Summer Course Description

WESTMINSTER CHOIR COLLEGE OF RIDER UNIVERSITY

SUMMER I 2010

MH433: AMERICAN COMPOSERS AS INNOVATORS

Course Description

From the beginning of America’s history, its composers have displayed a remarkable capacity for experimentation, invention, and innovation. Early efforts by part-time composer Benjamin Franklin and Yankee tunesmith William Billings displayed ingenuity and a willingness to explore and expand the boundaries of received musical conventions.

This trend has continued to the present day, with notable practitioners continuing a path-finding tradition of innovative music-making. This course will discuss the contributions of a number of American innovators, including Gottschalk, Ives, Cowell, Crawford Seeger, Cage, Harrison, Nancarrow, Carter, Partch, Riley, Reich, and others. It will also evaluate reasons for America’s inventive spirit in the musical domain, including societal, cultural, political, and educational factors that have served to support or conversely to provoke and challenge composers in America.

Course Objectives

  1. To learn more about innovative American composers;
  2. To improve oral communication about music history and to work with others in a group;
  3. To apply independent research, critical thinking and writing skills to music history; and
  4. To improve skills at analyzing and evaluating information. (“Information Literacy”)

Required Texts

Cage Silence and other writings Wesleyan
Key and Rothe American Mavericks UC Press
Duckworth Talking Music Da Capo
Cox + Warner Audio Culture Continuum

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