Music 85 Projects
Music of Today
(This project is for the Senior music majors taking Music 85)
In consultation with the instructor, each
Music 8 student will
specific composer or creative artist to work on over the course of the
Music 85 students are asked to do an in-depth, term-length project
focussing on the work of this local composer. This composer may be at
Dartmouth, or someone in the area (or
perhaps someone you know
from a different place). It
needs to be someone with whom you
can interact personally, interview, have access to materials, etc. This
composer should not be a student, and
should be someone who has made a significant enough contribution that
their work rewards 10 weeks of study. A number of Dartmouth faculty
composers have all agreed to participate.
You are asked to produce a kind of "study" of this composer, which
should consist of the following sections:
Introduction to their work,
discussion of at least one work (or
group of works)
- Catalog of works by and about this person
The general format of this should be a serious, "publishable"
contribution to the body of knowledge about this composer, and
understanding of their work. Although it can make use of secondary
sources, this is intended as a "primary source" project. You should
work directly with their work, and themselves.
The goal is to make a website for each of these projects, and have
these websites live at Dartmouth. I want there to be little
emphasis (preferably none) on web-design, and most of the emphasis
(preferably all) on content. It would be fine, for example, to just
have a series of .pdf files. However, since we will intend these for
the web, score examples, other media, would be nice to include.
The project should take place in three stages: preliminary design and plan;
resources and progress report;
final project. All three will
presented in class. One of the intentions is for the entire class to
get a sense of how this kind of project might be done, as well as
to experience (together) some of the possible problems and pitfalls
involved in working "on" a
The main goals of this project are two:
- to give you, the student, an experience of doing primary
research, and to help you understand something important
about the music of today by becoming deeply familiar with one
- to try to accomplish something for a purpose slightly
than a typical student
project. If this project is done well, its proper place will be in
"the world" at large. If done with
care and vigor, these will, hopefully, make a real impact.
Introduction: A bio-musical
introduction to this composer and hisr work. As much of this as
possible should be non-duplicative of published, readily known facts.
Focus on putting this composer in their historical and artistic
context, giving the reader a sense of their artistic development,
tracing the trajectory of their work and ideas. We don't really care
where they went to high school, if it's not relevant. This is about
their work and their contributions as a composer.
(Avoid as much as possible
"PR" language, journalistic/reviewer jargon. Be: clear, elegant,
terse, specific, factual, insightful. Try to avoid being [promotional,
hyperbolic, vague, subjective]).
In-depth discussion of a specific piece or group of pieces: Take one work, or set of works, and
analyse, describe, contextualize it as much as possible. Model this
after a good analytical article in an academic journal, not a
journalistic source. You may analyse the piece(s) from any number of
perspectives, with any methodological/theoretical/historical toolset
you like. However you do it, you should be acquainted with similar
examples of that kind of analysis discussion (you will need to present
some of your models during the class). This should be a "publishable"
article on this piece or set of pieces. Your intent is to shed as much
light on the piece(s) as possible, in as much depth and
technical/artistic detail as you can. Don't review them, or introduce
them to a lay audience
Interview: This should be a highly
pre-informed, in-depth, well-edited, musically and intellectually
considered interview with the person. It should add a significant
component to our knowledge of himr and hisr work. Research it
thoroughly: you should know all that is possible to know first, and
then ask the artist to elaborate. Have specific, interesting questions
elucidate illuminating responses.
Interview questions shouldn't be
too general (that puts the interviewee in a kind of vague position).
questions with an assumption that you and the artist are already at a
high-level of discourse about the work. For example: "In the piece
XXXXX you use a technique that you used in piece YYYYY, but it seems
slightly different in the latter piece. Can you tell me about how you
changed things, what made you do things differently?".
scrupulously: take out all the "well...", "like...", "uh...", and have
people speak in complete, articulate sentences. A good interview should
read like a good article. Use some of the interviews with
composers that have been published in journals like MusicWorks, MusikTexte, Perspectives of New Music, and so
on as your models. Do several interviews, and edit them together. Space
them out so that you can learn more about things hse said in a previous
interview, and pursue them in the next.
Catalog of works: This should be
the most straighforward part of the project. With the assistance of the
composer, who probably has something like this, make an annotated
catalog of their works, suitable for something like, say, WikiPedia,
that lists as many works (pieces, articles, software, artwork, other
forms), their resources (instrumentation, software platform, etc.), and
availability (how others might hear/see/learn-about them. The idea is
to take what already exists, add to it as needed, organize it, and
annotate it for others. Most composers keep lists of their own works,
and have all this kind of information in various ways and pieces. Your
job is to make a kind of "accessibility" document for this composer. If
one wants to learn as much as possible about hisr work, your catalog