The course will make an inquiry into the last century of “western” music from an initial vantage point of five works, created from 1913 to 2004: Igor Stravinski’s Rite of Spring; George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess; Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Gesange Der Jünglinge; Ornette Coleman’s The Shape of Jazz To Come; and DJ Danger Mouse’s The Grey Album.
we will consider each work with the view to a wide range of notions that have gained special prominence in this century: modes of transmission and reception, developments in technology and their affect both production and dissemination, “high brow” vs. “low brow”, artisanship vs. industry, authenticity and fakery, all inform these works in different and multifaceted ways.

The semester will be roughly ordered into five three-week sections,one for each work. Generally speaking, we will begin each section with consideration of the work itself, then gradually widening the scope of our consideration to consideration of the work in context and to other, related works. Finally, during the last week of each section, the onus of discussion will move to contributions by the students who will each lead a discussion on a topic relevant to the topics we have covered during the previous two weeks.


Ross, Alex. The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century. New York: Picador. [RIN in reading assignments]

Cox, C. and Warner, D. (Eds.). Audio Culture: Readings In Modern Music. New York: Continuum.
[AC in reading Assignments]

Course work will involve the following:
1. Intense, focused listening to those works and others related to them. Typically, intimate familiarity with a piece of music is achieved through multiple intentional listening. Most weeks, listening work will result in a 1 page of writing describing your reactions to one piece you heard.
Occasionally, you will be given a more specific assignment concerning assigned music.
2. Reading of related materials drawn from both primary and secondary sources.

3. At the last session of every section, students will be asked to lead a 20-30 minute presentation discussions. While there are no hard and fast criteria for the topic of discussion, it should be linked to the music and concepts of the relevant section.
4. A final project to be decided by the class as a body, at a later date.

Grading will be determined as follows:

Writing assignments: 40%
Presentation: 20%
Final Project: 30%
Attendance and Participation: 10

Deadlines for all on-going work are set. Late submissions of assignments will result in a 50% grade reduction to that assignment.

Schedule of reading, listening and other assignments will be posted online at the course Moodle site a few weeks in advance. Make sure you check the course page early and often.

Last modified: Monday, December 19, 2011, 9:18 AM