Tomorrow I’ll be lecturing about John Cage at Westminster Choir College’s Composition Camp.
Below are some of the pieces we’ll discuss.
Sixty Postwar Pieces to Study
Recently, a couple of the undergraduate composers in the program at Westminster Choir College asked me for lists of postwar pieces to study. Given the vocal and choral emphasis in our program, I’ve compiled the list below to provide a different vantage point. Hence the emphasis on instrumental music and a preponderance of post-tonal composers that they might not encounter when learning their own recital repertoire. Given a different student population, composers like Jennifer Higdon, Christopher Theofanidis, and Donnacha Dennehy could just as likely appear on a listening list such as this.
And, of course, it is frustrating what one must leave out to keep a list manageable in size. Note that I am not attempting to give them the “greatest hits” of the past sixty-five years. Instead I strove for a diversity of selections, both watershed masterworks and vibrantly interesting pieces that merit attention, even if they may not be the first ones that come to mind for the given composer. On a different day, we could come up with sixty different pieces: a composer must be prepared for a lifetime of listening, score study, and learning. Even after that, they must also be humbled by the fact that they will only get to a fraction of all the good stuff out there!
Let’s say that an undergraduate composer began working with this list or a similar one at the beginning of their junior year; listening to and, if possible, studying the score for one of these pieces every week. Between their own performance experiences, WCC’s theory and history courses, and this survey of recent works, by the time that they were ready to consider applying to graduate programs in their senior year, they would have a decent grounding in the repertoire.
1- Adams, John C. Nixon in China (1987)
2- Adams, John C. Chamber Symphony (1992)
3- Adams, John Luther. Red Arc/Blue Veil (2002)
4- Andriessen, Louis. La Passione (2002)
5- Babbitt, Milton. Philomel (1964)
6- Babbitt, Milton. Arie da Capo (1974)
7- Berio, Luciano. Circles (1960)
8- Birtwistle, Harrison. Secret Theatre (1984)
9- Boulez, Pierre. Le marteau sans maître (rev. 1957)
10- Boulez, Pierre. Répons (1984)
11- Cage, John. Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano (1948)
12- Cage, John. Concert for Piano and Orchestra (1958)
13- Carter, Elliott. String Quartet No. 1 (1951)
14- Carter, Elliott. String Quartet No. 5 (1995)
15- Chin, Unsuk. Akrostischen-Wortspiel (1993)
16- Crumb, George. Ancient Voices of Children (1970)
17- Czernowin, Chaya. String Quartet (1995)
18- Davies, Peter Maxwell. Eight Songs for a Mad King (1969)
19- Feldman, Morton. Rothko Chapel (1970)
20- Feldman, Morton. For Samuel Beckett (1987)
21- Ferneyhough, Brian. Bone Alphabet (1991)
22- Ferneyhough, Brian. Terrain (1992)
23- Foss, Lukas. Echoi (1963)
24- Glass, Philip. Satyagraha (1980)
25- Grisey, Gérard. Les espaces acoustiques (1985)
26- Haas, Georg Friedrich. In Vain (2002)
27- Harrison, Lou. La Koro Sutro (1973)
28- Kurtág, György. Kafka-Fragmente (1986)
29- Kurtág, György. Stele (1994)
30- Knussen, Oliver. Where the Wild Things Are (1983)
31- Lachenmann, Helmut. Das Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern (1990)
32- Lang, David. Little Matchgirl Passion (2007)
33- Ligeti, Győrgy. Atmosphères (1961)
34- Ligeti, Győrgy. Violin Concerto (1993)
35- Lim, Liza. City of Falling Angels (2007)
36- Marshall, Ingram. September Canons (2003)
37- Messiaen. Olivier. Éclairs sur l’au-delà… (1991)
38- Monk, Meredith. Songs of Ascension (2008)
39- Nancarrow, Conlon. Three Canons for Ursula (1989)
40- Nono, Luigi. …sofferte onde serne… (1976)
41- Pärt, Arvo. Fratres (1976)
42- Penderecki, Krzysztof. Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima (1960)
43- Reich, Steve. Music for Eighteen Musicians (1976)
44- Reich, Steve. Different Trains (1988)
45- Riley, Terry. In C (1964)
46- Saariaho, Kaija. L’amour de loin (2000)
47- Scelsi, Giacinto. Prânam 2 (1973)
48- Sciarrino, Salvatore. Vento D’Ombra (2005)
49- Schoenberg, A Survivor from Warsaw (1947)
50- Shapey, Ralph. Millenium Designs (2000)
51- Stravinsky, Igor. Variations (Aldous Huxley in Memoriam) (1964)
52- Stockhausen, Karlheinz, Kontakte (1960)
53- Takemitsu, Tōru. From me flows what you call Time (1990)
54- Turnage, Mark-Anthony. Blood on the Floor (1996)
55- Xenakis, Iannis. Pléïades (1978)
56- Xenakis, Iannis. Tetras (1983)
57- Varèse, Edgard. Poème électronique (1958)
58- Wolpe, Stefan. Quartet for Trumpet, Tenor Saxophone, Piano, & Percussion (1954)
59- Wuorinen, Charles. A Reliquary for Igor Stravinsky (1975)
60- Young, LaMonte. The Well-Tuned Piano (1964-present)
I’ll be using the slide presentation below as part of my talk at the upcoming Music Theory Society of the Middle Atlantic Conference (University of Delaware, 3/30-3/31). It will discuss using SoundCloud as a tool in the Music Theory/Aural Skills classroom.
College of Architecture + The Arts
School of Music
Music Technology Program Area Coordinator
FIU is a multi-campus public research university located in Miami, a vibrant and globally connected 24/7 city. Miami’s captivating skyline, tasteful tropical cuisine, vivid arts, historically rich and diverse neighborhoods, trendy South Beach scene, bustling international trade, and youthful exuberance provide a perfect environment for our engaged university.
Serving more than 42,000 students, FIU offers more than 180 baccalaureate, masters, professional, and doctoral degree programs. As one of South Florida’s anchor institutions, FIU is worlds ahead in its local and global engagement, finding solutions to the most challenging problems of our times.
The College of Architecture + The Arts at Florida International University is accepting applications for a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Music Technology in the School of Music.
Responsibility and Expectations:
To apply online for this position please visit https: //www.fiujobs.org. Review of applicants will begin on January 12, 2011.
To ensure full consideration, please submit on line a cover letter, the names and contact information for 3 references that the committee can contact, a complete CV, a philosophy of teaching statement and a vision statement for the area. For additional information contact: Jason Calloway, Chair of Music Technology Search, School of Music, Florida International University,
10910 SW 17th Street, WPAC 143C, Miami, Fl. 33199
FIU is a member of the State University System of Florida and is an Equal Opportunity, Equal Access Affirmative Action Employer.
Yesterday, I travelled to Fredonia University to give a talk about Ralph Shapey and my own music to the composition students there. Had a lovely time and got a chance to catch up with Rob Deemer and debrief about and decompress from the Sequenza 21 concert. It seems like a fine school and Rob is really building the program there into something special. Those looking for a place to study composition would do well to check it out.
Music and Ecology Homework
Read chapters 2-3 in R. Murray Schafer’s Tuning of the World
1) A sound walk is not dissimilar from a regular walk, but the participant(s) is more mindful of the sounds around them. For Tuesday, take a couple of short sound walks, taking note of the sounds you hear around you, paying attention to distance, direction, loudness, variety, etc. Be ready to report on what you heard in detail (it’s advisable to jot down some notes afterward).
2) We all create soundscapes all the time. A soundscape is different from a soundwalk in that, rather than walking through an environment and observing the sounds that are made, we are creating a sonic ambience to our taste. Try a soundscape at home. It could be while you are doing a mundane task, such as cooking or cleaning, or during some other activity (reading, eating, etc.). What sounds do you insert into your environment. Why do you like having them accompany you? Are any of them used to mask other sounds? If so, why? If you could have an environment in which only sounds you “liked” were in operation, what would they be?
3) What’s a spectrograph? What’s noise abatement?
4) What are the principal difference Schafer draws between manmade sounds and sounds from the natural world.
5) What do you think Schafer means when he says that a musician is “an orchestrator of sound?” Notice he doesn’t use the word composer. This has to do with soundscaping and soundwalking.
Today I’ll be giving a talk at the Westminster Choral Pedagogy Institute. I’ve been asked to give a brief introduction to modal theory, including construction and cadences. Below are two handouts that I’ve prepared.
The scores we’ll be consulting during the talk are:
“Ave Maria…” – Josquin
“Why Fum’th in Fight” – Tallis
“O Magnum Mysterium” – Victoria
“Mass in G Minor: Kyrie Eleison” – Vaughan Williams