MUSC 950.001 – Music, Sound, and Territory (Tuesday 2:00-4:50)
This seminar convenes a conversation about how music and sound are—and have been—used to control, analyze, model, and make claims to space. Our work keeps responds to the currency of border theory, migration studies, and human geography across the academy as well as to the importance and critique of place across recent music studies (e.g. in ecomusicology, transnational history, and postcolonial studies). One goal, then, is to mind the gap between new research on soundscapes, cartography, and globalization within “our” discipline and fomenting interdisciplinary discourses. Another goal is to consider whether music and aural cultures have a special place across this terrain: we will study a broad range musical works, performance traditions, and engaged scholarship that sounds out key debates. Each weekly meeting bundles musical and creative work, musicological writing, and a non-music text to consider a particular practice or paradigm of shaping space. Examples include, but are not limited to, ghettoization, soundmapping, travel writing, habit and habitation, and refuge. In addition to weekly assignments rooted in methodology, students will produce 1) an essay that introduces and critiques a music or sound project—this might take a more experimental or unconventional style/format—and 2) a pitch (over 10-15-pages) for an additional vector through which to consider the seminar’s topic that emerges out of their own research interests.
Focusing on the period following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, this seminar explores the U.S. government’s use of hip-hop as a form of public diplomacy, the interaction of citizens of different countries meant to establish dialogue, shape public opinion, and influence policy. At heart, this course is about the intersection of music and power. We will explore the power of music to bridge cultural divides, facilitate understanding, and build community. We will also seek to understand the fraught power relationships—between art and the state and between the United States and the rest of the world—revealed in the practice of hip-hop diplomacy. The course will follow the instructor’s work as director of Next Level, a State Department-funded hip-hop diplomacy program that has visited 20 countries since 2014 and will be conducting residencies in Myanmar and Vietnam during the semester.
Some observers have referred to a “spatial turn” in the humanities and social sciences over the past twenty years. Critical theories of space have indeed come into the fore for musicologists and ethnomusicologists as they have turned increasingly to urban sites—from sixteenth-century Venice to twenty-first-century Kolkata—and grappled with the challenges that modernity, with its processes of urbanization, globalization, and decolonization, have presented to conventional notions of space—raising the question of whether such notions ever existed in the first place. In this seminar, we will read scholarly perspectives on music and urban space across a wide variety of fields (including, in addition to the musicologies, anthropology, critical theory, geography, literature, and sociology), in order to understand music as something that is acoustically, experientially, poetically, and ritually situated in space.
“Of all the things we call rhythmic,” writes Christopher Hasty in Meter as Rhythm, “music is surely one of the very best examples.” Thus framed, musical rhythm becomes a subset of a much broader phenomenon in which rhythm is conceived as a particular mode of temporal experience. In this seminar, we will explore a wide range of approaches to the analysis of rhythm and meter, both through the study of general concepts and specific musical practices. The broader aim of this exploration will be to engage the various perspectives on temporal experience that these concepts and musical practices offer. We begin by surveying more general concepts (e.g., accent, sensorimotor entrainment, polyrhythm, metrical dissonances, rhythmic archetypes, etc.) and debates surrounding these concepts. However, since these concepts can only take us so far in our understanding of rhythmic experience, we will continue our exploration of rhythm and meter through the study of specific musical practices, including West African traditions (e.g., Dagomba, Ewe), 19th Century European classical music (especially Brahms and Schumann), flow in Rap, North Indian classical music, and musical minimalism. Additionally, throughout the semester we will situate these concepts and musical practices with respect to more general issues in the historical representation and phenomenology of temporal experience. Course work will include response essays/analyses and culminate in a final paper and presentation.
MUSC 950.001 – Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony (Wednesday 2:00–4:50)
This seminar will focus on Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony, completed in 1803 and premiered in 1804. We will examine the work from a variety of perspectives, beginning with a close musical analysis and then moving on to consider (among other things) its compositional history and sources of influence; its dissemination in manuscripts and in print; its context within the history of the symphony and of music in general; its performance history and critical reception; and its place within the construction of Beethoven’s so-called “heroic” style. Each member of the seminar will develop a 15-to-20-page paper over the course of the semester, with multiple presentations and recurring feedback from all other participants.
This seminar will explore how the concept of transnationalism has reshaped musicological engagement with Western music of the late nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries. In the seminar, we will start out with recent theoretical reflections on the concepts of cosmopolitanism, nationalism, internationalism, Europeanism, mobility, and transnationalism to get a clearer sense of current epistemological configurations. In the second part of the seminar, we will engage with specific case studies drawn from late-nineteenth-century opera—in particular the transnational phenomenon of Wagnerism—world’s fairs and other international exhibitions, commemorations (such as the 1927 Beethoven Centenary), transnational biography, and music historiography. The third section of the seminar will be dedicated to the presentation and discussion of students’ individual research projects.