An American Dreamtime” as a springboard,
students will explore the mythology of the American West and musical storytelling
through a multidisciplinary lens. Students will then use a variety of creative methods
including songwriting, theatrical performance, experimental movement and dance,
video, dramaturgy, archival and site-specific research, and artifact- and symbol-making
to create unique multidisciplinary storytelling projects from their own points of view.

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, and music performance.

MUS 357: Music and Shakespeare

A survey of Shakespeare’s treatment of music in the plays and sonnets. The course is based on primary sources only; images will be provided. It also features multiple original songs. The focus is on their dramatic function within complete scenes. At all times we will engage in close reading. We will address a range of relevant historical themes, including: harmony and unity, sound and spirit, music education, rhetoric and decorum, male friendship, the power of the eyes, the art of letter-writing, Puritans and music, and music and melancholy. The course includes a visit to the Rare Books Room.

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 Sound

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 338: Music in the Global Middle Ages

Moving from Baghdad to Paris, Jerusalem to Addis Ababa, Iceland to Dunhuang, this course examines the musical cultures of some of the most vibrant centers of the Middle Ages. We consider what it means to study medieval music “globally,” focusing on key moments of cultural contact (trade, pilgrimage, conflict), while remaining attuned to the particularities of specific places. Emphasis is on the physical traces of premodern music, and we encounter the distant musical past in a variety of materials and formats (paper manuscripts, papyrus fragments, parchment rolls, stone steles), meeting weekly in Special Collections.

MUS 340: Advanced Concepts in Jazz Improvisation: Creating Fresh Vocabulary

In this course, we will examine various approaches to chromatic improvisation and composition as well as advanced rhythm techniques. Topics will include concepts such as superimposition, fixed intervals, pitch cells, modes, synthetic scales, 12-tone systems, chromatic harmonization, reharmonization, serialism, polyrhythm, additive rhythm, and more. We will also have several visiting guest artists who are high-level practitioners in the field. Past guests included Anna Webber, Gary Thomas, Miles Okazaki, and Dan Weiss.

MUS 341: Atonality and Noise

This class considers atonality and noise as resources for 20th & 21st century musicians, ranging freely across folk, popular, and notated traditions. We begin with percussion music, music concrete, and sampling; then consider pitch as a kind of noise: free atonality, free improvisation, textural music (Penderecki, Xenakis, etc.), and spectralism. Also fusions of pitch and noise: feedback, distortion, extended techniques, and modular synthesis. Ending with set theory, total serialism, and the attempt to devise a “language” of atonality.

MUS 343: Thinking Through Musical Sound

How do musical sounds hang together and convey meaningful ideas to its local audience–emotions, acoustic, semiotic, and ideological dimensions to theorize how it answers to diverse aesthetic and epistemic conditions across listening cultures. Students will engage a range of musical sounds through embodied analysis, (auto)ethnography, and close readings in music theory, ethnomusicology, and music perception. While this course welcomes students without previous training in music theory, it is also poised to challenge those with substantial experience.

MUS 344: The Ceremony is You

An exploration of ritual and ceremony as creative, interdisciplinary spaces imbued with intention and connected to personal and cultural histories. A broadening and deepening of knowledge around historical and contemporary ritual, ceremonial, and community-building practices of queer and trans artist communities from around the world, with a deeper focus on the extraordinary history of the queer trans shamans of early 20th century Korea.

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 249: Introduction to Music for Film and the Moving Image

We will consider the art of music for the moving image. We will look at historic examples, scoring styles and techniques, and the choices that directors and composers make. We will begin by looking at the basic elements of film and music. Then we will consider the role of genre and style, focusing especially on early Hollywood and Russian filmmakers. Finally, we will look at a range of modern scoring techniques.

MUS 300: Junior Seminar

This course introduces students to key methodological, technical, creative, and disciplinary issues entailed in the study of and making of music. Weekly assignments will include readings of current or influential scholarship; writing, editing, and composition projects; attendance at selected department concerts or colloquia. Classes will also include guest lecturers and visits to area libraries. Students will be encouraged to participate in the department mentoring program.

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 210: Beginning Workshop in Musical Composition

A workshop that fosters individual students’ composing within a community of peers. We’ll consider familiar musical styles, and we will open our ears as well to non-traditional instruments, collaborative and improvisatory approaches, and technological opportunities. The focus is not on music theory “rules” but on each student’s musical imagination, explored through the tools available to us, individually and collectively. Group work and discussion are central. Several short “sketches” during the semester, final composition at the end of the semester.

MUS 205: Species Counterpoint

A hands-on, practical course in 16th-century (primarily sacred) vocal music composition. The motivations are numerous: the music is beautiful and pre-functional. In a tonal sense, it provides rich perspective historically, technically, and conceptually upon music of later centuries, including our own. Learning to compose in the style is a deep and challenging way to understand it, and understanding is meaningful beyond the confines of the music itself. In addition to composing, we will spend time singing music from the period and your own projects. This helps us get the sound of the music into our ears and bodies.

MUS 105: Music Theory through Performance and Composition

Music 105 introduces foundational elements of music making, while considering relevant contextual information like form, function, and identity. A broad and inclusive range of musical genres from around the world will be examined in equal measure to help develop holistic insight into how and why music works. The course is designed to strengthen your ability to analyze a wide variety of existing music from the past and present, and gain new approaches to composing your own. The emphasis is firmly on the practical application of the concepts we encounter within music, rather than an abstract understanding of limited musical methods.

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.