Spring 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 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 516 301,  20th Century Analysis,  James Primosch,  Monday 2:00 - 5:00 p.m.,  Lerner Center Room 210

Analysis of 20th century compositional practices, with emphasis on post-WWII and 21st century repertoire. Topics discussed in previous seminars include symmetry/asymmetry in Harbison, Messiaen, Ligeti, and Rochberg; and the use of frozen registers in Webern, Lutoslawski, Berio and Carter. Composers discussed in previous seminars include Adams, Berio, Currier, Hyla, Knussen, Martino, Murail, Rouse, M. Wagner, Wolpe, and others. Students will offer two in-class presentations on selected repertoire.


Music 604 301, Sounding (out) Archives,  Glenda Goodman, Thursday 2:00 - 5:00 p.m., Lerner Center Conference Room

This proseminar focuses on archives and “archives.” That is, the course offers, on the one hand, a practicum on historical research methods; and on the other, an exploration of how information is collected, housed, and organized to produce knowledge. Archives are trendy: we are in the midst of an “archival turn” that has brought critical attention to the generative and coercive power of archives. They are also the source of some musicological consternation: scholars struggle with how to reconcile the piecemeal work of archival research with other goals, such as music criticism and critique generally. We will approach the archive from multiple directions, reading classic texts on archives and their allure (from musicology, anthropology, history, and other disciplines); exemplary scholarship based on extensive and inventive uses of archival sources; and critiques of archive. We won’t just talk about archives, however. Students will design and undertake archival projects using collections in the Philadelphia area. Through this hands-on experience students will gain skills in managing information, frustration, and intuition when conducting archival research.


Music 605 301, The Creole Archipelago:  Sounding Decolonial Possibilities in the Caribbean, Tim Rommen, Monday 2:00 to 5:00 p.m., AFRC Seminar Room 330.  

This course is designed around three sets of interrelated literatures. Part I engages with recent thought in the areas of island and archipelago studies. Part II includes a survey of scholarship on utopias, heterotopias, and the concept of creolization. Part III, finally, turns to questions of decoloniality, citizenship and sovereignty. All of our readings and conversations will proceeds from the premise that the colonial project “islanded” the Caribbean and that the anti-colonial moment ironically reinforced this “islanded” reality even as many former colonies claimed their independence. This is particularly challenging for the small island Caribbean—a group of islands that have generally not had the luxury of considering themselves as “islands.” Their dependence on and connection to their regional neighbors has, in fact, historically framed their experience as archipelagic and, as such, also as potentially heterotopic and decolonial. Our deliberations will eventually turn to the concept of creole as an analytical and performative tool. Can creole practices be mobilized to imagine possible futures instead of being understood primarily as an index to the past? What can we learn if we consider creole practice as decolonial praxis? What, moreover, might these deliberations help us understand about citizenship and sovereignty in the region? 

Music 630 301, Perspectives of a String Quartet, Anna Weesner, Wednesday 2:00 -- 5:00 p.m., Lerner Center Room 101
This seminar features the active participation of the Daedalus Quartet, Penn's quartet-in-residence. With quartet repertoire at the center, both old and new, we will take up questions of compositional technique as well as music analysis. A central topic in spring of 2018 will be musical texture. There will be regular composition exercises, though analysis projects may be substituted. The class will take a workshop format much of the time. Composers and scholars alike are invited to participate.


Music 705 301, The Ontological Stakes of Music and Sound, James Sykes, Wednesdays 2:00 -- 5:00 p.m., Lerner Center Conference Room

            What if music history is made by gods, demons, ghosts, and nonhuman animals? What if sound has not been disenchanted? Do reincarnated beings share a music history even when their lives are separated by hundreds of years and miles? What if sound is not always an expression of personhood but a gift—like aspirin—that can be given? What if the elimination of nonhumans from music history reinforced Western notions of how music relates to personhood and community, thereby legitimizing the discourses of difference that drive ethnic conflicts? In other words: what if sound studies, ecomusicology, and anthropology’s “ontological turn” are deeply relevant to the politics of national, ethnic, and religious cultures?

            In this course, we will think through these and related questions through readings on ontology in anthropology, critical theory, and interrelated musicological “turns” (i.e. sound studies, ecomusicology, zoomusicology). Considering that we are in a “post”-postcolonial period in which the discourses that framed understandings of culture in the early years of postcolonial rule are outdated yet still endure in the public sphere, we will aim to build a nuanced vocabulary that better represents the persistence of non-Western ontologies of sound, personhood, territory, and their relations in the twenty-first century. In doing so, we will think not just of music but of “sound” and “the philosophy of music”; and we will query some commonplace ideas about Western modernity, such as that music and sound became disenchanted through the decline of music’s social function, the growth of the work concept, and technological progress.


Music 781 301, Writing Sound—Sounding Literature, Naomi Waltham-Smith, Tuesday 02:00 to 05:00 p.m., Lerner Conference Room, Room 312

 Where do we draw the line between sound and writing? This graduate seminar in theory examines the various practices, technologies, objects, and imaginaries via which music and sound are inscribed and the ways in which literary writing aspires to the condition of music and sound.

 The seminar shows how the conjuncture of sound and writing—stretching beyond the horizons of literary criticism and media archaeology—offers an incisive prism through which to engage the most pressing issues in our world today. Specifically, it traces the interactions between sound and writing across three different spaces of biopolitical contestation. The seminar will start by addressing issues of translation, borders, migration, and race in the interstitial spaces between writing and resonance. Second, questions of sonic surveillance and the noise of big data and the markets will be put into constellation alongside their depiction in various fiction genres. Finally, the seminar will turn to the intersections between sound technologies, acoustic ecology, disability theory, ecocriticism, and cli fi to examine sound’s role in diagnosing trauma at local and global scales.