MUSICOL 606 - Special Course
Section: 001 Mode in Western Music: Theory, Essense, Practice
Term: FA 2018
Subject: Music History and Musicology (MUSICOL)
Department: Music School
With permission of instructor.
Advisory Prerequisites:
Graduate standing.
May be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

This seminar will expose students to the mechanics of modal theory, and its relation to practice, as a point of departure for exploring the broader questions of the nature of music theory and its claim to knowledge. At stake is the onthological/essentialist reading of modal theory, advanced by scholars such as Carl Dahlhaus and Bernhard Meier, that has long dominated the field - namely, the assumption that if there is mode, then there has to be "modal music" and even a "modality." (At the opposite end of the spectrum, Harold Powers famously argued that mode is "not real," thus still viewing the topic in essentialist terms, albeit as an essence to be categorically denied, rather than asserted). As a way of testing such essentialist approaches to mode, the seminar will recuperate modal theory as a historically inflected way of understanding diatonic choices and conventions that are deeply rooted in Western musical culture. Thus, the general premise of the course is that the question whether or not mode and modality are "real" is less important, or less productive, than the question of assessing mode's interpretive advantages and limitations as a theory of Western diatonicism. Students will acquire familiarity with a representative sample of writings on mode, mostly from the 16th to the 18th centuries, examined against select musical works from the time. Reading assignments will also include recent contributions in the theories of language, conceptualization, and the nature of music theory.

Intended Audience:

For graduate students only. Permission of instructor.

MUSICOL 606 - Special Course
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
M 8:30AM - 11:30AM
002 (SEM)
TuTh 2:30PM - 4:00PM
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