Ethnomusicology: History & Theory
MUSIC-GA 2136, Section 001
Tuesdays 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Instructor: Maureen Mahon
Course Description: Ethnomusicology—what is this strange beast with the unwieldy name? How does it relate to the other music disciplines (e.g., musicology, music theory, composition) and to the ethnographic social sciences (e.g., anthropology, sociology)? Do its ethnographic methodologies and peculiar intellectual history render it a provincial cousin to (or hothouse subdiscipline within?) the more established disciplinary terrain of musicology? Or does its global scope render musicology a first-world enclave within a totalizing ethnomusicology? How does ethnomusicology articulate with cultural studies, performance studies, sound studies, voice studies, area studies, history, acoustics, neuroscience, ecocriticism, and other disciplines that harbor scholars who study music? And wait a second, aren’t we supposed to be in a post- disciplinary era where the –ologies no longer matter? That last question notwithstanding, in what ways can ethnomusicology—whatever it is and is becoming—serve as a resource for you?
This graduate proseminar is designed to help you grapple with these and other questions. It presents ethnomusicology, minimally, as (1) a horizon of expectations that structures how work is created and received; (2) an intellectual community with a collective sense of self forged in common histories and practices; (3) a network of venues (journals, book series, colloquia, conferences) for the circulation of written and performed work; (4) an institutional matrix (of fellowships, professorships, programs, centers, departments) that supports the creation of work and its propagation through teaching; (5) an expanding body of productive questions, methodologies, theoretical concepts, and scholarly lifeways; and, increasingly, (6) an emergent critical and ethical project vis-a-vis the musicking populations under investigation.
Sem/Tech of Music Composition
MUSIC-GA 2162, Section 001
Instructors: Jaime Oliver & Lou Karchin
Tuesdays 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Course Description: Examination of techniques of music composition as they are applied to the creation of musical works. Compositional practice is studied and evaluated both from the standpoint of craft and aesthetics. Students create compositions, and works are performed in public concerts.
Special Studies: Musical Migration and Imperial New York
MUSIC-GA 2198, Section 001
Instructor: Brigid Cohen
Thursdays 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Course Description: While American music history has often been told as a tale of smooth genealogies and national traditions, this course asks what it means to make dislocation the central story. In the second half of the 20th century, New York crystallized as a “global city” under the pressure of the Cold War. During this period, the U.S. asserted heightened economic and geopolitical dominance, while absorbing unprecedented levels of immigration in the wake of the Holocaust, decolonization movements, and the internal Great Migration. The metropole throbbed as the heart of a new kind of American empire, which thrived on cultural diplomacy and financial aid abroad as well as covert operations and proxy wars—all of which accelerated circuits of migration. Contestations over citizenship took center stage, leading to the 1964 and 1965 Civil Rights Acts and the 1965 Immigration Act. This seminar traces a history of New York musical communities in critical engagement with these transformations.
The seminar will begin with an examination of theoretical literatures concerning migration, diaspora, empire, citizenship, globalization, and the Cold War. Drawing on archival collections of the New York Public Library, the course will explore how these processes played out within a range of specific New York musical scenes, including jazz, opera, electronic music, folk, and more. The latter part of the course will focus on individual musical creators whose lives were defined by uprooting, drawing on students’ own research projects that may incorporate a wide range of methodologies including archival research, oral history, and ethnography.
Special Studies: Música de Vaivén: The Habanera Diaspora
MUSIC-GA 2199, Section 001
Instructor: Yunior Terry & Sybil Cooksey
Mondays 2:00 PM - 4:30 PM
Course Description: The rhythm known as the habanera, recognized as the first written music based on an African motif, has zigzagged around the globe for centuries. In this course we will pay close attention to how and why this syncopation pattern, believed to originate in the premodern kingdom of Kongo, today manifests in a wide range of musics--from opera to afrobeats. Team taught by an Afro-Cuban musician and a black diaspora cultural historian, and offered in conjunction with a series of evening seminars featuring renowned scholars, musicians and DJs, this colloquium organizes a central question--what does it mean to hear diaspora? Master classes and listening assignments are designed to build proficiencies with respect to various genres (including, but not limited to ragtime, reggaeton, tango, son, samba, zouk, kizomba, bolero and bachata) and encourage students to experiment with thinking through music.
Readings and discussions foster cultural literacies and ask us to consider how contact, circulation, and commodification relay a rhythm that carries a place name to so many different places in the world. The transatlantic traffic in slaves, travel, trade, work, war, migration and music industry marketing figure prominently here. How does this va y ven of people and objects, ideas and sounds oblige us to seriously (re)think notions of intangible heritage and sharpen our awareness of the creative and affective forces that shape and sustain afro diasporic musical cultures?