Music

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 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 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.

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.