Spring 2020 Graduate Seminars

MUSC 516-301    Contemporary Repertoire: Post 1950
James T Primosch
    T 01:30 PM-04:30 PM/R 01:30 PM-04:30 PM

In this course we will discuss topics in the craft of composition by examining works from about 1960 to the present. The focus will be on vocal music, including voice and piano songs, choral works, pieces for voice and orchestra and more. At least two operas will be discussed. The format will be student presentations on the selected pieces, informed by relevant analytic writing. Composers represented may include: Abrahamsen, Adams, Adés, Ashley, Benjamin, Berio, Carter, Crumb, Harbison, Hearne, Knussen, Ligeti, Lutoslawki, Messiaen, Saariaho, Shaw, Soper, Thomas, and Weir, among others.


MUSC 542-401   Archiving Jazz
Herman Beavers    BENN 406    M 02:00 PM-05:00 PM

This seminar will be organized around three distinct pathways. First, it will serve as an introduction to Jazz Studies and thus be attentive to the ways that jazz music has sparked an interdisciplinary conversation that is wide-ranging and ongoing. Second, we will be partnering with the African American Museum of Philadelphia to consider jazz within the realm of visual art. In light of efforts to map the "black interior," how have visual artists (e.g. painters, sculptors, filmmakers, and photographers) sought to represent jazz? Third, we will endeavor to develop partnerships with the Philadelphia (and beyond) jazz community, especially as it pertains to creating and sustaining an archive that serves as way to understand jazz as an instrument of placemaking and also as a vehicle for jazz musicians to take ownership of their narratives. The seminar will meet at the African American Museum of Philadelphia and be team taught with members of the Museum staff. The course will culminate with a virtual exhibit of visual works and archival materials centering on Philadelphia's jazz community and (if funding is available) a free concert to be held at AAMP. Undergraduates are welcome to register for the course with permission of the instructor.


MUSC 605-301   Anthropology of Music
James Sykes   
VANP 452.1/T 02:00 PM-05:00 PM


In this class we will survey, broaden, and challenge discursive formations of musicianhood that arose through capitalism. This means that, while we will consider the normative history of capitalism’s effects on musical labor (e.g., touring, the recording industry) and how musicians are faring in our neoliberal moment (e.g., through Spotify), a core component of the course will be to explore alternate conceptions of musical livelihoods and to question how and whether they might (or should) continue to persist. The class will help me build a bibliography for my new book, tentatively called Musicianhood: Enchantment and Displacement in Neoliberal Capitalism. Besides theorizing musical labor, we will draw in part on my experience as a touring drummer and of gentrification in New York and Singapore, as well as my research on: music and plantation labor in Southeast Asia; the contemporary status of musician castes in South Asia; and the historical relations between sound, secularism, urban development, and public space in Singapore. Dr. Marié Abé from Boston University will Skype in to discuss her work on chindon-ya (costumed street performers) in Japan; and I hope to arrange a field trip to my friend’s recording studio (TBD). Some topics we might consider (final list TBD) include: brass bands in New Orleans; regimes of value with regards to “special” musical instruments and recordings (such as the Wu-Tang Clan’s Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, which holds the Guinness World Record for most expensive album ever sold); David Grubbs’ poetic writing on the recording studio; punk and anarchist approaches to musical labor; and musicians in labor movements, including Occupy Wall Street.


MUSC 705-301       Sem in Ethnomusicology
Carol Ann Muller     LERN CONF   W 02:00 PM-05:00 PM

Deep Dive into the Contemporary Music of Africa

We will explore the contemporary music of Africa (the entire continent plus islands and a little on contemporary diasporas) by reading recent works by ethnomusicologists and historians that open up a series of issues: music and authoritarianism, music and healing, music and spirituality, sound and the global, cosmopolitanism, refugee/immigration, imagination/creativity/art, new diasporas.  Even if Africa is not your primary interest, you can think of the seminar as a deep dive into a series of issues that will have comparative interest for you.  We will do the usual creative thinking/journals/portfolios through the course of the semester, listen, read, view and have a great conversation together.  This spring the seminar materials will be created around a book on the Contemporary Music of Africa, focused on playlists, which Prof. Muller is currently writing for Routledge, and a new online class that will run for the first time in March 2020. 


MUSC 710-301     Studies in Medieval Music
Mary C. Caldwell   
LERN CONF   T 02:00 PM-05:00 P

Linguistic diversity is a hallmark of medieval song, lyric, and drama. Latin and vernacular languages were in constant dialogue in medieval musical culture, with particular genres such as the motet inherently bi/multilingual. Multilingualism is also an attribute of the manuscript sources for medieval music; codices such as Carmina Burana and the Engelberg Codex for instance intermingle Latin, German, and French in their musical and poetic contents. This seminar focuses on the aspect of language in the cultivation, transmission and interpretation of medieval music, with an emphasis on song, lyric, and drama. Concepts, issues, and approaches we will consider in relation to these expansive categories of music making and poetry include bi/multi/plurilingualism; diglossia and heteroglossia; code-switching; translation; citation; inter- and intratextuality; vernacularity and Latinity; contrafacture; and linguistic networks. Readings will draw from a wide range of disciplines, and include scholars such as Zumthor, Ziolkowski, Ong, Léglu, Hsy, Cerquiglini-Toulet, Bakhtin, and others. Repertoire we will examine throughout the seminar in both manuscript form and through edition/translation will include Latin and vernacular song and songbooks; 13th-14th century motets; narratives; theoretical texts; Latin and vernacular dramas and representational rites; and lyrical compilations. Projects will involve a semester-long research project in several parts as well as assigned discussion leading. 


MUSC 740-301   Stds 18th Century Music
Glenda Goodman    
LERN CONF    R 02:00 PM-05:00 PM

Christian sacred music was a vector for colonialism in the early modern period, as internecine religious conflicts dovetailed with imperialist expansion and competition for unconverted souls was fierce. This course considers the history of Christian sacred music through the twin lenses of colonialism and religious conversion, focusing especially on colonial North America. By bringing together these topics, the course aims to apply pressure to assumptions about eighteenth-century music’s alignment with Enlightenment modernity, while also providing a critical framework through which to understand sacred music. Units include: theories of conversion and the historical intersection of colonialism and missionary work; the long-lasting influence of Reformation and Counter-Reformation musical practices and ideologies; the powerful musical effects of the eighteenth-century evangelical Great Awakening (particularly focusing on people of Indigenous and African descent); and the creation, dissemination, and performance of repertoire deemed suitable for converts. A methodological theme of the course will entail dealing with challenging primary sources: those related to interior religious experiences, and those stemming colonialist archives.


MUSC 780-301           Seminar in Theory
Jairo A Moreno            LERN CONF    M 02:00 PM-05:00 PM

An in-depth introduction to Sound Studies across four interrelated spheres: technics (technologies, media, and bodily techniques), history (sound and aurality in the past and media archeology), aesthetics (performance and sound art), and ecological entanglements (sound and/in the Anthropocene). In addition to printed scholarship, we will consider sound objects and the epistemic and methodological challenges they possess, and we will as well actively engage in the creation and production of multimodal (not just audio-visual) documentation/intervention.