Music 785: Twentieth and Twenty-first Century Music II

Syllabus - Spring 2015

Dates: Classes will meet from 5:00 PM to 7:50 PM on Wednesdays in room 351 on the following dates:

Spring recess is April 3-April 11. The final examination is tentatively scheduled for May 20, one week after the last class. Please leave this date open.

Composers covered in classes: the following composers will be covered in class (not in this order):

The topics of electroacoustic music and spectral music will include the music of several composers, none of which will be studied in as much detail as the others. Other composers may be added to (or subtracted from) this list, but it is advised that you take advantage of any opportunities to listen to an study any music by these composers.

Major ideas and issues: In addition to the music of these composers, the course will focus on three central issues concerning the music of this period:

(1) Tonality, extended tonality, non-tonality, post tonality, and how the concept of tonality has been revised, extended, and rejected during this time.

(2) Serialism and other non-tonal methods of organizing musical materials.

(3) The rise of American music in the context of serious art music.

(4) Chance, indeterminacy and other new ways of conceiving and performing music.

(5) The influence of past music on music of the present, including not only ideas about musical organization but also quotations or parodies of past music.

(6) Complexity as a quality of music. A certain level of complexity seems to be expected of modern music, and music that does not measure up is rejected. Mozart could not be successful in the twenty-first century.

Concert Review: In order to familiarize yourself more with contemporary music, it is a good idea to attend concerts that feature it. All students must write a review of a concert that they attend. The concert must be devoted exclusively to new music. One or more of the composers must be in attendance, and it is even more beneficial if there is a pre- or post-concert discussion. (In particular, if the organization Meet the Composer is listed as a sponsor, there is often such an opportunity.) Your review should include a detailed description of the music played, comparing it to other music studied and listing works and composers that it most resembles. In conclusion, you may include your own evaluative comments about the music, but this is not required. Your review may be turned in at any time, but it must be turned in by the date of the last class, May 15.

Oral Report and Paper: All students must give an oral presentation on the music of a composer of their own choice from the following list. The report must discuss the composer's biography, including his teachers or major influences, a list of his works, and the playing and discussion in class of at least one (perhaps more than one) work that you have studied with the score. Following your presentation, you must submit a paper of at least 5000 words summarizing your report. The composers are as follows:

Some of the composers who are still living can be contacted personally, through email, the internet, or the telephone, and would probably be delighted to help you prepare your report. You may also suggest the name of a composer that you on whom you wish to present a report.

Grading: Your final grade will be calculated as follows: final exam 45%, paper and class presentation 30%, concert review 15%, class participation 10%. Attendance is not required, but class participation cannot take place if you are absent. More than three absences will produce a zero for this category.