“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.
Voice is so ubiquitous in musical discourse that it can be difficult to tell where one ends and the other begins. This course will explore these tensions, intersections, and discontinuities in both discourse and the music itself. In the 1960s, Lacan and Derrida put forth two theories at voice that seem fundamentally at odds: Lacan theorized the voice as objet a, as compelling as it is fundamentally mysterious and unobtainable, while Derrida sought to demystify the voice, to reveal that it is the product of technē, which he sometimes calls writing. We will use these theories as touchstones as we explore how the voice manifests in different musical modalities. I will curate readings from a number of important texts on the voice, and students will bring these texts to bear on musical repertories that they choose. Course work will include a presentation on voice in a particular repertory as well as a related end-of-term paper.
MUSC 970.001 – Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Music and Race in the Americas (Thursday 2:00–4:50)
This seminar will explore and assess current approaches to the study of music and race. Our readings will focus on the following five monographs: Cristina D. Abreu’s Rhythms of Race: Cuban Musicians and the Making of Latino New York City and Miami, 1940-1960 (University of North Carolina Press, 2015), David Garcia’s Listening for Africa: Freedom, Modernity, and the Logic of Black Music’s African Origins (Duke University Press, forthcoming, 2017), Karl Hagstrom Miller’s Segregating Sound: Inventing Folk and Pop Music in the Age of Jim Crow (Duke University Press, 2010), Ana María Ochoa Guatier’s Aurality: Listening and Knowledge in Nineteenth-Century Colombia (Duke University Press, 2014), and Petra R. Rivera-Rideau’s Remixing Reggaetón: The Cultural Politics of Race in Puerto Rico (Duke University Press, 2015). These works are written from varying disciplinary and area studies perspectives—history, Latin American studies, historical ethnomusicology, African/black diaspora studies, musicology, American studies, sound studies, postcolonial studies, and Latino studies—yet they draw from similar theoretical assumptions about race and its intersections with music and dance. For each meeting, participants will give critical assessments of that week’s reading supplemented with other materials to include related readings, recordings, videos, and original research. In lieu of a term paper, seminar participants will prepare one book review essay covering all five books following standard academic journal formats.
Anthropology has had, over the years, a major impact on the discipline of ethnomusicology. This seminar will explore how anthropology, in all its four traditional fields (socio-cultural, linguistic, archeological, and biological) has influenced the cross-cultural study of music, dance, and ritual performance. Using Alan Merriam’s classic 1964 text The Anthropology of Music as a benchmark, the bulk of the seminar will involve the examination and analysis of various monographs by scholars using diverse theoretical stances and methodological approaches representing a variety of world musical traditions. Additionally, seminar participants will: (1) read and discuss shorter articles that help provide a context for the larger studies; (2) view documentaries that provide other types of perspective; and, (3) listen to a variety of musical examples. By the end of the semester, the participants should have covered a number of broad issues relevant to the anthropological study of music. We will also discuss the potential applications of these methodologies, analytical practices, and concepts to the wider world of music scholarship. Although there will not be a final research paper, this is an intensive reading course with four or so short writing assignments, and in-class presentations. Please read the bulk of the Merriam book prior to the first class meeting.
How do we understand form in popular music? Conventional formal analysis addresses segmentation of a work according to melodic and harmonic structure, and yet contemporary approaches to understanding form engage with other musical elements, including but not limited to texture, timbre, and lyrics, all within the context of genre-specific practices. We start on the foundational understandings that songwriters’ and musicians’ treatment of form changes over time, that form is a significant contributor to audiences’ perceptual and cognitive relationships with popular music, and that musical meaning derives in part from form. This seminar will approach the study of form primarily through analysis of large bodies of repertory drawn from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries across a range of genres including but not limited to rock, pop, country, and hip-hop. The main focus of our work each week will be the hands-on analysis of recordings and performances. Our primary source materials will be sound rather than notated scores. We will combine these empirical explorations with reading recently published work that engages with form from Mark Spicer, Walt Everett, Jay Summach, Nicole Biamonte, and many others. Students will have weekly reading and analysis assignments. The seminar will culminate with final research papers and accompanying oral presentations.
In this seminar, we will partner with the North Carolina Museum of Art on their late winter 2017 exhibit (topic under wraps until the museum’s press release). We will explore and learn about music of the Italian Renaissance, ca 1450-1550, and develop concepts for creating materials about Renaissance music and art for the general public. Possibilities for public engagement include working with digital humanities, creating an interactive public workshop, a day-long symposium on Renaissance music and art, or multi-media experiences that museum-goers can explore while they are in the museum. Toward these ends, we will be conducting our own empirical experiments with music: listening to and evaluating a wide variety of recordings, reading and discussing secondary literature, conducting comparative analyses of music manuscripts and prints, researching Renaissance musical culture, and figuring out how we as music historians can best engage the public in the interests of our field. The seminar includes meetings with the curators at NCMA. Grades will be based on active participation in the development of concepts and materials for the NCMA partnership and approximately 15-20 pages of written work.
Don’t sit in a seminar room every week! Come explore the world and develop your talents for public education and engagement.
It is widely accepted that the “invention” of opera and solo song in Italy around 1600 prompted some fundamental stylistic changes within the Western art tradition; and that these changes responded to precise political, social, economic, and cultural circumstances (not least the Protestant and Catholic Reformations). Baroque repertories have also been key to the development over the past century and more of so-called Historically Informed Performance. However, HIP has not always translated into Historically Informed Listening—should any such thing exist—and some crucial questions remain about how this music conveyed meaning (if it did) and provoked emotional arousal (if ditto) within its various soundscapes. We will explore the problems posed by signifiers and signifieds in representative vocal and instrumental works from Monteverdi to Handel, taking in the French (Lully, Couperin), Germans (Schütz, Bach) and English (Purcell) along the way.
This seminar examines emerging trends toward social justice and social engagement within the field of ethnomusicology. Drawing on diverse case studies from the African continent, we will explore the complex intersections of music with global politics in regions of conflict and emergency. Sites of conflict and emergency are typically characterized by the presence of military forces and/or humanitarian NGOs, as well as by overt and veiled negotiations of power between diverse social groups (ethnic, economic, religious, gendered, etc.), both of which factors directly shape culture production. Using analytical frameworks from ethnomusicology and (visual) anthropology, we will study songs, music videos, and short films produced in conflict regions with critical attention to (1) the social and cultural politics of their production; (2) their “inherent” and “relative” aesthetic qualities; and (3) the spectrum of cultural values associated with such works. In addition to the analytical components on this seminar, students will also study methods including ethnography, community-based participatory research, and other methodologies of socially engaged scholarship.
Students will be expected to complete two methodological exercises (e.g. interviews, research journals, etc.); one short paper (3-5 pages); and one seminar paper (15-18 pages). Further, students will have the opportunity to develop additional professional skills through participating in the academic conference on this topic that will be held at UNC in October 2016.