Fall 2018 Graduate Seminars


Music 508 001,Musicianship, James Primosch, (meeting time to be scheduled)  

The instructor will assess each student’s abilities at the beginning of the course and will structure the curriculum accordingly, covering skills in tonal and post-tonal repertoires as needed. The first semester usually focusses on tonal repertoires. Examples of the eventual goals for the course, typically in the second semester, 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:  Composition with Electronic Media, james Primosch.  Wednesday 2-5, Room 301

This class will be flexible in structure since students have various amounts of experience in working with electronic media. Students will be asked to complete two brief etudes using specific software, but the main focus of the class will be on student compositions. Selected examples from the repertoire will be studied and discussed.


Music 604 (crosslisted with Ital 602 and Coml 602): Historiographies and Methodologies: Performance Studies,  Mauro Calcagno.  Friday 2-5, Lerner Center Conference Room (third floor)

This proseminar (604) explores theories and models of historical investigation through works that exemplify particular approaches, such as transnational, environmental/landscape, gender/sexuality, critical race studies, performance studies, archives, and the digital humanities. This instantiation is devoted to performance studies. “Performance” is a term used differently within a variety of academic disciplines and human activities (theatre, anthropology, visual arts, business, sports, politics, science) signaling “a wide range of human behaviors” (Diana Taylor). In connection to an explosion of scholarship in performance studies during the last forty years--both in theater/dance studies (Schechner, Schneider, Worthen, Fischer-Lichte, Roach, Davis etc.) and musicology (Abbate, Cook, Levin)--we will explore the relationships between this broad constellation of meanings and examples of today’s music, theatre, and dance performances, generally qualified as “avant-garde,” “experimental,” “postmodern” or “postdramatic.” Readings from performance theorists and practitioners will be included, from Appia, Brecht, Artaud to LeCompte, Wilson, De Keersmaeker, Castellucci. Case studies may include operas, oratorios, and dance works (e.g., Monteverdi, Cavalli, Handel, Gluck, Mozart) as well as theatrical adaptations of poems from the medieval and early modern periods (Dante, Ariosto, Tasso). Among the topics and concepts covered: research and writing methodologies, agency, performativity, reconstruction and re-enactment, technology and mediation, materiality, spectrality, gender, uses of body, movement and voice, text vs. performance, history and memory, performance and museums, intercultural approaches.


Music 650:  Field Methods in Ethnomusicology, Tim Rommen.  Monday 2-5, Lerner Center Conference Room

This course explores various methodological challenges and theoretical concerns that confront us during the course of ethnomusicological fieldwork. How can we approach writing about our ethnographic work without silencing the voices of those who should be heard? In what ways might transcription and notation complicate power structures and reinforce our own musical values? What special challenges need to be negotiated in the process of documenting ethnographies on film? How do ethical and economic dilemmas inform our approach to making sound recordings? What institutional structures/strictures do we face in designing our ethnographic projects? What possibilities, moreover, do recent developments in sensory and experimental ethnography open for us? A series of readings in ethnomusicology and anthropology will suggest some answers to these questions—answers that will, in turn, be tested through practice. Throughout the semester, each student will engage with a community of her or his choice (ideally in Philadelphia), moving through several small-scale projects including a field notes exercise, a recording of a musical event, a photo essay, and a short film; these will culminate in a final project that melds theory and practice. Our seminar environment will follow a workshop model.


Music 700:  Seminar in Composition, Anna Weesner.  Tuesday 1:30-4:30, Room 210 Music Building.

Music 700 will function on two interrelated fronts: (1) as a general graduate composition seminar in which we discuss current work, current performances, critique of others, critique of self, and interact with visiting composers and performers, and (2) it will have an additional secondary focus on contemporary vocal practices, with opportunities for workshopping new vocal work and study of selected vocal repertoire.


Music 760: Ec(h)ohistories:  Place, Environment, and Modernism(s), Jeffrey Kallberg.   Thursday 2-5, Lerner Center Conference Room. 

A significant thread of environmental activism runs through contemporary art music.  How did we arrive at this moment?  How and why did notions of musical modernity find expression through music that evoked, in various ways and to different ends, ideas of geographically specific (if sometimes imaginary) places?  This seminar will explore these questions with particular attention to ideas of “the North” and with special focus on the first four decades of musical modernity (ca. 1890 – ca. 1930), but also bouncing forward to engage with contemporary music “about” the environment.  (Now and then, we’ll also touch on a few composers active in the last two-thirds of the twentieth century.)

Composers whose works we will discuss include:  Sibelius, Nielsen, Strauss, Debussy, Stravinsky, Webern, Messaien, Varèse, Grisey, Murail, John Luther Adams, and Anna Þorvaldsdóttir (this is meant to be only a representative sample).  While we will read important studies of around the main topics (modernism, ecohistory, landscape, cultural geography), the seminar will revolve largely around the intensive study and discussion of musical repertories.



Music 780 (Crosslisted with COML 780 and German 529) Aurality & Deconstruction, Naomi Waltham-Smith & Ian Fleishman.   Wednesday 2-5, Van Pelt Library, 4th Floor, Seminar room 452.2.
In what ways is sound implicated in the theory and politics of difference? Why do philosophers think of their task as an exercise of the ear? And what significance does listening have for the critique of metaphysics? This seminar explores the role of aurality in deconstruction—its theories of listening, its metaphorics of the ear, and the significance this body of thought affords to the voice and the phoneme.The course is organized around close-readings of theoretical texts in post-Kantian European thought. At the heart of the seminar are a series of writings by Derrida that span his career. We shall also read some of the key authors with whom he engages (Hegel, Nietzsche, Husserl, and Heidegger) as well as a number of his contemporary interlocutors who grapple with sound (Nancy, Agamben, Cixous, Hamacher, Caverero, Szendy, and Ronell). Through these textual investigations and engagement with film and other sonic media, the seminar demonstrates how deconstruction is a philosophy of language and writing only insofar as it is also preoccupied with the sonorous. At the same time, we shall investigate what deconstruction uniquely contributes to the theorization of sound and listening in the humanities today.