Sample Course Guide
Each course (excluding HUX 594 - Independent Study, HUX 599 - Final Project, and HUX 600 - Graduate Continuation Course) is accompanied by a student study guide or syllabi, called a "course guide," which is a specially prepared packet (produced by the Humanities External Degree faculty and updated by the staff) to provide the framework for independent learning. The guides are comprised of the instructors' lecture notes and may include such material as art reproductions, audiocassette tapes, excerpts from important writers and their works, study questions, explanations of terms and concepts, bibliographical essays and resource lists, and short monographs. Students may keep any course guides received, but accompanying art reproductions and audiocassette tapes are to be returned before the end of each term.
DEFINING THE HUMANITIES: MUSIC
State University, Dominguez Hills
Humanities External Degree Program
Dear Humanities 503 Student
Suggestions for Writing a "Critical" Book Review
Menuetto (*NOT PRESENT IN THIS SAMPLE*) - 3 Pieces from Robert Schumann's "Davidsbundlertanze" (*NOT PRESENT IN THIS SAMPLE*)
Congratulations! You have chosen to enroll in Humanities 503 at a particularly interesting juncture in the course's history. Many of the materials we have been using in the "old" course have gone out of print or have become difficult to locate. In addition, since it has been many years since the course was devised, the administration of the program is interested in injecting new life and ideas into 503, and has requested a new look at the old materials.
Although it claims to be an introduction to the philosophy of music, the text is written in the clearest everyday language, and far from being "lost" in philosophical abstractions, there are the most practical suggestions for perceiving, listening to, and thinking about music that at least one teacher has bumped into in a long time. In the second chapter, for example, there are no less than forty-eight (!) suggestions on how one might approach a single one-page minuet by Mozart.
From there we move on to a discussion of "time" in music and twelve different approaches to that subject. There are a great many "lists" in this book, but it does try to cover and synthesize a good deal of material and lists are at least one way to do it. Additional chapters follow on the classical and romantic tradition from the earliest times up to 1800, and the Romantic "synthesis." Another list, this time of romantic characteristics, is included. Then one chapter each on perception and values, follows. This is succeeded by a brave excursion into the music of India and Japan, most unusual for a book of this type. However, in view of our increasing involvement in Eastern cultures, both in commercial and artistic ways, I, for one, was very glad to see this chapter. The book ends with a long chapter on the very latest modern music, creating the final list of the book, sixteen "models" that offer some good clues to the Nature of much of today's contemporary music.
I believe this to one of the most important books about the philosophy and aesthetics of music to appear in a good while, and that it will make a challenging but most valuable text for this course. It is filled to the brim with thought-provoking ideas about the nature of music, expression, art, life, philosophy, perception, and yet is written in an everyday way, even with humor, and I hope the students of Humanities 503 will find it as striking as I did
Please do not hesitate to ask questions about what you do not understand.
- to widen your knowledge of music and its vast literature;
- to ask the important questions about what it is you are hearing when you listen to music, how you perceive it, and what it might mean;
- to compare different principles of music writing, and hence listening, that prevailed in different periods of human history;
- to compare different civilizations' view of the purpose and intent of music;
- to make some kind of rapprochement with the composers of today who present the musical public with problematical works.
Thinking About Music, by Lewis Rowell. University of Massachusetts Press.
Lewis Rowell is a professor at Indiana University and a teacher of a course there called "Music and Ideas," in which this text is used. It is almost unusual book in that it attempts to summarize under one cover an enormous variety of ideas about music coming from both ancient and modern philosophers, musicians, composers, aestheticians, and writers of poetry and literature.
Each assignment is due in the instructor's mailbox during the week indicated below. Count Week I as the first week that classes begin and Week XVI as the week grades are turned in. Trimester dates are listed at the upper left hand corner of your registration form.
All papers must be typed, with footnotes and bibliographies where appropriate. Send in an extra copy, marked "For HUX Files," and keep a copy for yourself. Also, keep a copy of the paper returned by the instructor which contains your grade, comments, and date. Send a self-addressed, stamped (with adequate postage) envelope for the return of each assignment. If you do not fully understand the assignment or need help, telephone the instructor during office hours, or mail in your questions.
Due: Weeks 1-2
Length: 5 pages or less
- Read Chapters 1 and 2.
- Listen to Mozart's "Minuet" 1 (found on your cassette tape for the course)
two questions from each of the four sections Rowell lists on pages
9 through 19:
- questions on the thing itself,
- questions about the value of the piece,
- question about you, the listener (or observer), and
- questions about the context of the piece.
Your answers need not be long. The purpose of this is to expose you to questions from different points of view and loosen up your musical mind and ear. Don't worry if you cannot read a note of music. The score is just a guide or map to the music, but the piece is simple enough to understand by ear alone.
Due: Weeks 3-4
Length: 5 pages or less
- Read Chapter 3.
- Listen to Mozart's "String Quintet in D Major" 2 (found on your cassette tape for the course); a minuet from one of the quintets has been chosen to compare with the piano minuet. A copy of the score is included in your course materials.
- Apply what you have learned to a longer and more complicated minuet, using the questions from each of the four lists you now find the most relevant to the music and your experience of it. In addition, you might apply to the new minuet some of the twelve questions about "time," found in the third chapter.
Due: Week 5
- Read Chapter 4.
- (This may be submitted for extra credit; it is not mandatory.) Make an outline of the main points associated with the classic approach in the arts (the Apollonian) and the romantic approach (the Dionysian). Does any of this apply to the Mozart minuets?
Due: Week 6
- Read Chapter 5.
- (This may be submitted for extra credit; it is not mandatory.) Make an outline of the main points of the chapter. Try to form a list of the various myths associated with music and its mythical powers.
Due: Week 7
- Read Chapter 6 (a highly condensed summary of a great many ideas about music from ancient times up to the year 1800).
- Read page 114 (and also pages 175-179, 182-188, for some additional help).
- Listen to the first movement of Beethoven's "Eighth Symphony" (several times, preferably).
Due: Week 8
Length: 2 to 3 pages; more welcomed, if so inspired
- Read Chapter 7 (the romantic synthesis). Beethoven is thought, by many commentators, to be both the end of the Classic period and the beginning of the Romantic period as well, although not all music historians agree on this point.
- Comment on the first movement of Beethoven's "Eighth Symphony", trying to find both classic and romantic elements in it as defined in your book. If you can justify it in the music, you may deny that it has elements of both, and that it is representative of one spirit or the other exclusively. The list of romantic qualities on pages 117-119 should be particularly helpful in reaching your decisions about the romantic and classic elements in this music.
Due: Week 9
Length: no more than 5 pages
- Read Chapters 8 and 9; these are two of the richest (and most difficult) chapters in the book.
- It is recommended that you try to apply some of the romantic values of the preceding chapter, allied to whatever you can get out of the chapters eight or nine, to a more clearly defined "romantic" work, such as one of the longer piano works of Robert Schumann. Particularly recommended would be any one of the following: "Symphonic Etudes," "Davidsbundlertanze," "Kreisleriana," "Carnaval," or "Fantasy in C," perhaps even the "Scenes from Childhood." Try to apply the concepts from pages 117 to 119 again, but now adding some of the ideas of chapters 8 and 9 about perceptions and values. This will also give you some experience in another major area of music history, the Romantic Period.
Due: Week 10
- Read the chapter on music of India and Japan.
- (This may be submitted for extra credit; it is not mandatory.) For your own benefit, draw up a list of qualities found in this music that contrast most clearly with western music as you have experienced it.
Due: Week 11 until the end of the semester
- Read and try to assimilate the particularly rich final chapter of the book, which attempts to wrestle with the many enigmas of the modern period in an unusually thoughtful manner.
your final assignment, you may choose one of two projects:
- Continue your development as listener and try to discuss any one of the works cited on pages 237-241, music by the "newer composers," or one work by the "old" new masters cited in the first five lines of page 246 in the first paragraph. (You'll have to get the records yourself for this assignment.)
- If, however, you would prefer instead to gather your notes and outlines together, you may write a book review of the entire work, Thinking About Music. A guideline on book reviews, written by the History Department of CSU Dominguez Hills, is included in your packet of materials for the course.
So, to summarize your assignments, you are:
- writing about the little minuet in the textbook, applying selected ideas of the author taken from pages 9-19; Two ideas from each of the four section are recommended, but you can do more if you wish;
- comparing the "Minuet" in the book with a longer and more complete Minuet, the one from Mozart's D Major String Quintet; this last one is not truncated and has a trio section in it;
- listening to the first movement of Beethoven's "Eighth Symphony" and writing a paper on it, trying to determine if there are both Classic and Romantic elements to the music;
- writing a small paper on one of Schumann's large piano works, seeking to isolate purely Romantic ideas in it, especially as compared to Mozart and Beethoven.
- discussing, as best you can, one of the "new" pieces of music covered in your textbook on pages 237-241, or a piece by the established modern masters listed on page 246 in the first paragraph. Any of their larger works will do. As an alternative to that you may choose to do a book review of "Thinking About Music."
No doubt some, or all of you, will want to consult other books about music along the way. Thinking About Music may presume some prior knowledge or experience that the class may not have. Therefore, we are listing some other sources, histories of music and the like, that may be of some assistance to you. This bibliography is arranged to show you where to go to start your own bibliography for any specific topic.
Dictionaries and Encyclopedias
These are useful for a preview of a topic and as a starting point in developing a bibliography.
Baker, Theodore. "Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians." Edited by Nicolas Slonimsky. New York: G. Schirmer, 1958. Persons associated with music, although not musicians, are also included with composers, performers, etc.
Apel, Willi. "Harvard Dictionary of Music." 2nd ed. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1969. A resource for terminology, but also includes some master articles on more general topics, e.g., "History of Music."
Grove, Sir George, (ed.). "Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians." A multi-volume work with articles on personalities and general topics. A more recent, completely new editions of this, edited by Stanley Sadie, has come out in the last few years.
Music Histories and Major Music History Series
The following is an excellent source for bibliography on subjects connected with music history:
Grout, Donald. "A History of Western Music." Rev. ed. New York: W. W. Norton, 1973. This contains an excellent annotated bibliography arranged by chapter and thus by historical period in chronological order.There are three major series of multi-volume music history books. Each of these contain more detailed information than the general histories because more space and time is devoted to each historical era. In many instances these books may contain sufficient information to satisfy your needs and if you care to look further, they also contain bibliographies.
- "The New Oxford History of Music." London, New York: Oxford University Press, 1954. Each volume is a composite work written by several scholars and edited by a specialist in the field.
- W.W. Norton, a New York publisher, has a well established series of individual volumes, one per major style period with a separate, single author. They are "Music in the Middle Ages" and "Music in the Renaissance," both by Gustav Reese (dull but great detail and bibliography); "Music in the Baroque Era," by Manfred Bukofzer; "Music in the Romantic Era," by Alfred Einstein; "Music in the Twentieth Century," by William W. Austin; and, "The Music of Black Americans," by Eileen Southern. They also publish a number of other high quality music theory and history texts.
- The Prentice-Hall "History of Music Series," edited by H. Wiley Hitchcock. Once more a volume per major style period in Western European music, but also three on less traditional subjects. They are "Folk and Traditional Music of the Western Continents," by Bruno Nettl; "Music Culture of the Pacific, the Near East, and Asia," by William P. Malm; and "Music in the United States," by H. Wiley Hitchcock. Each volume has the listing of the entire series on the back cover. Each volume also has a brief annotated bibliography at the end of each chapter.
These introductory music books are often the best source of brief analyses of well-known musical works, e.g., a Beethoven Symphony, a Mozart Concerto, etc. The quickest way to find out if a particular work is included in a book is to check the index of the musical Illustrations, if one is included. Otherwise, refer to the index or table of contents. These books are far too numerous to list, but once you find one in the library, the others will be similarly catalogued and close at hand. Simply look under Music: analysis, appreciation in the subject index catalogue.
Most popular articles will probably be too technical to be useful to you, but they are still the best way to get very detailed information on small specific topics. Most journal references will be abbreviated in bibliographical references. The ones you're most likely to use are:
JAMS - "Journal of the American Musicological Society"; One of the best and most scholarly journals of musicology.
MQ - "Musical Quarterly"; This periodical is basically scholarly, but somewhat more accessible than JAMS. It is also a good source of bibliography.
ML - "Music and Letters"; A scholarly publication which might occasionally be quite useful to you.
- 3 to 5 pages, double-spaced, typed, no folders. Full title, author, publisher, publication place and date should be given on separate sheet or at the top of p. 1.
- You should summarize what the book is about, and in particular the writer's arguments, main theses, points of views, etc. (See Auld's paper on reviewing a particular book.) This summary can be taken care of in a few paragraphs or at most a page. If you spend most of your review summarizing the book, you have done the assignment incorrectly. The bulk of the review must be a discussion and evaluation of the author's points.
- Learn what argument or tendency your writer is in favor of and which one/ones he/she is arguing against. Most authors are aware of a community of interpretations into which their work fits and they indicate in their work with whom they agree and disagree. Being attentive to this will help you get a line on your author's point of view and it will help you evaluate your author's contribution.
- Indicate whether the author has a discernible bias, political, academic, or other. This bias may or may not influence the way he/she handles the evidence. Even apparently "objective" workshave some bias or point of view. Even an apparently impartial middle-of-the-roadism can be a bias if it functions as an apology for whatever happened, for things as they are.
- Internal contradictions. Some authors contradict themselves. An argument in Chapter 5 contradicts one in Chapter 1. In fact, it is a safe bet that every author does this at some point. To get at these kinds of things you have to take careful notes on the book unless you have a perfect memory. Also, it is not valuable to emphasize trivial contradictions or errors unless there are so many they destroy the whole book or the author's credibility.
- Is the author's evidence from apparently reliable sources? This judgment involves knowledge and background and you may not always have enough, but use what knowledge and common sense you have. Thus, Hitler's "Mein Kampf" is not a good source for an objective history of the Jews; the memoir of a Jewish peddler in eastern Europe would probably be a good source. Or, to take another example: for opposite reasons, the publications of neither the Soviet nor the U.S. Government can be used uncritically to determine levels of Soviet defense spending.
- Do the judgments and interpretations flow from the evidence? Can you draw conclusions from the evidence that are different from your author's and should the author have discussed those alternatives? Do the final conclusions of the book flow from the evidence? Do they make sense in light of all the information in the book? Can you, for example, imagine alternative conclusions that fit the information just as well?
- Does the author make sense - good old common sense? Do you get the feeling that the author is playing fast and loose with the evidence? with his arguments? with your feelings?
- Throughout your review you are looking not only for information, but explanations, interpretations, causes, relationships, etc.
- Should the writer have done something else to have answered his or her central questions? This is tricky. Generally avoid concluding that the author should have written a different book. But you can suggest that the author cannot answer the questions posed in the way he approaches it. You can also suggest that the author's questions and answers are not significant, that they are trivial and relatively unimportant. (A book on the history of Lincoln's beard would be an extreme example.) You can suggest that the author ignores the most important questions and issues his or her topic raises.
- Include your opinions. Has the book changed them in some way? If it hasn't, perhaps you've come across that rare work which confirms everything you believe. If so, you should go back and take another look to be sure you aren't being too favorable because you agree with the author.
- I have emphasized the negative aspects of the review. Be aware that criticism is both negative and positive. If an author does something especially well or enlightens you in some way, note that. Criticism is evaluation, both negative and positive.
- A critical review is not a research paper, but it is not against the law for reviewers to do a little research to check an author's information or discover what other authors have said on the same problem.
- It is against the law to plagiarize another's work, i.e. to take material from another work without acknowledging the source. If you use other material, whether or not you quote it directly or put it in your own words, indicate the source in foot/endnotes or in parentheses.
Use these suggestions flexibly. There is no shortcut to learning how to write good reviews. It takes much practice and experience. Above all, try to enjoy and learn from the book you are reading.
1 This version is truncated because there is no trio section to go along with it. A trio is not three other musicians, but simply another section used to contrast with the minuet, after which the minuet is returned to for a second time, only now without the repeats. "Repeat" signs in music are indicated by those darkened barlines with the two dots in front of them. See measures 16 and 44. That simply means, "play this section over again exactly as it was before." Composers in the 20th century rarely use this device, as they seem to prefer giving the listener something new all the time, although even so modern a composer as Anton Webern, one of Schoenberg's leading pupils, and a composer of enormous significance in the years immediately following World War II, used them in several (but not all) of his pieces. Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven used the repeat sign all the time.