MUS 212: Improvisation and Interpretation in African American Folk-Based Music

Whether through work songs, field hollers, spirituals, ragtime, blues, jazz, soul music, or gospel music, the African American folk music tradition is a distinct reflection of the African American experience throughout the history of America. It is the individualized approach to storytelling, the societal and cultural influences upon the artist, and the function of the music for both the artist and community that has cultivated a legacy of core musical elements, values, and performance practice that exist within these diverse styles. This course will explore these characteristics through historical inquiry and practical application.

MUS 225: Instrumental Music: The Symphony from Haydn to Stravinsky

Consideration of the symphony from the eighteenth century to the middle of the twentieth century, in terms of musical procedures and cultural significance. Repertory studied includes symphonic voices beyond the traditional symphonic canon. The course is designed primarily for non-concentrators, and the ability to follow musical notation is helpful. The focus is on listening. Supplemental readings reinforce technical discussion and broaden historical context introduced in lectures.

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 in 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 1890’s.

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 costumes, 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 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 and ideas 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? MUS 248 provides an introduction to music cognition, paying special attention to potential and challenges that characterize work at the intersection of science, humanities, and the arts. Students 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 263: Arranging and Composing for Large Jazz Ensemble

In this course, we’ll explore key concepts in arranging, orchestrating, and composing for large jazz ensemble through close study of representative works by important composers and arrangers, including Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Mary Lou Williams, Gil Evans, Melba Liston, Bill Holman, Frank Foster, Bob Brookmeyer, Thad Jones, Carla Bley, Kenny Wheeler, Maria Schneider, and others, and develop strategies for writing idiomatically for large jazz ensembles of between 13-20 musicians. The final project is an original arrangement or composition for large ensemble, recorded remotely by Princeton faculty and other professionals.

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.

MUS 228: Sound/Material/Mind

Sound is at once ephemeral in air, concrete in material, and conceptualized in the mind.
This unique quality makes sound ideal for examining the relationship of our internal
experience to physicality. In this course, students will reconsider sound as material
through projects exploring physical technologies of sound-making along with listening
and viewings of related arts and artists, readings and writings in theories of sound, new
media, and phenomenology. This class offers a hybrid experience – an engagement with
art-making and seminar, reconsidering our relationship to the body, physical material,
and sound embodied in the world.

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 340: Advanced Concepts in Jazz Improvisation: Creating Fresh Vocabulary

This course will help students to develop new approaches as an improviser via transcribing solos of various jazz icons and analyzing their melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic content. We will also implement analytical tools from modern classical music (not typical used in jazz) and discuss how these techniques can be reverse-engineered to create fresh ideas and new modalities in how we organize improvisational scenarios. We will also be engaged by classroom visits of contemporary jazz luminaries who will discuss their unique approaches to improvisation.

MUS 345: Songs and Songwriting

This class will explore the art, craft, mystery and magic of writing songs. We will focus primarily on musical aspects of song writing including the marriage of words and music. We will seek insights from a wide selection of music ranging from popular songs to opera arias to 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 204: Musical Instruments, Sound, Perception, and Creativity

Musical instruments reside at the intersection of varied topics: sound, perception, embodiment, music theory, social values, and more; how has their design influenced the development of music and how might they be reinvented to spur new ideas? We will explore these questions through readings, listening, analysis, labs, and composition. Specific topics include: harmony and the keyboard; tuning and temperament; preparing the piano, digital and analog. More generally, we will consider the productive tension between qualitative and quantitative understandings of musical concepts.

MUS 103: Introduction to Western Music

MUS 103 is an introduction to Western music, involving works from around 1200 to the present. The course explains the basic elements of Western music — rhythm, pitch, melody, harmony, form — and historically significant styles and genres of composition. The course includes lectures on the symphony, ballet, and opera.

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 203: The Great Conductors; the Canonic Repertory

Overview of how the great orchestral conductors not the recorded era shaped musical performance practices historically. Time will be budgeted to see how women and minority conductors have fared in their careers.

MUS 240: Musical Modernism 1890-1945

An in-depth survey of music in Europe and America between 1890 and 1945, focusing on Symbolism, Expressionism, and Neoclassicism, and on such composers as Claude Debussy, Igor Stravinsky, Scott Joplin, the Second Viennese School and Les Six.

MUS 246: Projects in African Dance Drumming

A performance course in African dance drumming with a focus on West African Dundun drumming and dance. Taught by composer and master drummer Olivier Tarpaga, the course provides hands-on experience on Manding and Afrobeat rhythms. Students will acquire performance experience, skills and techniques on the Kenkeni, Sangban and Dundumba drums. Students will develop an appreciation of the rhythmic physicality of dundun drumming in West African societies.

MUS 261: Introduction to Jazz Arranging, Composition and Harmony

In this course, we’ll examine how horizontal activity (melody) in multiple voices generates vertical structure (harmony), and how horizontal and vertical activity combine to yield musical architecture (form). We’ll explore the building blocks of melody, harmony, counterpoint, rhythm, and form using practical examples, exercises, transcriptions, and composition/arranging projects as a means to internalize concepts. We’ll examine representative works by important jazz composers and arrangers, and develop strategies for writing idiomatically for jazz ensembles of up to 9 musicians.

MUS 300: Junior Seminar

This course introduces students to key methodological, technical, creative, and disciplinary issues entailed in the study and making of music. Co-taught by a composer and a musicologist, the class will involve making, writing about, and analyzing music. The seminar is also intended as a space for music concentrators to convene and collaborate.

MUS 470: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities: Abandoned Women

This team-taught interdisciplinary seminar will trace the fates of a series of abandoned women in ancient literature, interweaving their story with responses in operatic and musical formats from the modern world. The seminar will investigate why this theme is so prominent in both the ancient and modern traditions, and it will concentrate on how opera transforms the plots and characters of drama and narrative.

MUS 338: Music and Migration in the Caribbean

This seminar relates Caribbean music to historical and contemporary migratory issues. It examines questions of listening, memory, joy, diaspora, and the Anthropocene through genres like: son, bolero, calypso, salsa, reggae, merengue, bomba, and reggaeton. Attention to gender, sexual and racial inequities in portrayals of migrant cultures as symbolic of multiculturalism, while migrants are stigmatized as risks to security. Seminar speaks to current global context of displacement with focus on climate change’s impact on the Caribbean. We study music, sound, performance, literary, ethnographic and historical texts, visual arts, and journalism.