Academic area graduate courses

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The following is a list of graduate courses offered in the music department. Not all the courses are given every year. Please follow this link to check for courses currently offered: [[1]].


  • Film Music (Christina Gier)

This course focuses on film music composed in Hollywood throughout the 20th century. We learn how music functions in films and identify techniques that make film music effective. We also gain an appreciation for how film music evolved with the changing developments of film styles. Some questions we will ask: What make film music significant? How do we hear, analyze and interpret its narrative impact? What did composers seek to achieve? What is the history of music and film production in Hollywood? How did racial, political and gendered issues come into play in this process?

  • The Songs of Franz Schubert (David Gramit)

This seminar examines the genre of the Lied, focusing in particular on the songs of Schubert. Through readings, discussion, research, and presentations, participants will examine the genre and Schubert’s place in it from several perspectives, including: the Lied as poetry; the Lied as cultural practice; the Lied as commodity; the Lied as music (forms, conventions, and Schubert’s predecessors); and the Lied as musical-poetic art form.

  • American Experimentalism (Christina Gier)

This course explores the trends, styles, and ideas of the diverse composers in the movement of American experimentalism, from Ives to Cage, Ruggles to Reich, and Crawford to Oliveros. We study the historical context of experimentalist’s varied approaches, their aesthetic ideas and goals, as well as important issues of identity and gender that arise in this unique musical practice of difference and creativity.


  • Influences of Many Musics (Mary I. Ingraham)

Music in Canada has developed along a complex path of influences and traditions from many cultures, diversifying and expanding through changing immigration and social policies. The benefit to Canadian music is the creation of a unique cultural milieu within which influences and representations from many sources can be accessed. Much of what we refer to as Canadian music is not defined by any single one or group of these influences, but by the integration of many voices into our musical language. In this seminar we examine the music and artifacts of Canadian composers born outside of this country, and reflect on musical materials from their country of origin, cultural heritage and (where possible) personal recollections of their formative musical environment in order to enhance our understanding of cultural representation in Canadian compositions, and to begin to contextualize and develop critical understanding of the complexity of music composition in Canada.


  • Music, Capitalism, Modernism (Henry Klumpenhouwer)

The course introduces students to basic concepts of Marxism and the various traditions of Marxist cultural criticism, investigating the claims of mode of production theory, and potential of the demystificatory impulse central to Marxist cultural critique. An important element of the course is the study of the ways in which the modern university’s operations condition the nature and purpose of research carried out within it, with particular emphasis on research into music. An auxiliary concern will be to develop a full understanding of Modernism and its dynamics, gauging various historical musical and music theoretical movements as expressions of Modernism or as reactions to it.

  • Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder and Pelleas und Mesliande (Henry Klumpenhouwer)

The course deals with two late tonal works by Arnold Schoenberg. It is tempting to limit interest in these pieces to the light they may shed on Schoenberg’s later developments. Schoenberg himself encourages us to regard the pieces as the germ of his later compositional innovations. While we will not neglect this question, we will be primarily interested in the two works as examples of late tonality.

  • Theories of Time and Meter (Maryam Moshaver)

This course explores attempts to come to terms with the temporal dimension of music. Focus is on theories of time and meter from the early 19th century to the present day, with an emphasis on their philosophical, aesthetic, and ideological underpinnings. Considerable time is devoted to analysis and to close reading of theoretical writings of contemporary composers including Messiaen, Boulez, Stockhausen, Ligeti among others.


  • Beethoven’s Symphonies (Henry Klumpenhouwer)

The course surveys the symphonies from the perspective of formal structural, broadly construed. Part of that broad construal involves taking in account the development of genre (e.g. minuet, finale, the string quartet) and personal style development, always an interesting issue in Beethoven’s music. In light of the complexity of the works involved and the vastness of associated scholarship, the course can only hope to serve as an introduction of students to the symphonies.

  • Schenkerian Analysis in History and Practice (Maryam Moshaver)

This course focuses on two interrelated perspectives necessary to understanding Schenkerian theory. The first is a genealogy of Schenker’s analytical approach—his views on the interaction between the harmonic and contrapuntal dimensions of music from his early writings on Harmony (1906) and Counterpoint (1910) to the axiomatic principles and notational developments of Free Composition (1935). The second area of focus is Schenkerian analysis from a comparative perspective, in relation to the theoretical approaches of his contemporaries, Scheonberg, Riemann, and Kurth.


  • Ethnomusicology of the Arab World (Michael Frishkopf)

This course will survey music culture in the Arabic-speaking world, from the 7th century to the present. Historical and music theoretical approaches will be adopted, but the course will focus on musics of the present day in its socio-cultural context. The course will develop a critical stance towards Arab music, by contextualizing music designated as such within Arab nationalism from the 19th century onwards. We will examine localized musical dialects--urban and rural--characterizing societies and cultures from Morocco to the Gulf, as well as broader mediated forms, and music media, from phonodiscs to videoclips. The relations between music and language, and between music and Islam, will also be discussed. The concept of "Arab world" will be problematized and extended to the diasporic community.


  • Studies in Music and Gender (Christina Gier)

This course considers how music produces and facilitates gendered meanings in our social and musical interactions. We explore fundamental writings on gender, sexuality and musicality and apply these ideas to case studies of gender issues in musical practices from different eras. Selected listenings and texts focus on works from across various stylistic genres and time periods.


  • Music in Conflict (Christina Gier)

The social role of music in conflict is multifaceted. Both a vehicle for propaganda and an agent of comfort, music produces a complex web of power, pleasure and identity. This course explores the nature of this web through the study of musical practices and conflicts over the centuries and within various cultures. Topics will include: historical practices of music in conflict; the practices of singing and government policies on music during WWI in Europe and North America; Nazi discourse on music in the camps and the role of music as propaganda; the impact of the Cold War through music; music and song about domestic violence; music and protest in the age of the Vietnam War; and the use of music within current conflicts.

  • Local Music History: Issues and a Case Study (David Gramit)

The course will begin by looking at several studies of local musical life at various times and places, considering questions such as: Who played? Who sang? Who listened? To what music? What social positions did musicians occupy? What values did music express (or threaten)? After considering the approaches these studies take, the materials they had available, and the results they achieved, the class will undertake its own local study, of musical life in and around Edmonton, from the era of WWI until the Great Depression.


  • Alban Berg (Christina Gier)

This course investigates Alban Berg, his life and his music. How did this romantic-minded, aspiring young poet develop into the composer of complex atonal music we know today? A brief overview of Schoenberg's ideas of modernism and music will contextualize the motivations behind Berg’s musical style. In addition to understanding Berg’s atonal aesthetic, we also focus our discussion on its relation to the cultural milieu of Vienna at the fin-de-siècle.


  • Beethoven’s Last Decade (Mary I. Ingraham)

In the last decade of his life, Beethoven completed some of his most extraordinary music. From the late piano sonatas and ‘Diabelli’ Variations to the last five string quartets and the massive Missa Solemnis and Ninth Symphony, these compositions reveal similarities in musical style despite obvious internal contrasts and dissociation of musical ideas. Beethoven’s mastery of large-scale formal design, his extensive use of variation and fugal techniques, and the increased importance placed on final movements provides common areas for study across these diverse works.


  • Music 614 provides an intensive orientation to a variety of practices within the branch of music studies known as musicology. No such course can claim to be comprehensive, but I have sought to survey a broad range of approaches in both traditional and recently developed areas of study. The course emphasis inevitably falls on areas that have struck me either as producing a large amount of interesting work in the recent past or as neglected and in need of closer scrutiny. The goal is that you will emerge from it conversant with a variety of issues and approaches to musicology and better prepared to evaluate scholarship critically and conceptualize your own research


  • Revisiting Brahms (Mary I. Ingraham)

This seminar investigates the artistic, social and political environments in which Brahms composed his symphonies and choral/orchestral works. Through readings and listening/analysis, we explore Brahms’s musical models, creative processes, personal life and spiritual beliefs, and the role of public performance and reception on his work in his lifetime and beyond. Works studied include the four symphonies, and the major compositions for chorus and orchestra.

  • History in Music: Historicism, Romanticism, Nation (David Gramit)

Since the later eighteenth century, the Western art music tradition has developed a strong sense of history—its own and its relation to the history of the society in which it exists. The goal of this seminar is to explore that historical consciousness and open the way for participants to select and investigate a single topic related to that issue. We will consider how and when the culture of Western art music became historically conscious in this way, the cultural and intellectual context of that change, and several ways in which music and musical life became “historical.” We will also consider the ramifications of that development in subsequent centuries.


  • Musical Lives: Beyond the Great Composers (David Gramit)

Biographies of great composers are one of the oldest (if sometimes not most respected) genres in the field, but little attention has been directed toward either the issues surrounding biography and autobiography in music or the study of the place of music in the lives of other participants in musical culture. This seminar will explore the place of biographical studies in music history. Participants will consider examples of music-biographical literature and the small musicological literature on biography and autobiography; relevant literature from related disciplines, including social history, the sociology of music, and ethnomusicology; theoretical literature on the genres of biography and autobiography; and selected case studies, involving both collective and individual biography—as well as engaging in their own research project.

  • Feminist Theory and Music (Christina Gier)

This course offers an interdisciplinary investigation of the relation between gender discourse and musical practice and style. Through readings and listenings, we explore the implications of the latest feminist theories for understanding the gendered meanings, both feminine and masculine, of music-making. Feminist theorists such as Toril Moi and Judith Butler introduce concepts of body, discourse and subjectivity that will spur and enhance our study of the implications gender in the composition, performance and practice of music.

  • Music of the Weimar Republic (Christina Gier)

The course will explore how musical styles and culture changed in Germany after the First World War when the Weimar Republic emerged. What innovations did composers develop? And, how was the German musical past addressed? We will study the German adoption of jazz, bought over by Americans during the war, and we will learn about the cultural discourses an d musical and social practices that came about before and with the rise of Nazi control.


  • Music 650 introduces students to the professional study of music theory by way of a survey of its long historical narrative from the its expressions in feudal Europe to its modern present forms, as well as from the perspective of its short history as an independent discipline with a well defined research project inside the postwar American University system. Through the reading of earlier theories, students will observe massive changes in the styles of logic and the styles of technical literacy that have characterized music theoretical practice.


  • The Subjects and Objects of Music Analysis and Score Study (Henry Klumpenhouwer)

Music 651 is a graduate-level course that investigates dominant technologies for analyzing traditional tonal and atonal musics, paying special attention to broad methodological questions concerning score study and analysis. Throughout the course, emphasis will be placed on the effective presentation of theoretical and analytical information.

  • Analysis and the Experience of Form in Schumann’s Dichterliebe (Maryam Moshaver)

This seminar addresses some paradoxical aspects of the musico-poetic genre of the song cycle as they are reflected in two listening and analytical attitudes: (a) organicist approaches to analysis emphasizing such categories as narrative, tonal coherence, thematic unity, the dynamic interaction between whole and part; and (b) post-structuralist models attentive to elements of rupture, discontinuity and ambiguity. Readings will focus on early Romantic aesthetics and contemporary approaches to analysis.

  • Intervals (Henry Klumpenhouwer)

The course studies Lewin’s critique of conventional thinking about intervals and interval systems. The central text is Generalized Musical Intervals and Transformations. The seminar undertakes a careful reading of the book on its own and in relation to other writings by Lewin and by others. At issue will the Lewin’s use of the geometric method (more geometrico) as the means for investigating music theoretical questions, his association of conventional intervallic thinking with certain elements in Cartesianism, his proposed escape from the negative effects of the intervallic consciousness, and the reception of these ideas in the discipline.

  • Music and Text (Maryam Moshaver)

This seminar examines the many problems and registers of text-music interaction, with a focus on Romantic and Symbolist repertories of the 19th century. Beginning with the idea of mimesis, where music is seen to imitate or express in its own medium the images and sentiments presented in a poetic text, the seminar will focus on the critiques and transformations of this model in the philosophical aesthetics of the 19th century as well as in the compositional practice of Schubert, Schumann, Wolf and Debussy.


  • Rameau (Maryam Moshaver)

This seminar traces the development of Rameau’s music-theoretical ideas in the context of the aesthetic, philosophical and scientific currents of the 18th century. Rameau’s theory of harmony and the fundamental bass are considered under two aspects: first, the gradual maturing and transformation of his music-theoretical thinking in the treatises published between 1722 and 1754; and second, the turbulent reception history of Rameau’s theory in the company of the Encyclopedists, Diderot, d’Alembert, Condillac, and Rousseau among others. We will also consider the centrality of Rameau’s thought in subsequent theoretical developments in 18th and 19th century France and Germany.

  • Theory, Science and Aesthetics in the 19th Century (Maryam Moshaver)

This seminar explores the formal and ideological intersections between music-theoretical description (as developed in the writings of G. Weber, A. B. Marx, Hauptmann, Fétis, Riemann, Kurth, among others) and the major trends in hermeneutics, aesthetics and Naturphilosophie of the early half, and the new empiricism of the latter half of the 19th century. The course will focus on the dual aspect of music-theoretical construction, on the one hand as regulative and systematic in the context of a continuously transforming harmonic and stylistic practice, and on the other hand, as a descriptive technology responsive to formal innovations and to changing scientific and ideological movements.


  • This course is an introduction to ethnographic fieldwork in Ethnomusicology. It aims at providing students with theoretical and practical instruments to undertake field research and ethnographic writing in preparation for their graduate theses. The course entails an exploration of fieldwork techniques and technologies, and active engagement with theoretical debates and critical perspectives on fieldwork and ethnographic representation involving Ethnomusicology, Anthropology, Sociology and Cultural Studies.