Music 102: Introduction to Music Literature

This is the syllabus for the course as it was taught in a recent semester.
Click here for a guide to style and format (including footnotes and bibliographies) in college papers.
For links to concert listings that may be helpful in selecting the topic of your concert report, click here.
This course provides an introductory survey of concert or “classical” music in the European tradition, from the Middle Ages to the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The course opens with a brief introduction to fundamental concepts and terminology used in writing and talking about music, followed by study of a variety of works by composers including Bach, Beethoven, Verdi, and Stravinsky.
Our purpose will be to discover new ways to understand and enjoy what each of us hears, whether in classical or other types of music. There are no prerequisites, and the course requires no previous instruction or experience in music, music theory, or music notation. You will will not be required or expected to read music, sing, or play an instrument, although if you are able to do any of these things you will have an opportunity to make use of your knowledge when it comes to writing the two short papers required during the semester. The course is open to all non-music majors and to first-year students considering the music major.
Course objectives. At the completion of this course, you should be able to:
• recognize aurally a broad range of types of Western art music
• understand fundamental principles and components of that music
• appreciate the place of that music within its historical and cultural context
• write and speak about that music using commonly used terminology
Work for the course includes reading, listening, two written assignments, a quiz, a midterm, and a final examination. You must also attend at least three concerts of primarily classical music.
Listening to assigned recordings is the most important work. The first paper and the examinations will be based primarily on the listening assignments. Most of the latter are available online.
The second paper is a concert report, a combined research paper and concert review in which you will report on a live concert performance of a major work that you will attend. The choice of concert and work will be up to you. Your concert report will give you a chance to express your reaction to the music and the performance. It will also reflect your own research into the history and background of the work in question. Toward the end of the semester, you will give a short oral presentation based on your concert report. Your presentation will consist of a brief audio excerpt from your work together with your verbal commentary.
Readings are from a textbook prepared by the instructor that will be provided to all students. In addition to reading assignments in the textbook, students are also responsible for weekly listening assignments, done either on CDs available in the library or through Wagner’s online electronic reserves (Moodle).
During the semester you will also be expected to attend at least three classical concerts and to show me copies of your concert programs, ticket stubs, or other proof of attendance. Concert attendance counts as part of your class attendance grade. Many free concerts are given on campus and can count toward this requirement. Your concert report should be about a work heard on one of these concerts.
Class policies. All assignments are due in class on the dates shown in the syllabus. You should come to class prepared to discuss and ask questions about both the reading and the listening assigned for that day. Except in the case of a documented medical excuse or emergency, absences and work received late will earn a reduced grade unless you have made prior arrangements with me.
Email and internet. Do not submit work in the form of an email attachment unless I specifically ask you to do so, and do not send me email messages asking questions about matters discussed in class, in the textbook, or in handouts and assignment sheets; I will not respond to such messages. Written assignments must be based on physical CD recordings, not downloads, and must use information taken from properly cited printed publications, not websites, except as noted below.
Grading. The final grade will be based on the two papers (10% and 20%, respectively), one quiz (10%), aural presentation (10%), midterm (15%), and final examination (25%). Class attendance and participation are worth 10%. Attendance is mandatory, but you are allowed up to three unexcused absences without penalty (except on days when a scheduled quiz or exam takes place). Those arriving in class late or leaving early will be marked absent. Please do not offer excuses or explanations for lateness or absence unless you have a documented medical condition or emergency. It is impractical to give make-up tests in this class; therefore students excused from quizzes or exams will be assigned additional written work.
Music reference books. The Library possesses reference works on music that will provide assistance with unfamiliar terms and names. Two standard works are:
The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2d ed., ed. Stanley Sadie, 29 vols. (London: Macmillan, 2001). The standard English-language music encyclopedia, especially notable for its biographies of composers, including detailed lists of their compositions. The online version, Grove Music Online, is available from the Oxford Music Online link on the Horrmann Library’s page of “article databases.”
A smaller music dictionary recommended for purchase is the Harvard Concise Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. Don M. Randel (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999).
Aceptable online sources, in addition to www.grovemusic.com, are scholarly journals and other serious publications available through JSTOR and other online databases. Do not rely on personal and commercial websites for information or recordings; information obtained from these is often unreliable, and downloaded classical recordings are rarely complete or of good quality. If in doubt, ask me.
The course calendar below lists assignments and topics. Reading assignments are referred to by the required page numbers (“pp.”) in the textbook. Most listening assignments are identified by the composer’s name followed by the title or genre of the required work. Plan to listen to each work and do the reading before coming to class. Listening assignments are done online through the system known as “Moodle.” The dates appearing below are from a previous semester, but the basic organization of the course remains similar to what is shown here.
1    Aug. 29        Introduction. Melody and pitch (pp. 1-6)
2    Aug. 31        Texture, meter, and tempo (pp. 6-14). Listen: examples 1-5
[Sept. 4: Labor Day]
3    Sept. 5         Musical ideas (pp. 15-19). Listen: examples 6-9
4    Sept. 7         DIAGNOSTIC QUIZ
5    Sept. 12       Music of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance (pp. 20-30).
6    Sept. 14       Listen: chant, early polyphony, songs by Machaut and Jacopo da Bologna
7    Sept. 19       Josquin: motet “Ave Maria” (pp. 30-34)
8    Sept. 21       Madrigals by Marenzio and Monteverdi (pp. 35-39)
9    Sept. 26      Film on Gesualdo
10    Sept. 28    Baroque music (pp. 39-41). Monteverdi: Orfeo, act 2. PAPER DUE
11    Oct. 3        Film: Monteverdi’s Orfeo
12    Oct. 5        EXAM
[Oct. 10: Fall Break]
13    Oct. 12      Review exam results
14    Oct. 17      Film: Lully’s Persée (pp. 42-44)
15    Oct. 19      Vivaldi: “Spring” from The Four Seasons (pp. 46-49). CONCERT REPORT TOPIC DUE
16    Oct. 24      Bach: Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue (pp. 49-52)
17    Oct. 26      Classical and Romantic music (pp. 53-58). Mozart: Don Giovanni (selections)
18    Oct. 31      Film: Mozart’s Don Giovanni
19    Nov. 2       Beethoven: Symphony no. 3, “Eroica” (pp. 59-63)
20    Nov. 7       (Beethoven continued)
21    Nov. 9       Schubert: Die schöne Müllerin (selections) (pp. 63-69)
22    Nov. 14     Verdi: La traviata, act 1 (pp. 69-74)
23    Nov. 16      Film: Verdi’s La traviata
24    Nov. 21      Music since 1900 (pp. 74-80). Works by Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Ives
[Nov. 23: Thanksgiving Holiday begins]
25    Nov. 28      Works by Jolas, Wilson, Reich (pp. 80-82)
26    Nov. 30      Final review. CONCERT REPORT DUE
TBA           FINAL EXAM