Music Theory


T658 Music Genre, Design, Structure, and Discontinuity

Prof. Marianne Kielian-Gilbert

MW, 1:00-2:15 p.m., Simon 340

Recent music scholars (e.g., Abbate, Dreyfus, Kallberg, Newcomb, Treitler) have explored genre as a relation between artworks and their reception--analogous to a contract between author and reader. Music genre refers to both musical category and social construct—to a class or category sanctioned by convention, deriving from specific musical works and practices, and also to an orienting framework of aesthetic experience. The "repetitions" of genre, as Jim Samson has noted, are located "in social, behavioural, and even ideological domains as well as in musical materials" (Groves II). The shift is from understanding genre in terms of classification to its terms of function, rhetoric, discourse, and play of meaning and reference. Moreover this shift resonates with ongoing efforts to understand expressions of music structure in relation to and as a function of different contexts of reception.

This seminar will explore variable relationships of design (motivic, associative relationships), structure (hierarchical and processive organization), and discontinuity (the role of reversal, non-linear thinking, juxtaposition) in music analysis in light of such broader conceptions of genre. How are social aspects (e.g., gender, sexuality, voice, identity, music and the body) implicated in various musical practices or in the analyses that seek to characterize those practices? How do perspectives of the listener, of multiple subject positions, or of revisionist strategies and mixed genres, shape experience and interpretation? Repertoire will include twentieth-century and non-canonic music.

Text: Rethinking Music, ed. Nicholas Cook and Mark Everist. Oxford, 2001.

Course requirements: readings, class discussion, short reaction papers or reports on issues arising in the readings, one major seminar paper and class presentation. For T557, prerequisites are T550 and T551.