Fall 2014 Graduate Seminars

Music 508 001: Musicianship, James Primosch
(To be Announced)  

The instructor will assess each student’s abilities at the beginning of the course and will structure the curriculum accordingly, covering skills in tonal repertoires as needed. Examples of the eventual goals for the course would ideally include the ability to:

- take down two part atonal melodic dictations

- tap out the rhythms of an Elliott Carter timpani piece

- sing atonal melodies in treble or bass clefs, or tonal melodies in C clefs, 

- aurally identify the harmonies of a work by Bartok or Britten. 

- take down Bach chorales in harmonic dictations


Music 530 301:  Composition with Electronic Media, James Primosch

Monday 2 to 5 p.m., Room 210 Music Building

This course affords graduate students an opportunity to work with a variety of hardware and software in creating electronic music. Students will be asked to complete a few short studies exploring various specific media, but the bulk of the course will be focussed on the students' creative work. Relevant historical and contemporary compositions will be analyzed and discussed.


MUSC 605 301  Contemplating the Field: An Intellectual History of Ethnomusicology, Tim Rommen
Thursday 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.,  Marion Anderson Seminar Room, VPL

This semester we will take a series of journeys together, each of which is aimed at developing our sense of the intellectual history of ethnomusicology. These journeys will be framed by matched sets of readings that illustrate not only the abiding issues that have confronted ethnomusicologists throughout the years, but also the changing terrain upon which solutions to those issues have been sought and articulated. We will be traveling along routes that variously explore travel writing, folklore, the comparative ethnomusicology of the Berlin School, early and ongoing anthropological connections, the beginnings of the Society for Ethnomusicology and some of its forerunners (like the International Folk Music Council [since 1981, called the International Council for Traditional Music]), and the definitional and methodological concerns that have animated and continue to (pre)occupy ethnomusicologists. Along the way, we will also have occasion to consider some of the theoretical and ideological shifts and concerns that our colleagues have confronted, negotiated, and defended over the years. Ultimately, these journeys will provide a framework within which to consider our own work—a contextual framework that will enable us better to understand the intellectual and political spaces within which we pursue ethnomusicology today. Finally, we will also invest a bit of time in reading together some very recent offerings by our colleagues with a view toward understanding how ethnomusicologists are currently (re)shaping and envisioning the field.   

Music 650 301: Field Methods for Ethnomusicology, James Sykes
Wednesday 330-630 p.m., Music Building Conference Room

      The film Manakamana ran recently at the IFC in New York to packed houses. Directed by two graduate students at Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab, the film documents devotees traveling on a cable car to Manakamana, a Hindu temple perched on a mountaintop in Nepal. The film is rare for being a “commercial” (note the scare quotes) and critical success, while emerging from within the university system. With this and a few other such films, the Sensory Ethnography Lab is using new media to foster intriguing connections between the academy, arts, and popular culture.

        In this field methods course, we focus first on traditional approaches to music ethnography – that is, we ask what constitutes good and bad fieldwork, we question how fieldwork may be ethically and usefully done, what issues of power, representation, and critical listening to others it entails, which classic texts are needed to comprehend its history and practice, and how various traditional media are useful for our representations. In the second half of the course, we turn more fully to the question of what role ethnomusicology can play in recent developments in new media and the turn towards sensory ethnography. By this I mean, we will ask how ethnomusicological engagements in the field may, too, straddle the divide between the academy, arts, and popular culture, through experimentation that builds on traditional field recordings while drawing on new media and approaches, from YouTube to soundscape recordings, DIY venues, and companies like Data Garden, a Philadelphia-based record label that makes recordings made of plants. Throughout the semester, students will conduct fieldwork with a Philadelphian community of their choice, moving through small-scale projects like interviews, field recordings, photography, transcription, and film; these will culminate in a final project that melds theory and practice.  The first two sessions will center on a lecture and discussion of readings, after which the class will run as a workshop, centered on student projects and revolving themes related to projects and readings.

Music 700 301:  Seminar in Composition, Anna Weesner

Thursday 2 to 5 p.m., room 210 Music Building

This course will function largely as a workshop for original composition.  Two ensembles will make multiple visits to the seminar, with the possibility of a combined visit:  the Daedalus Quartet and Ensemble 39 (recent Curtis grads; oboe, clarinet, violin, viola and bass).  These visits will afford opportunities for reading new work and lots of hands-on experimentation.  In addition to composing, the work of the class will involve practice in critique and in coaching live musicians.  Penn Contemporary Music concerts and the Penn Composers' Guild concert, as well as other performances, will be actively discussed.  


Music 730 301: Staging Baroque Opera Today, Mauro Calcagno
Monday 2 to 5 p.m., Marion Anderson Room, VPL

The seminar will examine stagings of Baroque operas available on video.  In particular we will discuss:  1. How today's directorial approaches impact the relationships between text and performance, and how, in turn, these relationships reflect a particular view of history;  2. The role of the singer as compared to that of the actor in theater, and the relationships between singer and character (both historically and today); 3. The permeable boundaries of opera as spectacle in its relationships with other genres (oratorio, for example) and art forms (dance and visdeo art, for example); 4. theorizations of theater/performance vs. those of opera.  Other topics will include the role of the various agents of production that collaborate in opera production, the role of mediation that arises in today's videorecordings, and the current research directions concerning staging, acting, and performance practices during the Baroque period.


Music 780 301:  Technics: Technologies, Techniques Jairo Moreno
Tuesday 2 to 5 p.m., Room 210 Music Building

The interrelation of material affordances and technologies and techniques—technics, in short—constitutes a central aspect of trans-species existence. Sound, no less than other, more tangible matter, forms part of this technical constitution, as does “music,” broadly conceived. The technical constitution of societies is widely accepted, if debated, as seen in the dynamics of determinism and non-determinism, the cultivation of bodily techniques, and ideas and practices of accumulation, expenditure, inscription, labor, storage, and transmission.

This seminar will take a long view (and listening) at the history and historicity of this interrelation, engaging work from anthropology (and paleo-anthropology), media and communication, critical theory and philosophy, science and technology studies, and music studies to explore ways of understanding and historicizing music and sound. Topics include: human-non human interactions; myth as sonorous techno-poiesis; paleo-instrumentality; zootechnics and anthropotechnics; perceptual and sensory prostheses.  Readings from, Benjamin, Crary, Darwin, DeLanda, Derrida, Foucault, Gitelman, Hadot, Hayles, Haraway, Heidegger, Ihde, Kitler, Latour, Leroi-Gourhan, Lévi-Strauss, Ludueña, Marx, Ochoa Gautier, Simondon, Stiegler, Tomlinson, Uexküll.