Analysis of Early Music


Selected areas of "pre-tonal" music and various analytical methodologies that have been developed to understand them. Content from semester to semester and with different instructors. Possible areas covered include plainchant, trouvère monophony, Machaut, Fifteenth-century polyphony, modal music of the Renaissance, early seventeenth-century repertories. One course / 3 units.

Past Seminar Topics

Music 561 - Fall 2013 - Taught by Thomas Brothers

This course explores five different areas of analysis for polyphonic music ca. 1450-1525: (1) paraphrase of plainchant; (2) word-music relations; (3) modality; (4) texture; (5) pace, variety and design. Our focus throughout the semester will be Josquin’s legendary Missa Pange Lingua. Each student will be assigned two other composers to work with such as Compere, Ockeghem, Busnois, Dufay, Isaac, Obrecht, Martini, Weerbecke.

Grading is based on weekly assignments and two analytical papers. Each student may choose two of the areas we are concentrating on, one for each paper.

  • Paper 1 – on paraphrase or word-music relations, is due at midterm
  • Paper 2 – on mode or texture or one of the first two areas that you did not write on for Paper 1, is due one week after the final class meeting

These papers should be based on extensive investigation of a coherent repertory, informed by recent scholarship; they are not readings of a single piece.

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