Below are PDFs or links to all reading assigned for Fall 2017 Introduction to Music, at Queensborough Community College.

Also refer to your course calendar if you are unsure what has been assigned:


Reading for Class #2 (September 5 / September 6): Melody, texture, dynamics and introduction to the Baroque era

The readings this week provide an introduction to music generally and the idea of listening for specific features in all the music you hear.

The excerpts from textbooks by Steven Cornelius and Jeff Titon cover music’s role in society: Cornelius 2-7Titon 1-4

The excerpts from textbook by Kristine Forney Jeremy Yudkin will introduce you to several elements of music, scales, melody, and texture: Forney 17-25Yudkin 18-21Yudkin 29-30

Optional additional reading: Alan Jern, “Enough with the spoiler alerts! Plot spoilers often increase enjoyment,” in Salon, July 30, 2016 (available here).

Additional homework reminder for Class #2: email your WordPress user name to so I know who you are on the website!


Reading for Class #3 (September 12 / September 13): Rhythm, harmony and introduction to the Romantic era

The readings this week continue your introduction to listening for specific musical features and begin our journey through music history.

The excerpt from a textbook by Kristine Forney revisits melody and introduces you to a few more elements of music (rhythm and harmony): Forney 8-16

On the Classical/Romantic composer Ludwig van Beethoven: Cornelius 111

The excerpt from the textbook by Jeff Titon presents another approach to the relationship between music and society: Titon 18-30


Reading for Class #4 (September 26 / September 27): Instruments, voice types, and introduction to the 20th century

The excerpt from Yudkin revisits the musical element of rhythm: Yudkin 23-25

The first excerpt from Forney will help you know what it’s like to attend a classical music concert: how to find concerts, what to expect, and how to read the programs that you receive when you attend: Forney 4-7

The second Forney excerpt describes the most common instruments and ensembles that are found in Western music: Forney 39-52. You can listen to examples of these instruments being played here:


Reading for Class #5 (October 3 / October 4): Introduction to musical analysis 1: Lieder and Franz Schubert

This week, we’re starting a new unit in which we’ll be tackling the skill of musical analysis head-on. We’re starting with music with words, and specifically music by the 19th-century Romantic Austrian composer Franz Schubert.

On music with words: Forney 33-35

Although we’ve touched upon the musical element of harmony already, it’s worth revisiting, particularly since it’s such a subtle aspect of listening that has a major effect on how we interpret mood, nuance, and motion in what we hear. The Yudkin excerpt provides another look at harmony: Yudkin 26-29

Meaningful musical analysis happens when we take into account not only the musical sounds that we hear but also the world in which they were conceived. To provide a baseline or background of social and historical knowledge for this aspect of the discussion, especially of religion in Europe, the excerpt from Titon gives an overview of European society: Titon 210-215.


Reading for Class #6 (October 10 / October 11): Introduction to musical analysis 2: Form

This week, we’re thinking about the structure of music, and we’ll be comparing pop music and opera.

Listening for form is all about hearing the interaction of many different musical features in a structural way, and that’s the topic of the Forney excerpt: Forney 26-32

A brief introduction to the genre of opera: forney-2017-167-169 

On the Classical composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who was a master of opera, among many other things: Yudkin 130-134


Reading for Class #7 (October 17 / October 18): Introduction to musical analysis 3: Richard Wagner

Class this week will begin with a brief (approximately 30-minute) listening-based midterm exam.

Following the midterm, we’ll be switching gears for the course and exploring certain aspects of how music operates in people’s lives, starting with a discussion about the composer Richard Wagner, a Romantic era composer. Here’s a more in-depth overview of the Romantic era: Yudkin 159-170

Optional additional reading (exploring the notion of a person being the product of their generation): Stephen Metcalf, “Donald Trump, Baby Boomer” in Slate, May 1, 2016 (available here).


Reading for Class #8 (October 24 / October 25): Musical Celebrations in the Baroque Era

We’ll be focusing on the Baroque period this week, which lasted approximately from 1600 to 1750: Forney 102-107

The other excerpt is on censorship, which takes many (not always nefarious) forms: Yudkin 301


Reading for Class #9 (October 31 / November 1): The Enlightenment and the string quartet

Continuing our journey through music history, these two excerpts provide an introduction to the Classical period, which came right after the Baroque period: Forney 150-155Yudkin 115-126

Optional reading: an introduction to the Enlightenment, a European philosophical movement that took place in the 17th and 18th centuries and forms the basis for many of the governmental, legal, and ethical systems in which we live today: 


Reading for Class #10 (November 7 / November 8): The symphony

The Cornelius excerpt contrasts audience expectations at different kinds of concerts, such as pop and classical: Cornelius 207-209

In class, we’ll be looking at the genre of the symphony, a multi-movement work for orchestra. The three composers we’ll look at in class are Joseph Haydn, from the Classical period (Forney 162-165), Ludwig van Beethoven, from the Classical/Romantic periods (Cornelius 111Yudkin 139-144), and Johannes Brahms, from the Romantic period (yudkin-199-201)


Reading for Class #11 (November 14 / November 15): The Black experience in America

Our musical topic this week will be music made by black Americans in the early 20th century, covering the genres of blues, jazz, and classical music. The lens through which we’ll approach this music is to consider how musical sounds allow a musician, an audience, and a community to proclaim/assert their identity or reveal their position within a society.

On the blues: Titon 164-166Titon 176-178

On jazz: yudkin-261-277 This is a lengthy excerpt and you are not required to read the entire passage. Do read pp 261 and 276-277, which are the chapter introduction and conclusion (highlighting the key concepts and trajectory of jazz history) and the box on p. 274, which outlines the intersection of jazz and classical music in the 20th century.

On the Harlem Renaissance and composer William Grant Still: Forney 328-330


Reading for Class #12 (November 28 / November 22): Impressionism and Expressionism

Impressionism and Expressionism are two competing aesthetics that span several artistic media in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Impressionism centered in France while Expressionism resided in Germany. In class we’ll be listening to music, reading poetry, and comparing paintings that defined each of these competing world views.

French music from the late 19th century and early 20th century will include works by the composers Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel: Forney 276-281

The concept of “artistic” isn’t always to beautiful or traditionally enticing–-another kind of art can come in the form of creating a space in which audiences can contemplate the worst of themselves and their emotions, things they would never indulge in normally. Fascination with darkness and the macabre crops up in art and literature of the 19th century and early 20th century. We’ll be looking at the musical style called Expressionism and works by German composers, chiefly Arnold Schoenberg: yudkin-224-226


Reading for Class #13 (December 5 / November 29): Minimalism

There are several trends in art music of the 20th century: modernism, neoclassicism, postmodernism, serialism, musique concrète, electronic music and electroacoustic music. This week, we’ll be listening to music that all falls under the descriptor of “minimalism” by John Cage, Philip Glass, Steve Reich, and Frederic Rzewski.

This excerpt from Yudkin provides a lay of the aesthetic landscape, especially an introduction to the concept of postmodernism: Yudkin 245-253

John Cage’s “Lecture on Nothing” from 1959: Cage, J. – Lecture on Nothing This text may seem a bit strange at first, but allow yourself to keep reading, to keep questioning what you’re reading and how it’s presented on the page — use your discomfort to ask yourself why Cage might have made the choices he did, what his choices do to you as a reader (and your expectations about how reading should go!), and what he leaves out in his writing (and what he leaves in–this is the crux of minimalism!).

Optional additional reading (on how a particular aspect of “minimalism” has crept into our lives): Kyle Chaykya, New York Times (2016), “The Oppressive Gospel of Minimalism”: Chaykya – The Oppressive Gospel of ‘Minimalism’ – The New York Times


Reading for Class #14 (December 12 / December 6): Experimentation and virtuosity

The old adage goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention,” but that’s not really true. Curiosity is the mother of invention–tinkering, exploring, seeing what happens is what leads to new techniques and new ideas that become new works of art and new styles.

In class this week, we’ll be listening to music written by composers who are interested in pushing the envelope of their respective times for what’s possible musically. The class will be a historical survey of the extreme demands composers made of their performers (or themselves, if they performed!) and the kinds of musical exploration in which they engaged.

One more survey of art in the 20th century: yudkin-213-218

One composer we’ll cover is George Crumb: Forney 372