Spring 2016 Graduate Seminars

Music 520, Orchestration, James Primosch, Tuesdays 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., Room 210 Lerner Center

If necessary, course will include review of fundamental concepts.

Students will complete projects including:

- piano reduction of major 20th century orchestral work

- orchestration of one or more standard 20th century piano works

- analytical presentations on 20th century works for orchestra with emphasis on recent pieces

- composition of short etudes for individual instruments, which will be played in class.


Music 606, Guthrie Ramsey, FOUR WOMEN: PATRICE RUSHEN, TWINKIE CLARK, MESHELL NDEGEOCELLO AND MISSY ELLIOT.  Tuesday 3:00- to 6:00 p.m., Conference Room Lerner Center

This course focuses on four virtuoso women musicians, who as producers, instrumentalists, composers, arrangers, vocalists, and bandleaders have made immense and lasting contributions to American music from the mid-1970s to the present. We will produce together a musical, critical and social scaffold to engage these musicians’ works, performance rhetoric, musical choices, and larger cultural implications. As four masterful leaders they occupy roles traditionally held by men. As astonishingly accomplished technicians, they each have commanded critical respect and popular success at various points for their gifts and productivity. Collectively, they pushed at the edges of genre convention and expectations in jazz, fusion, funk, gospel, neo-soul, hip-hop and R&B, crafting highly individual and instantly recognizable styles. Beginning with the premise that feminist musical genius exists, this course seeks to answer the question: what cultural work occurs when the master is a woman?

We will engage a representative sampling of these musicians’ creative output (and that of their contemporaries) through musical, visual and critical analyses that include new theoretical and interdisciplinary research of the so-called Post-Soul era.   


Music 630, Anna Weesner/co-taught with the Daedalus Quartet.  Part Writing and the Writing of Parts:  String Quartets, Composition, Performance, Analysis.   Wednesdays 2:00 to 5:00 p.m., Room 102 Lerner Center

This seminar features the active participation of the Daedalus Quartet, Penn’s string quartet-in-residence.  With quartet repertoire at the center, we will take up questions of writing parts and part-writing, so to speak, and of continuity, texture, orchestration and compositional technique in general.  What compositional techniques are called for in writing for quartet and how do they relate to composing in other modes, for other ensembles?  To what extent does writing for quartet connect with the traditional study of chorale-style part-writing, for us, and for composers of different eras?  In addition to exercises in analysis and composition, the work of the course will involve score study and prepared coaching of the quartet.

All the while and along the way, we will wonder about the role of four-part texture and—by natural extension—about the presence of that traditional piece of musical training in our lives as composers and teachers.  (As it happens, the spring semester of 2016 includes the presence at Penn of the PRISM saxophone quartet, which will afford us some natural connections across performances.)


HSPV 638 / MUS 621, Francesca Ammon (School of Design) and Naomi Waltham Smith (Music Department). Cities and Sound: The Spatial Politics and Practices of Sound in Modern Urban Life.          Thursdays, 9:00 to 12:00 p.m., Fisher Bennett Hall, room 140

This seminar will examine the role of sound in shaping modern urban spaces and life. While music plays a large part in the sounds of the city, we will focus on soundscapes more broadly. From the late 19th century through the present, and in geographies spanning from Paris to Philadelphia, we will explore the making, meaning, and experience of sound for varied populations; the politics of sound as an instrument of power; and the policies of noise regulation. As an interdisciplinary seminar supported by the Mellon Humanities+Urbanism+Design Initiative, the course will bring together students and faculty from diverse fields to probe the subject of urban sound through the lenses of both theory and practice. We will read across a wide variety of disciplines, including urban and environmental history, sound studies, urban geography, the history of sensation, musicology, anthropology, and critical theory. We will engage with sound archives, installations, films, and photographs, and also have an opportunity to make field recordings of our own. The format of the final project is flexible and could include a research paper, theoretical essay, visualizations, GIS mapping, sonic compositions, short film, or other types of media.


Music 740Music and the History of the Book, Glenda Goodman, Wednesdays 2 to 5 p.m., Kislak Center in  Van Pelt Library, 5th Floor

How do materials register musical meaning? More precisely, how are social conventions, cultural practices, and political attitudes lodged in music books? And how might music books challenge our understanding of historical development, agency, and authority? This seminar takes as its objects of study eighteenth-century music books from Europe and North America. We explore the conditions in which they were made and ask how they impacted the worlds in which they circulated, particularly in terms of the idea of authorship, the role of technology, and the social lives of music books. More specific questions we will investigate include: can concepts of authorship and creativity be reconciled with the materialist impulses spurring the production of music books, especially when manufacture distributed labor between multiple actors—in other words, whose work are we seeing when we look at early modern music books? Why did manuscript practices remain popular in the age of print, and what does that tell us about technological progress, as well as early modern subjectivity? What is the relationship between the plethora of musical formats and consolidating ideologies such as nationalism in the eighteenth century? To interrogate music books thusly is to examine “making” music in both a tangible and a discursive sense.

We will tackle these questions from several disciplinary and historical angles. The hoary tradition of musical bibliography is a launching pad from which we will delve into the fields of book history, media studies, and material culture studies. This seminar meets in the Kislak Center, and we will invest a significant portion of the class in working with rare books. In preparation for this work we will spend time familiarizing ourselves with the nuts and bolts of book production, rudimentary bibliographical description, and the new field of critical bibliography. While this seminar is primarily about the eighteenth century, we will take a longer view of the history of print (i.e. Van Orden and Bernstein on the 16th-century, for example). We will read classic texts in the history of the book (i.e. Darnton, Chartier, Johns, McKenzie, Bourdieu), as scholarship that addresses questions of authorship, agency, transmission, and the material culture associated with books (i.e. Barthes, Foucault, Gell, Blair, Brown, Wistreich, Feldman, Dierks).