Welcome to MSH 334: Music Since 1945!

What does it mean to be a composer today? What legacy does “Classical” music of the past retain and what new meanings for music are artists creating today? What meaning does “art” music have and are the (imagined) boundaries between “art” and “popular” music still valid? How can we listen to and make sense of contemporary music when all the “rules” and skills we develop for old music no longer seem valid?

These are just some of the questions we’ll explore in this seminar course devoted to music of our time. We’ll begin with a step back into the world immediately after the Second World War and end with music created in the past couple of years.

This history seminar is designated “Writing Intensive”. As you may already know, all of my courses are “writing intensive” in some way, whether formally or informally. I believe it is important that we, as musicians, develop ways of expressing ourselves not only in the non-verbal medium of music, but in writing about our music as well. We write for a variety of reasons: to relate an experience in a concert review, to gain funds for performances or study, to explain music’s shape and context in programs and recording liner notes. Our writing should demonstrate the same level of excellence that we expect from a polished musical performance.

This semester will focus on two skills related to writing about music itself: professional and public writing about new music in the form of concert reviews and blog postings, genres of writing that musicians find themselves facing with increasing frequency today. The other skill is “low-stakes”: using writing to train our ears to listen carefully to new sounds.

We will also work collaboratively on performances of “new” music, culminating in a concert.

Expectations and Commitments

Attendance and participation are important for this class.  When you commit to this course, you make a commitment to yourself and to the rest of the class community that you will attend and participate in every meeting. You will arrive on time with your book of scores (or access to electronic versions you can work with). You will attend rehearsals that your group organizes, and you will participate in the online learning community with respect.

You can expect to listen to a variety of music in this course, much of which you have likely never heard before. I expect only that you keep an open mind and ask questions whenever you encounter something you do not understand. As with learning a second (or third) language, learning about music takes time, dedication, and practice. You can expect timely responses to e-mails and as much support in learning the material as possible. In general, the more effort you make to seek help, the more effective it will be.

My commitment is to offer class sessions that are worth attending (you should let me know if I’m not doing this!) and that help you meet the learning goals and skills for the course.

A decision to take this course is a decision to:

  • read from the textbook weekly
  • listen and respond to the assigned music weekly
  • keep up to date with assignments and start them early
  • come to class with questions or problems to solve
  • participate with your classmates in our musical and online community
  • seek help as soon as you feel you are falling behind or not understanding something

Course Information

MSH 334: Music Since 1945. 3 hours, 3 credits. Western music from 1945 to the present. Topics include such major artistic movements of the period as Modernism, Serialism, and Minimalism. Attention to issues of notation and performance. Various topics in American music, including Jazz, “Third Stream,” and musical theatre. PREREQ: MSH 200; MST 100 or its equivalent; ability to read music. Meets Mondays and Wednesdays 9:30-10:45am in SP 206.

Instructor Information

Dr. Janette Tilley; Office: Music 201; (718-960-7112) email: janette.tilley@lehman.cuny.edu Office Hours: Mondays and Wednesdays 11-1:45 and by appointment.