Patrick Muchmore

BM, University of Oklahoma. Composer/performer with performances throughout the United States; founding member of New York’s Anti-Social Music; theory and composition instructor at City College of New York. SLC, 2004–

Course Information

Current undergraduate courses

Advanced Theory: 20th-Century Theoretical Approaches: Post-Tonal and Rock Music

This course will be an examination of various theoretical approaches to music of the 20th century—including post-tonal, serial, textural, minimalist, and pop/rock music. Our primary text will be Joseph Straus’s Introduction to Post-Tonal Theory, but we will also explore other relevant texts, including scores and recordings of the works themselves. This course will include study of the music of Schoenberg, Webern, Pink Floyd, Ligeti, Bartók, Reich, Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails,
Corigliano, and Del Tredici, among others.


Advanced Theory: Orchestration and Score Study

Although this course will be important for composers, it is predicated on the conviction that learning more about the capabilities of instruments—both individually and in combination—is invaluable to the appreciation of music for anyone. Of course, a composer needs to learn the timbral palettes of various instruments, as well as how to write idiomatically for them; but performers, theorists, and historians benefit enormously, as well. They learn why some musical choices were necessary but also why some choices are especially clever or even astonishing. The first semester will focus on basic characteristics and some extended techniques of the primary orchestral instruments and will include considerations and examples for orchestral and chamber literature. The second semester will add a few more advanced and/or less-standard instruments—such as the harp, guitar and synthesizer—but will primarily focus on extensive score study with an eye toward varied approaches to orchestration. Examples will include works from the Baroque era all the way to the present day. All students will compose small excerpts for solo instruments and chamber groups as each instrument is introduced. For composers, the first semester project will be an arrangement of part of an assigned piano piece for full orchestra; the final project will be a relatively brief original composition for large chamber group or full orchestra. Non-composition
students will have the option to either do those projects or substitute relatively brief papers analyzing the orchestration in pieces chosen from a list provided by the instructor.


Theory II: Basic Tonal Theory and Composition

As a skill-building course in the language of tonal music, this course covers diatonic harmony and
voice leading, elementary counterpoint, and simple forms. Students will develop an understanding
through part writing, analysis, composition, and aural skills.


Previous courses

Advanced Theory: Ancient Theory/Notation as Language

This course will begin with an introduction to the writing systems of the world and the ways in which they both shape and are shaped by the languages that they encode. Most of the first semester will be an investigation of the same phenomenon with respect to the notation (script) and theory (grammar) of ancient music. Notational and theoretical systems studied will include Ancient Babylonian, Greek, and Japanese music, as well as European chant notation and mensural notation. Students will transliterate existing pieces and compose brief exercises. These compositions will attempt to emerge from the ancient vocabularies and grammars in order to explore the way in which musical ideas can be shaped by the manner of their inscription. The second semester will move into the 20th and 21st centuries and will explore a number of alternate notations and musical grammars, including microtonal composition and graphic notation involving composers such as George Crumb, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Gloria Coates, Anthony Braxton, and Joe Maneri. Again, students will compose brief exercises using these forms. The semester will culminate with students inventing their own musical languages.


Theory I: Materials of Music

In this introductory course, we will study elements of music such as pitch, rhythm, intensity, and timbre; we will see how these elements combine in various musical structures and how those structures communicate. Studies will include notation and ear training, as well as theoretical exercises, rudimentary analyses, and the study of repertoire from various eras of Western music.