THEORY 651 - Topics in Analysis
Fall 2019, Section 001
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: Music Theory (THEORY)
Department: Music School


With permission of instructor.
Advisory Prerequisites:
Music Theory 451 and 452 and 511 or their equivalent or permission of chairman.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:


The seminar will expose students to the mechanics of modal theory, and its relation to practice, as a point of departure for exploring the broader questions of the nature of music theory and its claim to knowledge. At stake is the ontological/essentialist reading of modal theory, advanced by scholars such as Carl Dahlhaus and Bernhard Meier, that has long dominated the field—namely, the assumption that if there is mode, then there has to be "modal music" and even a "modality.” (At the opposite end of the spectrum, Harold Powers famously argued that mode is “not real,” thus still viewing the topic still in essentialist terms, albeit as an essence to be categorically denied, rather than asserted). As a way of testing such essentialist approaches to mode, the seminar will recuperate modal theory as a historically inflected way of understanding diatonic choices and conventions that are deeply rooted in Western musical culture. Thus, the general premise of the course is that the question whether or not mode and modality are “real” is less important, or less productive, than the question of assessing mode’s interpretive advantages and limitations as a theory of Western diatonicism. Students will acquire familiarity with a representative sample of writings on mode, mostly from the 16th to the 18th centuries, examined against select musical works from the time. Reading assignments will also include recent contributions in the theories of language, conceptualization, and the nature of music theory.

Intended Audience:

For graduate students only. Permission of instructor.


THEORY 651 - Topics in Analysis
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
 In Person
MW 8:30AM - 10:00AM

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