Graduate Programs in Music
The Ph.D. programs in composition stress training in the craft of composition, contemporary repertory, and theory and analysis. Instruction in composition comprises much of the course requirement; all such instruction takes the form of private lessons. Students are assigned to particular instructors for composition lessons on a rotating basis to assure all students exposure to a variety of approaches and access to composition teachers of their choice.
The submission of a portfolio of original compositions is one of the central requirements of the Master's degree. A major composition takes the place of the dissertation at the doctoral level. In addition, Ph.D. candidates in composition must submit an article-length essay on an analytical, historical, or theoretical subject.
A significant amount of contemporary music is performed under the auspices of the Department of Music. Penn Contemporary Music performs a varied repertory of music by composers both within and outside the department. The Penn Composer's Guild draws its musicians from the Curtis Institute of Music and from the ranks of professional players in Philadelphia. It is dedicated to the performance of works by student composers. All degree candidates in composition are assured of the public performance of at least one work in each academic year. Orchestral works by student composers are often given readings by the orchestra of the Curtis Institute. Students are encouraged to participate in the preparation of these performances.
Visiting composers regularly offer colloquia at the Music Department. Visitors in recent years have included Philip Lasser, John Corigliano, David Liptak, Daniel Asia, Mario Davidovsky, Betsy Jolas, Donald Erb, Jonathan Harvey, Donald Martino, and Michael Daugherty.
The Music Department's electronic music studio (the Theodore Presser Electronic Music Studio) is intended primarily for the use of faculty and graduate students in composition; ample studio time is available for graduate composers working on projects involving electronic media. Generally, Music 530 (Electronic Music) or the equivalent in prior experience is required for access to the studio.
More detailed information about the graduate program in composition is available in the Graduate Handbook (pdf).
The programs of study in the history of music reflect the wide-ranging interests and diverse methodological approaches of the historical musicologists on the faculty. Together, their fields of specialization encompass all the basic historical periods, and they approach their research from many different vantage points, including aesthetics, criticism, cultural history, iconography, paleography, and source studies, among others.
Students select courses primarily from two types of offerings: proseminars and topical seminars. The proseminars are basic courses that deal largely (but not exclusively) with the methods of scholarly research. The approaches and problems treated therein include the nature of evidence, text criticism, the anthropology of music, authenticity, codicology, the interpretation of theoretical treatises, criticism, hermeneutics, historiography, and musical notation.
Topical seminars often have a less methodological orientation and tend to reflect the problems current in a particular instructor's research. Recent topics include: Problems in the Music of Ockeghem; Reading Women in Jazz; Music and the Occult Sciences in the Renaissance; Haydn's Symphonic Finales; Music in Black Film; Music in Early Modern Colonial Encounters; Discourses of Gender in Instrumental Music, 1800-1848; Cultural Memory in Scandinavian song, 1890-1930; Music, Memory, and the Book in Late Medieval France; Rethinking musical biography: Chopin, 1838-1847; The Invention of Music; Disciplining Black Music; and Music, Language, and Meaning in Performance.
In addition, doctoral candidates are free to take historical seminars within the department, to arrange courses of individual study with particular members of the faculty, to select courses in theory or composition, or to enroll in a wide range of graduate courses outside the department.
For more detailed curricular information, see the Graduate Handbook (pdf).
The programs in the theory of music provide rigorous training in recent systematic theory, the history of theory, and analysis. A central aim of the curriculum is to provide the student with a wide range of approaches to the study of music theory, including Schenkerian analysis, implication-realization theory, and the study of cognitive models for musical structure.
The seminar in the theory of music (Music 780) is a basic part of the course requirement. Topics considered in this seminar vary from semester to semester. In recent years they have included: Perception of Melodic Structures; Theories of Harmonic Implication; Musical Rhythm and Form; Renaissance Modal Theories; Musical Exemplarity; Repetition and Meaning; and Hierarchic vs. Systemic Analysis.
A substantial historical component is included in the theory curriculum, but this requirement is administered in a flexible manner; depending upon the character of their interests, theory students may design programs of study of which the historical component varies widely. Course requirements allow similar latitude for students who wish to pursue ancillary work in such fields as Critical Theory, Philosophy, Linguistics, or Psychology; the departments representing these disciplines at the University of Pennsylvania are particularly strong.
For further details on the theory curriculum, see the Graduate Handbook (pdf).
The program in the anthropology of music reflects the interdisciplinary nature of ethnomusicology, combining approaches from anthropology, musicology, folklore, literary theory, religious studies, linguistics, critical theory, and gender studies in order to interrogate the cultural webs of meaning within which music resonates. The diverse methodological interests of our anthropology of music faculty are reflected in the truly interdisciplinary
curricular structure of the program.
In keeping with the commitment of our faculty to fieldwork, ethnomusicology seminars are often extended into practical, fieldwork-based projects in West Philadelphia and through initiatives supported by the university’s Center for Community Partnerships (projects have included exploring gospel music in several West Philadelphia churches and documentary fieldwork in a West Philadelphia mosque). Seminars dealing with ethnographic methods, the intellectual history of ethnomusicology, area studies, and topical studies are combined with a broad range of courses in music theory and musicology. Recent area and topical studies courses have included: Improvisation in Cross Cultural Perspective, Women in Jazz, The Ethics of Style in Caribbean Popular Musics, Cosmopolitanism, Songwork in Early Colonial Latin America, African Musics, and Musics of Central Asia. Elective credits, moreover, afford students the opportunity to study with faculty in other departments or to craft independent studies with faculty in the department of music.
The anthropology of music faculty are interested in a wide range of topics and issues within ethnomusicology, but the program is particularly strong in the areas of music and spirituality, gender studies, diaspora, and popular musics in American, African, and Caribbean contexts. The overlapping interests of several faculty in the musicology and theory programs, moreover, also makes the anthropology of music program particularly strong in jazz studies and historical ethnomusicology.
For curricular details of the programs in Anthropology of Music, see the Graduate Handbook (pdf).