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–

Undergraduate Courses 2017-2018

Music

Theory II: Basic Tonal Theory and Composition

Component

The materials of this course are prerequisite to any Advanced Theory course. Survey of Western Music is required for all students taking Theory II who have not had a similar history course.

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.

Faculty

Advanced Theory: Orchestration and Score Study

Component

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 both 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 with relatively brief papers, analyzing the orchestration in pieces chosen from a list provided by the instructor.

Faculty

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

Component

Prerequisite: Theory II: Basic Tonal Theory and Composition.

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.

Faculty

The Modern String Quartet: Evolutions and Styles

Component—Fall

This course will begin with the origins of the string quartet form in the Classical and Romantic eras and will then explore the many “-isms” of the 20th and 21st centuries as they manifested themselves in that format. The course will function as both a history course—introducing the biographies of many composers, as well the evolution of the most important stylistic trends of the modern and contemporary eras—and as a music literature course—acquainting the student with seminal string quartets and unsung classics of the genre. In addition to the usual common-practice suspects, students will be introduced to the lives and works of Béla Bartók, Dmitri Shostakovich, Gloria Coates, Anton Webern, Ruth Crawford-Seeger, Sofia Gubaidulina, Per Nørgård, Ben Johnston, Joan Tower, Philip Glass, and others. The evolution of many styles will be explored, including spectralism, serialism, microtonalism, eclecticism, minimalism, and brutalism.

Faculty

The Modern Symphony: Evolutions and Styles

Component—Spring

This course will begin with the origins of the symphonic form in the Classical and Romantic eras, and will then explore the many “-isms” of the 20th and 21st centuries as they manifested themselves in that format. The course will function as both a history course—introducing the biographies of many composers, as well as the evolution of the most important stylistic trends of the modern and contemporary eras—and as a music literature course—acquainting the student with seminal symphonies and unsung classics of the genre. In addition to the usual common-practice suspects, students will be introduced to the lives and works of Igor Stravinsky, Dmitri Shostakovich, Gloria Coates, Anton Webern, Galina Ustvolskaya, Amy Beach, Per Nørgård, Wolfgang Rihm, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, John Adams and others. The evolution of many styles will be explored, including spectralism, serialism, microtonalism, eclecticism, minimalism, and brutalism.

Faculty

Previous Courses

Theory II: Basic Tonal Theory and Composition

Component

The materials of this course are prerequisite to any Advanced Theory course, and at least one of the following Advanced Theory courses is required after Theory II. Survey of Western Music is required for all students taking Theory II who have not had a similar history course.

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.

Faculty

Advanced Theory: Orchestration and Score Study

Component

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.

Faculty

Theory I: Materials of Music

Component

Beginning music students in Theory I are not required to take an ensemble; ensemble participation is optional. This course is a prerequisite to the Theory II: Basic Tonal Theory and Composition and the Advanced Theory sequence.

This introductory course will meet twice each week (two 90-minute sessions). We will study elements of music such as pitch, rhythm, intensity, and timbre to see how they 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.

Faculty

Advanced Theory: Ancient Theory/Notation as Language

Component

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.

Faculty