Seminars and Special Topics Classes
List of Recent Seminars
- 18th & 19th Century Concerti: You have all been exposed to Sonata Theory through the book Elements of Sonata Theory by James Hepokoski and Warren Darcy, now let's get immersed. The goals of this course are fivefold: 1) to consider the theory behind the theory, i.e. the theoretical background of sonata theory, 2) to read the presentation of the theory and consider its claims, premises and goals, 3) in the sense of a case study, to consider how the theory grapples with one of the most difficult formal problems in the literature: concerto, and 4) to immerse ourselves in the concerto literature. Finally, Sonata theory does not propose to supplant or winnow out other theoretical perspectives, but rather open up space for the inclusion of questions stemming from a variety of theoretical orientations. It is my hope to bring other theoretical perspectives into dialogue with sonata theory, most particularly that of Christopher Hasty (Meter as Rhythm). Weekly assignments will include discussion of readings and presentations of formal analyses. The principal assignment for the course will be a paper on the concerto literature of your choice that will offer a synthesis of the goals of the seminar.
- Analysis and Performance: This seminar introduces students to issues in recent studies on the relationship between musical analysis and performance. While the topic has garnered much scholarly interest in the last two decades, opinions on the relationship between the two activities remain diverse and highly complex. In the first module, we will survey theoretical sources that express radically different views on the interaction between musical analysis and performance. The second module will then be devoted to the study of specific musical works. For each piece, students will formulate their own analytical ideas and performance decisions, and more importantly, examine the interaction between the two domains in the process.
- Analysis of Early Music: Study and application of selected analytical techniques appropriate to the music of the fourteenth through the early seventeenth centuries. The seminar will include the critical discussion of analytical methodologies, a selective survey of the analytical literature, and the analytical study of representative Medieval, Renaissance, and early-Baroque compositions, ranging from Ars Nova composers to Monteverdi.
- Chopin/Brahms seminar: This is a doctoral music-theory seminar on the music of Frédéric Chopin and Johannes Brahms. Our primary focus will be on contemporary theoretical and analytical writings on their music. However, the essays we will read are often multi-disciplinary in nature, inquiring into such diverse topics as history, genres, semiotics, social functions of music, reception, etc., and how these topics interact with issues of musical "structures" and "processes" that music theory and analysis seek to illumine. The first seven weeks of the seminar will be devoted to readings on Chopin, whereas the last seven weeks to readings on Brahms. Weeks in the Chopin half will be organized by the composer's repertoire: each week concentrates on one or several related genres in which Chopin's output is generally seen as exemplary. Weeks in the Brahms half will be organized by theoretical/ analytical topics, such as tonal structure, form, rhythm and meter, developing variation, etc.
- Rhythm and Meter: In this research seminar we will explore advanced theoretical and analytical issues in the areas of musical rhythm and meter. We will carefully read and discuss existing literature on the topic, by authors such as William Benjamin, Wallace Berry, Edward Cone, Grosvenor Cooper and Leonard Meyer, David Epstein, Christopher Hasty, Jonathan Kramer, Harald Krebs, Fred Lerdahl and Ray Jackendoff, Justin London, William Rothstein, Carl Schachter, Maury Yeston, and others. Students will participate in weekly presentations/discussions on assigned readings, and will realize a research project of their choice. Evaluation of students will be based on weekly presentations, on a research presentation, and on a research paper.
- Semiotic and Narrative Approaches to Music Interpretation: This seminar is designed to acquaint participants with a variety of approaches to musical interpretation that may be grouped under the headings of semiotics and narratology. The ten-week term will be divided into sub-topical studies of one to two weeks each, including the "topics" of Classical-music discourse, musical humor, the role of metaphors in the conceptualization of music, musical rhetoric, and other aspects of musical signification and narrative structure.
- The Concerto in Sonata Theory: The goals of this comprehensive seminar are fivefold: 1) to consider the theory behind the theory, i.e. the theoretical background of sonata theory as a theory of genre, 2) to refine the application of sonata theory for works of the 18th, 19th and even 20th centuries, 3) to make a test case of how the theory grapples with one of the most difficult formal problems in the literature: concerto, 4) to place sonata theory in historical context and compare it with various Formenlehre, 5) to explore how this genre theory enters into dialogue with other kinds of theory (harmonic, rhythmic and so forth).
- The Music of Tomás Luis de Victoria: Analytical study of music by Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611). We will study and apply selected analytical techniques appropriate to sixteenth-century sacred vocal polyphony. The seminar will include critical discussion of analytical methodologies, a selective survey of the analytical literature, a survey of Victoria's music, and the analytical study of representative compositions or groups of compositions by this composer.
- Tonal Transformations: This intensive seminar consists of an overview of the main topics related to tonal transformations. Conceptual issues will be covered by thorough readings of the relevant literature in this area; a strong secondary focus will be applying these concepts to analysis.
- Transformational Theory and Analysis: This intensive seminar will provide an overview of the main topics related to transformational theory, focusing on three main areas: Lewinian approaches, voice-leading and Neo-Riemannian theory. It will introduce issues such as isographies, Klumpenhouwer networks, the Tonnetz, etc. Conceptual issues will be covered by thorough readings of the relevant literature in this area; a strong secondary focus will be applying these concepts to analysis.
- Voice-leading and Chord Spaces: This seminar consists of a survey of the literature dealing with chord classification, similarity relationships and voice leading. The main literature on the topic is introduced through a comprehensive study of selected articles and books.
List of Recent Special Topics Classes
- Quotation and Collage: This repertoire-based course focuses on the practice of quotation that has proliferated in the music of many composers since the 1960s. It examines the historical, cultural, compositional and theoretical context within which this practice has flourished and its implications to the structure of the musical language.
- The Music of Pierre Boulez: This repertoire-based course focuses on the music of Pierre Boulez, undoubtedly one of the most important musical personalities of recent times. It provides an overview of the historical, cultural, and compositional context for his music and writings, and an introduction to various theoretical/analytical approaches to his music.