Composition Seminar: Selected Topics


Selected topics in composition. One course / 3 units.

Previous Seminar Topics

Music 690S-1 - Spring 2013 - Taught by Stephen Jaffe and Philip Rupprecht

We will consider musical form from varying perspectives, examining musical meanings as created or heard, in-time and experienced retrospectively. Is form a set of constraints imposed by musical culture or a more illusionary experience, i.e. of compositional dialogue between convention and abstract material? In traditional and contemporary repertoires, is formal understanding best heard as generating from a composer’s idea, and communicated through a performer’s gesture? Or may compositional meanings be profitably altered through re-interpretation in performance? How are traditional formal schemes (“sonata,” for instance) reworked in later practice?

Composers, performers, and theorists have understood formal concepts in a variety of ways. We will examine questions of form in the music of a range of composers, including Beethoven, Mahler, Sibelius, Antonio Carlos Jobim, and more contemporary modernist composers such as Franco Donatoni, Michael Gandolfi, Harrison Birtwistle and others, including composers working with “iconic” images in recent multidisciplinary work. A number of different attitudes to form will be under discussion -- form as generative, form as grid, form as narrative, form as non-narrative, form as juxtaposition.

Discussions will be enriched by readings from theorists, analysts, and composers including Cone, Grimley, Hepokoski, Ligeti, Messiaen, Meredith Monk, Schoenberg, Schmalfeldt, and Stein. We hope to generate discussion and understanding across compositional and scholarly practices, and we welcome participants with a range of expertise.

Written work: Students will prepare shorter and final projects in composition, analysis, and/or musicological investigation of form. You will be able to choose the precise focus of your written work for this seminar, in consultation with Professors Jaffe and Rupprecht.

Music 690S - Fall 2012 - Taught by Scott Lindroth

Contemporary String Quartet - This seminar will study representative string quartet repertory of the 20th and 21st century as well as offer students an opportunity to prepare composition assignments for readings by the Ciompi Quartet. After establishing a point of reference by examining canonical works by Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, and well-known works by the Second Viennese School, Bartók, Debussy and Ravel, we will focus on later 20th-century works by Carter, Kurtag, Schnittke and Crumb, as well as recent extensions of the string quartet through electronic media and notational experiments by composers such as Ferneyhough, Saariaho, Lachenmann and others, depending on availability of scores. Students will complete several string quartet composition assignments as well as a final paper.