Spring 2017 Courses

For up-to-date room assignments, visit classes.uchicago.edu

Scroll to: Undergraduate | EnsemblesGraduate


MUSI 10100: Intro to Western Art Music

Martha Feldman: T/Th 4:30 - 5:50 pm, GOH 402
Ted Gordon: M/W 1:30 - 2:50 pm, LC 901
Lester Hu: M/W/F 10:30 - 11:20 am, LC 901

This one-quarter course is designed to enrich the listening experience of students, particularly with respect to the art music of the Western European and American concert tradition. Students are introduced to the basic elements of music and the ways that they are integrated to create works in various styles. Particular emphasis is placed on musical form and on the potential for music to refer to and interact with aspects of the world outside. 

Notes/Prerequisite(s): Prior music course or ability to read music not required. Students must confirm enrollment by attending one of the first two sessions of class.

MUSI 10200: Intro to World Music

Jessica Baker: T/R: 10:30 - 11:50 am, GOH 402
Michael Allemana: T/R 1:30 - 2:50 pm, GOH 402
Nadia Chana: M/W/F 9:30 - 10:20 am, GOH 402

This course is a selected survey of classical, popular, and folk music traditions from around the world. The goals are not only to expand our skills as listeners but also to redefine what we consider music to be and, in the process, stimulate a fresh approach to our own diverse musical traditions. In addition, the role of music as ritual, aesthetic experience, mode of communication, and artistic expression is explored. 

Notes/Prerequisite(s): Prior music course or ability to read music not required. Students must confirm enrollment by attending one of the first two sessions of class.

MUSI 10300: Intro to Music Materials/Design

Marta Ptaszynska: T/R 3:00 - 4:20 pm, GOH 402
Igor Santos: M/W/F 11:30 am - 12:20 pm, LC 901

This introductory course in music is intended for students who are interested in exploring the language, interpretation, and meaning of music through coordinated listening, analysis, and creative work. By listening to and comprehending the structural and aesthetic considerations behind significant written and improvised works, from the earliest examples of notated Western music to the music of living composers and performers, students will be prepared to undertake analytical and ultimately creative projects. The relationship between cultural and historical practices and the creation and reception of music will also be considered. The course is taught by a practicing composer, whose experience will guide and inform the works studied. No prior background in music is required.

Notes/Prerequisite(s): Prior music course or ability to read music not required. Students must confirm enrollment by attending one of the first two sessions of class.

MUSI 10400: Intro to Music Analysis/Criticism

Berthold Hoeckner: M/W 3:00 - 4:20 pm, LC 901
Anabel Maler: T/Th 12:00 - 1:20 pm, GOH 402
Jennifer Iverson: M/W 1:30 - 2:50 pm, GOH 402

This course aims to develop students’ analytical and critical tools by focusing on a select group of works drawn from the Western European and American concert tradition. The texts for the course are recordings. Through listening, written assignments, and class discussion, we explore topics such as compositional strategy, conditions of musical performance, interactions between music and text, and the relationship between music and ideology as they are manifested in complete compositions.

Notes/Prerequisite(s): Prior music course or ability to read music not required. Students must confirm enrollment by attending one of the first two sessions of class.

MUSI 12200: Music in Western Civilization II

Woo Chan Lee: M/W/F 10:30 - 11:20 am, COBB 307

This two-quarter sequence explores musical works of broad cultural significance in Western civilization. We study pieces not only from the standpoint of musical style but also through the lenses of politics, intellectual history, economics, gender, cultural studies, and so on. Readings are taken both from our music textbook and from the writings of a number of figures such as St. Benedict of Nursia and Martin Luther. In addition to lectures, students discuss important issues in the readings and participate in music listening exercises in smaller sections.

Prerequisites: Prior music course or ability to read music not required. Students must confirm enrollment by attending one of the first two sessions of class. This two-quarter sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies; it does not meet the general education requirement in the dramatic, musical, and visual arts.

MUSI 14300: Music Theory Fundamentals

Maxwell Silva: T/Th 12:00 - 1:20 pm, LC 703

Notes/Prerequisite(s): Any 100-level music course or consent of instructor.

MUSI 15300: Harmony and Voice Leading III

Nancy Murphy: M/W/F 11:30 am - 12:20 pm, GOH 402

Separate keyboard labs will meet: MW 1:30-2:20 OR TR 9:30-10:20 OR TR 10:30-11:20.

This three-quarter sequence serves as an introduction to the materials and structure of Western tonal music. The first quarter focuses on fundamentals: scale types, keys, basic harmonic structures, voice-leading and two-voice counterpoint. The second quarter explores extensions of harmonic syntax, the basics of classical form, further work with counterpoint, and nondiatonic seventh chords. The third quarter undertakes the study of modulation, sequences, and additional analysis of classical forms. Musicianship labs in ear training and keyboard skills required.

Notes/Prerequisite(s): MUSI 15200 or consent of instructor. Students must also register for one of the following ear training lab sections: T/R 9:30-10:20 am LC 703, T/R 10:30-11:50 am LC 703, or M/W 4:30-5:20 pm GoH 402.

MUSI 22517: Beethoven or Bust: Musical Canon-Building in 19th Century Culture

Abigail Fine: T/Th 3:00 - 4:20 pm, GOH 205

The canon—a roster of composers, pieces, or artists elevated to the status of timeless classics—often serves as an invisible backdrop to musical life. But how do hierarchies of value form in the first place? This course explores how canons crystallized in nineteenth-century Europe (with topics such as monumentality, art-religion, and highbrow/lowbrow) and how this history has left traces in arts culture today (such as debates over Venezuela’s El Sistema, culture wars, and the “great books” that have shaped the UChicago Core). While canons have been the subject of heated debate in the humanities, the central aim of this course is not polemical but cultural-historical: to understand how values take root, by whom (and for whom) they are cultivated, and the ideas or actions that give them such extraordinary staying-power.

No prior training in music is required. Students from a variety of backgrounds will feel at home in this course, and may potentially investigate other canons (non-classical music, art, literature) for their research project.

MUSI 24417: Making and Meaning in the American Musical

Thomas Christensen: T/Th 9:00 - 10:20 am, LC 901

The history of the American Musical in the 20th century is paradoxical. While the genre is one often denigrated as staging lyrical utopias of Romance and adventure allowing audiences to escape depressing quotidian realities, many musicals did seek to engage some of the most pressing social issues of their day. In this course, we will look—and listen—closely to four differing musicals from the 20th century, studying their creative origins, while also analyzing their complex social meanings revealed through the story, music, lyrics, staging, and dance. Musicals to be covered: Show Boat (1927), Oklahoma! (1943), My Fair Lady (1953), and Company (1970). A visit to the Lyric Opera production of My Fair Lady is planned.

MUSI 24617: The Singing Masses: Performance, Power, and the Collective Voice

Katherine Pukinskis: T/Th 1:30 - 2:50 pm, GOH 205

In the past year, Americans have heard a rising tide of voices calling for solidarity and division, pride and denunciation—even voices calling for silence from all the voices. It is a “vocal moment,” and it resonates with a vast repertoire of practices of collectively “speaking up” which stretch far beyond our current time and place. This course builds a framework for understanding how a community of voices can come together in singing, chanting, and other modes of musical and vocal performance to shift the flow of a movement, time, idea, protest, or identity. We will take our material from real events, ranging from the 1960s to the present, focusing particular attention on moments outside the rehearsed, refined, and controlled environment of the concert hall. Our case studies will be oriented around elements of performance (skill, repetition), power (identity, race, gender), and the voice itself (language, timbre, and dimension), asking how these elements come together to create consciousness and effect change. Moreover, we’ll ask how a collection of voices together can upend our assumptions of the use and influence of each of these elements; we will additionally look at the situations in which these three elements combine, shift, and overlap. Coursework will pull on readings, listening, and issues from the spheres of history, sociology, media studies, political science, cultural studies, cognition, and music.

MUSI 25217: Musical Analysis: 19th Century

Steve Rings: T/Th 10:30 - 11:50 am, GOH 205

This course focuses on the tonal language of nineteenth-century European composers, including Schubert, Chopin, Brahms, and Wagner. Students confront analytical problems posed by these composers’ increasing uses of chromaticism and extended forms through both traditional (classical) models of tonal harmony and form, as well as alternative approaches specifically tailored to this repertory. Students present model compositions and write analytical papers.

Prerequisite(s): MUSI 15300 or equivalent

MUSI 25600: Jazz Theory and Improv

Mwata Bowden: T/Th 1:30 - 2:50 pm, LC 901

Notes/Prerequisite(s): Prior music course and ability to read music or consent of instructor.

MUSI 26217: Analyzing Popular Music

Nancy Murphy: M/W 4:30 - 5:50 pm, GOH 205

This class will explore different theoretical approaches to the analysis of twentieth and twenty-first century popular music. This will include examinations of phrase structure, form, pitch, timbre, harmonic syntax, meter and rhythm, transcription, and music-text relations. Students will analyze songs from a variety of popular music genres and participate in discussions about song interpretation, situating examples within broader contexts of time period, politics, and popular culture.

Notes/Prerequisite(s): Music 15200 or equivalent.

MUSI 26817/36817: Electronic Music Composition With Sound

Sam Pluta: M/W 1:30 - 2:50 pm, GOH 210

Electronic Music II is an introduction to computer-based sound art and live electronic music performance. Our primary tool for this course will be SuperCollider, a computer music programming language designed for composition and real-time music applications. Through this language we will explore the foundations of computer music, including digital instrument design, sequencing, live processing, sound diffusion, and various approaches to algorithmic music generation.

MUSI 27300: Topics: History of Western Music III

Seth Brodsky: M/W 3:00 - 4:20 pm, GOH 402

This sequence is a three-quarter investigation into Western art music, with primary emphasis on the vocal and instrumental repertories of Western Europe and the United States. MUSI 27200 addresses topics in music from 1600 to 1800, including opera, sacred music, the emergence of instrumental genres, the codification of tonality, and the Viennese classicism of Haydn and Mozart.

Prerequisites: MUSI 14300 or 15300. Open to non-majors with consent of instructor.

MUSI 28500: Musicianship Skills​

Phillip Kloeckner: F 1:30 - 2:20 pm​​, GOH 402

Notes/Prerequisite(s): MUSI 15300. Open only to students who are majoring in music. Note(s): 100 units credit are granted only after successful completion of the year's work.

MUSI 29500: BA Honors Seminar

Seth Brodsky: W 9:30 am - 12:20 pm, GOH 205

Notes/Prerequisite(s): Enter section from faculty list. College Reading/Research form required.



MUSI 31400: Proseminar: Music Analysis

Steven Rings: Mon 9:30 am - 12:20 pm, JRL 264

This proseminar provides both an active, hands-on workshop in musical analysis as well as an opportunity reflect on the nature of academic musical analysis and its place in the disciplinary landscape of 2017. Readings drawn from the current theoretical literature will introduce students to a range of analytical methods, most of which fall outside the purview of the “canonical” graduate music analysis classes in the music curriculum (i.e., Music 31100–31300). In our weekly analytical work we will seek a balance between comparative breadth—drawing on multiple analytical methods—and mastery of specific analytical techniques. Our aim will be to embrace plural methodologies while at the same time honing our critical and evaluative capacities; indeed, we will be especially interested in exploring the status of analytical validity and “criteria of correctness” (Dunsby) in a pluralistic methodological field. Another central theme will be the “multimedia” of academic music analysis: the interaction of sound, text, image, and performance in the effective communication of analytical insight.

Repertories addressed will include early music, non-Western repertories (centering especially on the recent work of Tenzer, Roeder, et al), and popular music, in addition to more familiar common-practice fare. Coursework will involve weekly analytical assignments, presentations, and a final paper.

MUSI 32517: Proseminar:  History and Notation of Monophonic and Polyphonic Music to c. 1520

Lawrence Earp: Mon 1:30 - 4:20 pm, JRL 264

History and Notation of Monophonic and Polyphonic Music to c. 1520. This proseminar deals with issues of transmission, compositional history, context and function of music, c.750–c.1520. There will be weekly readings on important problems, listening, and notation assignments. The course requires two papers (each ca. 10 pp.), one on a monophonic topic, one on a polyphonic topic.

MUSI 33800: Ethnographic Methods

Jessica Baker: Wed 9:30 am - 12:20 pm, JRL 264

This proseminar is designed to equip graduate students with methodological and epistemological tools for doing ethnographic fieldwork in expressive cultural contexts. Topics are divided into three stages, beginning with a prefield introduction to research design, politics, and ethics, followed by an infield focus on skill sets and media for participating in, observing, and documenting art worlds in everyday life, and ending with a postfield emphasis on relationships, rights, responsibilities, and representational strategies. In class we discuss readings from anthropology, ethnomusicology, sociology, and folklore along with individual work in progress. In addition to clarifying concepts and methods related to ethnographic inquiry, we also reflect on the kind of knowledge we craft, the people whom this knowledge concerns and serves, the protocols for its use, and how our individual subject locations - our differences of gender, sexual orientation, class, race, ethnicity, faith, generation, and nationality - shape the interpretive process.

MUSI 33900: Music Anthropology

Travis Jackson: Thurs 9:00 am - 11:50 pm, JRL 264

This course is a selective introduction to anthropology and related, influential strands of high/critical theory, on one hand, and the changing relation of both to the study of music and the field of ethnomusicology, on the other. After an opening situating the course’s origin and content in university and broader intellectual currents, we will proceed through a series of modules focused on particular issues and approaches: culture; society; research paradigms and theory; ethnography; intellectual crises and questions; the emergent field known as sound studies; and, finally, anthropological studies of art and music. Rather than providing a comprehensive survey, then, this course presents students with a series of paths they might fruitfully explore further, a set of tools for navigating the heterogeneous, distributed nature of fields with ever-proliferating subfields and research/writing paradigms.

MUSI 34100: Composition Seminar

Augusta Read Thomas: T 4:30 - 5:50 pm, LC 901


MUSI 26817/36817: Electronic Music Composition With Sound

Sam Pluta: M/W 1:30 - 2:50 pm, GOH 210

Electronic Music II is an introduction to computer-based sound art and live electronic music performance. Our primary tool for this course will be SuperCollider, a computer music programming language designed for composition and real-time music applications. Through this language we will explore the foundations of computer music, including digital instrument design, sequencing, live processing, sound diffusion, and various approaches to algorithmic music generation.

MUSI 41500: Dissertation Proposal Seminar

Martha Feldman: Thurs 1:30-4:20 pm, GOH 315

The goal of this seminar is to help doctoral students who have taken their Comprehensive Exams produce a dissertation proposal over the course of this academic year. The seminar meets every other week in Fall, Winter, and Spring Quarters. We will proceed from selecting and formulating a topic to planning and writing a proposal. Participants will regularly present abstracts, drafts, and versions of their proposal. Peer review will be an important part of the process.

MUSI 42208: Eclecticism

Travis Jackson: Tues 9:00 - 11:50 am, JRL 264

Scholars, critics, musicians and fans often deploy the noun “eclecticism”—and its related adjective and adverb forms—to buttress positive evaluations of musicians, musical styles, and musical productions. In this seminar, we will examine the range of meanings and usages of eclecticism in musical discourses, particularly those from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Our readings will focus primarily on popular musics and jazz and will approach the topic from the standpoints of ethnomusicology, historical musicology, music theory, and music criticism. Among the questions we will address are the following. What does it mean to describe an artist, a style or a recording as eclectic? In what kinds of discursive fields can one locate eclecticism? What is its relationship to other terms that have performed similar work in the past, e.g., vanguardism, postmodernism, experimentalism, cosmopolitanism? What terms serve as foils for eclecticism, and how might we relate both sets of terms to continued assertions of the existence of musical authenticities? Likewise, how might we understand the articulations of eclecticism and its counterparts with issues of (musical) categorization?

MUSI 44417: Music in Sound Studies

Berthold Hoeckner: Fri 9:30 am - 12:20 pm, JRL 264

This graduate research seminar will explore the relationship between film music and film sound. Our focus will be exploratory, based on an eclectic list of films, supplemented by relevant readings in film music studies and film sound studies. Participants will provide sample analyses of films, short reports on weekly readings, and write a research paper to be presented at a mini-conference in Week 11.

MUSI 24317/34317: Russian Literature in the Composer’s Ear

Miriam Tripaldi: MW 1:30 am - 2:50 pm, TBD

The dialogue between author and composer in Russia is probably without parallel in other national traditions. This course will examine the musical transposition of literary works in Mussorgsky, Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Prokofiev and Shchedrin. While Stravinsky makes use of oral tradition and folk culture, our other examples will be drawn from classic literary works, primarily from the 19th century. We will integrate close textual readings with focused analyses of the musical pieces, while devoting considerable attention to contexts of composition and reception. Throughout, we will be concerned with cultural and socio-political events from the mid-19th century to the fall of Soviet Union—events that colored the performance and interpretation of these works and often set the tone for their composition as well.