Graduate Seminar Offerings 2019-2020

Offerings are organized below by area, but students are encouraged to explore seminars under all headings.

Registration in seminars is usually limited to 12 students per class (14 for Performance Practice (MUPP) and Performance (MUPG) seminars. In cases where too many students have registered for a seminar, some students may be asked to drop the course.

The following priority list will be followed:

  1. Music students in a specific program for whom the seminar is required and who need the seminar to graduate in the year in which it is offered.
  2. Music students in a specific program for whom the seminar is required.
  3. Music students in a specific program for whom the seminar is an elective seminar.
  4. Other McGill students in graduate programs (music and non-music).
  5. Visiting graduate students.
  6. McGill undergraduate music students who have the necessary prerequisites.
  7. Other McGill undergraduate students who have the necessary prerequisites.
  8. Visiting undergraduate music students.
  9. Special Students.

If you cannot register on MINERVA for a course you would like to take, contact the instructor by email to indicate your interest and attend the first class.

DO NOT REGISTER FOR MORE THAN 2 seminars per semester.


Seminars in the Department of Music Research
(Complementary Seminars for Performance Students)
Fall 2019


This course will follow an atypical schedule throughout the year. See specific dates below.

MUGS 675 Special Project D1/D2– CRN 27880 | Dean’s Visiting Chair: Aaron Williamon

Topic: Performance Science and Psychology

This course introduces you to recent advances in the science and psychology of music performance, examining research on physical and mental processes that underpin effective learning and performance as well as individual, social and cultural factors that interact with these processes. We begin by considering music as a fundamental part of human thought and behaviour. What are the evolutionary origins and functions of music? What power does music have over our moods and emotions? We then examine music production and perception. What does it take to become an expert musician? How are the very best performers able to define (and redefine time again) the upper limits of human intellectual and motor achievement? How do we evaluate, assess and consume musical performances today, and how can performers influence these processes? Throughout the course, we will take an interdisciplinary approach, experiencing performance and its effects first hand.

The course aims to enable you to develop critical and analytical resourcefulness and to gain broad awareness of the psychological skills and processes that facilitate effective practice and successful performance. You should develop the means to shape an individual plan of study, manipulating and integrating knowledge gained from a variety of psychological and other scientific sources. Evaluation will be based on class preparation/participation, a presentation on an agreed topic, a viva voce (interview) on topics drawn from the course, and a final project/paper on a topic related to applied performance science and psychology.


  • Sept. 21: 10:00am-4:00pm (A-510)
  • Sept. 23: 4:30-7:30pm (A-510)
  • Sept. 25: 4:30-7:30pm (A-512)
  • Dec. 1: 10:00am-4:00pm (A-832)
  • Dec. 3: 4:30-7:30pm (A-510)
  • Dec. 5: 4:30-7:30pm (A-510)
  • Feb. 16: 10:00am-4:00pm (A-832)
  • Feb. 18: 4:30-7:30pm (A-512)
  • Feb. 20: 4:30-7:30pm (A-512)
  • March 22: 10:00am-4:00pm (A-832)
  • March 24: 4:30-7:30pm (A-512)
  • March 26: 4:30-7:30pm (A-512)


MUCO 631 Seminar in Composition 1  – CRN 27880 | 3 credits | Professor Melissa Hui | Fall

Topic: Sounds and Silence: The New York School

The early 1950s in New York City was a heady time for the arts. An informal group of musicians, artists, poets and dancers gathered regularly for intense exchanges of ideas. The result was one of the most original movements in twentieth-century music. This seminar will examine the music of the New York School, with an emphasis on the works, attitudes and intentions of John Cage, Morton Feldman and Earle Brown. Of particular interest will be the evolution of the composers’ aesthetic and ideological perspectives, their connection with the Abstract Expressionist artists, and the conception of time, especially in the late works of Morton Feldman. Participants are encouraged to investigate further in the broader context of the American experimental tradition. Evaluation will be based on participation in discussions, short assignments, class presentations, and a final research paper.

Music Education

MUGT 610 Seminar-Music Education 1 – CRN 22883 | 3 credits | Professor Lisa Lorenzino | Fall

Topic: The History of Music Education in North America

This seminar will look at the various factors that influenced the development of music education in Canada and the United States. Related yet distinct, the two countries share similar philosophies of music education yet the embodiment of these philosophies have followed a unique course of history in each nation.

In depth study of the history of music education in the United States will focus on topics such as music in the Spanish missions, Rote versus Note Movement, and Singing Schools. In contrast the study of Canadian music education will emphasize the influence of British, Scottish, and French traditions upon early schooling. A discussion of the influence of American music education upon Canada will also be investigated. The course will also include a brief introduction to the philosophical foundations of schooling in both nations.

Student evaluation will include academic papers, in-class presentations, and projects.


MUHL 681 Seminar in Musicology 2 – CRN 27890 | 3 credits | Professor Julie Cumming | Fall

Topic: Madrigal, Motet, Frottola, Villotta, and Chanson in Florence, 1500-1530: Revisiting the Origins of the Madrigal

The origin of the madrigal is a recurring topic in musicology. Did it evolve out of the frottola (Einstein 1949), the chanson and motet (Fenlon and Haar 1988) or Florentine song (A. Cummings 2004)? We will investigate this topic, with a special focus on music in Florence and Florentine sources c. 1500-1530. Topics will include: research tools and skills for Renaissance music; the Questione della musica (the debate about which kind of Italian was appropriate for new Italian literature equal to that of the ancients); Florentine culture in the early sixteenth century; what print and manuscript sources can tell us about genre; style features of different genres; compositional process, including use of improvisatory techniques; and approaches to analysis. Readings will include articles and books by Albert Einstein, Anthony Cummings, Giuseppe Gerbino, James Haar, Iain Fenlon, Martha Feldman, Susan McClary, and Laura Macy. Students will do a series of presentations: on a musical source, on secondary literature, and on a comparison between two pieces. There will be a final research paper presented to the class and developed in a series of drafts.

MUHL 682 Seminar in Musicology 3  – CRN 20832 | 3 credits | Professor David Brackett | Fall

Topic: Musical Genres in Theory and Practice

This seminar will provide an introduction to genre-related studies of music through representative writings on music in conjunction with background readings from other disciplines. It will also serve as an introduction to current trends in the fields of popular music studies, cultural studies, and interdisciplinary musicology. Evaluation will be based on presentations, commentaries on selected readings, listening assignments, and video material; and a fifteen- to twenty-page (minimum) seminar paper on a topic of your choice that will serve as a basis for a thirty-minute presentation.

Music Technology

MUMT 605 Digit Sound Synth&Aud Process  CRN 13993| 3 credits | Professor Philippe Depalle | Fall

Topic: Digital Sound Synthesis and Audio Processing

Most digital sound synthesis methods and audio processing techniques are based on the spectral representation of sound signals. This seminar starts with a theoretical and practical study of spectral representation, spectral analysis, and spectral modification of sound signals. Digital sound synthesis and sound processing techniques are then presented as specific spectral modeling or alterations from which their capabilities, properties, and limitations are deduced. Techniques explored in this context include the phase-vocoder, additive synthesis, source-filter synthesis, non-linear (distortion) processing, and audio effects. Available Computer Music software and ad hoc pieces of software are used as examples and illustrations. Evaluation will be based on two assignments (25% each), one in-class presentation (15%), and a final project (35%).

MUMT 616 Timbre Form-Bearing Dim in Mus | – CRN 27886 | 3 credits | Professor Stephen McAdams | Fall

Topic: Timbre Form-Bearing Dimension in Music

This seminar explores music theoretic, performance-related, psychophysical, and cognitive perspectives on musical timbre and its role as a bearer of musical form, with particular emphasis on the perceptual results of orchestration practice. Evaluation will be based on active participation in class discussions and student-led debates [20%], a 20-minute in-class presentation of an individual project followed by 15 minutes of discussion [20%], and two 45-minutes in-class presentations of group projects (one on analyses of selected pieces of music [25%], one on the results of a thought experiment involving those pieces [35%]), followed by 30 minutes of discussion.

MUMT 620 Gestural Control of Sound Syn. | – CRN 27887 | 3 credits | Professor Marcelo Wanderley | Fall

Topic: Gestural Control of Sound Synthesis

This seminar examines the use of computers as part of novel digital musical instruments, including physical gestures and actions, design and evaluation of new interfaces for musical expression, and mapping strategies between gestures and sounds. Basic knowledge of sound synthesis methods is required. Evaluation will be based on summaries of papers, student presentation, project proposal, and a project presentation.

Music Theory

MUTH 652 Seminar in Music Theory 1 – CRN 22311 | 3 credits | Professor Robert Hasegawa | Fall

Topic: Theorizing Timbre

ong dismissed as a "secondary parameter," timbre has become increasingly central to contemporary musical practice and scholarship. This seminar will confront the challenges of conceptualizing timbre and orchestration through analysis of musical works (mostly from the past fifty years), study of historical theories and treatises, and discussion of recent research in music theory, musicology, and music cognition. Coursework includes weekly listening/reading assignments, short written assignments, in-class presentations, and a final paper.

MUTH 653 Seminar in Music Theory 2 – CRN 15682 | 3 credits | Professor Nicole Biamonte | Fall

Topic: Music Theory Pedagogy

This seminar prepares students to teach music theory and aural skills at the college level. The primary focus is on approaches to teaching the course materials, although we will also consider course design and curricular issues. We will examine and critique recent research in music theory pedagogy concerning various methods of presentation for undergraduate music theory core topics, consider what should constitute those core topics for different student populations, and practice presenting the materials. Coursework consists of teaching demonstrations, preparing sample course materials (including two teaching videos), readings, class discussion, written reviews of theory textbooks, and a teaching philosophy. Evaluation is based on class participation, teaching demonstrations, and the assignments listed above.

MUTH 654 Seminar in Music Theory 3 – CRN 24399 | 3 credits | Professor Peter Schubert | Fall

Topic: Analysis of ensemble music 1600-1700

This course will focus on the analysis of vocal and instrumental polyphony at the dawn of the continuo era. How do the old ideas of counterpoint mesh with the new chordal vocabulary and syntax? Composers will include, Francesca Caccini, Arcangelo Corelli, Chiara Margarita Cozzolani, Giovanni Legrenzi, Isabella Leonarda, Claudio Monteverdi, and Barbara Strozzi. Writings will include treatises, articles and books by Peter Allsop, Gregory Barnett, Eva Linfield, Lorenzo Penna, John Playford, and Pietro Cerone. Evaluation will be based on two quizzes (15% each), a short reading report (15%), an analytical presentation (15%), and a final paper (40%).

Performance and Performance Practice Seminars
(Open to Performance Students – MUPP seminars are counted as Music Research Seminars for Performance Students)

FALL 2019


MUPP 690 Performance Practice Seminar 1 – CRN 6791 | 3 credits | Professor Edward Klorman | Fall

Topic: Topics in Music Analysis

This seminar will survey a variety of approaches to music analysis. Class meetings will be divided between (1) discussions of readings from the scholarly literature and (2) analysis of selected musical compositions in a variety of styles and genres. Projected topics for readings may include approaches to musical meaning and expression, phrase rhythm and hypermeter, chromatic harmony, extended tonality, form, motivic analysis, and performance-analysis relations. Each student will complete an analytical term project that will include an in-class presentation and a term paper. No special background on music theory is required, beyond undergraduate-level tonal analysis.

MUPP 691 Perf Practice Seminar 2 – CRN 21389 | 3 credits | Ms. Anja Strauss | Fall

Topic: Researching Lied and Poetry

This seminar, addressed to both singers and pianists, will closely examine the connection between the German Lied and its poetry, with a special focus on the German Romanticism as featured in songs by Schubert, Schumann, Brahms and Wolf, and others. Students will study poetry analysis, research poetic themes, such as individuality, symbolism, mythology and irony, and then examine the relationship between poetry and musical setting in order to gain an understanding of the Lied as a whole and assess the implications for the performer. Evaluation will be based on active participation and discussion, quizzes on readings, class presentations on assigned pieces and two papers: a study of a lied and an analytical comparison.

MUPP 692 Perf Practice Seminar 3 – CRN 17966| 3 credits | Professor Lena Weman | Fall

Topic: Passion Compositions During the Baroque Era

When we talk about passion compositions from the 18th Century, we mostly think about J S Bach’s two passions, the St John Passion and the St Matthew Passion. Bach’s passions did not come to being without a context and an established tradition. While the two passions by Bach will be a focus point in this seminar, we will also look at some of the passions preceding Bach’s and that probably inspired him, like the different settings of the libretto by Barthold Heinrich Brockes, the so called Brockes passions by composers like Keiser, Stoelzel, Telemann and Handel. Besides comparative studies, we will also discuss performance practice issues.

Evaluation will be based on active participation in class, reading and listening assignments, presentations and a final paper.

MUPP 693 Perf Practice Seminar 4 – CRN 21392 | 3 credits | Professor: Dr. Rachelle Chiasson | Fall

Topic: The Performer’s Agency in the Rendition of a Work of Music: Glenn Gould as Locus

Glenn Gould: The Performer in the Work (2007) is the title of Kevin Bazzana’s thorough study in performance practice and happens to be an admirable template for any musician who is serious about a performer’s agency in the rendition of a work, whether that work is part of the canon or a new creation. It also situates performance practice within relevant musical, cultural, intellectual, and historical contexts. To paraphrase Bazzana, Gould was, first and foremost a performer, but he believed that a musical work was an abstract entity that could be fully comprehended in the mind, in the absence of performance, without even the recollection of sounds or of physical means of production. Such a premise in fact places Gould within a particular tradition in the history of music aesthetics – the Romantic tradition -- with a long history and a substantial critical literature. But what set Gould apart is that, unlike most performers, he did not reconcile his abstract view of music with conventional views on matters of performance. Rather, he let this view directly shape his performance in idiosyncratic ways, and this was the source of his controversial ideas and interpretation.

In this seminar, we delve more deeply into the different musical legacies, contexts, trends, traditions, politics (including Canadian cultural policy and the role of the CBC), and also into the technologies that supported Gould in his work and self-fashioning as a performer. The question being: what agency does a performer really have in rendering a work?

MUPP 694 Performance Practice Seminar 5 – CRN 19647| 3 credits | Professor Fabrice Marandola | Fall

Topic: Ethnomusicology and Contemporary Performance Practice

In this seminar we will explore how different cultures around the world conceive and perform their music. Through the survey of broad cultural areas where music is primarily orally transmitted, we will study the functioning of different musical systems and the wide variety of playing and singing techniques involved. We will investigate the cultural context in which the music takes place in order to gain a significant insight on how these cultures conceive their musical heritage.

We will discuss the various ways traditional playing and singing techniques are incorporated in works by 20th and 21st century composers, from Bartok to Reich including Kagel, Ligeti, Scelsi and many more. We will also experiment with the ‘portability’ of these techniques in the context of modern Western instruments and voices.

Evaluation will be based on: Two short performance projects (1/ excerpt of Exotica by Kagel or equivalent, 2/ performance, arrangement and/or composition of a piece inspired by musical principles studied during the term); program notes for the second performance; one research paper and participation and preparation.

Department of Performance Seminars (Open to Performance Students): FALL 2019

FALL 2019/WINTER 2020


MUPG 675 Special Project in Perf 1   D1/ D2 – CRN 27750| 3 credits | Professor TBA | Fall

Topic: Organ Literature

This course will explore organ repertoire, styles, instruments, and techniques from the middle ages to the 21st century. The course will be divided over a full academic year. The first semester will examine organ music up to and including J.S. Bach, while the second semester will focus on music after Bach and up to the present. Materials for the course will include books, articles, and treatises covering a range of topics in organ literature, in addition to score and recording studies. Students will be evaluated based on class participation, reading assignments, and a final project in which they will be able to apply knowledge from the course, to repertoire they are preparing for exams and recitals.

MUPG 691 Vocal Ornamentation – CRN 26090| 3 credits | Professor TBA | Fall

Topic: Vocal Ornamentation

This seminar provides an introduction to the major treatises with emphasis on their practical application to modern performance. Through the study and discussion of both primary and secondary sources, students will observe and compare national styles. Special topics include the conventions of recitative, text-driven embellishment, and ornamentation in Handel's dramatic works. Evaluation will be based on two presentations, which may include the performance of embellished airs.

MUPG 678 Seminar in Perf Topics 2 – CRN 12072 | 3 credits | Professor John Hollenbeck | Fall

Topic: Concentration and Ensemble Practice

The primary exercise used throughout this course seems very simple: to play short quarter notes with the ensemble, while subdividing the beat at a very slow tempo with eyes closed. The shortness of the notes and slow tempo makes it easy to hear if the musicians are together or not. Eyes closed makes it impossible to use visual cues to help the musicians play together. This way, you must rely on your own internal time and subdividing. The simplicity of the exercise is why it is an excellent path to improve concentration skills.

Added to the primary exercise is the additional of long notes, accents, dynamics, specific pitches on specific beats, individual playing and singing of the subdivisions (one at a time), improvisation on the subdivisions, ensemble inclusion of 1-5 extra notes on the subdivision. Each student is expected to practice the basic exercise as a solo exercise in between classes. Throughout the course, there will be class discussions, to talk about the internal experience and issues that come up in the practice. Students will also maintain a journal, detailing their practice and thoughts on the class and individual practice.

To break up the potential monotony of the primary exercise, other exercises involving improvisation will be practiced.

Benefits of the course:

  1. Increased awareness and practice of concentration.
  2. Increased awareness and insight into sound production.
  3. Increased rhythmic awareness and strengthening of internal time.
  4. Practice of pinpoint listening skills.
  5. Ensemble listening and playing.
  6. Understanding and experiencing the power of unison tutti playing.
  7. Body awareness and posture.
  8. Awareness and practice of the efficiency "between the notes”.
  9. Increased ability to be “still".

Evaluation will be based on attendance/participation (75%), and hand-written class journal (25%).

MUPG 695 Grad. Jazz Improv. Seminar – CRN 22509 | 3 credits | Professor Jean-Michel Pilc | Fall

Topic: Advanced Improvisation Seminar

This course is designed to acquaint students with advanced concepts in improvisation and jazz, with emphasis on individual and collective performance, oral tradition, rhythm and form, creativity and musicianship. A variety of topics will be studied and practiced, the main goal being to acquire the ability to express one’s creative voice on the instrument, and in a combo situation, in all situations related to the jazz idiom and to improvisation in general. Students are assessed based on their daily class performance, assiduity, interest and playing.

Topics list (for indicative purposes only): -The language of jazz and improvisation, vocabulary, fluency (inner and outer), oral tradition and imitation. Love, passion and culture; using the internet.
-The three pillars of music: rhythm, melody & bass.
-Swing; tap and talk; feeling the groove; polyrhythms and odd meters.
-Playing creatively on a form; freedom and strength. Cycles, long forms, double forms, AABA, modal tunes, unusual and “exotic” forms.
-Play what you hear: speaking with the instrument, transposition, playing mute.
-Transcribing by ear, singing and playing along with recordings, melodic improvisation. Study of vocalists and melodic phrasing.
-The improviser as instant composer: improvising a song, telling a story, orchestrating, theme & variations, conditioning and working on ideas.
-Application to standards; composing vs “filling the grid”; options vs arrangement.
-The player as a listener, recording and listening back, hearing the whole band, projecting the sound. Relaxation and naturalness; playing while talking.
-Exploration and experimentation; lab work.
-Instrumental craft & technique.

Seminars in the Department of Music Research
(Complementary Seminars for Performance Students):


MUCO 632 Seminar in Composition 2 – CRN 19698 | 3 credits | Professor Philippe Leroux | Winter

Topic: Analytical theories and composition

The last centuries have seen musical analysis grow significantly. It has focused on a type of analysis for descriptive purposes where the sole object of "exercises" of composition was to verify the theories put forward. But in previous eras, until the Renaissance and the Baroque period, musical analysis led to prescriptive rhetorical principles that could serve as models for musical composition. The purpose of this seminar is to examine whether some of the analytical theories and tools that have emerged during the last decades can have direct application in the field of composition. With this aim in view, several analytical systems will be examined according to their possible compositional use; sound examples that can illustrate them will also be provided.

Evaluation will consist of an oral and a written presentation of the analysis of a composition from the perspective of one of the theories presented (50%), together with the oral presentation of some research or practical application based upon the use of an analytical theory for a musical composition (50%).

Music Education

MUGT 611 Seminar-Music Education 2– CRN 19763 | 3 credits | Professor Isabelle Cossette | Winter

Topic: Breathing: From theory to practice

Respiration, at the core of any living activities, is a very complex while fundamental aspect of our life. This course is designed for students in music education and interdisciplinary research, as well as for performers interested in the theoretical underpinnings of their respiration and how it applies to various aspects of their life.

Students will learn the fundamental mechanisms of the respiratory system by consulting the scientific literature. Class sessions are intended to develop a broad and interdisciplinary knowledge with applications in areas of interest such as pedagogy, practicing strategies, meditation, yoga and stress management, etc. Classes will include lectures, surveys of recent research, students’ oral presentations, discussions, and visits to laboratories.

Evaluation will be based on class preparation/participation, a take-home exam on basic respiratory mechanics, an annotated bibliography and a final project/paper on a topic related to practical aspects of a musician’s path.

Music Education

MUGT 612 Seminar-Music Education 3 – CRN 19765 | 3 credits | Professor Lisa Lorenzino | Winter

Topic: Introduction to Teaching in a Community Music Setting>

This seminar will investigate varied pedagogical practices of music education in a community music setting. Through the in-depth study of research literature, students will critically discuss current theories of Community Music Education practises in informal and non-formal settings. Attention will focus on philosophical and pedagogical methods employed in these settings.

The courses will also include a substantial practical aspect as students will be required to observe a community music group in the Montreal area. In addition, students will teach at least one full length or two shorter sessions with their selected community music group. Feedback from the community music facilitator and the professor will be provided in order for students to improve their pedagogical practices.

EClass sessions may be augmented by guest lecturers, either live or via SKYPE. Evaluation will include one research paper, a teaching evaluation, and an in-class presentation as well as other small assignments


MUHL 680 Seminar in Musicology 1 - CRN 19709 | 3 credits | Professor Steven Huebner | Winter

Topic: Operatic Comedy

A study of selected works, including L’Étoile, Béatrice et Bénédict, La Cenerentola, Falstaff, Der Rosenkavalier, Gianni Schicchi, and Les Mamelles de Tirésias. The seminar will draw upon the writings of prominent literary theories of comedy and will work outward from these to consider the role of music in articulating comedies of plot and character. Evaluation on the basis of participation, class presentations, and final paper.

MUHL 681 Seminar in Musicology 2 - CRN 13581 | 3 credits | Professor Dorian Bandy | Winter

Topic: Philosophy of Historical Performance Practice

This course will provide a comprehensive and critical survey of the philosophical controversies surrounding historical performance. Topics include: composers’ intentions; the ‘authenticity’ debate; the nature and status of musical texts; the conflicts between oral and written musical cultures; and epistemology, with a particular focus on the types, problems, and uses of historical evidence. We will examine these issues primarily in relation to the early music movement of the 20th century; however, many of the theoretical points apply equally to historicism and reconstructionism in non-classical repertoires.

Evaluation is based on participation (discussion of weekly readings), a final paper, and a class presentation of the paper topic.

MUHL 683 Seminar in Musicology 4 – CRN 18024 | 3 credits | Professor Lisa Barg | Winter

Topic: Music and Dance

How have bodies moving to music been described, analyzed, theorized and situated? This seminar will explore relationships between music and dance through a geographically, musically and historically diverse set of case studies drawn from a wide ranging field of dance traditions and practices (theatrical, ritual and social). These case studies will introduce seminar participants to a variety of theoretical topics and approaches central to studies of music and dance, or “choreomusicalities,” including theories of corporeality, embodiment, improvisation, collaboration and performance. Readings will be drawn primarily from recent scholarship in critical dance studies, musicology, ethnomusicology, performance and film studies, as well as various area studies.

Evaluation will be based on presentations, commentaries on selected readings and video material, and a fifteen- to twenty-page (minimum) seminar paper on a topic of your choice that will serve as a basis for a thirty-minute presentation.

MUHL 684 Seminar in Musicology 5 – CRN 10616 | 3 credits |Professor Roe-Min Kok | Winter

Topic: Music and Colonialism

Inequities and inequalities pervade the field of western art music and its practices today, whether in institutional, freelance or other settings. In this seminar we will examine the roots and impact of such injustices using analytical tools developed in Postcolonial Studies – the critical study of socio-cultural power dynamics. Case studies come from around the world as well as closer to home, and include Canadian Indigenous communities, the Spanish Empire (Mexico, the Philippines), Thailand (officially never colonized, thus a particularly interesting case), the British Empire (Canada, India, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Singapore), the French Empire (Haiti, Vietnam), South Korea, Japan, People’s Republic of China, etc. We analyze how colonial, postcolonial, and neocolonial politics interact/ed with gender, race/ ethnicity, and religious and educational institutions, to build an awareness of how and where these politics continue to affect the field of western art music today. Final projects may focus on musical identity and cross-cultural negotiations in musical works or collaborations in specific geographical locations, communities, and time-frames.

Learning Outcomes: Topic-appropriate vocabulary and terminology; knowledge about western art music in colonial and postcolonial cultures, and major issues in this area of scholarship.

Instructional Method: Seminar activities (student-led presentations, group discussions); supplementary lectures.

Evaluation will be based on class presentations, the final project proposal and presentation, the final paper and overall professionalism

Music Technology

MUMT 621 Mus. Info,Retr.,Acq.,Preserv. - CRN 19702 | 3 credits | Professor Ichiro Fujinaga | Winter

Topic: Music Information, Retrieval, Acquisition, Preservation

This seminar will investigate current research activities in the area of music information retrieval. The goal is to discover ways to efficiently find and retrieve musical information. Although the field is relatively new, it encompasses various music disciplines including music analysis, music education, music history, music theory, music psychology, and audio signal processing.

Each student will be expected to present various music information retrieval topics along with literature reviews. Each presentation should be accompanied by web pages created by the presenter. The final project may consist of software development, a theoretical paper, or an extended review paper. Class format will be presentations followed by discussions.

Potential topics include: Themefinder, MELDEX, Elvis, Cantus, SIMSSA, audio content analysis and search, web crawling, melodic similarities, computer-aided transcription, beat tracking, timbre recognition, speech / music separation, audio and music formats (MPEG-4/7/21, MP3, MEI, MusicXML), and Web API. Students will be evaluated on the quality of the presentations, written assignments, class participation, and the final project.

Evaluation will be based on assignments (50%), class participation (10%), and a final project (40%).

MUMT 622 Time-Freq.&Param. Rep. of Snds - CRN 15062| 3 credits | Professor Philippe Depalle | Winter

Topic: Time-Frequency & Parameter Rep. of Sounds

Research trends in time-frequency representations and parametric modeling applied to music and audio. Specific focus on atomic decomposition, matching pursuit, wavelet, and parametric analysis. Evaluation is based on in-class research literature presentations, and on a final project.

Sound Recording

MUSR 692 Music Production Workshop – CRN 14576 | 3 credits | Professor Martha de Francisco | Winter

Topic: A Graduate Seminar for Performance and for Sound Recording Students

The Seminar focuses on the collaborative interaction between performing and recording partners during music recordings. It explores aesthetical questions of performance and recording, and it examines music performance issues in connection with the use of changing technological tools for recording and music production. Discussions are lead regarding the historical development of music production, and an updated analysis of current developments in the recording industry is provided.

The production sessions under the supervision of an expert music producer, realized as part of the Seminar, help students acquire insight in the musical, technical and logistical processes that characterize professional music productions, giving both sides suitable tools to enhance their potential as recording artists in the 21st century.

Evaluation will be based on in-class participation and presentations, individual work on the music productions as well as a final research paper or alternatively a completed Master of an own production project with a written description/analysis.

Music Theory

MUTH 652 Seminar in Music Theory 1 – CRN 19782 | 3 credits | Professor Jonathan Wild | Winter

Topic: Extended Tonality

In this seminar we shall examine music from the early part of the twentieth century whose harmonic language is sometimes described as "extended tonality" (a term which will certainly require careful consideration). Our primary focus will be on the music itself, with repertoire items singled out each week for your analytic consideration.

But alongside this analytic work we shall also pursue readings most weeks, in order to gain an overview of the kinds of approaches theorists have devised for this thorny repertoire. The composers to be studied exhibit a range of responses to the late-stage evolutions of tonality, and will include Mahler, Scriabin, Szymanowski, Fauré, Reger, Bartók, and Sibelius, as well as lesser-known figures from the European periphery.

Students will post written analytic responses each week, engage in class discussion on their analysis and on the other assigned readings, and write a 15- to 20-page paper.

MUTH 653 Seminar in Music Theory 2 – CRN 18597 | 3 credits | Professor Christopher Neidhöfer | Winter

Topic: Music and Political Engagement

How does music convey political meaning? How does a political message manifest itself in the compositional procedures themselves? What are the mechanisms by which a work is politicized beyond composer intent? Can music be apolitical? We will address these questions in selected works from the eighteenth century to the present through score analysis, study of sketches, examination of composers’ writings and other related source texts (such as the Prague Manifesto), exploring the aesthetic contexts and reception histories of the works. Examples will be drawn from The Beggar’s Opera, Un ballo in maschera (Act III), Die Meistersinger (Acts II and III), The Threepenny Opera, Eisler’s Gegen den Krieg, Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony, Schoenberg’s Ode to Napoleon and A Survivor from Warsaw, Dallapiccola’s Il Prigioniero, Boulez’s Structure Ia, Maderna’s Quattro lettere, Nono’s La victoire de Guernica, Il canto sospeso, and Intolleranza, Adam’s On the Transmigration of Souls, as well as from works chosen by the seminar participants. Course requirements include weekly assigned readings, listening, and analysis, two in-class presentations, a midterm essay, and a final paper.

MUTH 655 Seminar in Music Theory 4 – CRN 21701 | 3 credits | Professor Joseph Straus, Dean’s Visiting Chair in Music Research| Winter

Topic: Disability Studies in Music

The idea that disability is a cultural identity and practice rather than a medical pathology has animated a large body of scholarly work in many fields, including music. This course lies at the intersection of musicology/music theory and cultural disability studies, probing what each can learn from the other. We will read standard texts in cultural disability studies (Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, Lennard Davis, Tobin Siebers, and others) and a wide range of recent scholarship in music (including the recently published Oxford Handbook of Music and Disability Studies). We will discuss composers with disabilities, performers with disabilities (and disability itself as a performance), listeners with disabilities, as well as the narration and representation of disability in musical works. There will be weekly reading and writing assignments, as well as a final paper, and a presentation on the final-paper-in-progress, scheduled for the last day of class.

This seminar will follow an atypical schedule as follows:


  • Monday January 6: 8:30-11:30 a.m.: Graduate seminar (A-512)
  • Tuesday January 7: 8:30-11:30 a.m.: Graduate seminar (A-512)
  • Monday January 20: 8:30-11:30 a.m.: Graduate seminar (A-512)
  • Tuesday January 21: 8:30-11:30 a.m.: Graduate seminar (A-512)
  • Monday February 17: 8:30-11:30 a.m.: Graduate seminar(A-512)
  • Tuesday February 18: 8:30-11:30 a.m.: Graduate seminar (A-512)
  • Monday March 16: 8:30-11:30 am: Graduate seminar (A-512)
  • Tuesday March 17: 8:30-11:30 am: Graduate seminar (A-512)
  • Monday April 13: 8:30-11:30 am: Graduate seminar (A-512)
  • Tuesday April 14: 8:30-11:30 am: Graduate seminar (A-512)

MUTH 658 History of Music Theory 1 – CRN 19783 | 3 credits | Professor Peter Schubert | Winter

Topic: Writings on music from Plato to Playford

This course will focus exclusively on historical writings about music from Greek Antiquity to the end of the seventeenth century and modern scholarship about those writings. Topics include note nomenclature; tetrachords; the GPS; the LPS; genera, tuning; ratios; Aristoxenians v. Pythagoreans; just tuning; temperaments; solmization; harmoniai; tonoi; affinities; modes; church keys; the effects of music, rhetoric, levels of style, chords.

Evaluation will be based on participation (discussion of weekly readings 5%), one short reading report distributed to the class in advance (15%), four quizzes including short essays (@10% each), a final paper (ca. 20 pp.) and a class presentation on the topic of the paper (40%).


Performance and Performance Practice Seminars
(Open to Performance Students – MUPP seminars are counted as Music Research Seminars for Performance Students)



MUPP 690 Performance Practice Seminar 1 – CRN 15741 | 3 credits | TBD| Winter

Topic: Communication in Olivier Messiaen’s music

This seminar will explore the ways in which Olivier Messiaen’s compositional techniques, methodology, and influences are employed as channels of communication. This will include a critical evaluation of Messiaen’s own treatises and writings, recent research into Messiaen and the question of borrowing, and additional essays. The seminar seeks to demonstrate how the context behind Messiaen’s music can lead both performers and listeners alike to a greater understanding and interpretation. The course will consist of weekly readings and listening.

Each student will give presentations, which they will expand into a final paper. Students will be evaluated based on participation in class discussions surrounding the reading and listening assignments, as well as their prepared presentations and final paper.

MUPP 691 Perf Practice Seminar 2 – CRN 14623| 3 credits | Professor: TBA | Winter

Topic: Handel – Opera Seria and Oratorio

This seminar will explore the historical context and rhetorical performance practice of Handel’s opera seria and oratorio. Through exploration of both primary and secondary sources, students will construct an understanding of the historical world surrounding Handel’s works and will develop a knowledge of the rhetorical performance practice of the day.

Evaluation will be based on active participation in class discussions, one oral presentation in class, two vocal performance presentations with the application of rhetorical performance practice principles (one opera seria aria and one oratorio aria) and a final term paper.

MUPP 692 Perf Practice Seminar 3 – CRN 16977 | 3 credits | Professor: TBA | Winter

Topic: Performance Practice Pilot Projects

Students will research, plan, and execute a project combining entrepreneurship and performance practice while gaining practical experience. Projects may vary widely, but many will include learning stylistic practices and techniques associated with a particular repertoire or commissioning new repertoire. For each project, the student will present their work publicly in collaboration with another student, as well as create clear and detailed vision for the project that includes both budgeting and marketing.

Topics in class will include case studies of musical entrepreneurship in history, work on developing scholarship and performance together, and work on generating momentum in a career. Seminar participants will also develop skills in collaboration, project planning, and community engagement. A final paper, in-class presentation, and writing the text necessary for a future grant application, in addition to the public events, are all possible outcomes of the course.

MUPG 590 Vocal Styles and Conventions - CRN 18616 | 3 credits | Professor: TBA | Winter

Topic: Vocal Styles and Conventions

This seminar emphasizes vocal performance practices through practical application: text, language, inflection, pronunciation and interpretation considered with the individuality of each student’s voice and technical development. After examining historical treatises, students will discuss and present musical selections using modern performance standards while remaining true to the stylistic demands of each period.

Department of Performance Seminars (Open to Performance Students)



MUPG 677 Seminar in Perf Topics 1 - CRN 16919 | 3 credits | Professor Jean-Michel Pilc | Winter

Topic: Improvisation in all languages

The goal of this seminar is the acquisition of fluency in improvisation, in all musical idioms (classical, jazz, pop, world etc.) and on all instruments. More generally, it will address the subject of how to make music in a natural and idiomatic way, regardless of the style.

The process at work will be based on the way spoken language is learnt and mastered, and also rooted in my own experience discovering music, improvising, and learning jazz and other kinds of music through oral tradition. We will show that improvisation, often and wrongly seen as the difference between classical and jazz, is, on the contrary, the main bridge between all styles of music, and the essential ability to perceive and express music organically, naturally and spontaneously, and to communicate musical ideas instantaneously when playing the instrument - the latter being, in the spoken language analogy, the musician’s “speech organ.”

We will explore the specificities of each musical idiom – its own “words”, rhythms, accents etc. – and will learn how to develop practicing methods and a personal approach by deep listening, imitation, playing along, manipulation, trial and error, self-editing, assimilation and evolution through time. "Fluency tests" will be used and experimented with, as well as exercises devised to become better at these tests. Hence we will develop the ability to fully experience the musical act and speak the language of music freely and meaningfully at the instrument, while still being creative away from it.

Many other topics will be covered, such as ear training and tuning, the 3 “bookends” of music (rhythm, melody, and bass), feeling, tempo, swing and groove, phrasing and articulation, internalization, and using the multitasking ability of the human brain in order to become a successful improviser / instant composer / storyteller. We will draw inspiration from many different styles of music, and the students will be exposed to a wide selection of musical pieces (from recordings and also from live performances by teacher and students).

Taking example on masters such as Mozart or Charlie Parker, we will realize that improviser, composer, interpreter and performer are actually different sides of the same entity; and also, transcending the cliché of “classical player who can’t play jazz” (or vice versa), we will discover that the many languages of music can be understood and spoken by all those who are willing to embrace their authenticity and their richness.

This class, like any language learning experience, will require the active participation of each student, as a listener, performer, and practitioner. Evaluation will be based on the participation, progress, motivation and creative energy of each student, presentations and special projects, which will be an essential component of the seminar.

MUPG 677 Seminar in Perf Topics 1 – Section 002 – CRN 21456 | 3 credits | Professor: Ilya Poletaev | Winter

Topic: The fortepiano and Classic performance practice

This seminar will present a systematic survey of key elements relating to performing core Classic repertoire on fortepiano, as well as provide the participants with some practical experience and instruction on this instrument.

Class time will be divided into two sessions. In the first session, the participants will examine the essential sources and materials pertaining to specific issues of Classic performance practice (treatises by C.P.E. Bach, J.G. Turk, Leopold Mozart, J. J. Quantz, Carl Czerny, and others). Topic considered will include the evolution of the piano’s construction and its mechanical properties; articulation; dynamics; pedalling; ornamentation; tempo and pulse; historical fingering; manuscripts and first editions; tempo rubato; etc. The second session will be conducted in a masterclass format, where students will take turns presenting assigned pieces on fortepiano, with ensuing critique both by instructor and present peers. Repertoire will primarily focus on the works of CPE Bach, Haydn, Mozart and early Beethoven. Discussion will also include the possible application of some principles of fortepiano performance to modern piano playing, with appropriate demonstration.

Guest appearances by other faculty (both keyboard and strings) will complement the course.

Evaluation will heavily lean on participation, responsiveness, preparation of assigned repertoire and readings. There will be a final performance and several small quizzes.

The class is designed primarily for pianists majoring in piano performance. Other participants (eg. organists, harpsichordists, etc) may be admitted by permission of the instructor. Graduate students will be given priority, but undergraduate students may also enrol, space permitting.

MUPG 678 Seminar in Perf Topics 2 – CRN 21248 | 3 credits | Professor: TBA | Winter

Topic: Chamber Music by Women Composers

Other than Fanny Mendelssohn and Clara Schumann, can you name a 19th-century chamber music woman composer? Although women composers have been writing chamber works for centuries, the classical music canon presented in today’s university and conservatory classes excludes many of their contributions.

Some questions that frame this course include: What are some pre-19th century chamber works written by women composers? What is the earliest string quartet written by a female composer? Piano trio? What are some factors that influenced the output of chamber works written by women composers? How can we discuss relatively unknown works without comparing them to the popular chamber works we study today?

Open only to MMus (Performance) students and others by permission of the instructor, this seminar will be a survey of chamber music works by women composers that equally focuses on the theoretical and practical study of these works. We will explore the historical and social contexts through readings, class discussions, and student-led presentations. We will also delve into the performance of selected works through listening, in-class performances of selected movements, and a public concert of these works at the end of the semester.

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