Spring 2023

MPP 299: Independent Instruction in Voice or Instrument

Independent instruction in voice or instrument is an intensive immersion in all aspects of recreating music for performance. Lessons are geared towards the development and embedding of solid technique, and the application of this technique to proper style and musical expression. Issues explored include but are not limited to interpretation, stylistic appropriateness, historical context, theoretical/syntactical underpinnings, the avoidance of injuries, audition and performance strategies, and career planning.

MPP 231: Princeton University Steel Band

The course will teach students the basics of playing the steel drum as well as delve deeply into the historical context behind the development of the steel drum as the national instrument of Trinidad and Tobago.

MPP 216: Techniques of Conducting

This course will focus on: 1) the development of competency in conducting technique, 2) verbal and non-verbal communication in rehearsal, 3) the development of good rehearsal strategies.

MPP 214: Projects in Vocal Performance: Exploring Art Songs from the African Diaspora

A study of classical art songs written by composers of African descent in the United States, the Americas and Europe. A survey of the rise of classical art song after the American Civil War, 1865 to the present. Course will cover the social and political obstacles that black composers faced, the repertoire composed and the singers and other musicians who performed the music. Course will involve lectures, guest speakers and performance, culminating in a written project and public vocal recital. Students will have a final paper and those who wish to publicly perform in the recital will be encouraged to do so. Musical background is not required.

MPP 213: Projects in Instrumental Performance: Chamber Music

Instrumental chamber music class of the standard repertory of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. Preparation for performance of ensembles. Each ensemble’s repertoire will be determined in consultation with the instructors during the first week of classes.

MUS 209B: Transformations in Engineering and the Arts

STC 209 examines ‘transformations’ within and between visuals, sound, structure and movement as art and engineering forms. The course explores generative art and design that leverages parallels and interplay between design processes in engineering and the arts. Students will learn to work as artist-engineers, and will create ambitious open-ended design projects exploring these themes. Taught by faculty from CST, COS, MUS, CEE along with visiting artists, and guest faculty from the Lewis Center for the Arts.

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 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 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 209A: Transformations in Engineering and the Arts

STC 209 examines ‘transformations’ within and between visuals, sound, structure and movement as art and engineering forms. The course explores generative art and design that leverages parallels and interplay between design processes in engineering and the arts. Students will learn to work as artist-engineers, and will create ambitious open-ended design projects exploring these themes. Taught by faculty from CST, COS, MUS, CEE along with visiting artists, and guest faculty from the Lewis Center for the Arts.

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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.