Mozart’s Operas, 1781–91
Prof. Tim Carter
Mozart’s stage works from Idomeneo to Die Zauberflöte are generally regarded as iconic examples of the chief worlds of late eighteenth-century opera, whether opera seria (Idomeneo; La clemenza di Tito), opera buffa (Le nozze di Figaro and its predecessors; Don Giovanni; Così fan tutte), or Singspiel (Die Entführung aus dem Serail; Der Schauspieldirektor, Die Zauberflöte); they loom large in the repertory, and also in the literature. But a great deal of nonsense has been written about how they revolutionized their respective genres in theatrical and musical terms. And still more nonsensical ink has been spilt on the composer’s remarkable musical penetration into the psychology of his characters. My aim is not so much to take an opposite, iconoclastic view—however useful that might be—but, rather, to explore how different readings of these works in their various political, social, and economic contexts, in terms of late eighteenth-century performance practices, by way of a careful consideration of the relationship between music and text, and through close analytical reading of the score, might or might not turn all this scholarly (or not so scholarly) nonsense into some kind of sense.
MUSC 950.002 Seminar in Musicology
Italian Songs from the Time of Christopher Columbus
Prof. Anne MacNeil
Renaissance. The peak of activity in the composition of frottole was the period from around 1470 to 1530, and the person most often associated with their rise in popularity is Isabella d’Este. At the Gonzaga court, Isabella commissioned poems from her favorite authors – among them, Serafino Aquilano, Galeotto del Carretto, Baldassare Castiglione, and Pietro Bembo – which she then gave to composers for musical setting. These songs offer insight into human expression in an era of intense cultural change – a time of the Italian Wars, a time of scientific discovery and the exploration of the New World. Many frottole speak to these cultural anxieties, and the repertory as a whole represents a rejection of French domination over the Italian peninsula in favor of the Italian language, its ancient poetic forms, and traditional practices of singing and reciting to the lyre. These songs give expression to Italian humanism.
In this seminar, we will learn to recognize the standard forms of Italian songs and to read the notation in Ottaviano Petrucci’s printed music books. Using Deanna Shemek’s new publication of translations of Isabella d’Este’s letters, we will explore the relationships Isabella had with poets, musicians, and musical instrument makers. And reading Castiglione’s Book of the Courtier and Matteo Bandello’s novels, as well as scholarly literature on the topic, we will explore contexts for music performance at north Italian courts during the Italian Wars. This is a reading/analysis intensive seminar. Students will be assigned weekly to lead discussions and submit responses to the readings. Several directed research assignments will be written over the course of the semester in lieu of a final paper.
Ethnography In/As Practice
Prof. Chérie Rivers Ndaliko
This seminar offers a theoretical and practical investigation of ethnography as a primary mode of research in humanities fields. We will engage ethnograhic methods both as tools of scholarly inquiry and of activist praxis; we will also analyze the ethical implications of conducting ethnographic study. Each student will conduct a semester-long ethnographic project, in which they apply various modes of inquiry, observation, documentation, interpretation and translation, transcription, and (re)presentation.
Student research projects will be linked to a developing oral history collection from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its diapsoric communities in the United States, which will provide context for analyzing real-world application of ethnography as well as a forum in which to examine the practice of ethnography in contexts of conflict, war, and emergency, The objective of this seminar is to equip students to undertake ethnographic fieldwork with concrete and nuanced skills for navigating issues of power, representation, and cross-cultural collaboration.
In this seminar students will be expected to complete 4 projects, each of which will involve research, application, and 5-7 pages of writing.
Prof. David Garcia
Why do we think of music chronologically, geographically, and in binaries (e.g. mind/body, raced/unraced)? Instead, could we theorize dance and music, for instance, one and the same sets of movement, intensity, or becoming? This seminar will explore the work of Gilles Deleuze on music for insights into addressing these and similar questions. Moreover, we will explore how music scholars have recently drawn from Deleuze to frame their work on subjects ranging from Chano Pozo and John Coltrane to Katherine Dunham and Mary Chapin Carpenter. We will focus our study on concepts such as affect, assemblage, becoming, de/reterritorialization, difference, intensity, repetition, and rhizome as presented in Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition and Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus. Our primary goal is for students to engage with and deploy these conceptual methodologies in their studies of music across repertories, styles, and historical contingencies. This is a reading intensive seminar.
Students will be assigned weekly to lead discussions and submit synopses on our readings. The final term assignment might take varying written forms.
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.