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Syllabus: MUS 725 (Advanced Studies in Music Theory 2)

Hunter College, Department of Music, Spring 2016

Office Phone:
Office hours:

Professor Philip Ewell (

Hunter North, Room 527
M, 1:302:30pm; W, 5:006:00pm, or by appointment

Section Information
MUS 725, Section 01, W, 6:10-9:00 p.m., Hunter North 406
Course Description
In this course we will be studying works from the twentieth century by composers including,
but not limited to, Andriessen, Babbitt, Bartk, Berio, Boulez, Cage, Crawford, Dallapiccola,
Debussy, Hindemith, Ives, Ligeti, Lutosawski, Messiaen, Prt, Reich, Rochberg,
Schoenberg, Scriabin, Stockhausen, Stravinsky, and Webern. We will be studying various
methods of analyzing works by these and other composers while putting their music into a
twentieth and twenty-first-century perspective. During the term we will study such
compositional concepts as: pitch centricity and motivic cells; pitch symmetry; pitch-class set
analysis; twelve-tone music; serialism; temporality; aleatoricism; neoclassicism and
neoromanticism; and minimalism. It is the aim of this course to introduce the student to great
musical works of the twentieth century and the analytical systems and theoretical concepts
available to grapple with them; in so doing it is hoped that s/he will gain a better
understanding of this vast repertoire.
Learning Outcomes
Upon completion of this course the student will be able to:

Analyze diverse 20th-century musical compositions by means of various contemporary

analytical techniques,
Interpret the results of these analyses in order to explain the compositional procedures for
a given composer with the intention of enhancing performances of the music of such
Describe and discuss these analyses and interpretations in written essay form, and
Compose model compositions based on the techniques discussed in class.

Course Materials and Resources

1. Roig-Francoli, Miguel A. Understanding Post-Tonal Music. New York: McGraw-Hill,
2008. Textbook ISBN: 978-0-07-293624-7. (Hereafter UPTM.) This is a required
text. It is available at the Hunter bookstore. In general bring this text to every class.
2. Roig-Francoli, Miguel A. Anthology of Post-Tonal Music: for use with Understanding
Post-Tonal Music. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2008. Anthology ISBN: 978-0-07-3325026. (Hereafter UPTMA.) This is a recommended text. It is available in the Hunter
bookstore. I will let you know when to bring this text.

3. Blackboard (bb.hunter.cuny.eduhereafter BB). In general I send out an email via BB

after every class, which allows me to repeat important material for absentees and cover
other issues such as exams, holidays, and assignments, among other things. Please check
your email daily and note that you can change your email address in BB if you wish.
4. Sibelius music-writing software. In HN 431 and in the computer lab on the 10th floor
(labs A-D, two Mac and two PC), there are computers with Sibelius. We will be using
this for our compositions, about which more below. Though we do not have Finale on
our computers at Hunter, feel free to use this software for your work if you wish.
MuseScore ( offers free music-notation software if you are interested.
5. Music staff paper and a few mechanical pencilsplease do not use pen in this class.
6. Web Resources:
a. From Databases of the Hunter Library website:
i. Naxos Music Library: classical music recordings.
ii. Oxford Music Online: encyclopedic information on compositions and
composers, among other topics.
iii. Classical Music Library: classical music recordings.
iv. Classical Scores Library: musical scores
b. musical scores from roughly pre-1935.
Three semesters of undergraduate music theory courses, or permission of instructor.
Assignments: 60%
Class Participation: 10%
Final Project Presentation: 10%
Final Project: 20%
At the end of the semester I use a 1,000-point scale to determine final grades. The point total
for each grade category will be calculated on this scale, that is, the assignments will
ultimately be worth 600 points, class participation100 points, the presentation100 points,
and the final200 points.
For the assignments, of which there will be seven during the semester, I will use a system of
checks with plus or minus signs:


(5 points)
(4 points)
(3 points)
(0 points; no credit)

I do not accept late work. The official due time for all assignments is the beginning of class
on the day the assignment is due. Weekly work may include: readings; theory, analysis, or
musicianship assignments; short analytical papers; or short model compositions.
The grading scale for graduate classes at Hunter College is as follows (in percentiles): A+ =
97.5100; A = 92.597.4; A = 90.092.4; B+ = 87.589.9; B = 82.587.4; B = 80.082.4;
C+ = 77.579.9; C = 70.077.4; F = 069.9. Note that there is no C- or D.

MUS 725: Syllabus, Spring 2016

Hunter College, Prof. Philip Ewell

Final Projects:
The final project will consist of an analysis and discussion, in the form of a paper, of a
composition by a relevant composer. I would like to leave some leeway for the choice of
piece, with a few limits (to be discussed in class). Late in the semester you will report
your findings in a 20-minute presentation to the class. The paper should be roughly ten
double-spaced pages (c. 20002500 words), of twelve-point Times New Roman font. All
papers should follow the formatting found in Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed.
The Compositions:
These should be scored for piano, written on a grad staff, and be in 3/4, 4/4, 6/8, or 9/8
time signature. There should be no key signature. In my opinion, the best way to attack
the composition is to do score study. By understanding how great composers crafted
their works you should be able to come up with a composition. It can be shortsay 20
40 measuresand the idea that you are using should be clear. Additionally, please hand
in a brief 300-word explanation of what you did in your composition. I will hand out and
go over some composition guidelines well in advance of their due dates. If you have
further questions about the compositions please see me outside of class.
Withdrawal and Incomplete
Students who wish to withdraw from a class with a grade of W may do so by submitting a
withdrawal form with the required signatures to OASIS by the announced deadline (around
the 8th week of class). Withdrawal after the deadline is allowed only in cases of serious
emergency and must be approved by Student Services. Students who stop attending a class
without withdrawing officially will receive a grade of WU, which is the same as an F.
The Music Department does not support requests to have grades of WU changed retroactively
to W. In the Music Department, the grade of incomplete (IN) is granted only in cases of
serious, documented emergencies, and then only when permission has been obtained in
writing from the Department Chair no later than one week before the final class meeting.
Your attendance is required at all classes. Absence will be excused only if you contact me
beforehand with a good reason, and produce a document explaining the absence. In the case
of an excused absence, you will be responsible for making up any work missed and initiating
contact with those who can help you go over the missed class (including me). Promptly at
the beginning of class I will take roll call. If you are late you will remain marked as absent
in my record book until you tell me otherwise (do so, preferably via email, within 24 hours of
the tardiness). Once youve informed me of your lateness I will change your absence to a
lateness, which is not as significant as an absence. Absences and latenesses will directly
and adversely affect the class participation aspect of your grade.
Class Conduct
Please arrive a few minutes before we begin so that we can start on time, and please silence
all electronic devices. If for some reason I go over our allotted time, please tell meI will
never intentionally hold class over our scheduled time. Also, please do not eat anything
during class, since you will need to take notes and follow along in the textbook and other
course materials. Feel free to bring in drinks (bottles with caps or cups with lids, to prevent
MUS 725: Syllabus, Spring 2016
Hunter College, Prof. Philip Ewell

spillage, are preferable). If you need to leave class temporarily for any reason, please do so
without asking, as quietly as possible.
Academic Integrity
Hunter College regards acts of academic dishonesty (e.g., plagiarism, cheating on
examinations, obtaining unfair advantage, and falsification of records and official documents)
as serious offenses against the values of intellectual honesty. The college is committed to
enforcing the CUNY Policy on Academic Integrity and will pursue cases of academic
dishonesty according to the Hunter College Academic Integrity Procedures.
Students with Disabilities
Students who require special accommodation because of physical, mental, or other disability
are encouraged to contact the Hunter Office of Accessibility located in Hunter East 1124. I
will make every effort to accommodate students with documented disabilities. For
information and appointment call 212-772-4857.

Lesser artists borrow; great artists steal

-Igor Stravinsky (18821971)

MUS 725: Syllabus, Spring 2016

Hunter College, Prof. Philip Ewell

Course Schedule
Feb. 3

Introduction: Syllabus, Class Role, Etc.

Introduction and Ch. 1: Pitch Centricity and Motivic Cells
Scriabin discussion

Feb. 10

Ch. 1: Pitch Centricity and Motivic Cells

Ch. 2: Pitch Centricity and Symmetry
Reading: Richard Taruskin, Catching Up with Rimsky-Korsakov, Music
Theory Spectrum 33/2 (Fall 2011): 169-185.
Reading: Philip Ewell, Rethinking Octatonicism: Views from Stravinskys
Homeland, Music Theory Online 18.4.2 (December 2012).
Discussion of Compositions

Feb. 17

Ch. 3: Introduction to Pitch-Class Set Theory

Due: Assignment 1

Feb. 24

NO CLASS (Ill be at a conferenceMakeup class May 25)

Mar. 2

Ch. 4: Analyzing Atonal Music

Due: Composition 1, based on chapters 12 of UPTM
Reading: Jonathan Bernard, Chord, Collection, and Set in Twentieth-Century
Theory, in Music Theory in Concept and Practice (Rochester: University of
Rochester Press, 1997) (on BB).

Mar. 9

Ch. 5: Drawing on the Past

Ch. 6: Inventing the Future
Due: Assignment 2

Mar. 16

Ch. 7: Twelve-tone Music I

Due: Composition 2, based on chapters 3-4 of UPTM

Mar. 23

NO CLASS (Hunter classes follow a Friday schedule today)

Mar. 30

Ch. 8: Twelve-tone Music II

Reading: Milton Babbitt, Some Aspects of 12-tone Composition, Score 12
(1955): 5361.
Reading: Milton Babbitt, The Composer as Specialist (also known as Who
Cares if You Listen?), High Fidelity 8/2 (February 1958), 3840.
Due: Assignment 3

Apr. 6

Ch. 9: Serialism
Reading: Perle, Pitch-Class Set Analysis: An Evaluation, Journal of
Musicology 8/2 (Spring 1990): 151172) (on BB).

Apr. 13

Ch. 10: Expanding the Limits of Musical Temporality

Reading: Jonathan Kramer, Beyond Unity: Toward an Understanding of
Musical Post-Modernism, in Concert Music, Rock, and Jazz since 1945: Essays
and Analytical Studies (Rochester: U. of Rochester Press, 1995) (on BB).
Due: Composition 3, based on chapters 7-9 of UPTM

MUS 725: Syllabus, Spring 2016

Hunter College, Prof. Philip Ewell

Apr. 20

Ch. 11: Aleatory Music, Sound Mass, and Beyond

Ch. 12: Where Past and Future Meet
Due: Assignment 4

Apr. 27

NO CLASS (Spring Recess)

May 4

Ch. 13: Simplifying Means

Reading: Jonathan Bernard, The Minimalist Aesthetic in the Plastic Arts and in
Music, Perspectives of New Music 31/1 (Winter, 1993): 86132 (on BB).
Lecture/demo on inserting musical examples

May 11

Composition Soire
Lecture/demo on giving a presentation

May 18

Final Project presentations

(Last class meeting)

May 25

Final Project presentations

(Final Exam time, same as normal class time)

May 26

Final Project paper due, by 4 p.m., in my office, HN 527

MUS 725: Syllabus, Spring 2016

Hunter College, Prof. Philip Ewell