A number of Freshman Seminars are offered on a regular basis. They include:
Music 001: Exploring the Nature of Genius.
Manifestations of genius explored in the works of selected creators: Hildegard (of Bingen), Brunelleschi, Leonardo da Vinci, Shakespeare, Mozart, Picasso, and Stravinsky. A rudimentary introduction to medieval chant; Renaissance art, architecture, and drama; music of the classical period; and avant-garde painting and dance of the twentieth century. Introductory studies in cognitive psychology, focusing on the phenomenon of the prodigy and the nature of exceptional artistic creativity. Historical readings reveal the “what” of genius, while psychological studies may shed light on the “why” and the “how.”
Music 002: The Role of the Performer in the Musical Experience.
Professor Michael Friedmann.
Various models of the role of the performer in the composer-performer-audience partnership that comprises the musical experience; the music of Beethoven used as a case study. Audio and video recordings are used to introduce concepts of interpretation, stylistic approaches associated with specific historical periods, the performer as intermediary for the composer’s wishes, and the performer’s use of repertoire as a platform for personal expression.
Music 007: Noise.
Professor Brian Kane.
The topic of noise as an introduction to the problems of sound and signification. The surplus of information in white noise, and the meaning perceived when noise is filtered. Contexts in which noise has become filtered for political and aesthetic ends. Topics include sound poetry, literature, electronic music, noise pollution, and consumption.
Music 008: Music Cultures of the World.
Professor Michael Veal.
An introduction to selected music cultures of the world, including those of South Asia (Hindustani and Carnatic classical music), Indonesia (Balinese, Javanese, and Sundanese gamelan), West Africa (traditional musics of Ghana, Mali, and Guinea), and the Caribbean (Cuba and Jamaica).
Music 009: Cognition of Musical Rhythm.
An introduction to musical rhythm from the perspectives of music theory and psychology. Emphasis on issues raised by compositional developments in twentieth-century music. Cognitive limits on the perception of temporal structures; relations between rhythmic perception and action; the roles of entertainment, attention, and memory; the nature of polymetric experience.
Music 012: 1000 Years of Love Songs.
Professor Anna Zayaruznaya.
History of the love song in Western culture from the twelfth-century troubadours to contemporary popular hits. Music and the shifting social constructions of desire over the past millennium. The song repertory’s engagement with ideas and movements such as courtly love, humanism, romanticism, sexual libertinism, and the LGBT rights movement.
Music 020: Conduction Ensemble.
Professor Michael Veal.
Exploration and elaboration of the conduction (i.e. conducted improvisation) methods of Lawrence “Butch” Morris (1947–2013). Ensemble rehearsals; weekly listening assignments to familiarize students with different approaches to improvised music; assigned readings that provide historical context for students’ musical work. Players of all instruments and skill levels are welcome.
Music 021: Music and Human Evolution.
Professor Ian Quinn.
The question of whether the human capacity for music is an evolutionary adaptation or a form of nonadaptive pleasure-seeking built on faculties adapted for other purposes. Evaluation of evidence and arguments pertaining to this question from evolutionary psychology; the relationship between the scientific study of the origins of music and musical aesthetics.
Music 023: Music and Melancholy.
Melancholy and its influence on Western music from the Middle Ages through the present day. Melancholy and artistic genius; melancholy, idleness, and immobility; and melancholy as sadness and fear “without cause.” How music functions as melancholy’s private symptom (the composer as melancholic, music as melancholy’s product, expression, or depiction); melancholy’s public agent (melancholy as trend, style, public persona, cultural capital); and melancholy’s cure or coping mechanism (concepts of musical genius and the restorative powers of the creative act).
Music 095: Creativity, Music, and Technology.
Professor Kathryn Alexander.
The developmental history of technology in music creativity, with attention to aesthetics, invention, and repertoire. Focus on genres of technological music, including electroacoustic, musique concrete, synthetic, tape, electronica, and interactive performance, as well as sound design in visual media.