Spring 2021 Graduate Seminars

Music 530 301. Composing with Electronics (Composition Method Requirement). Survey of Electronic Music Techniques.  Natacha Diels
Wednesday 2-5 p.m.

This is an overall introduction to using computers and electronics in music composition. All classes are supported by relevant and eclectic historical background, and are divided into lecture and practice. Each class focuses on a single general topic in computer music. The class begins with a history lecture on the specified topic, and proceeds to examine works centered around that topic. There will be suggested reading and weekly assignments. 

Topics include elementary and advanced sampling techniques, basic digital signal processing, methods of synthesis, human-computer interface, hand-built circuits, and experimental video. By the end of the quarter, the student should have a comfortable grasp of the fundamental topics covered in the class. The primary software taught in this course is Max/MSP; other software may be included according to student interest. This course culminates in a final project, which includes both a written (text) and creative (musical) component. The musical component must be done in Max/MSP.

Music 622 301. Analytical and Theoretical Approaches.  Jairo Moreno
Thursday 130-430 pm.

Our seminar will provide a critical introduction to a set of six clusters that inform contemporary archival and methodological concerns in analytic, ethnographic, and historical research: (i) Social theories beyond agent-structure models (e.g., individual-society, subject-structure, event-context): Actor-Network-Theory and Assemblage Theory; (ii) Affect and Intimacy; (iii) Publics and Scenes; (iv) Sonic Inscription and Forms of Musical “Writing”; (v) Circulation and Mediation; (vi) Infrastructure. The first three clusters will help us rigorously engage with the vexing problem of how to calibrate our work in relation to social scales. The second set of clusters will address an equally challenging issue: musical and sonic materiality. Each cluster is conceived as a constellation assembled from the various disciplines in music and sound studies, but will emphasize readings from diverse disciplines (e.g., anthropology, political theory, sociology, media studies). We will spend two weeks on each cluster. The first week will be dedicated to gathering conceptual resources and engaging critically with them; the second week will focus on a hands-on exercise in which we use our resources to study a particular object.

Music 705 301:  Colonial/Postcolonial/Decolonial: Genealogies of Music and Power.  Jim Sykes
Wednesday 2-5

Arguably no other term has come to define our political and academic moment than decolonization. But what is decolonization and how does it relate to its ancestor terms, colonial and postcolonial? What is (or was) postcolonial studies and what importance does it maintain in the wake of new theories of decolonization? How should we think of the “precolonial”, and to what extent did precolonial cultural forms persist through colonialism to the present day? In this course, we focus primarily on South Asian Studies, whose writers are foundational for exploring these questions. Along the way, we will consider select texts on the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and the Americas (namely, recent work on decolonization in indigenous studies). Our ultimate aim, however, is to consider how the colonial (in its many temporal variants) has conditioned formations of power in music studies, both as a theme for research and as embedded in our disciplinary structures. Each session of the course will put a text on music into dialogue with one from history or anthropology; in doing so, we will have the opportunity to consider numerous related topics, e.g., secularism; ethnonationalism; anarchy; border regions; the fine arts; media; religion; violence; and environmental studies.

Music 710 301:   Music and the Global Middle Ages: The Sounds of Race, Religion, and Difference in the Premodern World. Mary Caldwell
Monday 2-5 p.m.  

Writing in 1274, the French music theorist Elias Salomo compared the singing of Northern-Italian Lombards to the “howling of wolves.” Decades earlier, Simon of Saint-Quentin recounted a Dominican monk’s description of Mongols singing like bellowing bulls and howling wolves. Bestial metaphors such as these speak to the sonic perception and construction of difference in the Middle Ages. Religious identities resonated in sound too. A 15th-century document asserts that “Saracens say that Christians do not sing but speak deliriously. Conversely Christians report that Saracens swallow their vocalizations and gargle song in their throats” (Stoessel 2014). Music and sound were intimately connected with how difference was constructed and understood, yet, music has rarely been included in broader discourses around the formation of racial, religious, and ethnic difference in the Middle Ages. In this seminar, we will begin connecting discourses around race and ethnic and religious identity and difference to music ca. 800-1500CE. Contact and encounter will guide our discussion, brought about through religion; war and conflict; trade and commerce; education and early universities; travel and religious pilgrimage; settler colonialism; and art and material culture, including musical instruments, among others. The seminar will focus on musical cultures in Europe, North Africa, and Western and Central Asia that were deeply connected with and informed by immigration/migration, travel, trade, and religious/political connections and conflict during the Middle Ages. Seminar participants will be encouraged to develop individual research projects that explore greater geographical breadth and respond to the call for a global history of medieval music. Seminar topics might include: Indigenous music and musicians; dramatic representations of difference; language, multilinguality, and identity; chant traditions; crusade; ethnic and religious expulsions; sound and animality; theories and philosophies of music; proto-nationalism and music. Ability to read modern musical notation is not required. This seminar is designed to coordinate with Music 740 (Prof. Glenda Goodman). 



Music 740 301:  The Music History of Racial Formation in the Long Eighteenth CenturY Overview.   Glenda Goodman.   
Friday 2-5

What did racial difference sound like in the long eighteenth century? Musicologists have devoted considerable attention to the mutual histories of music and race in the modern period. Yet music’s role in the formation of racial ideologies and fantasies long predates the modern period. For European and Euro-American audiences, the eighteenth century set the stage for the racialized audition that continues today. Expanding global trade, accelerating travel, and escalating inter-imperial struggles for power and glory brought intercultural encounters to the forefront of early modern musical experiences. Musical encounters dovetailed with Enlightenment fixations on categorization as well as consumerist desires for exotic “curiosities”--cultural traits that infiltrated musical works, theory, and performance practice. In short: hierarchy, representation, and conflict were all key features of eighteenth-century Western music history. Focusing primarily on the Atlantic world, this course considers how European and Euro-American musics helped to forge categories of race and articulate changes to those categories. Topics include: depictions of the Black diaspora; “playing Indian” and staged Indigeneity; Christian sacred music as a nexus of encounter; musical exoticism and Europe’s internal Others; music and imagined national identity. The course is designed to coordinate with Music 710 (Prof. Mary Caldwell).