MUSC 930.001 Seminar in Music Theory

Musical Genres and Interpretive Practices in Popular Music
Professor Aaron Harcus
Wednesday, 2:00–4:50 pm

One of the oft-mentioned paradoxes of genre in popular music studies is that while it seems impossible to pinpoint the criteria underlying genre categorization, it seems just as inconceivable to imagine a “genreless” music. Moreover, even as musicians frequently proclaim that their music “defies” labels, the question of “what kind of music,” to quote Franco Fabbri, appears inescapable at every stage of the production and consumption of music. In this seminar, we will explore the concept of genre and the many ways that genres have historically structured and constrained musical understanding, interpretation, and creative practices in popular music (construed very broadly). In doing so, we combine theoretical, historical, and analytical perspectives in pursuing the following issues (among others): the relational nature of genres; culture industry approaches to genre (and its many critics); the relationship between genre formations, musical expectations, and the conditions of intelligibility of musical signifiers; how artists have negotiated the often hegemonic function of genre labels (e.g., marketing categories, radio formats, chart names, critic labels, etc.); debates over the status and meaning of crossover in popular music studies; and the place and role of genre in experimental music.
In addition to weekly readings and response essays/analysis, a major task of the seminar is to learn and further develop techniques for analyzing recorded popular music. The seminar culminates in a final paper and presentation.

MUSC 950.001 Seminar in Musicology

Annegret FauserMusic and Dance on the Parisian Stage
Professor Annegret Fauser
Tuesday, 2:00–4:50 pm

The nexus of music and dance in nineteenth-century France has formed the topic of a significant body of recent scholarly work that engages with both their sonic and their embodied aspects. This seminar centers on dance in Paris from the 1830s to the 1930s, including traditional institutions such as the Paris Opéra, commercial venues such as music halls (which staged classical ballet), visiting ensembles such as the Ballets Russes or the Ballets Suédois, and non-Western dancers—whether the temple dancers from Pondicherry (India) in 1838 or the Javanese dancers at the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1889. Drawing on a wide range of literature from both musicology and dance studies, we will focus together on a number of case studies, including Adolphe Adam’s Giselle, Jules Massenet’s Thaïs, and Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du printemps. Students will choose a presentation topic from this cultural field.

MUSC 970.001 Seminar in Ethnomusicology

Ethnomusicology and Oral Performance
Professor Michael Figueroa
Thursday, 2:00–4:50 pm

More ink has been spilled in examination of the relation between music and language than perhaps on any of the “music and ____” pairings that animate ethnomusicology, historical musicology, and music theory alike. Does music function like a language? How does it communicate? How do musical settings transform poetic texts? How are orality/aurality and literacy culturally constituted? In this seminar, we convene a semester-long conversation that takes a wide view of the relation between music and oral performance, addressing some of the above questions while asking others. The course has two main objectives: (1) to survey the intellectual history of oral performance in ethnomusicology and adjacent disciplines; (2) cultivate a theoretically robust discussion of oral performance traditions from around the world.

MUSC 970.002 Seminar in Ethnomusicology

Music, Culture, and Ecology
Professor Philip Vandermeer
Monday, 2:00–4:50 pm

Over the course of its history musicology has often demonstrated serious engagement with other disciplinary areas in the humanities (literary theory, cultural studies), social sciences (anthropology, sociology, psychology), and natural sciences (biology, evolutionary theory, neuroscience, physics). While space, place, and geography have been powerful points of analysis in both historical musicology and ethnomusicology, other modes of discourse, such as sound studies, acoustic ecology, and ecomusicology, can provide ways to conceptualize scholarly issues at the intersection of music, culture, and ecology, creating an intellectual space where historical musicologists, music theorists, and ethnomusicologists meet and engage with literary eco-critics, cultural geographers, environmental historians, bio-acousticians, and soundscape ecologists.

This seminar is divided into three parts. At the outset, we will concern ourselves with theories and methods covering concepts such as sound, nature, and the Anthropocene. In the second part, which will be led by members of the seminar, will examine several major case studies in ethnomusicology. Finally, we will look at the political economy of music and soundscapes, examining issues in environmental activism, ecomusicology, and sustainability. Seminar participants will read and discuss both extended studies and shorter articles, view documentaries, and listen to a variety of recorded examples. By the end of the semester, we will have covered some of the issues relevant to the ecological study of music. The class is reading- and listening-intensive and we will work together as a community to achieve the goals of applying these concepts, methodologies, and analytical practices to the wider world of music scholarship. In addition to active participation in discussions and oral reports, a journal and a short (ca. 10-12 pp.) paper are required.

FALL 2018

MUSC 950.001 Seminar in Musicology

Mozart’s Operas, 1781–91
Professor Tim Carter
Monday, 2:00-4:50

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
Professor Anne MacNeil
Tuesday, 2:00-4:45pm

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.

MUSC 970.001 Seminar in Ethnomusicology

Ethnography In/As Practice
Professor Chérie Rivers Ndaliko
Thursday, 2:00-4:50

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.

MUSC 970.002 Seminar in Ethnomusicology

Professor David Garcia
Wednesday, 2:00-4:50

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

Professor Andrea Bohlman
Tuesday, 2:00-4:50 pm

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.

MUSC 950.002 – Hip-Hop Diplomacy

Professor Mark Katz
Wednesday 2:00-4:50 pm

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.

MUSC 970.001 – Urban Ethnomusicology

Professor Michael Figueroa
Thursday 2:00-4:50 pm

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.

FALL 2017

MUSC 930.001 – Rhythm, Meter, and Temporal Experience

Professor Aaron Harcus
Monday 2:00-4:40 pm

“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

Professor Mark Evan Bonds
Wednesday 2:00–4:50 pm

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.

MUSC 950.002 – Thinking Western Music Transnationally

Professor Annegret Fauser
Tuesday 2:00-4:50 pm

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.