Music Theory Electives

Applied Orchestration (Fall 2018)
In this course, students will study the capabilities and limitations of instruments and voices within historical,traditional, and contemporary contexts. In-class demonstrations will be provided by student performers and the instruments’ qualities will also be explored through readings and discussions. Special attention is paid to score preparation and parts extraction. The students will be expected to compose, arrange and/or transcribe short pieces of their choice for a variety of small ensembles. These musical creations will be performed and critiqued to yield the final grade.

Schenkerian Analysis (Fall 2018)
This course will aim to develop an understanding of large-scale musical coherence through a study of the analytic method developed by the Viennese theorist Heinrich Schenker (1868-1935). Many celebrated performers have advocated Schenker’s theories. The conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler was one of Schenker’s most ardent champions; not only did he consult Schenker about pieces he was to conduct, but he also helped finance several of the theorist’s publications. Many other prominent musicians, such as Bruno Walter, George Szell and Carl Flesch, were also interested in Schenker’s work. In Bruno Walter’s autobiography, the conductor wrote that “under the influence of the writings of the profound theorist and musical philosopher Heinrich Schenker, I became aware of what I had missed and began to grasp the theoretical problems; or rather they grasped me, they even fascinated me.”

Through the analytic techniques learned in this course, students will gain a deeper understanding of how the principles of harmony and counterpoint operate in tandem, and determine the criteria for structural coherence in music of the common-practice period. In the process of doing so, students will be introduced to the analytic system of graphic notation developed by Heinrich Schenker. In doing so, they will not only gain an understanding of graphic analysis, but also to relate musical analysis in helping to make interpretive decisions.

Schenker: Five Graphic Music Analyses
Schenker: The Masterwork in Music
Jonas: An Introduction the Theory of Heinrich Schenker

Analysis Seminar (Spring 2019)
In this course, students will undertake an in-depth analysis of a major work from the 20th or 21st century, with a preference for a major work being performed by the Curtis Symphony Orchestra in the current academic year. Students will receive a full score for the work, which they can mark and keep at the end of the semester. Students will learn about the history and the context of the work, and do a complete, page-by-page analysis. Many students will go on to perform the work with significantly greater understanding. (Specific repertoire to be announced.)

The Analysis of Fugue (Spring 2019)
It has often been remarked that fugue is not a form, but a texture. Yet fugues have conventional outlines, and formal schemes have been devised by a host of theory pedagogues, ranging from Cherubini to Gedalge and Prout. Donald Francis Tovey admonishes against this “jelly mold” approach, and remarks that “the formal rules given in most technical treatises are based, not on the practice of the world’s greatest composers, but on the necessities of beginners.” Despite the distinctive features of the genre, fugues are not organized differently from other types of compositions. As Robert Schumann noted, “I know of a connoisseur of music who once mistook a Bach fugue for a Chopin etude – to the honor of both.” This seminar will examine fugue through the study of examples from J. S. Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, known as the “48.” Dubbed “the Old Testament” by the eminent 19th-century pianist and conductor Hans von Bülow, The Well-Tempered Clavier has been justifiably regarded as one of the monuments of Western music. The seminar will begin by examining the techniques of imitation, beginning with strict canon, and proceed through a survey of the traditional compositional procedures associated with fugue, such as stretto, augmentation, diminution, and invertible counterpoint. After classifying the different types of fugue, the seminar will focus upon the analysis of individual fugues, concentrating in particular on the multifaceted possibilities that these imitative procedures have in expressing a fugue’s intricate voice-leading. Supplementary readings will range from instructional manuals by Bach’s contemporaries, such as Kirnberger and Fux, to individual analyses by Riemann, Schenker, Schachter, Renwick, and Dreyfus, as well as Tovey’s illuminating commentaries for all 48 fugues.