The Post-1945 Music Analysis Interest Group is a discursive space for scholars of 20th- and 21st-century art music, broadly construed. Through its annual meetings and online communications, the group aims to strengthen, support, and develop its members’ ideas and sense of community. It also seeks to bring attention to and foster scholarship on post-1945 music.

Workshop at SMT Post-1945 Music Analysis IG meeting, November 4, 9:30-11:00 EST

6 replies, 5 voices Last updated by Keith Salley 1 year, 4 months ago
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    • #50016

      Robert Hasegawa

      Hello, all!

      I’m honoured to have been invited to lead a workshop/discussion for the SMT Post-1945 Music Analysis Interest Group at our November 4 online meeting, 9:30-11:00 EST. The workshop, titled “Diversity and Inclusion in the Pedagogy of Contemporary Music Analysis,” will focus on issues that many of us have been discussing in the past few years. How can we revise our approaches to teaching post-tonal and contemporary music with an eye towards issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion? What does a more equitable syllabus for contemporary music analysis look like? What challenges and issues are raised in the process of reconfiguring the repertoires, techniques, and theories that we teach?

      While I certainly don’t claim to have found any definitive answers to these questions, I’d like to share my approach towards updating my own teaching as a case study that hopefully will resonate with others’ experiences as well. An earlier draft of the attached document was shared at the Eastman School of Music’s Theory Colloquium, presented in collaboration with Zachary Bernstein, Michael Buchler, and Judith Lochhead. This document begins with a short essay on my approach to redesigning an undergraduate “core” post-tonal course, and continues with annotated summaries of the repertoire covered in three syllabi: an “old-guard” syllabus (based almost entirely on music from the Western post-tonal canon) illustrating my starting point, a alternative “counter-canon” syllabus I designed and taught as an elective course, and a newly renovated version of the core course drawing on aspects of both of these syllabi.

      My hope is that these documents will raise central issues about curriculum design for contemporary music analysis as well as questions about our broader values as pedagogues. I’m hoping to keep our in-person meeting focused on open conversation, and thus will keep my own comments very brief, limited to a quick introduction to this document and what I see as the major challenges in revising our teaching approaches. The posted document closes with four questions for further discussion along with my own provisional answers—I’m including those questions in short form at the end of this post for an online “pre-discussion” before our online meeting on November 4. I warmly welcome responses, comments, criticisms, and additional questions… there’s lots to talk about here and I think the challenges involved are highly relevant to all of us in this interest group.

      Looking forward to talking with you online at our meeting!

      Robert Hasegawa
      Associate Professor of Music Theory
      Schulich School of Music of McGill University

      Questions for discussion

      1. What about graduate classes in post-tonal theory and analysis?

      2. “But on your post-tonal syllabus you left out _____!” (Fill in the blank: Ravel, Schoenberg, Babbitt, Boulez, Carter…)

      3. How diverse are these lists, really? Aren’t these works all within the same modernist strain of Western Art Music?

      4. Doesn’t focusing on such a wide range of music mean that you sacrifice analytical depth in favour of breadth?

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    • #50129

      Sara Bakker

      I’m so excited about this discussion, but I’m teaching then!  Do you know if it will be recorded?  Thanks!


    • #50132

      Keith Salley

      I agree with Sara. This looks really interesting. Regrettably. I’ll be attending a workshop at that time.


    • #50135

      Amy Bauer

      Regrettably this will be 6:30 a.m. for me.  I am very dismayed that many Interest Groups—typically meeting later in the day—have been scheduled so early this year!

    • #50171

      Robert Hasegawa

      Yes, it is unfortunately early for our members on the West Coast! I’ll need to check with Antares and Laura, but I think it should be possible to record the session and share it online, probably through this HC discussion thread.

      One thing I’ll add to my message above: I hope that our discussion, both at the November 4 meeting or on this forum, can include suggestions of pieces that have worked particularly well in our own teaching for introducing or refining particular theoretical concepts or analytical tools. I was glad to find, for example, a movement from Galina Ustvolskaya’s Piano Sonata No. 1 that could be turned into an exercise on set-class analysis with pentachords and a set of pieces by Vivian Fine (Four Polyphonic Piano Pieces) that exemplify canon by inversion… these provided some good opportunities for curriculum diversification while still covering central theoretical concepts. If anyone has similar discoveries, I’d love to hear about them!

    • #50181

      Antares Boyle

      Hi everyone, Thanks for bringing this up and I’m sorry we won’t get to see all of you in the session! However, Laura and I checked with Jennifer Diaz, and all sessions will be recorded and archived for later viewing. I hope some of you will also consider participating in the discussion here on HC before or after the conference!

      I’d like to follow up on Bob’s initial post, not by answering any of the questions he posed, but by adding some more questions/issues that I hope we might discuss, both of which also came up in the Eastman forum:

      I’d love to hear how others have balanced the ethical and aesthetic imperative to teach non-notated musics with the practical difficulties in doing so. Those difficulties involve not only increased preparation time on the instructor’s part, but also limitations due to students’ aural skills/memory and time constraints, since listening to pieces enough to remember them takes much longer than looking at a score. I find transcriptions or other visual diagrams extremely useful on all these counts, but sometimes worry that in using them I am simply reinscribing a score-based mentality or encouraging students to do so.

      I’m also curious to hear how others define the scope of these classes, or even title them! By convention, these classes are based on a distinction between art music and popular music that is somewhat problematic, or at least, difficult to define. I include some jazz and improvised music in my post-tonal classes, but this music is still very much on the art music/”difficult” side of that division, as least as far as my students are concerned. I think everyone in this group agrees on the merits of teaching modernist/experimental/avant-garde music, but how do you go about framing that for your students?




    • #50212

      Keith Salley

      Good questions, Tara.

      I’ve been including transcriptions of jazz and pop tunes, and though we do at times run into the limitations of notation, those just become interesting points of discussion for our students. Then there are simply scoreless listening assignments where students are expected to locate by ear the WT or OCT passage in a certain pop tune. I’ll also add that it can be difficult to find ‘art music’ scores of works by non-male or non-white composers, and scoreless listening works there, too, with guidance and perhaps a transcribed snippet. On the other side of it, I have some pretty neat scores for which there are no available recordings. I’ve begun to enlist undergraduates to make recordings of the do-able tunes (not for sale or distribution, naturally). Their studio teachers are happy to comply. It’s important (I think) that students realize 1) what we’re doing to rectify these inequities, and 2) what we’re coming up against in our quests to do so.

      My class is called ‘Music after 1900,’ and its content is generally centered around ideas that are not related to/dependent on tonal music (which is covered in the first three semesters). I’m pulling from jazz, pop, and art music, but also music that draws from other folk traditions. The idea in creating the course was to not simply ‘pepper in’ jazz and pop around a curriculum that had already been designed around post-tonal music. So, I said goodbye to serialism (which I really used to enjoy—so much about aesthetics in that unit!) and even set theory. We do, however, have a great unit on Developing Variation, where I’ve found an abundance of examples from all kinds of styles. Once I started to really listen for it, I began to find teachable examples everywhere.



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