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.

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 359: Sound Cultures

This course examines the role of sound and listening in the constitution of culture. Classes will be evenly split between historical and theoretical analysis, on the one hand, and practice-based explorations of sound, on the other. Topics of exploration include: audio technology, sound and space, psychoacoustics, and acoustemology. We will engage these topics through close readings of theoretical texts and through a range of sound-based practices such as field recording, sound walks, spectral analysis, and sonic art.

MUS 334: Venice, Theater of the World

This course examines over a millennium of music, art, literature, and culture in Venice, using as its lens the theatricality of the city’s unique topography, environment, and geographic position. Moving between modern and medieval, the stage and the street, we consider the special relationship this implausible city has always staged between human creativity and ecological fragility. Topics include public opera, civic ritual, postwar avant-gardism, tourism, the city in fiction and film, and the Venice Biennale.

MUS 346: Songwriting and Musical Storytelling

In this course we will approach the art of songwriting through a multidisciplinary lens, with a focus on storytelling. We will explore character, place, ecology, landscape, history and archival research to discover old stories and inspire new stories for telling in our songs. We will use Kamara Thomas’ storywork-in-development “Tularosa: An American Dreamtime” as springboard for exploration, and students will then create musical storytelling works that reflect their multidisciplinary interests (film/video/visual art/etc.). Students may also be invited to participate in various ways in the “Tularosa” concert at the end of the semester.

MUS 365: Practices and Principles of Rhythm

This class is centered on the exploration of rhythmic practices and organizational principles in a wide variety of musical contexts: West African Drumming, European Classical Music, Caribbean Traditional Music, American Pop Music, Jazz and Contemporary Experimental Music. The course will toggle between two major components: 1 – “Hands-On” performance practice 2 – Analysis and comparison of organizational principles of rhythm in a variety of musical traditions.

MUS 436: Seminar in Jazz Analysis

This course will cover each of the prevailing methodologies for analyzing jazz, epitomized in the improvisations of bebop musicians from the mid-1940s to the 60s. Though these musicians were united by a clear sense of tradition, jazz scholars have proposed a variety of strategies for analyzing the music of this period. Their different approaches are informed by the analysis of classical art music, focusing variously on harmony (Oliver Strunk), voice-leading and counterpoint (Steve Larson), improvisational motives and themes (Gunther Schuller), and chromatic pitch collections (Keith Waters).

MUS 248: Music Cognition

Music can get your feet tapping, trigger a cascade of memories, mire you in nostalgia, or leave you with an earworm. What happens when tools drawn from cognitive science are applied to understanding these experiences? What can music tell us about the human mind, and what can psychology and neuroscience tell us about music? This course will provide an introduction to music cognition, emphasizing the potential and the challenges that characterize work at the intersection of science, the humanities, and the arts. Students will gain experience posing their own questions at this intersection, and identifying appropriate methods to answer them.

MUS 259: Projects in West African Mande Drumming

Performance course in West African drumming with focus on music from Mandé Empire (Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Guinea Bissau and Senegal.) Taught by master drummer and exponent of Mogo Kele Foli drumming technique. Course provides hands-on experience on two instruments, Djembe and Dun dun. Students acquire performance experience, skills and techniques on Wassolon and Diansa, and develop appreciation for integrity of drumming in daily life of West Africa.

MUS 262: Jazz History: Many Sounds, Many Voices

This course will examine the musical, historical, and cultural aspects of jazz throughout its entire history, looking at the 20th century as the breeding ground for jazz in America and beyond. During this more than one hundred year period, jazz morphed and fractured into many
different styles and voices, all of which will be considered. In addition to the readings, the course will place an emphasis on listening to jazz recordings, and developing an analytical language to understand these recordings. A central goal is to understand where jazz was, is, and will be in the future, examining the musicians and the music that has kept jazz alive.

MUS 316: Computer and Electronic Music Composition

A composition workshop class, in the context of the modern sound studio. Emphasis will be on the student’s creative work, composing both “fixed media” works and live electronic music.

MUS 319: Composition and Improvisation

In this class we will consider a variety of strategies for combining improvisation and notated music, drawing on both contemporary concert music and jazz broadly construed. We will look at the works of musicians such as Butch Morris, Lutoslawski, Shostakovich, Coltrane, Stockhausen, and others, and will consider how technology might allow us to expand our musical possibilities (e.g. using iPads to facilitate harmonic coordination, or using movies in the place of scores). The ultimate goal will be to imagine hybrid musics drawing on both classical and jazz traditions.

MUS 232: Music in the Renaissance

A journey through the musical landscape of the Renaissance, taken here as roughly the period 1400-1600. Particular emphasis on listening and appreciation, and on developing the vocabulary to articulate informed assessment of compositional method and style. Materials include recordings, scores, images, original texts, and secondary literature. Ability to read musical notation is essential; experience in counterpoint would be helpful. Attention will be paid to historical developments such as humanism, bookprinting, the Black Death and its aftermath, the Reformation, the art of conversation, and so on. Final project is an essay.

MUS 236: Music of the Classical Period

A survey of the styles, forms, composers and performance contexts from 1750 to the first decade of the nineteenth century. The course addresses important developments in the realm of instrumental music, liturgical music, and opera, and will bring to the table the contributions of musicians sometimes left out of the musical history of this era.

MUS 242: Music After Modernism, 1945 to the Present

A survey of concert music from the middle of the twentieth century through the present day. During this time, Eurocentric models gave way to a dizzyingly diverse array of styles and attitudes, calling the very identity of concert music into question. Topics include high modernism; experimental explorations; noise and silence; technology; spirituality; music for film and dance; interculturalism and cultural appropriation; commodification; acoustic ecology; politics; and identity and diversity. We ask, where does concert music ‘fit’ in today’s cultural landscape? What is its nature, and where do its boundaries lie? And whose music is it?

MUS 246: Dundun Projects

A performance course in West African contemporary bass drumming technique with a focus on Dundun drumming. Taught by composer and master drummer Olivier Tarpaga, the course provides hands-on experience on Manding traditional and contemporary bass drumming rhythm. Students will acquire performance experience, skills and techniques on the Kenkeni, Sangban and Dundumba drums. Students will learn about the culture of the griots and the history of the ancient Manding/Mali empire.

MUS 247: Cultural Appropriation in the Arts

This course explores the phenomenon of cultural appropriation through a wide lens. We analyze film, television, and music, with additional attention to “everyday” examples such as fashion, advertising, and cuisine. We scrutinize the familiar claim that respectful intentions negate power imbalances, and we explore questions of identity, ownership, representation, and authenticity.

MUS 106: Music Theory through Performance and Composition

A continuation of Music 105, with an emphasis on the harmonic and formal principles of classical music. MUS 106 casts its net wider than MUS 105, also considering the various guises of tonality and modality in Medieval, Renaissance, Romantic, Modern and Minimalist music.