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University of Bristol
Department of Music
MA in Music
Readings in Musicology
Teaching block 1, Tuesdays, 2:00 – 3:50, Alberts
Unit director: Emma Hornby (email@example.com )
Unit tutors: Stephen Banfield (firstname.lastname@example.org), David Allinson (email@example.com), Jo Hicks (firstname.lastname@example.org).
This unit examines contrasted approaches to music historiography through close reading of selected texts. It examines the status of musical works in history, the rival claims of stylistic and social histories, and the value of reception history.
Readings in Musicology identifies areas of musicological research which demonstrate the chances and challenges of disciplinary self-awareness: key categories of thinking about music, such as autonomy, context, and modernity; the thorny relationship between history and aesthetics; the appropriation of ideas from other disciplines (philosophy, critical theory, literary theory); the discussion of musics or aspects of music ignored or suppressed by traditional musicology (gender, non-Western music, popular and functional music). Such investigations help to understand how and why musicology developed the way it did, the reasons behind and the nature of current debates, and – crucially for postgraduate students – perspectives on the future of the discipline.
By the end of the unit you ought to know an exemplary selection of older as well as recent musicological literature, have a good understanding of important recent and current debates in musicology, and be able to apply the critical tools, concepts and vocabularies acquired in the unit independently to topics and questions identified in consultation with the tutors. These will be demonstrated in your essays.
Weekly seminars of two hours plus individual tutorials as appropriate (to be arranged with the relevant tutors). Seminars will involve a mixture of presentation from the tutors and discussion – tutor- and student-led – prepared by readings.
Two equally-weighted coursework assignments (of 3000-5000 words). You should discuss the topics with the respective tutors before embarking on the assignments.
Please submit the essays via Blackboard (www.ole.bris.ac.uk).
Workload for this unit
The university’s published guidelines on credit weightings assume that a 20-credit unit should involve students in approximately 200 hours of student effort. A pro rata calculation may or may not be appropriate in the case of a 40-credit unit such as this. We advise that in addition to the 20 timetabled contact hours you spend a minimum of 4 hours’ preparation time for each class (including completion of weekly exercises/reading, as appropriate); and at least 20 hours of research time for each assessed essay.
The award of credit points for this unit is dependent upon satisfactory completion of all work required for the unit, (i.e. submitted on time, to the required length and indicating a clear attempt at obtaining a pass mark) and upon attendance at any classes, seminars or tutorials, and/or participation in any activities, which are identified in the unit documentation as a pre-requisite for the award of credit.
In just ten weeks, there are many fascinating and important areas of musicology that we can’t explore together. For those of you who think you will be wanting to pursue this sort of study beyond the topics listed below, we recommend that you try:
Week 1 – Tuesday 11 October:
Kerman and the ‘New Musicology’
This session focuses on Joseph Kerman’s landmark book, Musicology (1985; published in the USA as Contemplating Music). What new approaches did Kerman call for, and which scholarly habits did he denigrate? To what extent was his polemic justified? What impact has this book had, and why is it still considered seminal?
ESSENTIAL READING: For a gentle introduction, see N. Cook’s article, ‘What is musicology?’ from BBC Music magazine 1999, archived here: http://www.rma.ac.uk/articles/what-is-musicology.htm. Then be sure to read the text itself: Joseph Kerman, Musicology (chapters 1 and 2 are a must, but you should read it all). There are two copies in the library, and Kerman’s Contemplating Music is the same thing, just the UK edition rather than the US one. You should find chapter 2 on EReserves (access via Blackboard: www.ole.bris.ac.uk); you will also be able to read (frustratingly) not quite as many pages as you want to on Googlebooks. Emma Hornby has left her copy for you to read in Margaret/Megan’s office.
Also helpful preparation are NewGroveOnline, ‘Historiography, 3’; and N. Cook’s Music: A very short introduction, ch.6 [a particularly good starting point for those who are new to British musicology; this is on EReserves, and the whole book is available at http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=98634365]. Many of Kerman’s essays reprinted in Write all these down are also relevant; you will find this in the library.
ESSAY: ‘Writing about music is like dancing about architecture’ (Anonymous). What aspects of music are easily discussed, and which are harder to conceptualize? How has this problem shaped the ‘positivistic’ goals and outcomes of traditional musicology? What new critical and methodological approaches have been proposed since c.1985 to make our talk about music more meaningful? How successful do they seem to you?
Bonus lecture: If you are new to studying music at a British university, or if your first degree was some years ago, please do come along to Emma Hornby’s first year undergraduate history lecture on Thursday 13 October at 1pm in Victoria’s Room. This will give you a very straightforward introduction to the question “What is music history at University?”
Studying music history at university used to be a matter of getting to know the approved body of notated musical works written by dead white males from Léonin to Schoenberg and beyond, and learning how to say something intelligent, individual and technical about such pieces of music.
It is and it isn't still as simple as that. It is, in that if no-one passes on and refreshes the knowledge, it will get lost, and so perhaps will the music. It isn't, in that the 'works' by dead white males can no longer pretend to represent the whole authoritative scheme of things, as Nicholas Cook's Very Short Introduction makes engagingly clear.
Nicholas Cook: Music: a very short introduction (Oxford, 1998) ASSL: ML160 COO
Michael Talbot’s The musical work: reality or invention? ASSL: ML38.L5 MUS (one chapter is on EReserves, and EH has also left a copy in M/M’s office for you)
Leo Treitler, ‘What sort of story is history?’ in Music and the Historical Imagination ASSL: ML3797 TRE [and on EReserves]
Week 2 – Tuesday 18 October
Journalism and scholarship: British traditions of writing about music from Grove to Tovey
The general aim of the session is twofold: to particularise the study of reception in relation to English traditions of journalism in the 19th century, and to explore the development of English attitudes towards the writing of music history and scholarship from Grove to Tovey.
The class will consider
Essential reading before the class. Choose one or two of the bullet points. The best place to start is with the sheaf of readings (fourth bullet point below), which can be found on Blackboard. Adventurous students will want to browse The Harmonicon and extract a topic for report from its sometimes surprising range of articles, and/or consider the role of the musical supplement in relation to its imagined readership.
ESSAY: title to be agreed with Stephen Banfield
Week 3 - Tuesday 25 October
Great men and their masterpieces: the musical canon
Since about 1800 historians, critics and performers of Western art music have employed a model of music history built around a collection of celebrated works (the ‘imaginary museum’), underpinned by an evolutionary historical model of ‘schools’ of great composers and aesthetic ideals. Many conscious and unconscious values are embedded in this paradigm of music history, and despite many critical attacks upon the ‘canon’, it remains a potent cultural force – and perhaps an essential one.
Using Michael Talbot’s edited collection as our central text, we will examine the canon and related concepts like Werktreue. What are the implications for music which does not conform to this privileged model – music which perhaps doesn’t take the form of a stable ‘work’, or which comes from pre-Classical or non-Western traditions? How have scholars and performers asserted alternative values in the last 30 years or so?
ESSENTIAL READING: Michael Talbot (ed.), The musical work: reality or invention [EH has put her copy in Margaret/Megan’s office – please photocopy the chapter(s) you are going to read. There is also a preview on googlebooks, and a couple of copies in the library ML38.L5 MUS]
Start with NewGroveOnline ‘Canon (iii)’; much of this is also relevant. Advanced readers should look at literary critic Harold Bloom’s The Western canon (there are several copies in the library!) You might also like Lydia Goehr, The imaginary museum of musical works (OUP) [again, EH’s copy is in M/M’s office, and there are copies in the library too]. Those who are not familiar with British musicology could start with N. Cook, Music: a very short introduction (OUP, 1998), esp. chs. 2 & 4.
ESSAY: How did the notion of a ‘canon’ of musical masterpieces arise, and how has it been challenged in recent decades? What are the consequences – positive and negative – of recent assaults upon the ‘imaginary museum of musical works’? Do you agree with Rob Wegman that, ‘in recent years, historical musicology has come close to critiqueing itself out of business’?
Week 4 - Tuesday 1 November
Gender and Sexuality
Aim: To consider the relationship between music, reception and biography where gender and sexuality are concerned.
Learning outcomes: By the end of the class you should
Essential reading: (start with Solomon 1989, which began all the fuss, and follow as much of the subsequent fuss as you care to. Then skip to Brett 1997 to see what a gay man is trying to tell us about musicologists, music, and people’s behaviour).
Tchaikovsky and Smyth: See what you can find and be prepared to report on it. Organise and pool your resources and researches beforehand with other students in the class.
Essay assignment: Make an essay out of answering one, two or all three of the following questions with comprehensive reference to the literature: Schubert may have been gay. Does it matter? Tchaikovksy was gay. Why does it matter? Smyth was a female composer. So what?
Week 5: Tuesday 8 November
The quest for authenticity
One of the most important, energising and controversial developments in the performance of Western art music during the post-war period was the ‘authenticity’ craze. Beginning in the early music movement, this new historical self-consciousness in performance practice eventually changed ‘mainstream’ performance, too. In this session, we investigate how and why early music performers sought to differentiate themselves, and what their new aesthetic said about their attitude to the past and towards contemporary music. We will examine scholarly debates around the concept of ‘authenticity’, and see how he term became discredited while the central idea gained wide acceptance.
ESSENTIAL READING: start with these NewGroveOnline articles: ‘Authenticity’; ‘Early music’; ‘Performing practice’. Thomas Kelly’s Early Music: A very short introduction (2011) is a beautifully written and very straightforward introduction to the area. The key text is N. Kenyon (ed.): Authenticity and Early Music (OUP, 1988), esp. Intro, chs.2 and 6; Chapter 2 is on EReserves, and Chapter 6 (reprinted in Taruskin Text and Act, which you can find through the library catalogue as an Ebook). EH has put her copy of the whole Kenyon collection in M/M’s office
Also of interest is R. Taruskin: ‘The Limits of Authenticity’, Early Music 12 (1984), 3-12 [repr. in Text and Act – look on JSTOR or at the EBook of Text and Act]
ESSAY: Is the quest for authenticity in early music performance and criticism an obligation or a delusion?
Week 6: Tuesday 15 November
Week 7: Tuesday 22 November
Dahlhaus and music’s ‘relative autonomy’
Carl Dahlhaus (1928-1989) wrote extensively on the theory and practice of music history. In this class we will consider some of his best-known ideas as well as the broader debates to which they contributed. In particular, we will reflect on Dahlhaus’s central claim that “the subject matter of music history is made up primarily, if not exclusively, of significant works of music”. Building on this claim, Dahlhaus argued that musical works were ‘relatively autonomous’ from social and political history. However, recent scholarship has questioned to what extent this account of music history was itself conditioned by historical circumstances – particularly Dahlhaus’s own position as a West-German academic working at the height of the Cold War. Seen in this context, relative autonomy might be thought of as a defensive response to the artistic values of (Soviet) socialist realism.
Carl Dahlhaus, Foundations of Music History, trans. J. B. Robinson (CUP, 1983), esp. chs. 1, 2, and 8. NB. You can preview Foundations on Googlebooks; chapter 8 is on EReserves; there are several copies in the library; EH has left her copy in M/M’s office.
Alastair Williams, “Dahlhaus”, in Constructing Musicology (Ashgate, 2001), pp. 14-20. (on EReserves; you’re going to want this book a lot – EH recommends buying it [it is less than £20])
Carl Dahlhaus, Nineteenth-Century Music, trans. J. B. Robinson (UCP, 1991), esp. pp. 1-15. (the whole chapter is on EReserves)
Carl Dahlhaus, Esthetics of Music, trans, William Austin (CUP, 1982), chs. 12 and 14. (there is at least a partial preview on googlebooks; chapter 12 is also on EReserves; several library copies)
James Hepokoski, “The Dahlhaus Project and Its Extra-Musicological Sources”, 19th-Century Music, 14/3 (1991), pp. 221-246.
Anne C. Shreffler, “Berlin Walls: Dahlhaus, Knepler, and Ideologies of Music History”, The Journal of Musicology, 20/4 (2003), pp. 498-525.
Q: Works of art (including musical works) are exceptional objects that demand a different sort of history to, say, politics or economics. Discuss this claim with reference to Dahlhaus’s writings and those of at least one other historical musicologist.
Q: What do we learn (and what don’t we learn) by considering musicological practice in light of contemporary politics?
Q: Is it possible to find historical content within a musical work?
Q: Can music history be abused?
Week 8: Tuesday 29 November
What was musical aesthetics?
The story goes something like this: in the mid-1980s, Joseph Kerman offered a series of “Challenges to Musicology” (see week 1) that marked the beginning of a period of reflection and critique during which inherited values were scrutinised and conventional wisdom debunked. Chief among the casualties of this disciplinary spring clean was the notion of aesthetic autonomy, which was identified as a legacy of nineteenth-century German Romanticism, and dismissed as an obstacle to humanistic scholarship. In this class we will first attempt, via Dahlhaus, to say what musical aesthetics is – or was – before addressing some of the charges brought against it by Bourdieu and others. Finally, we will touch on some alternative ways of engaging with what Krims calls “musical poetics” - particularly the growing field of enquiry into expression and meaning in music.
Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste, trans. Richard Nice (Routledge, 1984), esp. Intro. and Part I, pp. 1-44. [on EReserves, and there are several copies in the library]
Carl Dahlhaus, Esthetics of Music, trans. William Austin (CUP, 1982), chs. 1 and 5. (there is at least a partial preview on googlebooks; several library copies)
RECOMMENDED READING: (to be divided among the group in advance)
Naomi Cumming, “The Subjectivities of 'Erbarme Dich'”, Music Analysis, 16/1 (1997), pp. 5-44.
Stephen Davies, Musical Meaning and Expression (Cornell, 1994), esp. ch. 5. [googlebooks have a preview; chapter 5 is on EReserves]
Terry Eagleton, The Ideology of the Aesthetic (Wiley-Blackwell, 1990), esp. Intro. and ch. 1.
Lydia Goehr, The Quest for Voice: On Music, Politics and the Limits of Philosophy (UCP, 1998), ch. 3. [the book is on full view on Googlebooks; there is one library copy]
Adam Krims ed., Music/Ideology: Resisting the Aesthetic: (Routledge, 1998), esp. Foreword and Intro. [ordered for the library. It is on Googlebooks. Please tell Emma Hornby when it arrives, and I’ll get one chapter onto EReserves at least!]
David L Montgomery, “The Myth of Organicism: From Bad Science to Great Art”, The Musical Quarterly 76/1 (Spring, 1992), pp. 17-66.
Roger W. H. Savage, “Criticism, Imagination and the Subjectivization of Aesthetics” in Philosophy and Literature 29/1 (2005), pp. 164-179.
Roger Scruton, The Aesthetics of Music (OUP, 1999), esp. chs. 1, 2 and 6. [Chapter 6 is on Ereserves; there are several library copies; you can preview on Googlebooks; Emma’s copy is in the department office for you to read]
Richard Taruskin, “A Myth of the Twentieth Century: The Rite of Spring, the Tradition of the New, and "The Music Itself"”, Modernism/Modernity 2/1 (1995), pp. 1-26.
Q: Stravinsky once said that music was “incapable of expressing anything but itself”. Was he right?
Q: For Scruton, the meaning of music is “what we understand when we understand it as music”. What does he mean by this?
Q: Why would anyone want to listen to sad music?
Q: How do you respond to the claim that music is capable of expressing the (otherwise) inexpressible?
Week 9: Tuesday 6 December
Barthes, Authority and Voice
Roland Barthes (1915-1980) was one of the key figures in the intellectual shift from structuralism to post-structuralism (see Williams). Although a literary theorist by trade, Barthes had more than a passing interest in playing and writing about music. Moreover, his work had a major – if sometimes indirect – influence on late-twentieth-century musicology. In this class we will focus on two of his recurring preoccupations: authority (i.e. authors in literature, composers in music) and voice (including, but not restricted to singers). We will also consider how these ideas have been taken up and developed in recent(ish) musicology – notably by Carolyn Abbate, whose early work on opera was characterised by a resistance to composer-centred readings and a fascination with music’s narrative (and non-narrative) voices.
Roland Barthes, “The Death of the Author” and “The Grain of the Voice”, in Image, Music, Text, trans. Stephen Heath (Fontana, 1977), pp.142-8; 179-89. NB. The chapter “The Death of the Author” is on EReserves. There are about six copies of Image, Music, Text in the library (PN37 BAR – both in the general collection and in the short loan collection)
Alastair Williams, “Texts” and “Embodied Music”, in Constructing Musicology (Ashgate, 2001), 33-42; 58-70 [you REALLY need your own copy of this book!].
RECOMMENDED READING: (to be divided among the group in advance)
Carolyn Abbate, “Opera; or, the Envoicing of Women”, in Ruth A. Solie ed. Musicology and Difference: Gender and Sexuality in Musical Scholarship (UCP, 1993), pp. 225-58 [On ereserves, and you can preview the whole book on Googlebooks].
Carolyn Abbate, Unsung Voices: Opera and Musical Narrative in the Nineteenth Century (Princeton, 1991), esp. Preface and ch. 1 [preview on Googlebooks; chapter 1 on EReserves]
Roland Barthes, “Musica Practica” and “From Work to Text”, in Image, Music, Text, trans. Stephen Heath (Fontana, 1977), pp. 149-154; 155-164.
Barabara Engh, "Loving It: Music and Criticism in Roland Barthes", in Ruth A. Solie ed. Musicology and Difference: Gender and Sexuality in Musical Scholarship (UCP, 1993), pp. 66-82.
Elizabeth Wood, “Sapphonics”, in P. Brett, E. Wood and G. C. Thomas eds., Queering the Pitch: The New Gay and Lesbian Musicology (Routledge, 1994), pp. 28-33. [on EReserves]
Joke Dame, “Voices within the Voice: Geno-Text and Pheno-Text in Berio’s Sequenza III”, in Adam Krims ed., Music/Ideology: Resisting the Aesthetic: (Routledge, 1998), pp. 233-46. [it is on Googlebooks; ordered for library]
Q: If the death of the author heralds the birth of the reader, where does that leave the performer?
Q: What would a ‘Bartheian’ musicology look/sound/feel like? Does it already exist?
Q: Barthes the musical nationalist. Discuss.
Q: Consider the implications for feminist musicology of the turn to vocality, performance and the sheer ‘presence’ of sound.
Week 10: Tuesday 14 December
Music, space and place
Over the past 20 years or so there has been talk of a ‘sensory turn’ – including a turn to questions of sound – in a number of disciplines hitherto concerned with matters of space, place, migration, dwelling, etc. Meanwhile, an increasing number of (ethno)musicologists have been drawing on the work of cultural geographers, landscape theorists, urban historians, even town planners . In this class we will attempt to take stock of the relatively new study of music, space and place by reading key texts by both geographers and musicologists. We will also consider the perils and possibilities for musical research of this particular meeting of minds: i.e. how might we re-figure the text/context opposition in light of more nuanced accounts of ‘situated practices’?; do familiar distinctions of style and genre have any spatial manifestations?; does music geography spell the end of music history?
Special theme issue of Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 20/4 (1995), esp. Editors’ Intro. and articles by Valentine and Cohen. [on JSTOR]
Adam Krims, Music and Urban Geography (Routledge, 2007), esp. Intro. and ch. 2. [Ordered for the library. Tell Emma Hornby when it arrives, and I’ll get one chapter onto EReserves!]
RECOMMENDED READING: (to be divided among the group in advance)
Michael Bull, Sound Moves: iPod Culture and Urban Experience (Routledge, 2008). [ordered for library]
Alain Corbin, Village Bells: Sound and Meaning in the 19th-Century French Countryside, trans. Martin Thom (Columbia University Press, 1998).
Steven Feld and Keith Basso, Senses of Place (School of American Research Press, 1996). [ordered for library]
Daniel Grimley, Grieg: Music, Landscape, and Norwegian Identity (Boydell, 2006). [in library and you can preview on Googlebooks]
Andrew Leyshon, David Matless and George Revill, The Place of Music (Guilford Press, 1998). [this is in the Geographical Sciences library, shelfmark N2 PLA, and you can preview on Googlebooks]
John Picker, Victorian Soundscapes (OUP, 2003) [new copy ordered for library]
Martin Stokes ed., Ethnicity, Identity, and Music: the Musical Construction of Place (Berg, 2007). [ordered for library]
Reinhard Strohm, Music in Late Medieval Bruges, Rev. ed. (OUP, 1991), esp. ch. 1. [in the library; on EReserves, and it looks as if the whole book is freely available via Questia.com]
Emily Thompson, The Soundscape of Modernity: Architectural Acoustics and the Culture of Listening in America, 1900-1933 (MIT Press, 2002). [in the library and you can preview on Googlebooks]
Q: Should musicology abandon its commitment to that type of sound we call music, and embrace instead a broader notion of ‘auditory culture’ or ‘sound studies’?
Q: How useful is Krims’s distinction between ‘space’ and ‘place’ for historical musicology?
Q: What are the characteristic spaces of Western Classical music?
Q: What do you make of Alastair Williams’s decision to focus on non-Western music in the ‘Places’ section of Constructing Musicology?
Week 11: Tuesday 18 January
Where are we, and where do we go from here?
Student Presentations on the state of Musicology
Alastair Williams Constructing musicology (Aldershot, 2001)
‘Something wonderful happened to musicology in the last fifteen years or so. The field opened up both thematically and methodologically to such an extent that no one knows what musicology is any more.’
Karol Berger, ‘Contemplating Music Archaeology’, Journal of Musicology 13 (1995), 404
In this final session, we attempt to summarise – or, failing that, take a mobile snapshot of – the state of contemporary musicology, a discipline which has undergone a paradigm shift in the last thirty years. Using Williams’ lucid survey as our guide, we will reprise recent debates, consider where they’ve brought us, and examine likely future directions for scholarship.
Each member of the group will speak on a particular aspect of contemporary musicology, following the structure of Williams’ book (precise topics tba):
Other supplementary reading which may prove useful:
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