Spring 2017 Graduate Seminars

Music 505 301:  Advanced Chromatic Harmony, Professor Jay Reise, Tuesdays 2 to 5 p.m., Room 210 Lerner Music Center

In-depth analysis of the evolution of 19th and early 20th century harmony and voice leading and how they contribute to defining the styles of composers from Beethoven to Richard Strauss. There will be two papers, practice in composing in style, and class presentations.


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 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, Mondays 2-5 p.m., Room 301 Lerner Music Center

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.


Music 621 301:  History and the Affective Now, Jairo Moreno, Thursdays 2-5 p.m., Room 312 Lerner Music Center

Description:  A striking paradox emerges today out of the encounter between contemporary concerns with the character of history (natural, cultural) that compel a thinking at unprecedented temporal scales and well beyond the human/non-human divide, on the one hand, and on the other, a forceful insistence on an “affective now” that helps us mind the powerful effects of the micro-temporalities of affect and abandon our obsessions with hidden and ideological meanings burrowed deep in our texts (heard, seen). This seminar, designed without a priori conceptions of music disciplinarity and open to students in the humanities and interpretive social sciences, will engage readings on new historiography and what I call the new “new historicism” of “quirky historicism,” as well as work on affect and new modalities of reading and listening (e.g., “surface reading”). A number of contemporary critical concerns and proposals—anthropogenic change, nature/culture divide, life/non- life, new materialism, non-linear history, O.O.O., perspectivism, plasticity, relationality, thing theory—will inform our main query: what implications does the emergence of the paradox above carry for what our research objects are, how we define or even reinvent our methodologies, and what our disciplines can or cannot afford any longer to contain? Readings include, among others, Barad, Braidotti, Benjamin, Berlant, Best and Marcus, Chakrabarty, De la Cadena, Descola, Dyson, Harman, Kahn, Latour, Meillasoux, Morton, Povinelli, Sedgwick, Tomlinson, Turner, Viveiros de Castro.


Music 705 301: Researching and Writing the Music of Africa and the Diaspora, Carol Muller, Mondays 2 to 5 p.m., Room 312, Lerner Music Center

This seminar will address two areas for graduate students: first is just how one writes a dissertation, transforms it into a book publication, and finds academic and alternative employment; and second, reading writings on African music and its diasporas.  We will have a three hour weekly seminar that will involve hearing from both senior scholars in the field, and Penn ethnomusicology alumnae who have published books, or completed dissertations recently and in academic and non-traditional work on the music of Africa and its diaspora: all will skype into the seminar to talk about the content and mechanics of their research, publication, and jobs.  Students will be expected to read, prepare questions, and respond to the skyping scholars, and to reflect on each seminar through weekly "Turnings" and a final reflection paper.


Music 710 301: SonusVox: Medieval Perspectives on Sound and the Voice, Wednesdays 130-430 p.m., Room 312 Lerner Music Building

“All vox is sonus, but not all sonus is vox.” So goes an oft-repeated definition of voice as a sub-category of sound throughout the Middle Ages. In this seminar, we will take this pair of Latin grammatical terms as our portal into examining medieval sound and the role of the voice as music, as sound, and as expression. Since music was synonymous neither with sonus or vox, this will be a central question—what is the relationship between sound and music, and the voice and music in the Middle Ages? Grounding the seminar will be a survey of the terms from their earliest usage in grammatical treatises to their appearance in music theory tracts throughout the Middle Ages. From there, we will extend outward to examine different medieval iterations of sound and voice, including: sonic and vocalic excess, vocality and aurality, textuality and orality, animality and the non-human in sound and music, the expressive and lamenting voice, the singing voice, the subjective and gendered voice, noisy books, the sound of song, and lastly medieval soundscapes and voicescapes. Readings will range from the music theoretical (Boethius, Grocheio, etc.) to the contemporary (Abbate, Dolar, etc.), and from the historical (Dillon, Leach, etc.) to the anthropological (Weidman, Tolbert, etc.). While we will remain firmly rooted in the Middle Ages (roughly 600-1450), the seminar will engage with concepts related to a variety of historical and contemporary moments in order to better articulate and theorize the nature of sound and voice in our premodern context. 


Music 770 401:  Nasty Women Don’t Get the Blues (But They Write About It),   Guthrie Ramsey, Tuesdays 2 to 5 p.m., Conference Room, Lerner Music Center

 Contemporary music scholarship has seen the rise of a body of criticism written primarily (though not exclusively) by black women on a wide range of topics and with an eclectic theoretical purview.  This criticism, which I distinguish from more compensatory models, attempts to explain the cultural work that music performs in the social world. The frameworks they forward seek to explain what various styles and musical gestures mean and how they generate and achieve their signifying affect. It exposes some of the critical spaces left by earlier models and analytical methods, first, by identifying a work's significant musical gestures and then by positioning those gestures within a broader field of musical rhetoric and conventions. Next, these conventions are theorized with respect to broader systems of cultural knowledge, such as the historical contexts in which a musical text or style appeared and the lived experiences of audiences, composers, performers, dancers, and listeners. Taken together, this new black feminist music criticism leaves no aspect of the musical process—creation, mediation, or reception—untouched. This analytical project provides alternative ways for scholars of black music history to access and discuss some of the historically and socially contingent meanings generated by a musical style and its surrounding practices.


Beginning with the early twentieth century journalism and scholarship of figures like Nora Douglas Holt and Maud Cuney Hare, and then moving through the groundbreaking work of Eileen Southern, Portia Maultsby and Hazel Carby, we’ll read the following authors, among others:  Farah Griffin, Shana Redmond, Salamishah Tillet, Gayle Murchinson, Gayle Wald, Daphne Brooks, Tammy Kernodle, Emily Lordi, Jennifer Lena, Lisa Jones Brown, Joan Morgan, Thulani Davis, dream hampton, Regina Bradley, Kyra Gaunt, Imani Perry, Maureen Mahon, Francesca Royster, Ingrid Monson, Shana Goldin Perschbacher, Deborah Smith Pollard, Elizabeth Mendes Berry, Tsitsi Daji, Ann Powers, Angela Davis, Carol Muller, Nichole T. Rustin, Eileen Hayes, Monica Hairston and Sherrie Tucker.  These writings will move us through numerous theoretical paradigms, genres and musicians.  If there is no knowledge without the knower, how does the experiences and written mediations of these writers broaden and deepen our understanding of music’s important work in the twentieth and twenty-first century?