Theory Thursday

November 29, 2012

I have submitted – and am optimistic that it will come to pass – a proposal for a new course. This will be an undergraduate music theory seminar. First topic: 20th century analysis. I recognize this is an involved topic, so I’m trying to think of ways to narrow it slightly.

By way of background, our students get a rudimentary knowledge of atonality and 12-tone music in the second half of Theory IV. I also add a little bit of minimalism into the mix, and the year always ends with an in-class performance of In C.

These are what I’d like you, Gentle Reader, to think about:

(1) Given a seminar for undergraduates, what topics do you think are appropriate? An overview of techniques that would help them with the totality of 20th/21st century music, or paring it down to one to three ideas and working the heck out of them?

(2) The class will meet twice a week for 100 minutes at a time. I am thinking that, say, Tuesday meetings will feature discussion of the readings and Thursday meetings will feature analysis projects. Thoughts?

(3) Any recommended books/articles? I do like Miguel Roig-Francol√≠’s Understanding Post-Tonal Music, but I will admit to a certain bias: Miguel was and is a faculty member at CCM, and was both on my dissertation committee (and always helpful and appreciated) as well as a colleague for a year.

(4) I remember taking Danny Mathers’s Copland seminar at CCM back in 2000, and the seminar included a performance component (though added after the fact and at the instigation of the students in the seminar). Do you think a seminar such as this would benefit from a performance component?

I look forward to the discussion.


an addition

November 28, 2012

I’ve been getting rid of links, but I’ve also added one or two. Of the new links, I want to draw special attention to Dohiyi Mir, the blog of NTodd Pritsky. NTodd is a good soul who lives in Vermont and hosts utterly fascinating discussions on the Constitution. Plus, his kids are good kids.


still more honest than the average mba

November 28, 2012

From the Chronicle of Higher Education comes an op-ed in support of “sports majors.”

The operative model in this case is the major in a performing art, such as music or theatre. I don’t know much about the potential sports classes (though the article does offer an interesting curriculum), but I do know a thing or two about the music major.

I think I’d be OK with this, if it was coupled with a real MLB-esque farm system for the NBA and NFL (instead of the farm system outsourced to the colleges), if the courses had real academic discipline and rigor (as the upper division courses and ensembles of a music major should have), and if the students who took part in the major had a real capstone/senior thesis project (beyond simply playing the game). I could see it as a path to the pros, yes, but also a way to train future coaches and minor-league or semi-professional players. Plus, with the actual farm system in place, a player could decide if s/he wanted to go that route or through the college route.

And of course, one not need major in football studies to play football any more than one need major in music to be in the campus band.

What say you?


more projects

November 26, 2012

As we head into the end of the semester, it’s time to take some stock of how it’s gone.

(1) My classes have been outstanding. The kids eat it all up and ask for more. I’m raising my game, and it feels great. Nice to have to really push yourself.

(2) I’ve been playing again. Been rehearsing and performing with the UMM Brass Ensemble. Who knows – maybe next semester I’ll get in a quartet or quintet. Might be acquiring a euphonium as well, so there’s that.

(3) My Susannah research was quite well received at the SCI Region VI conference, and I am about to submit it to a journal. I also submitted my Jesus Christ Superstar research to another journal, and the Rocky Horror stuff is percolating nicely.

(4) It feels good to be composing again. Ghost Mountains is better than I thought it would be, and I have a couple of commissions coming up.

(5) I am taking on some additional responsibilities at work. This will keep me busy, but I believe this will also lay the groundwork for some nice opportunities. I am also stepping outside of the college and doing some discipline-related service.

(6) My niece Amanda is getting married in just under three weeks. While I am not old enough to have a niece getting married, I shall deal with it.

It’s not perfect; I’m not losing as much weight as I want to, but I’m hoping with some additional income (now that the missus has a job) to get a membership at the school’s gym and get in three or four good workouts every week. Also, Dad has had some weird health issues lately. But there’s nothing here that is really bad, and I’ll take it.


ghost mountains, part 2

November 24, 2012

Here is a cheesy MIDI .mp3 of my new piece for band, Ghost Mountains. If you like it, let me know; I’ll make the score look pretty and get some parts out.



November 24, 2012

Added some links, removed a couple. May not be done yet. As we approach the end of the year, I am getting some affairs in order. Like Michael Corleone, I am getting settling all the family’s accounts before going legitimate.


ghost mountains

November 17, 2012

A few years back, I read about Antarctica’s Gamburtzev Mountains, a range hidden in the ice. The press referred to them as “ghost mountains.”

This inspired a piece of music for wind band, entitled (unsurprisingly) Ghost Mountains. The notes are almost all in; I hope to have it done by Thanksgiving, and will post a cheesy MIDI shortly thereafter.