Spring 2015 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 621 301:  Sound and Urban Space, Naomi Waltham-Smith
Tuesday, 1:30-4:30 p.m., Room 312 Lerner Music Center

While there exists a wide variety of methodologies for examining the musics of the last 150 years, we often lack the explanatory power to analyze sound more widely. This course will examine the various discourses out of which we shall try to develop modes of theorizing the forms and processes of the sonorous. We shall take as our focus the ways in which sound participates in the spaces and politics of modern urban environments across the long twentieth century, beginning with developments such as the transformation of Paris under Haussmann in the second half of the nineteenth century and extending up to the manifestation of a biopolitics of sound in our cities today. We shall explore how sound reflects and reinforces the prevailing power relations of the city, while at the same time asking whether it is possible for aurality to exceed and even resist those structures. To this end, we shall look at sound’s interaction with logics of belonging, general economies and systems of distribution that produce urban space and life. The materials under consideration will cluster around five main themes: technologies of sound reproduction, the voice, the ear, the production of urban space, and biopolitics. We shall read texts by Adorno, Benjamin, Campbell, Schafer, LaBelle, Sterne, Bull, Ochoa, Lefebvre, Derrida, Nancy, Cavarero, Szendy, Foucault, Agamben, Esposito, Virno, Deleuze, and DeLanda. We shall also explore various films and sound installations, including the work of Paolo Sorrentino, Céline Danhier, Walter Ruttmann, Jacques Tati, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, and Michangelo Frammartino.


Music 700 301:  Seminar in Composition:  Rhythm, Jay Reise
Wednesday, 2 to 5:00 p.m., Room 210 Lerner Music Center

 In this course we will focus on the construction and development of rhythm as an active element of the compositional process. Among the techniques discussed will be phrase construction, rhythmic polyphony, ornamentation, and the effect of rhythm on the development of surrounding detail. Assignments will include the weekly composition of short pieces utilizing these techniques.


Music 705 301:  African Musical Echoes: Hearing Old and New Diasporas in Ethnomusicology, Carol Muller
Wednesday, 1 to 4:00 p.m., Room 312 Lerner Music Center

This seminar will require students to reflect on ideas about the old and new African diasporas, specifically as they relate to contemporary musical performances in Philadelphia and further afield.  We will both read theory and listen closely to a variety of scholarly and musical materials.


Music 720 301:  The Masses of Josquin des Prez, Robert Wegman
Friday, 2 to 5:00 p.m., Marion Anderson Seminar Room, VPL

In this seminar I propose to review the Masses of Josquin des Prez as music, that is, with reference only to modern scores.  The aim is to develop an understanding of the stylistic changes that occurred in European Continental Mass composition in the decades between 1470 and 1520.  The course will proceed more or less chronologically.  However there will be a special emphasis on the decade of the 1510s, the decade before Josquin's death in 1521, and address the issues of Josquin's "late style" that have recently become the topic of controversy.


Music 735 401:  Civil Rights Art,  Salamishah Tillet
Thursday, 9 to 12:00 p.m., Room 138 Fisher Bennet Hall

In 1963, James Baldwin wrote, “the future is going to be worse than the past if we do not let the people who represent us know that it is our country.”  Hoping to appeal to legislators and readers alike, Baldwin’s essay, “We Can Change the Country” captured the insurgent spirit and democratic sensibility that defined the Civil Rights era. While the Civil Rights Movement is remembered as the one of the most significant events in twentieth-century American political and social history, it is rarely regarded, however, as a turning point in American art and culture.  Unlike the Black Arts Movement that fashioned itself as the cultural arm to the Black Power Movement, the idea of a civil rights aesthetics that emerged alongside formal Civil Rights politics has only recently become the subject of academic inquiry.  This interdisciplinary course study the emergence of a civil right aesthetic as produced by writers James Baldwin, Frank London Brown, Lorraine Hansberry; musicians like the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, Max Roach, Curtis Mayfield, Nina Simone; actors Harry Belafonte, Diahann Carroll, Abbey Lincoln, and Sidney Poiter; and visual artists and groups such AFRICOBRA, Spiral, Sam Gilliam, Gordon Parks, and Faith Ringold.  The goal of this class is also to move past the single artist model to think about how collaboration as artistic practice and political ideal in collectives, friendships, and co-authorship also contributed to Civil Rights aesthetics.  Finally, we will examine the afterlife of this civil aesthetic and how recent retrospectives on these artists, such as the Brooklyn Museum’s exhibit “Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties,” John Legend and The Root’s cover album, "Wake Up!," Charles Johnson’s novel, "The Dreamer" and Rita Dove’s poetry collection, "On the Bus With Rosa Parks."

Music 770 301:  Theories of Identity, Place, and Time in Popular Music Analysis, Guthrie Ramsey
Thursday, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., Room 312 Lerner Music Center

This seminar will consider the issue of popular music analysis from diverse methodological, theoretical and historical perspectives.  Beginning with the formation of the late-19th century American music industry and moving up to the present, we will explore how multiple conceptions of the “popular” have been deployed to understand the music of a wide variety of historical actors, market circumstances and geographic locations.  The course examines popular music through the literature produced in the fields of performance studies, musicology, cultural studies, pop music studies, feminist/gender studies, and ethnomusicology, among others.  The musical focus will be international, including--but not limited to--styles emerging in the United States, South and West Africa, England, Indonesia, France, the Caribbean and South America.  Each week a different combination of styles and methods will be engaged to provide divergent perspectives on the cultural politics of analyzing and writing about popular music.  We will also consider weekly other relevant media (visual arts, dance, and literature) to appreciate the powerful meanings conveyed to audiences, critics and scholars in popular musics from around the globe.