Graduate Seminar Offerings 2020-21

Offerings are organized below by area, but students are encouraged to explore seminars under all headings.

Registration in seminars is usually limited to 12 students per class (14 for Performance Practice (MUPP) and Performance (MUPG) seminars. In cases where too many students have registered for a seminar, some students may be asked to drop the course.

The following priority list will be followed:

  1. Music students in a specific program for whom the seminar is required and who need the seminar to graduate in the year in which it is offered.
  2. Music students in a specific program for whom the seminar is required.
  3. Music students in a specific program for whom the seminar is an elective seminar.
  4. Other McGill students in graduate programs (music and non-music).
  5. Visiting graduate students.
  6. McGill undergraduate music students who have the necessary prerequisites.
  7. Other McGill undergraduate students who have the necessary prerequisites.
  8. Visiting undergraduate music students.
  9. Special Students.

If you cannot register on MINERVA for a course you would like to take, contact the instructor by email to indicate your interest and attend the first class.

DO NOT REGISTER FOR MORE THAN 2 seminars per semester.


Seminars in the Department of Music Research
(Complementary Seminars for Performance Students)
Fall 2020

Music Education

MUGT 611 (001) Seminar - Music Education – CRN 20269 | Professor Lisa Lorenzino

Topic: Global Trends in Formal, Informal, and Non-Formal Music Teaching

This seminar is unique in its international focus as it investigates varied pedagogical practices of music education. Students critically discuss formal, informal, and non-formal music teaching in a range of settings including curricular, extra-curricular, community based, online, and autodidactic learning. Specific topics studied include rote learning, improvisation and the master/apprentice model, among other teaching methodologies. A specific focus of the seminar will be the global dissemination of El Sistema, the Venezuelan orchestral training program for disenfranchised youth.

Class sessions will be augmented by guest lecturers, both live and via Skype. Students will have the opportunity to be involved in the collection of qualitative data via semi-structured interviews in a project of their choice. Evaluation will include a major research paper and an in-class presentation as well as other small assignments.


MUHL 682 Seminar in Musicology – CRN 20283 | Professor Lloyd Whitesell

Topic: Musical Tricksters

Lighten up! In this seminar we will consider the topics of wit, impishness and buffoonery in music. Possible topics to be explored include scherzando styles, musical riddles and puzzles, mischief-making opera buffa or musical comedy characters, avant-garde mavericks like Satie and Cage, Bugs Bunny cartoons, camp, “signifyin” tropes in jazz and hip hop, and musical parodies (e.g., PDQ Bach, Weird Al). Readings will cover theories of humor, studies of trickster figures in indigenous and African folklore, as well as recent developments in ludomusicology. Evaluation will be based on class participation, occasional short assignments, and a final paper/presentation.

MUHL 685 Seminar in Musicology – CRN 20285 | Professor Julie Cumming

Topic: Music Printing in the Sixteenth Century

Music printing of polyphonic music began in 1501, with the Ottaviano Petrucci’s publication of the Odhecaton, a collection of about 100 chansons without their texts. Over the century music printing exploded, only to decline in the 17th century. In this seminar we will look at the rise of music printing and its effects on all aspects of Renaissance polyphony in the sixteenth century. How did it change the ways in which music was composed, disseminated, and perceived? How did the access to more affordable polyphonic music change music literacy among amateur musicians? How did it affect professionals? What is similar and different about the printing of text and music? We will compare print and manuscript culture, learn about printing technology, and look at the ways music printing interacted with the development of musical genres, including vernacular music, instrumental music, and sacred music. Students will be required to do short class presentations on individual music sources, music printers, and a longer presentation and final paper in three drafts.

Music Technology

MUMT 605 (001) Digital Sound Synthesis and Audio Processing– CRN 20716 | Professor Philippe Depalle

Most digital sound synthesis methods and audio processing techniques are based on the spectral representation of sound signals. This seminar starts with a theoretical and practical study of spectral representation, spectral analysis, and spectral modification of sound signals. Digital sound synthesis and sound processing techniques are then presented as specific spectral modelling or alterations from which their capabilities, properties, and limitations are deduced. Techniques explored in this context include the phase-vocoder, additive synthesis, source-filter synthesis, non-linear (distortion) processing, and audio effects. Available Computer Music software and ad hoc pieces of software are used as examples and illustrations. Evaluation will be based on two assignments (25% each), one in-class presentation (15%), and a final project (35%).

MUMT 617 (001) Cognitive Dynamic of Music Listening – CRN 17567 | Professor Stephen McAdams

Music theoretic, performance-related, psychophysical, and cognitive perspectives on contemporary musical materials and musical form will be surveyed and discussed. The main aim is to lay the groundwork for a theory of the dynamics of musical listening and experience. This seminar covers a variety of interdisciplinary topics concerning the conception, perception, and memory of contemporary musical materials, as well as the cognitive, emotional and aesthetic aspects of music listening in time. It will combine considerations of a compositional, music theoretic and cognitive psychological nature to attempt to understand these complex phenomena as they operate in real music listening, whether to recorded or to live music in a concert setting.    

MUMT 618 (001) Computational Modeling of Musical Acoustics – CRN 17571 | Professor Gary Scavone

Methods for discrete-time modeling of musical acoustic systems, with an emphasis on digital waveguide techniques. Delay-based audio effects, artificial reverberation, musical instrument models and physically-informed approaches to sound synthesis. Prior experience with differential equations, digital filters, Matlab, and C/C++ is required. Evaluation will be based on weekly homework, in-class presentations, and a final course project.

MUMT 620 (001) Gestural Control of Sound Synthesis – CRN 20719 | Professor Marcelo Wanderley

This seminar examines the use of computers as part of novel digital musical instruments, including physical gestures and actions, design and evaluation of new interfaces for musical expression, and mapping strategies between gestures and sounds. Basic knowledge of sound synthesis methods is required. Evaluation will be based on summaries of papers, student presentation, project proposal, and a project presentation.

Music Theory

MUTH 652 (001) Seminar in Music Theory – CRN 20836 | Professor Nicole Biamonte

Topic: Analysis of Musical Humor

In this seminar we will explore theories of humor as they apply to music, and the ways in which a composition can evoke laughter or a sense of wit, usually by violating listener expectations through incongruity in one or more parameters: genre, style, form, tonality, harmony, meter, rhythm, timbre, etc. We will focus largely although not entirely on instrumental music, excluding humor created through dramatic, visual, or verbal means (as in operas and musicals). Readings include research by John Covach, Gretchen Wheelock, David Huron, and others; we will analyze both tonal and post-tonal works of Western art and popular musics. Coursework will consist of readings, discussion, analysis assignments, and a final project comprising an analytical paper and a presentation based on the paper.

MUTH 653 (001) Seminar in Music Theory - CRN 20837 | Professor Robert Hasegawa

Topic: Pedagogy of Post-Tonal Theory and Analysis

This seminar seeks to reassess current approaches to teaching the theory and analysis of post-tonal music. We will explore ways to complement and extend the familiar “sets and series” approach of most textbooks, critically re-evaluating the value of these theories in an increasingly diverse musical landscape. Questions for investigation will include: How can concepts and tools from the scholarly literature inform our teaching practice? How can musicianship training and model composition be integrated with analysis? What makes a good analytical assignment? What pieces can we incorporate into the evolving canon of post-tonal music? Regular analysis assignments and presentations will complement readings on pedagogy, theory, and analysis. Evaluation will be based on class participation, teaching demonstrations, written assignments, and a final research paper.



Performance and Performance Practice Seminars
(Open to Performance Students – MUPP seminars are counted as Music Research Seminars for Performance Students)
Fall 2020

Performance Practice

MUPP 690 (001) Performance Practice Seminar – CRN 20781 | Professor Patrick Hansen

Topic: Shakespeare Goes to the Opera!

The theory and practice in Theatrical to Musical transformation. Shakespeare plays and source materials for the plays that themselves are transformed into source material for operas based on his works. What happens to an art form when it changes from one modality, theatre, into another: opera? Students will focus on 7 plays by Shakespeare and the 10 operas based upon those works.

Bibliography: Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Othello, Much Ado About Nothing, Macbeth, and Hamlet

Operas: Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, Bernstein’s West Side Story, Bellini’s Capuletti e i Montecchi, Verdi’s Falstaff, Otello, and Macbeth, Garner’s Much Ado!, Thomas’ Hamlet, and Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District.

MUPP 691 (001) Performance Practice Seminar – CRN 20782 | Professor Alexis Hauser

Topic: Challenge and Responsibility in the Performance of Beethoven's Symphonies

This seminar will focus on interpretation based on historic information and fact/truth-finding in the score. Through score study, listening and comparison of recordings, differences in interpretation will be analyzed. Written work will address specific questions and topics raised during the seminar.

For each symphony, consideration will be given to historical and biographical context, analysis of each movement with regards to issues of meter, articulation, formal balance, instrumentation, editorial and performance challenges, etc. Discussions will also address the history of performance reception and tradition and will be complemented by reading and listening assignments.

MUPP 692 (001) Performance Practice Seminar – CRN 20783 | Professor Matthew Treviño

Topic: The Business of Singing

Today’s professional singer must not only master their voice and stagecraft but must also become master of their own product. Too often there are aspects of the career that feel overwhelming or out of control simply because we lack the knowledge and courage to empower ourselves. Why is it that some talented singers excel while many others seem to falter? What are the things we can and should be doing outside of the practice room to grow as an artist? This seminar will focus on a myriad of topics regarding the business of being a singer. Some of the many topics that will be covered are how to manage finances; get management; start and maintain a website; write resumes and get the best headshots; how to network and 'schmooze'; how to start a career in North America and/or Europe; and how to constantly reinvent yourself as public taste and our own artistic journey evolve. Evaluations will be based in part on participation in discussions as well as several written and verbal projects focusing on the student’s individual career path and a constructive evaluation of their peers.

MUPP 693 (001) Performance Practice Seminar – CRN 20784 | Professor Jean-Sébastien Vallée

Topic: History and Literature of Large Vocal Forms

This seminar provides an overview of literature of large choral/vocal forms from Renaissance through the twentieth century, including in-depth study of specific examples. Historical, stylistic, and analytical elements of these works will be discussed. Upon successful completion of this seminar, students will be able to trace the history and development of selected large-form genres—cantata, oratorio, mass, requiem—and name composers and works most associated with these genres; students will be able to give a detailed accounting of selected repertoire within these genres, and the performance practices necessary to give historically accurate interpretations. Students will be familiar with repertoire in related genres for large choral/orchestral forces, and the composers associated with this repertoire.

MUPP 694 (001) Performance Practice Seminar – CRN 20785 | Professor TBA

Topic: J.S. Bach's Solo Music: Performance, Ornamentation, Context

Bach’s unaccompanied works have fascinated us for centuries and in today’s performances we find widely-differing approaches to phrasing, ornamentation, tempi, and other musical features. By studying historical approaches in treatises, manuscripts, and secondary literature, and by surveying unaccompanied music (and improvisational practices) from Italian, French, English, German, and Bohemian musicians from before and around the time of Bach, this course will help participants build a greater perspective on the musical context that surrounded the composition of Bach’s solo works. All majors are welcome to take this course and there will be opportunities for keyboard players to research and present work on Bach’s solo keyboard works as well as non-string-playing instrumentalists to work on transcriptions and arrangements of the solo works (sonatas, suites, and partitas) for violin, cello, flute, and lute.

MUPP 695 (001) Performance Practice Seminar – CRN 23493 | Professor Stephen Hargreaves

Topic: Mozart’s Da Ponte Operas in Context

A musical, social and performance-based exploration of the Mozart/Da Ponte trilogy viewed through historic and contemporary lenses. Topics of discussion will include: Mozart’s contemporaries (Salieri and others); class struggles and privilege within Figaro; and the agency of women within Don Giovanni. We will look closely at the issues which face performers (conductors/singing actors) and directors of these operas today - recitative, tempo, alternate arias/versions, staging (and its complications), etc. Coursework will include (but not be limited to) assigned reading; score, video, and recording study all of which will culminate in lively class discussion; written work; and 2 oral presentations, which can include performance of related material.

Performance Seminars

MUPG 575D1/D2 (001) Organ Repertoire and Performance Practice – CRN 22092 | Professor TBA

Seminar covering topics related to organ playing, such as liturgical organ playing, organ repertoire and improvisation.

MUPG 590 (001) Vocal Styles and Conventions – CRN 23527 | Professor TBA

This seminar emphasizes vocal performance practices through practical application: text, language, inflection, pronunciation and interpretation considered with the individuality of each student’s voice and technical development. After examining historical treatises, students will discuss and present musical selections using modern performance standards while remaining true to the stylistic demands of each period.

MUPG 678 (001) Seminar in Performance Topics 2 – CRN 20769 | Professor John Hollenbeck

Topic: Concentration and Ensemble Practice

The primary exercise used throughout this course seems very simple: to play short quarter notes with the ensemble, while subdividing the beat at a very slow tempo with eyes closed. The shortness of the notes and slow tempo makes it easy to hear if the musicians are together or not. Eyes closed makes it impossible to use visual cues to help the musicians play together. This way, you must rely on your own internal time and subdividing. The simplicity of the exercise is why it is an excellent path to improve concentration skills.

Added to the primary exercise is the additional of long notes, accents, dynamics, specific pitches on specific beats, individual playing and singing of the subdivisions (one at a time), improvisation on the subdivisions, ensemble inclusion of 1-5 extra notes on the subdivision. Each student is expected to practice the basic exercise as a solo exercise in between classes. Throughout the course, there will be class discussions, to talk about the internal experience and issues that come up in the practice. Students will also maintain a journal, detailing their practice and thoughts on the class and individual practice.

To break up the potential monotony of the primary exercise, other exercises involving improvisation will be practiced.

Benefits of the course:

  1. Increased awareness and practice of concentration.
  2. Increased awareness and insight into sound production.
  3. Increased rhythmic awareness and strengthening of internal time.
  4. Practice of pinpoint listening skills.
  5. Ensemble listening and playing.
  6. Understanding and experiencing the power of unison tutti playing.
  7. Body awareness and posture.
  8. Awareness and practice of the efficiency "between the notes”.
  9. Increased ability to be “still".

Evaluation will be based on attendance/participation (75%), and hand-written class journal (25%).

MUPG 695 (001) Graduate Jazz Improvisation Seminar – CRN 20772 | Professor Rémi Bolduc

Topic: Advanced Improvisation Seminar

The goal of the seminar is to help students develop their own musical voice by researching the improvisational ideas and approaches of various jazz artists. With approval of the instructor, students will choose the artists to be studied and will be responsible for transcribing compositions and improvised solos by these musicians. Students will also have the opportunity to play the music in class and receive feedback from the instructor and their peers, with approximately one third of class time spent performing. The instructor will begin the seminar by presenting his own ideas and insights about specific mentors. There will be at least three transcriptions and written analyses required from each student, as well as weekly practice assignments derived from the material. Evaluation will be based on the quality of the analyses, transcriptions and ideas the students bring to the seminar, and on their ability to incorporate those ideas into their playing.


Seminars in the Department of Music Research
(Complementary seminars for Performance Students)
Winter 2021

General Music

MUGS 695 (001) Special Topic Seminar | Professor Aaron Williamon

Topic: Performing Music Research: Methods in Music Education, Psychology, and Performance Science

Research is integral to innovation, progress, and the advancement of artistic practice, be it on stage, in the recording studio, in the classroom, or in the community. This course is structured to guide you as you plan, conduct, analyze, and communicate research. Both quantitative and qualitative methods of enquiry will be considered, providing grounding in the ethics and assumptions of related research approaches. Direct access to ongoing international research projects and datasets will be provided to facilitate experiential learning.


MUCO 634 (001) Seminar in Composition – CRN 17409 | Professor Denys Bouliane

Topic: Semiotics and Composing: A Cross-Fertilization, or X-rated vs. IN-rated music in the “ShoeBox Cauldron”.

Does music mean anything? Is a piece of music per nature self-referential or is it open and interconnected to other musics, other forms of expressions… or to the world?

How do we perceive music?
Can we imagine categories of musical expression?
Can music be understood as a system of signs, a form of communication?

In this seminar, we will be looking for music’s EX-trinsic and IN-trinsic qualities. We will discuss the concepts of TOPICS and ISOTOPIES as well as the semiotic categories of indexes, icons (sonic, kinetic and tactile anaphones), metonymies (synecdoches, allusions) and symbols, among others… trying not to get lost in the “endless chain of interpretants”…

The course will be evaluated by: Presentation/Assignment-1 (Research) 25 %, Presentation/Assignment-2 (Analysis) 25 % and Final Presentation/Assignment (Composition) 50%.

Music Education

MUGT 612 (001) Seminar – Music Education – CRN 17468 | Professor Lisa Lorenzino

Topic: Introduction to Community Music

This seminar will investigate varied pedagogical practices of music education in a community music setting. Through the in-depth study of research literature, students will critically discuss current theories of Community Music Education practices in informal and non-formal settings. Attention will focus on philosophical and pedagogical methods employed in these settings with an emphasis on inclusion, social change, health and wellness and interdisciplinarity.

The courses will also include a substantial practical aspect as students will be required to extensively observe a community music group in the Montreal area. In addition, students will teach at least one full length or two shorter sessions to their peers or within their community music group setting. Class sessions may be augmented by guest lecturers, either live or via Skype. Evaluation will include one research paper, a teaching evaluation, as well as other small assignments.

MUGT 613 (001) Seminar – Music Education – CRN 17469 | Professor Isabelle Cossette

Topic: Understanding the Performing Body

This course is designed for performance, pedagogy and music education students interested in understanding how their body works in optimal, healthy and efficient way but also in pathological contexts.

Class sessions are intended to provide the opportunity for the students to explore a broad range of issues related to the use of body during music making. Students will develop their critical thinking on topics such as musculoskeletal injuries, breathing strategies, neuroplasticity, nutrition, wellbeing approaches, etc. Discussions based on readings, online material, and presentations will allow the students to share knowledge that can be applied to practice.

Evaluation will be based on class preparation/participation including oral and written reflections, discussions and presentations as well as a final blog- project associated to either a research, performance or learning aspect of the student’s area of study as relates to class content.


MUHL 680 (001) Seminar in Musicology - CRN 17477 | Professor Steven Huebner

Topic: Topics in French Music

The seminar is organized in three units. The first considers recent approaches to fin-de-siècle mélodie, with examples by Chabrier, Debussy, Fauré, and Ravel. The second examines French music with a classical orientation that looks back to pre-Beethovenian models and weighs critical categories such as pastiche and parody. Composers studied will include Gounod, Bizet, Saint-Saëns, and Ravel. The third unit covers exoticism in French music of the period, with attention to works by Delibes and Saint-Saëns. Evaluation by means of participation, class presentations, paper.

MUHL 681 (001) Seminar in Musicology – CRN 17478 | Professor David Brackett

Topic: Music and the Social

The idea that music and society are somehow related can be found in ancient writings as diverse as those by Plato and the Chinese philosopher Lu Be We. This seminar will explore the nature of that relationship through a survey of scholars associated with the sociology of music as well as the sociology of art. Drawing together a broad range of theoretical writings, we will develop a theory of music’s role in the construction of personal identity and collective social life. Students will be evaluated on their preparation for class, weekly written responses to the readings, class participation, brief weekly presentations, a presentation of their final project, and a final paper.

MUHL 684 (001) Seminar in Musicology – CRN 17479 | Professor Dorian Bandy

Topic: Approaches to Musical Meaning

Music is often said to be the most abstract of the arts, with expressive powers far exceeding those of language. (“Where words leave off, music begins.”) Yet according to an equally important tradition, music is a repository of concrete ideas. Music has been used to tell stories, depict scenes from nature, or provide psychological and narrative subtext in operas, films, and video games. It has even been said to transmit philosophical and political theories. This seminar will provide a critical investigation of the origins, nature, and reach of musical meaning. Topics will include: traditional approaches to musical analysis, close-reading, and criticism; information theory and semiotics; generative and grammatical structures; meme theory; and philosophy of mind. Assessment will be based on class participation and a final paper.

Music Technology

MUMT 619 (001) Input Devices for Musical Expression – CRN 17889 | Professor Marcelo Wanderley

Basic technologies used in the design of input devices for musical expression, including the most common types of electronic sensors, actuators and associated conditioning circuits and examples of their application to gestural controllers. Prior knowledge of analog electronics required. Evaluation will be based on assignments and a final project.

MUMT 621 (001) Music Information, Retrieval, Acquisition, Preservation – CRN 17890 | Professor Ichiro Fujinaga

This seminar will investigate current research activities in the area of music information retrieval. The goal is to discover ways to efficiently find and retrieve musical information. Although the field is relatively new, it encompasses various music disciplines including music analysis, music education, music history, music theory, music psychology, and audio signal processing.

Each student will be expected to present various music information retrieval topics along with literature reviews. Each presentation should be accompanied by web pages created by the presenter. The final project may consist of software development, a theoretical paper, or an extended review paper. Class format will be presentations followed by discussions.

Potential topics include: Themefinder, MELDEX, Elvis, Cantus, SIMSSA, audio content analysis and search, web crawling, melodic similarities, computer-aided transcription, beat tracking, timbre recognition, speech / music separation, audio and music formats (MPEG-4/7/21, MP3, MEI, MusicXML), and Web API. Students will be evaluated on the quality of the presentations, written assignments, class participation, and the final project.

Evaluation will be based on assignments (50%), class participation (10%), and a final project (40%).

MUMT 622 (001) Time-Frequency & Parameter Rep. of Sounds – CRN 17891 | Professor Philippe Depalle

Research trends in time-frequency representations and parametric modeling applied to music and audio. Specific focus on atomic decomposition, matching pursuit, wavelet, and parametric analysis. Evaluation is based on in-class research literature presentations, and on a final project.

Sound Recording

MUSR 692 (001) Music Production Workshop – CRN 17976 | Professor Martha DeFrancisco

A Graduate Seminar for Performance and for Sound Recording Students.

The Seminar focuses on the collaborative interaction between performing and recording partners during music recordings. It explores aesthetical questions of performance and recording, and it examines music performance issues in connection with the use of changing technological tools for recording and music production. Discussions are lead regarding the historical development of music production, and an updated analysis of current developments in the recording industry is provided.

The production sessions under the supervision of an expert music producer, realized as part of the Seminar, help students acquire insight in the musical, technical and logistical processes that characterize professional music productions, giving both sides suitable tools to enhance their potential as recording artists in the 21st century.

Evaluation will be based on in-class participation and presentations, individual work on the music productions as well as a final research paper or alternatively a completed Master of an own production project with a written description/analysis.

Music Theory

MUTH 654 (001) Seminar in Music Theory – CRN 17999 | Professor Jonathan Wild

Topic: Tuning & Temperament: Historical and Speculative Approaches

In this seminar we shall investigate the changing ways in which musical scales and other organising principles of intonation for western music have been conceived and modelled, from antiquity to the present. The emphasis will be more on musical systems than on the repertoire they support. On the historical side we shall examine, among other issues:

Platonist vs. Aristoxenian notions of pitch division in Ancient Greece; the Just Intonation debates of the sixteenth century; the development of circulating temperaments in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; and the effects of acoustical science on theories of harmony after the scientific revolution. Modern components of the seminar will touch on the field of scale theory (e.g. Clough; Carey & Clampitt), as well as on the speculative approaches of twentieth-century composers and experimentally-minded theorists who have proposed novel tuning systems as a means of increasing available sonic resources. Depending on participant interest we could investigate systems of microtonality as used by selected twenty-first-century composers. As part of our aural familiarisation with musical materials drawn from outside 12-tone equal temperament, we will incorporate hands-on exploration of alternative tuning systems through the use of retunable software instruments. Course assessment will include in-class presentations, a short test, and a research paper of 15-20 pages.

MUTH 655 (001) Seminar in Music Theory – CRN 18000 | Professor Christoph Neidhöfer

Topic: Form in Post-1945 Serial Music

The proliferation of serial compositional techniques after 1945 led to a rapid expansion of approaches to musical form. In this seminar we will explore how composers thought about form in serial music and how they developed new kinds of forms in response to particular expressive needs and broader historical factors. We will study articles and treatises by Milton Babbitt, Pierre Boulez, Hanns Jelinek, Ernst Křenek, René Leibowitz, David Lewin, Josef Rufer, Leopold Spinner, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Stefan Wolpe, among others, as well as more recent analytical literature on the topic (Borio, Carone, De Benedictis, Losada, MacKay, Schubert&Neidhöfer, and others). Topics include: Formenlehre tradition and new forms in Arnold Schoenberg’s late music, serially generated form in the music of Norma Beecroft, Ursula Mamlok, Camillo Togni, Bernd Alois Zimmermann, and others, serialism and aleatory forms, and György Ligeti’s 1965 critique of new formal conventions in serial music. Course requirements include weekly assigned readings, listening, and analysis, two in-class presentations, a midterm essay, and a final paper.

MUTH 656 (001) Seminar in Music Theory – CRN 18001 | Professor Peter Schubert

Topic: Topics in the History of Theory

This course will invite students to pick a research area centered on writings in music theory between 350BC and 1699. Topics might include the naming of notes, the division of the musical space, the construction of scales, principles behind modal systems (how many are there? why?), rhythm, chords, rhetoric, and counterpoint. Each student will assemble a bibliography on their topic, assign readings to the class for discussion, run the discussion, and write a paper. Evaluation will be based on three quizzes (@15% each=45%), one written reading report (10%), and a final paper (45%).


Performance and Performance Practice Seminars
(Open to Performance Students – MUPP seminars are counted as Music Research Seminars for Performance Students)
Winter 2021

Performance Practice

MUPP 690 (001) Performance Practice Seminar – CRN 17942 | Professor Alexis Hauser

Topic: The Legacy of Great Conductors

This seminar will focus on important conductors primarily of the 20th century who have left distinct marks in the history of music performance, whether as founders and/or builders of major orchestras with long lasting traditions; for their exceptional support of contemporary composers; for their specialization in a certain composer or a given segment of a historic period; or for having achieved a certain style of interpretation which attracted younger conductors of the next generation. A major aspect under observation is the fidelity (or lack thereof) of various conductors to the printed text in the score based on historical awareness and scholarly information. Written work will address specific questions and topics raised during the seminar.

In addition, the multifaceted communication skills expected of conductors will be analyzed by studying their work in rehearsals, recording sessions as well as in concerts and opera performances. Discussions will also address the different role of guest conducting in relation to the responsibility of a music director, and how this role has changed over the decades, as a result of the influence of unions, symphony boards and recording companies.

MUPP 691 (001) Performance Practice Pilot Project | Professor TBA

Students will research, plan, and execute a project combining project development and performance practice while gaining practical experience. Projects may vary widely, but many will include learning stylistic practices and techniques associated with a particular repertoire or introducing new repertoire. For each project, the student will present their work publicly, and develop their work with feedback from (and potential collaboration with) another student, as well as create clear and detailed vision for the project that includes both budgeting and marketing.

Topics in class will include case studies of performance practice projects in recent decades, including analysis of a few projects that led to scholarly books and articles, work on developing scholarship and performance together, and work on generating momentum in a career including grant writing. Course participants will also develop skills in collaboration, project planning, and community engagement. A final paper, in-class presentation, and writing the text necessary for a future grant application, in addition to the public (online) events, are all possible outcomes of the course.

MUPP 692 (001) Performance Practice Seminar – CRN 17944 | Professor Jacqueline Leclair

Topic: Musician Wellbeing and Practice Strategies

During this seminar, we will research and discuss the following topics as related to musician health, professionalism, performance, and music pedagogy: Diet, Exercise, Sleep, Yoga, Alexander Technique and Feldenkrais, Philosophy, Psychology, Massage, Acupuncture/Acupressure, Cranio-sacral Therapy, Reiki, other treatments, Meditation, Breathing exercises, Stretching, Performance Anxiety, Injury prevention and recovery, and Practice techniques.

Students will develop enhanced abilities to make informed choices about their well-being throughout their careers. They will learn to practice with optimum efficiency, safety, and productivity. As future teachers and colleagues, they will develop enhanced abilities to help others with these topics.

MUPP 693 (001) Performance Practice Seminar – CRN 17945 | TBA

Topic: Music in the Weimar Era

This seminar, addressed to both singers and instrumentalists, will explore the Weimar Republic as the centre of artisitic creativity, innovation, and freedom of experimentation. While examining social, political and cultural aspects, students will research repertoire by Schoenberg, Berg, Hindemith, Eisler, Hollaender, and the partnership Berg-Weill (among others). Students will discuss the correlation between politics, society, gender identity and music and examine contemporary performers and performances as well as the performance practice of the time.

Performance Seminars

MUPG 677 Seminar in Performance Topics 1 – CRN 17933 | Professor Jean-Michel Pilc

Topic: Improvisation in all languages

The goal of this seminar is the acquisition of fluency in improvisation, in all musical idioms (classical, jazz, pop, world etc.) and on all instruments. More generally, it will address the subject of how to make music in a natural and idiomatic way, regardless of the style.

The process at work will be based on the way spoken language is learnt and mastered, and also rooted in my own experience discovering music, improvising, and learning jazz and other kinds of music through oral tradition. We will show that improvisation, often and wrongly seen as the difference between classical and jazz, is, on the contrary, the main bridge between all styles of music, and the essential ability to perceive and express music organically, naturally and spontaneously, and to communicate musical ideas instantaneously when playing the instrument - the latter being, in the spoken language analogy, the musician’s “speech organ.”

We will explore the specificities of each musical idiom – its own “words”, rhythms, accents etc. – and will learn how to develop practicing methods and a personal approach by deep listening, imitation, playing along, manipulation, trial and error, self-editing, assimilation and evolution through time. "Fluency tests" will be used and experimented with, as well as exercises devised to become better at these tests. Hence we will develop the ability to fully experience the musical act and speak the language of music freely and meaningfully at the instrument, while still being creative away from it.

Many other topics will be covered, such as ear training and tuning, the 3 “bookends” of music (rhythm, melody, and bass), feeling, tempo, swing and groove, phrasing and articulation, internalization, and using the multitasking ability of the human brain in order to become a successful improviser / instant composer / storyteller. We will draw inspiration from many different styles of music, and the students will be exposed to a wide selection of musical pieces (from recordings and also from live performances by teacher and students).

Taking example on masters such as Mozart or Charlie Parker, we will realize that improviser, composer, interpreter and performer are actually different sides of the same entity; and also, transcending the cliché of “classical player who can’t play jazz” (or vice versa), we will discover that the many languages of music can be understood and spoken by all those who are willing to embrace their authenticity and their richness.

This class, like any language learning experience, will require the active participation of each student, as a listener, performer, and practitioner. Evaluation will be based on the participation, progress, motivation and creative energy of each student, presentations and special projects, which will be an essential component of the seminar.

MUPG 678 Seminar in Performance Topics 2 – CRN 20234 | Professor Matthew Treviño

Topic: Fundamentals of Singing for Instrumentalists

This seminar is intended for music students (non-voice majors) who are interested in the art of singing. Students are expected to participate by learning and demonstrating the fundamentals of vocal technique including breath support, resonance, pitch, and basic pedagogy. In addition, students will learn the art of song preparation, vocal diction, and stage presence culminating in an in-class performance of a solo vocal piece by each student. Many genres of singing will be explored and the class setting will encourage a positive and encouraging environment for each singer. This seminar is designed for beginning singers; no prior vocal expertise is necessary to enroll in the course.

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