Music History III (1850–Present) (undergraduate)
This course is a survey of practices of creating and performing music from the middle of the nineeteenth century until today, primarily in Europe and North America. This class provides an opportunity for you to build a solid foundation of knowledge in music that has strongly influenced the history of our culture and embodies its values. Our emphasis is primarily on music played in concert halls and opera houses, which has developed into a canon of frequently performed and studied pieces—that is, Classical music. But we will also trace, to a more limited extent, the development of popular music of different kinds; and we will look at all of this music from a global perspective.
Much of your work in the course should consist of close and repeated listening and score study. The assignments will develop your skills in research and in the art of writing, providing you with skills that will be essential in all your future work.
The class provides a framework designed to equip and challenge you to meet these goals:
- To increase your knowledge and appreciation of historically significant music and musicians of the modern era
- To understand how the most characteristic forms and techniques developed over time
- To think critically about music's changing role in society, particularly the responsibility of musical artists to their community
- To build your skills at listening closely to sounds and ideas from others (past and present) and responding with your own ideas through clear, effective, responsible communication in writing and speech
Research Materials and Techniques (graduate)
This course equips students with principles and techniques of research and writing that will be needed for further graduate studies at USC, and, more importantly, throughout your career in music or in any other field. Students will become familiar with the most important types of research and writing about music, including different types of research sources and methods for working with them. Projects include finding new repertoire, editing music and using music editions critically, analyzing and interpreting music, and working with primary archival sources. The course will also provide you with a basic toolbox of technological skills for research and writing.
Research and writing are skills that you will continue to improve throughout your life. The minimum goal of this course is (1) to make sure that your skills and knowledge meet a sufficient standard for future coursework at USC; and (2) to make sure that whatever your starting point (even if you start with considerable experience), you progress to a higher level of critical reading and persuasive, clear communication.
Music in New Worlds: Global Music in the Age of Discoveries (graduate)
After 1492, Europeans and other peoples around the globe began to discover each other in new ways, and music played a vital role in their cultural encounters. Through case studies in Africa, Asia, and America, the course will consider how missionaries combined European and indigenous musical cultures, and how colonial leaders used music to build new societies. We will also examine the ways that colonial subjects responded creatively, in collaboration or resistance, using music to shape their own hybrid identities.
Readings include recent musicological research as well as studies from early modern history and art history, and primary sources such as travellogues, European and native chronicles of conquest, and missionary documents. The music studied will include the European and European-influence music that was performed in colonial contexts from the late fifteenth to the early eighteenth centuries, as well as the native musical practices from before and during the colonial period (in many cases extrapolating from contemporary oral traditions and fragmentary historical accounts). The class will emphasize experiencing these musical practices through performance.
The European-style music includes regional dialects of plainchant and ppractices of improvised polyphony; polyphonic masses and motets by composers such as Palestrina, Francisco Guerrero, Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla, Juan Hidalgo, Tomás de Torrejón y Velasco, Ignacio de Jerúsalem, and Domenico Zipoli; and villancicos and other vernacular music by these same composers and from traditional sources.
Local musics include Karnatak music of South India, and traditional songs and dances of the Bantu-speaking peoples of Angola and their descendants in Brazil, and songs of the Mexica (Aztecs) and peoples indigenous to North America. We will seek a truly global perspective on music in the age of discoveries.
The course provides students with an opportunity
- to develop a global perspective on music in the early modern era (rather than a Eurocentric vision focused on works of great masters);
- to understand how music works as an agent of political and religious power in processes of cultural encounter, exchange, and hybridization (rather than conceiving of music solely as an abstract aesthetic object for present-day use); and
- to develop research, writing, and oral presentation skills useful for careers in performance or academics.
Music History II, 1680 to 1850 (undergraduate)
- Second part of sequence for undergraduate music majors
Seminar in Musicology: Popular Song in Religious Devotion, 1500–1800 (graduate)
This class, open to any doctoral students, will consider the role of singing in popular religious devotion during the early modern period. The class will consider how widely practiced musical customs in common or lower-class culture served to express and define religious beliefs and shape communities. We will approach these musical and spiritual community practices using methods from musicology, ethnomusicology, religious studies, anthropological ritual studies, and social history. We will examine the close relationship between music publications and contemporary devotional literature. We will also consider how popular devotional practices informed and were influenced by more cultivated or elite forms of religious music.
The class will focus on four case studies:
- Lutheran hymns and
- Reformed Psalm singing and its descendents: The
Old Way of Singing,
Dr. WattsSinging in African-American communities, shape-note singing
- Music on the Spanish and Portuguese missions
- Villancicos in Latin America and Spain
Students will write major research papers, suitable for publication in an academic journal, on any related topic. Students outside the school of music are especially welcome. The class will recreate and experiment with these practices first-hand. At the same time, the musical materials studied will be primarily simple melodies, so no musical knowledge is required.
Music History I, Antiquity to 1680 (undergraduate)
- First part of history sequence for undergraduate music majors
- Tracing the development of music in Europe and its colonies
Music of the Baroque Era (graduate)
- For graduate students
- Functions, structures, and meanings of music in Europe and its colonies, from the birth of opera to the birth of Mozart
- Editing and performing music from original notation