Donald Berman Piano


Historical Traditions IV: Special Topics
Lecturer: Donald Berman
Spring 2012: Tuesday and Fridays,  3:25-5:05pm
Ryder Hall rm 235

This course will look at 20th century and contemporary music through the lens of minimalism.  Topics will include the precursors to minimalism (20th century experimentalists through Schoenberg, Cage, and Morton Feldman) to the Minimalists (LaMonte Young, Terry Riley, Philip Glass, Steve Reich) to the post-minimalists (John Adams and the so-called New Tonalists.)  The intersection of minimalism with World Music, Popular Music, and Commercial music will be examined as will ramifications for broadly marketed music today. The class will closely consider musical matters such as trance, pulse, patterns, additive rhythm, perpetual motion, tape delay, and visualization.  Of further concern will be how we hear contemporary music – classical and popular – having experienced minimalism.  We will discuss the  commercial and cultural ramifications of repetition.

Each class will focus on listenings, readings, and contextualizing the music. We will endeavor to embrace the zeitgeist of the the birth of minimalism and how that mindset has been developed by a variety of composers, described by writers, and filtered in modern culture.  We will learn to hone our listening, writing, and speaking skills, all toward the goal of accurately describing and contextualizing what we hear.  We will discuss what minimalism can offer us in our approach to performance practice and problem solving.

Discussing the works and learning how to talk about what we hear is the emphasis of the course. In addition to learning the core concepts, composers, and repertoire of the minimalist and post-minimalist eras, we hope to extrapolate what we learn and apply it to our current pursuits – whether purely artistic or creatively applied to cultural, administrative, or entrepreneurial presentation. Participation, including learning ourselves how to play some works we listen to (like Steve Reich’s Clapping Music), is highly valued and will be graded.

The usual expectations of good collegiate conduct apply to this course.  Attendance is required.  Attention in class is crucial.  In a class about minimalism and the challenge of attending to long works of repetition, drones,  and gradual shifts, it is of the utmost importance.  Use of phones, texting, etcetera is not allowed.  Good citizenship is a virtue and will be reflected in your grade.  We will be delving deeply into avant-garde movements in music.  Curiosity, an open mind, and a patient intellect is required.

The required readings and listening examples are on the syllabus and will be posted on Blackboard.  Each class will have required listening and suggestions for additional listening.  It is highly recommended that you listen to all the works.  You must listen to the complete works.  Some of them are long.  That is part of the point of minimalism. You must embrace that ethos to succeed in the class.  I suggest that you listen to works as often as you can.  It is okay to download the works on your ipod and experience the music in different settings – from quiet solitary listening, to walking around campus. (just please look both ways before you cross the street.)

As much as possible listen to the additional works requested each week. We will also listen to works together and discuss our reactions to them in light of our own private listening and the writings about the work.

Note that the works you choose for your presentations and papers may need to be researched at the library, on digital online resources, and/or  possibly purchased online. All of the readings assigned for class will be available in pdf format on Blackboard.  You will, however, have to download on Netflix or purchase the DVD of the film Koyaanisqatsi.  For further readings within the books we are reading from you must obtain your own copies.  As well, it is important to bring your own listening interests to bear on this class.  Therefore, be prepared to share examples from your own listening library, particuarly excerpts that pertain to the core listening examples in class.

Two projects – an oral presentation and a six-page paper – are required.  The presentation project will be independently researched and based on a repertoire selection that is, for the most part, not covered in class.  This is truly a presentation to your classmates of new material not otherwise covered.  There are many suggestions of composers and pieces to choose to present to the class in lists at the end of the syllabus. The six-page paper can also be from repertoire not covered in class. However, the paper must touch on topics and pieces covered in class.  The purpose of the paper is to choose a unifying idea that brings together different threads from the listening and readings.  You will have the chance to revise your 6-page paper if you choose after getting it back with comments.  In the case of both the presentation and the paper you will have to hand in a short one-paragraph abstract on your topic.  These will be due as indicated below on the syllabus.

In addition to the presentation and paper topic there will be two short in-class listening assignments.  For each of these I will play an unidentified piece in class two times on a Tuesday.  You will take notes as you listen and write a three-page paper from your notes for Friday. The purpose of this exercise is to sharpen your listening skills and ability to describe what you hear in writing.

Lastly, there will be a Final Exam on the last day of class of material we covered in class. 

Finally, as the course evolves, we may make repertoire detours and assignment changes.

Requirements  (each 20% of grade)

  • Class Participation
  • Two (2) Tuesday (2/7; 2/28) in-class listening exercises for 3pp papers due following Fri
  • 1 solo presentation, 20 minutes.  An oral presentation of a piece(s) with examples of connections to contemporary music
  • 1 6pp paper on a chosen repertoire piece with option of 2nd revised submission
  •  Final exam

READINGS (excerpts from these books and articles):>
Adams, John Hallejuiah Junction: Composing an American Life, Farrar, Strass and Giroux, 2008 pp. 93-124; 152-170

Joseph Auner,  Music of the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries, Vol. VI, Western Music in Context: A Norton History, Norton (in production): pp 381-407

Barucha, Jamshed Music Cognition and Perceptual Facilitation, Musical Perception Fall 1987 pp. 1-7; 24-28

Cage, John Silence, Wesleyan University Press, 1961 pp. 3-13; 18-35; 76-84

Carl, Robert  Terry Riley’s In C, Oxford University Press 2009 pp. 1-36; 80-96

Fink, Robert Repeating Ourselves: American Minimal Music as Cultural Practice, University of California Press, 2005 pp. 16-21;  25-32; 120-166

Gann, Kyle American Music in the Twentieth Century, Schirmer Books 1997
pp. 164-7; pp. 184-216

Gann, Music Downtown: Writings from the Village Voice, University of California Press 2006 pp. 42 – 49; 18-192

Geiersbach, Frederick, Making the Most of Minimalism in Music, Music Educators Journal 1998  pp. 26-30; 49

Griffiths, Paul Modern Music and After Directions since 1945,  Oxford University Press 1996 pp. 94-103; 176-181

Herrigel, Eugen Zen in the Art of Archery, Vintage, 1999 pp. 3-18; 53-74

Kostelanetz, Writings on Glass, University of California Press, 1999 pp. 131-151;176-188

Ives, David Philip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread (one-act play), Vintage, 1994 

Maue, Kenneth, Water in the Lake, Harper Collins 1979 pp. 1-14

Reich, Steve Writings On Music,  Oxford University Press, 2002 “Music as a Gradual Process” (3pp.) , “Notes on Compositions 1965-1973” (23 pp.)

Ross, Alex The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century, Macmillan 2008
pp. 74-98; pp. 284-9; pp. 473-512

Saks, Oliver Musicophilia, Random House 2008 pp. 41-48

Strickland, Edward Minimalism: Origins Indiana Press 1993 pp. 119-142; 257-271

Taruskin, Richard Vol 5 Oxford History of Western Music, Oxford University Press, 2005 pp. 351-411

Adams, John Shaker Loops
Adams, John Death of Klinghoffer Act 1
Advertising Jingles:
Bartok, Bela 6 Pieces in  Bulgarian Rhythm
Bresnick: My Twentieth Century
Bruckner, Anton Symphony 5 mvmnt I
Cage, John ASLSP
Davis, Miles So What
Dreyblatt, Arnold Nodal Excitations
Glass, Philip Dance no. 5
Glass, Philip Satyagraha, Act I, Act 3 finale
Glass, Philip and Reggio, Godfrey Koyaanisqatsi
Glass, Philip Orphée I #1, “le Café”, II # 2 “The Trial”, II # 9“Orphée’s Room”
Golijov, Osvaldo Ayre VI, X
Gorecki, Henryck Symphony #3, I. Lento
Ives, Charles Study No, 20
Lang, David The so-called laws of nature
Ligeti, György Hungarian Rock
Lucier, Alvin I am Sitting in a Room
Monk, Meredith Do you be
Partch, Harry The Bewitched (prologue)
Pärt, Arvo Litany
Ravel, Maurice Bolero
Reich, Steve Its Gonna Rain
Reich, Steve Music for Eighteen Musicians
Reich, Steve Tehillim
Riley, Terry  In C (original Recording)
Riley, Terry  In C (Bang on a Can All Stars Recording)
Satie, Gymnopedies
Schoenberg Farben (Five Pieces for Orchestra #3),
Stravinsky Les Noces (part I)
Tuva: Among the Spirits
Wolff, Christian I Like to Think of Harriet Tubman
Young, LaMonte The Second Dream of the High Tension Line Transformer

Adams, John Phrygian Gates 
Dreyblatt, Arnold The Adding Machine
Eno, Brian Music for Airports
Feldman, Morton Why Patterns?
Feldman, Morton The Viola in My Life
Glass, Philip Violin Concerto
Lerdahl, Fred Time After Time
Moby Honey
Niblock, Phil China ’88 (vimeo link)
Pärt, Arvo Te Deum
Reich, Steve The Cave (excerpts: Typing Music; The Cave of Macpelah)
Reich, Steve Come Out
Riley, Terry In C (Shanghai Film Orchestra)
Riley, Terry In C remixed (GVSU)
Shankar, Ravi
South Indian Drumming (Sankaran, mrdgm; adi tala)
Stockhausen, Karlheinz Stimmung (#1-3)
Stockhausen, Karlheinz Helicopter String Quartet
Tavener, John Ikon of Light
Theofanidis, Christopher The Here and Now
Tudor, David Rainforest
Varese, Edgard Poeme Électronique
Webern, Anton 4 Pieces for Violin and Piano
Young, LaMonte The Well-Tuned Piano


Week 1: Intro & Early Precedents: Stillness and Isolation

1/10 Intro, samples, discussion of assignments. How to talk about what we hear.
1/13 Purcell, Schubert, Bruckner, Liszt, Schoenberg, Webern, Stravinsky, Janacek, Ravel

Reading: Ross, “Dance of the Earth” pp. 74-98
Reading: Saks, “Brainworms, Sticky Music, and Catchy Tunes” pp. 41-48
Required Listening: Bruckner, Symphony 5 mvmnt I, Schoenberg: Farben (Five Pieces for Orchestra #3), Stravinsky, Les Noces (part 1), Ravel Bolero
Suggested Additional Listening:  Webern: 4 Pieces for Violin and Piano

Week 2: Additive Rhythms and Early Precedents

1/17 Polyrhythms, additive rhythms: Bartok, Satie (Vexations), Ives
1/20 Philip Glass intro; Intro to Solkatu (south Indian Rhythm)

Reading: Gann, “Minimalism” pp. 184-216
Reading: Geirsbach, Making the Most of Minimalism in Music (6pp.)
Required Listening: Satie, Gymnopedie  Bartok: 6 Pieces in  Bulgarian Rhythm, Glass: Dance no. 5 Ives: Study No, 20
Suggested Additional Listening: South Indian Drimming (Sankaran, mrdgm)

Week 3: Conceptualism, Fluxus, and Respite

1/24 Cage (Silence), Brown, Feldman, Wolff, Harrison
1/27 Maue, Lucier, Oliveros, Young, cognition and Sensory Integration

Reading: Cage, John “The Fuuture of Music”, Experimental Music”, “Erik Satie”
pp. 3-13; 18-35; 76-84 
Reading: Barucha Music Cognition and Perceptual Facilitation pp. 1-7; 24-28
Reading: Maue, “Introduction”  pp. 1-14
Reading: Gann, “Alvin Lucier”,  pp. 164-7
Required Listening: Lucier: I am Sitting in a Room Cage: ASLSP
Suggested Additional Listening: Morton Feldman Why Patterns?, The Viola in My Life

Week 4: Terry Riley’s In C

1/31 Bebop, Coltraine, Davis, Mingus, Contemporary Improv
2/3 In C, comparative listening, group practice

Reading: Carl, Robert  Introduction, pp. 1-36; “Life and Art before In C” pp. 80-96
Required Listening: Davis So What Riley:  In C (original Recording); In C  (Bang on a Can All Stars Recording)
Suggested Additional Listening: In C (Shanghai Film Orchestra); In C remixed (GVSU)

Week 5: Phase Music, World Music  IN-CLASS LISTENING ASSIGNMENT 1 (3pp.)

2/7 West African Drumming, Gamelan, Pendulum Music, Its Gonna Rain, Four Organs
2/10 Clapping Music, Music for Eighteen Musicians

Reading: Reich “Music as a Gradual Process” (3pp.) , “Notes on Compositions 1965-1973” (23pp.)
Reading: Griffiths, “After Silence” pp. 94-103; 176-181
Required Listening: Reich: Its Gonna Rain, Music for Eighteen Musicians
Suggested Additional Listening: Come Out

Week 6:  Environmental Music,  LaMonte Young, and Drones

2/14  Trio, High Tension Line Transformer, Environmental Recordings

Reading: Strickland “Sound” pp. 119-142
Reading: Auner, Minimalism and its Repercussions” pp. 381 - 407
Required Listening: Young: The Second Dream of the High Tension Line Transformer
Suggested Additional Listening: Young: The Well-Tuned Piano, Stockhausen: Stimmung; Tudor: Rainforest Niblock China ‘88

Week 7:  Buddhism, I Ching, Indian Music, Meditation Presentation Proposal Due

2/21 Buddhist practice in music,  Vocal Music, Satyagraha, Cage Scores
2/24 Clapping Music groups, Meredith Monk, Joan LaBarbara, Subotnick

Reading: Ross, pp. 473-512 pp. 284-9
Reading: Herrigel, Eugen Zen in the Art of Archery pp. 3-18; 53-74
Reading: Kostelanetz, (Kozinn)  “Satyagraha” 176-188

Required Listening: Glass: Satyagraha, Act 1, Act 3 finale;  Monk: Do you be
Suggested Additional Listening: Ravi Shankar:

Week 8: Film Music, Ambient Music IN-CLASS LISTENING ASSIGNMENT #2 (3pp)

2/28 Varese: Musique Concréte, Electronic Music, Beatles, Brian Eno ambient music
3/2 Films: The City (Copland); Koyaanisqatsi, Thin Blue Line (Glass)

Reading: Berg (in Kostelanetz), “Philip Glass on composing for film and other forms:  the case of Koyaanisqatsi” pp. 131-151
Reading: Strickland “Space” , pp. 257-271
Required Listening and Viewing: Glass and Reggio: Koyaanisqatsi,
Suggested Additional Listening: Eno: Music for Airports; Varese: Poeme Electronique

Week 9 Cultural Practice 6-Page Paper Proposal Due

3/13 Commercials, Jingles and Ear Worm; Suzuki Method, performance practices
3/16 Maue pieces, Stockhausen, Pärt, Nancarrow, LaBarbara, Disco, Techno-dance

Reading: Fink, “Minimalism rescued from its Devotees” pp. 16-21;
“Do It (‘til You’re Satisfied) Repetitive Musics and Recombinant Desires”
pp. 25-32; “The Media Sublime”, pp. 120-166
Required Listening: Pärt: Litany;  Wolff: I Like to Think of Harriet Tubman
Advertising Jingles:
Suggested Additonal Listening: Pärt: Te Deum Stockhausen: Helicopter String Quartet Moby Honey

Week 10: Exploring Glass, Reich Developing Canons PRESENTATIONS BEGIN

3/20 Reich: Tehillim, Double Sextet, Revival of Chant
3/23 Glass: Orfeo, Piano Etudes, Violin Concerto

Reading: Taruskin, “A Harmonous Avant-Garde?” pp. 351-395
Required Listening: Glass: Orphée I #1, “le Café”, II # 2 “The Trial”, II # 9“Orphée’s Room”Reich: Tehillim
Suggested Additonal Listening: Glass: Violin Concerto, Reich: The Cave

Week 11: Sonicism and Harmonic Spectrums

3/27 Partch, Braxton, Dreyblatt, Branca
3/30 Goldstein, Psycho-acoustics, Techno-groove, Moby

Reading: Gann (Writings):  “Harps from Heaven: Glenn Branca reemerges from the Thick of Theory” pp. 42 – 49; “Composing the Lingo: Harry Partch, American Inventor” pp. 188-192
Required Listening: Dreyblatt: Nodal Excitations Partch: The Bewitched
Suggested Additional Listening: Dreyblatt: The Adding Machine Moby: Play

Week 12:  European Minimalism and World Music

4/3 Ligeti, Gorecki, Tavener, Hilliard Ensemble
4/6 Andriessen, Nyman, Tuvan Throat Singing, Digeridoo 6-PAGE PAPER DUE

Reading:  Taruskin, “A Harmonous Avant-Garde?”  pp. 396-411
Required Listening: Ligeti: Hungarian Rock; Gorecki Symphony #3
Tuva: Among the Spirits
Suggested Additional Listening: Tavener: Ikon of Light

Week 13:  Post-Minimalism

4/10 Adams, Lehrdahl, Lieberson, David Ives one-act play
4/13 Bang on a Can, Lang, Beglarian, Bresnick

Reading: Adams, “Faulty Wiring,” pp.  93-99; “A Harmony Lesson,” pp.100 -124
Ives, David Philip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread
Required Listening: Adams: Shaker Loops, Bresnick: My Twentieth Century
Lang: The so-called laws of nature
Suggested Additional Listening: Adams: Phrygian Gates  Lehrdahl: Time After Time

Week 14: Eclecticism, Global Affairs 6  page paper revision due (optional)

4/17 Adams, Theofanidis, Makaan, Levering, Muhly, Gandolfi, Golijov
4/20 Current revivals of minimalist works, Einstein on the Beach

Reading: Adams, “Singing Terrorists” pp. 152-170
Required Listening: Adams Death of Klinghoffer Act 1 Golijov: Ayre VI, X
Suggested Additional Listening: Theofanidis: The Here and Now

Week 15:  Conclusions and Applications

4/24  Business Reading, review of repertoire
4/27 Final Exam

Including some more suggestions  for repertoire study

Early Precedents
Bela Bartok  Six Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm
Anton Bruckner Symphony No. 7
Charles Ives, Unanswered Question;  Scherzo: Over the Pavments
Franz Liszt Nuage Gris
Erik Satie  Parade
Arnold Schoenberg Five Pieces for Orchestra
Anton Webern Piano Variations

1950s Experiential Minimalism: Indeterminancy
Earle Brown Indices
John Cage Imaginary Landscapes
Morton Feldman Durations 1
Lou Harrison Rapunzel

1960/70s Conceptualism and Early Technology
Alvin Lucier Music on a Long Thin Wire, Music for Solo Performer
Ken Maue Water on the Lake
Pauline Oliveros, Tuning Meditation
Nam June Paik TV Cello
Karlheinz Stockhausen Kontakte

World Music Precedents and Environmental Recordings:
Africa: West African Drumming
Australia: Digeridoo
Costa Rica:  Rain Forest (La Salva, Francisco López)
India: North Indian, Ravi Shankar
India: South Indian Rhythm (solkatu)
Indonesia: Balinese and Javanese Gamelan
Mongolia: Tuvan Throat Singing
North America: A Prairie Spring (Lang Elliott)
Turkey: Sufi Whirling

Bebop and Modal Jazz Precedents
John Coltraine A Love Supreme
Miles Davis So What
Charles Mingus Hobo Ho

Early Electronic Music
David Behrman On the Other Ocean
Hugh Le Caine Dripsody
Otto Luening  Low Speed
James Tenney Kontakte

1960/70s Minimalism: Drones, Phase Music; Tape Delay; Pattern-Pulse; Additive Rhythm
John Adams Harmonielehre
Philip Glass Einstein on the Beach; Music in 12 Parts
Ben Johnston String Quartet No. 5
Joan LaBarbara Selections from Voice is the Original Instrument
Meredith Monk Book of Days; Acts from Under and Above
Phill Niblock Hurdy Hurry
Steve Reich Music for Eighteen Musicians;  Double Sextet, Different Trains
Terry Riley A Rainbow in Curved Air
La Monte Young Dream House
Christian Wolff Trio III

1970s-80s Sonicism
Glenn Branca Symphony No. 1 Tonal Plexus
Anthony Braxton My Country
Rhys Chatham Guitar Trio
Arnold Dreyblatt Resonant Relations
Malcolm Goldstein Sounding the New Violin
Gordon Mumma Music for Solo Piano
Conlon Nancarrow Studies for Player Piano
Harry Partch And on the Seventh Day Petals Fell in Petaluma
Morton Subotnick Touchfor 4-Channel Tape
James Tenney Koan
David Tudor Rainforest II

European Minimalists
Louis Andriessen Disco
Gavin Bryars Sub Rosa
Henryk Górecki Symphony No. 2
Gyorgy Ligeti Continuum
Michael Nyman String Quartet No. 4
Arvo Pärt Silouans Song
John Tavenor The Protecting Veil

1980-90s Post-minimalism
Michael Daugherty Route 66
Michael Gandolfi The Garden of Cosmic Speculation
Paul Koonce Walkabout
David Lang Are You Experienced?
Fred Lerdahl Waves
Paol Ruders Four Dances in One Movement
Michael Torke The Yellow Pages

Post-Minimalist Rock
Brian Eno Music for Films
Roxy Music  Re-Make/Re-Model
Sonic Youth Pattern Recognition
Velevet Underground Run Run Run

1990s-2000s Eclecticism
Eve Beglarian Overstepping
Martin Bresnick Opera Della Musica Povera
Tan Dun Hidden Dragon Crouching Tiger
Osvaldo Golijov Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind
Stephen Hartke King of the Sun
Phillip Kiline Unsilent Night
Peter Lieberson Neruda Songs
Scott Lindroth Light
Arthur Levering Catena
Keeril Makan Washed by Fire
Nico Muhly Mothertongue

Popular Music Crosscurrents
Chant revival
Commercial Music and Trance Culture
Donna Summer/George Moroder
Techno Dance
Sonic Youth
MF Doom America’s Most Blunted

Naxos Music
DRAM (Digital Reacording American Music