Below are PDFs or links to all reading assigned for Spring 2018 Mu 101 – Introduction to Music, at Queensborough Community College. Each class meeting will begin with a quiz that covers the reading assigned for that day.
Also refer to your course calendar if you are unsure what has been assigned:
Reading for Class #2: Melody, texture, and dynamics
The readings this week provide an introduction to music generally and the idea of listening for specific features in all the music you hear.
Additional homework reminder for Class #2: email your WordPress user name to firstname.lastname@example.org so I know who you are on the website!
Reading for Class #3: Rhythm, harmony, and musical seasons
The readings this week continue your introduction to the process of 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
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: The Baroque style, voice types, and problematizing music history
The excerpt from Yudkin revisits the musical element of rhythm: Yudkin 23-25
The 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: https://drjonesmusic.me/instruments/
We’ll be focusing on the Baroque period this week, which lasted approximately from 1600 to 1750: Forney 102-107
The final excerpt is on censorship, which takes many (not always nefarious) forms: Yudkin 301
Reading for Class #5: Introduction to musical analysis 1: Form
This week, we’re starting a new unit in which we’ll be tackling the skill of musical analysis head-on. We’ll be 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
One kind of music we’ll be discussing in class is opera. Here is 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 #6 : Introduction to musical analysis 2: Lieder and Franz Schubert
We’re continuing to develop our skills of analysis by studying more music with words this week, specifically music by the 19th-century Romantic Austrian composer Franz Schubert.
A handy definition of analysis: from musicologists David Beard and Kenneth Gloag — you only need to read the first 2 paragraphs under the heading “Analysis”: Beard – 13 Analysis
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
Reading for Class #7: 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
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.
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: The Enlightenment and the string quartet
Samson, “Music history” provides an overview of the world you’ve stepped into: people who study music history professionally: Samson – Music history
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: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/enlightenment/
Reading for Class #9: The symphony
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 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. Three composers whose work we’ll listen to in class are Joseph Haydn, from the Classical period (Forney 162-165), Ludwig van Beethoven, from the Classical/Romantic periods (Cornelius 111, Yudkin 139-144), and Johannes Brahms, from the Romantic period (yudkin-199-201)
Reading for Class #10: Unwritten music
Although we’ve been focusing on music made by people who compose (write down) music so far, there are huge amounts of music that never (or rarely) gets written down.
This chapter from Katharine Ellis provides an introduction to thinking even more critically about how music functions in people’s lives (i.e., sociologically): Ellis – The sociology of music
Reading for Class #11: Music and violence
People use music to accomplish, accompany, or intensify many things in their lives, including war and violence, the topic of this week’s class.
This chapter from John Rink provides returns to an idea we first breached with our Online Discussion #1, the psychology of music: Rink – The psychology of music
The brief excerpt from David Beard and Kenneth Gloag gives a sense of how musicologists have studied music and violence or conflict: Beard – 43 Conflict
Reading for Class #12: Impressionism and Expressionism
Impressionism and Expressionism are two competing aesthetics that crop up 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: 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: 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