Music Literature and Analysis
This course provides a study of China’s music from ancient times through major dynasties to the present day, including an exploration of Chinese instruments and the Eight Sounds classification system (gold, stone, earth, leather, silk, wood, gourd, and bamboo); demonstrations of selected instruments; music of Buddhism, court and theater music, northern and southern Chinese opera; folk and popular music (mountain songs, story-singing, c-pop, Cantopop, Mandopop); and tuning and notation systems. This class also examines influences on traditional Chinese music from India and throughout Asia, as well as later influences between China and other global cultures.
A study of Japan's musical history and life, including: music of Shinto and Buddhism; music of the court and theater (gagaku, nogaku, kabuki); music of Japan's instruments (biwa, shakuhachi, koto, and shamisen); folk and popular music; demonstration of selected instruments; and introduction to notation systems. The class will examine Chinese and other Asian influence on traditional Japanese music, as well as later cross-cultural influence between the Japan and other cultures around the world.
This course surveys the life and music of Maurice Ravel, one of the most important and influential composers of the 20th century. The class will include weekly listening and reading assignments with score study and analysis. We will watch videos of his ballet Daphnis et Chloé and his two operas, and students will write papers and give class presentations of his work. In addition to musical study, this class will be a historical survey of the era which Ravel lived and will include discussions and reading assignments about art, dance, literature, and political events that influenced his musical style.
A study of the evolution of the blues, combined with compositional application of various blues styles. Historical study focusing on the blues as a complete and complex form as well as the basic foundation for other styles. Analysis includes examination of harmonic movement, rhythmic and melodic construction, and lyric content.
An exploration of Messiaen’s unique ideas, philosophy, and music. Topics include his concepts for pitch design and rhythmic generation, and his deep interest in Hindustani rhythms and birdsong studies. Major works examined include Quartet for the End of Time, Visions de l’Amen, Messe de la Pentecôte, and Chronochromie.
Analysis of representative works from the classical and romantic periods. Emphasis on compositional practice and stylistic distinction.
Study of music from the early 20th century to the present. Examination of the development of mainstream serial, electronic, aleatoric, and experimental composition.
This course draws from a wide variety of classical and contemporary compositional forms, styles, and concepts. Students examine and explore approaches through the analysis of scores, and through discussions, study, and listening. Students read writings of composers, dealing with creative conception and process in modern symphony, opera, chamber, experimental, and popular forms (exploring Bach, Bernstein, Varèse, Babbitt, Stockhausen, Ellington, Jarrett, Maria Schneider, Monk, Sting, Ani DiFranco, and more). Students explore various music and approaches, and read and write critical papers on their own aesthetic/perspectives. They apply various approaches as they develop their own composition process, style, and techniques.
A comprehensive survey of the forms that originated in the Renaissance, baroque, and classical periods, and their development and use by composers of the 19th and 20th centuries. Isorhythm, ground bass, variation passage, and fugue are traced in detail from their earliest use to the 20th century.
John Cage and Morton Feldman were two of the most influential composers of the 20th century. This course is designed to acquaint students with their philosophies, their relationship to visual art and poetry, and, most importantly, their unique and original compositional techniques.
An in-depth survey of the principal instrumental soloists, vocalists, vocal groups, arrangers, and composers of the bebop period. A variety of groups will be examined through recordings.
Analysis of progressive rock music from 1967—present. The influence of compositional and orchestral techniques and use of acoustic instrumentation. The fusion of standard rock styles and classical music forms, including opera (Tommy, Jesus Christ Superstar, Wings of Man). Analysis of rhythmic and harmonic devices. Groups to be discussed will include Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Kansas, and Emerson, Lake & Palmer.