Music 150
UC, Irvine
Day-by-Day Summary

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Review of tonal triadic harmony. Harmonic functions of tonic, dominant, pre-dominant, and other transitional chord functions. Chord arpeggiation singing exercise to aid in memorizing scales and chord spellings for important tonic, pre-dominant, and dominant chords in every major and minor key. Rules for good classical voice-leading in root-position 4-part chord progressions, with practical keyboard examples of those rules. Examples of many 4-part chord progressions that fulfill the classic theoretical model of tonic -> transitional -> pre-dominant -> dominant -> tonic analyzed and heard.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Introduction of course syllabus. Practice of the chord arpeggiation singing exercise, transposed to major and minor keys with one flat or one sharp. Group composition of four-part realization of that chord progression in D major and B minor, with discussion of a few more rules and guidelines for good classical voice-leading. Group improvisation singing whole note chord tones (with note names) conforming to a given repeating chord progression in B minor: i VI6 iiø65 V7. Assignment to analyze passages from J.S. Bach's Partita in B minor for violin.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Chord arpeggiation singing exercise, transposed to major and minor keys with two flats or two sharps. Definition of passing tones, neighboring tones, and suspensions. Group improvisation, singing chord tones (with note names) conforming to a repeating chord progression, first with whole notes, then with half notes, then with unaccented passing tones and neighboring tones, then with accented passing tones and neighboring tones. Discussion of harmonic progression as a conceptual grid guiding pitch choices. Analysis of passages from J.S. Bach's Partita in B minor for violin. Discussion of perceptual streaming in the melodies of Bach. Discussion of performance issues in the violin music of Bach.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tonal counterpoint using chord tones, passing tones, neighboring tones, and suspensions. The use of jazz chord nomenclature as a way of interpreting the tonal implications of any set of pitches.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Planning of songwriting project. Discussion of the role of a composer in contemporary society and the variety of styles and approaches for composing songs for voice and piano. Chord arpeggiation singing exercise, transposed to major and minor keys with three flats or three sharps. Introduction of a new chord progression for an arpeggiation exercise, emphasizing seventh chords, circle of fourths, and VI-II-V-I progressions:

Analysis of the melodic and harmonic structure of Autumn Leaves.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Assignment of composer/singer/pianist groups. Discussion of approaches to songwriting and text setting, focusing on deriving structural ideas from the poetry itself: duration, form, rhyming structure, meter, accent (both within phrases and withing words), mood, emotion, and affect. Analysis of "Un Cygne" by Paul Hindemith, focusing on the rhythm of the text setting and the use of recurring harmonic and rhythmic ideas to emphasize the formal structure of the poem. Discussion of the harmonic series and its role in timbre, harmony, and consonance/dissonance. Discussion of Hindemith's theories of chord roots determined by intervallic dominance in complex chords. Explanation of quartal/quintal harmony and the chord types it produces. Harmonic analysis of the opening passage of "Un Cygne". Discussion and example demonstration of the upcoming assignment, composing using quartal harmony.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Strengths and drawbacks of quartal/quintal harmony; examples of its use in jazz, film scores, and contemporary classical music. Discussion of the conceptual evocative power of musical tropes and clichés and the question of how music expresses non-musical concepts. Analysis of the song "A Nothing On Earth" by Christopher Dobrian, on a text by Bryan Reynolds, composed for the play Eve's Rapture.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Discussion of composing for voice. Discussion of inherently ambiguous pitch structures -- whole tone scale, diminished scale, augmented triad, diminished seventh chord, tritones, stacks of multiple fifths and fourths, etc. Discussion of static, active, and ambiguous rhythms. Analysis of "Gretchen am Spinnrade" by Franz Schubert, focusing on the use of harmonic rhythm, pitch range, and rhythmic motion to enhance the text and control dynamic tension.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Discussion of the chapter "Cross-Domain Mapping" from the book Conceptualizing Music by Lawrence B. Zbikowski -- simile, metaphor, cross-domain mapping (source domain and target domain), cultural mediation and subjectivity of conceptualization, invariance principle, image schemata, and conceptual blending -- and examples of those theories in musical conceptualization. Analysis of students' work in progress. Demonstration of the importance of voice leading in arpeggiation, with examples from Schubert (Ave Maria, Gretchen am Spinnrade), Lennon (Imagine), and student compositions.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Analysis of selected songs for voice and piano: Nana by Manuel de Falla, Beau Soir by Claude Debussy, Bridge Over Troubled Water by Paul Simon, and Branch by Branch by Leslie Adams.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Critique of student song composition rough drafts. Discussion of "exoticism" and "cultural imperialism" in musical appropriation and juxtaposition/blending of different musical cultures. Approaches to novel harmonization of pentatonic melody. Developing accompaniment from initial harmonic outline.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

How is "abstract" instrumental music different from "expressive" or "representational" vocal music? What is "abstract" about music? What is "time"? What is "rhythm"? Who has presented coherent theories of rhythm? Discussion of rhythm as being describable by a conceptual grid of articulated, perceived, or conceived points in time -- and intervals of time -- articulated by sound. The beat is a more-or-less regular articulation of time at a rate generally between 40 and 200 units per minute; the beat can be divided into a set of sub-beat-level pulses, and/or it can be grouped by addition (concatenation) or multiplication. The grid can be constant or it can change its divisions and/or groupings. The grid is inherently tempo-relative, meaning that its absolute time values depend on an ascribed (and consensual) rate. The rate can be stretched by tempo fluctuation (ritardando and accelerando) without losing its integrity as a conceptually quasi-regular rate. Practice exercises for "shifting gears" from one division to another from beat to beat. Examples of rhythms composed using grid notation, which can then be converted into standard notation. Examples of a sequence of steps for performing any notated rhythm.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Discussion of "modernism" and its effect on new models for composing rhythm and pitch. In rhythm, the 20th century saw an increased use of new meters, frequent meter changes, complex beat divisions, and rigorous treatment of tempo (metric modulation, etc.). In pitch, increased chromaticism led to new chord types, free atonality, and serialism. Listened to Schoenberg's String Quartet No. 1 Mvt. 1, Pierrot Lunaire Mvt. 1, and String Quartet No. 4 Mvt. 1. Discussion of 12-tone technique, and practical approaches to its use. Assignment to compose a short exercise in strict 12-tone technique. Analysis and performance of a strict 12-tone prelude for piano (1979) by Dobrian.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Notation and performance of cross rhythms. Performance of "complex" rhythms. Uses of unusual rhythms: novelty and innovation, syncopation for visceral effect, notated rubato, simulation of improvisational flexibility. Initial discussion of synthetic scales and their usage. Introduction to interval class analysis and its use in composition.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Demonstrations of instruments -- woodwinds, brass, and strings -- ranges, limitations, strengths, timbres, playing techniques, effects. Performances of some student-composed 12-tone duos.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

More 12-tone compositions. Discussion of analysis and development of a motive, focusing on intervallic and rhythmic identity of a melodic motive. Theory and uses of isorhythm. Example in Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time, Mvt. I. Composing new examples. What is the perceptual effect of various well known developmental or generative techniques such as isorhythm, inversion, retrograde, aumentation, diminution, interval compression and expansion, syncopation, symmetry, etc.?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Discussion of students' initial plans, sketches, and ideas for trio composition. Discussion of methods of translating programmatic ideas into technical compositional decisions. Analysis and development of motives. Examples of harmonic use of the diminished scale. Examples of cross-rhythms using different pattern lengths for each instrument. Example of pointillistic texture, with control of point density.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Discussion of student chamber music compositions in progress.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving holiday. No class.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Reading/recording/critique of student-composed songs. Discussion of coaching/rehearsing/improvising techniques to improve/refine one's compositions. Techniques for controlling the "dynamic tension" in a composition, at both the local and formal structural levels.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Reading/recording/critique of student-composed songs in Word and Music class.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Discussion of new "21st-century" directions in composition.

Christopher Dobrian
November 29, 2011