MUS461, Exam 2:
Create a two-page paper (600 words, double spaced, Times New Roman, 12-point font, 1-inch margins) for each of the following four topics. This will result in a 2400+ word paper. These essays are intended to be created/read separately using materials from our textbook and anthology only (please do not offer transitions between essays or a large-scale thesis or large-scale concluding paragraph).
• Notice that most of the discussions here focus on musical features of composers and repertoire we have been discussing in class. Avoid biography in these essays and stick to a discussion of musical features.
• Some essays require you to use all terms, while others allow you to use only those terms related to the repertoire you have selected. Please define terms clearly.
• Paraphrase well, footnote if using direct quotations (please do so sparingly), and generally aim for clarity and succinctness in your writing style.
• Grading: Broad content (1 point), Repertoire discussions (2 points), Terms (1 point). Notice that the grading favors the discussion of specific sections of the pieces themselves- a great way to offer examples of your broader musical features (discussion of examples in the repertoire is crucial here! Use measure numbers from the works to solidify your arguments).
Traditional Means, Extended Meanings
Many significant postwar composers focused on traditional instrumentation and forms as a means of expression, while also providing philosophical commentary on a range of topics. Below are three examples of composers who created an individualized approach to music using traditional mediums. Select one composer/piece and describe the distinctive compositional features (forms, timbres or instrumentation, textures, distinctive use of harmonies) representative of that composer’s compositional style, and musical features that were meant to provide a broader extra-musical association (Messiaen) or social criticism (Britten, Penderecki). Use only the relevant terms appropriate to your discussion.
Repertoire (select one):
NAWM 201: Messiaen, Quartet for the End of Time, I. “Liturgie de cristal”
NAWM 200: Britten, Peter Grimes, Act II, Scene 2, “To hell with all your mercy!” NAWM 208: Penderecki, Threnody: To the Victims of Hiroshima
Terms (use relevant terms; please bold or italicize in your text):
Modes of limited transposition, additive values, nonretrogradeable rhythms, bitonality, sul ponticello, sul tasto
Extensions of Serialism
With the creation of Darmstadt in 1946 and the completion of Messiaen’s Mode de valeurs et d’intensities (1949), young composers in the 1950s and 1960s were offered the opportunity to explore and expand features of serialized music beyond 12-tone composition, to include other serialized components and new mediums including electronic music. Select one composer and piece of repertoire from the list below and describe how that composer used serialism in the creation of these pieces. Also discuss features from the work that are representative of the composer’s personal aesthetic. Use only the relevant terms appropriate to your discussion.
Repertoire (select one):
NAWM 202: Boulez, Le marteau sans maître, VI. “Bourreaux de solitude”
NAWM 207: Babbitt, Philomel, Section I
Terms (use relevant terms; please bold or italicize in your text):
Total serialism (both repertoire options; review Burkholder’s discussion of this term- total serialism is never truly “total”, and thus applies to these pieces), rotation, electronic music
Minimalism/Postminimalism
One of the most widely-acknowledged trends in art music since the 1970s is minimalism. While this term originally implied a set of processes and a specific aesthetic, by the 1980s the term “postminimalism” was being used to broadly incorporate pieces that used those processes but incorporated outside methods, features, or aesthetics. All three pieces listed below can be described as “postminimalist”. In this essay, briefly explain the development of minimalism and postminimalism, describing musical features (or processes) in each of these works to guide your discussion. You do not need to include details about each composer’s individual style or aesthetic. Use all of the terms below in your discussion.
Repertoire (briefly describe each as it relates to minimalism/postminimalism):
NAWM 210: Reich, Come Out
NAWM 211: Adams, Short Ride in a Fast Machine
NAWM 219: Adams, Doctor Atomic, “Batter my Heart”
Terms (use all; please bold or italicize in your text):
Minimalism, postminimalism, phasing, ostinato(s)
New Accessibility
In the 1970s and 1980s composers became increasingly aware of the need to engage “non-specialist” audiences with their music. Some composers adapted or modified modernist aesthetics (Ligeti), while others adapted older trends for new pieces (Schnittke, Higdon). Below are three examples of composers who created engaging pieces by fusing older and newer musical traditions. Select one composer/piece and describe the distinctive musical features (forms, timbres or instrumentation, textures, distinctive use of harmonies) found in the piece, as representative of that composer’s compositional style or “ism”. Use only the relevant terms appropriate to your discussion.
Repertoire (select one):
NAWM 212: Ligeti, Étude No. 9 Vertige
NAWM 214: Schnittke, Concerto Grosso No. 1, II. Toccata
NAWM 220: Higdon, blue cathedral
Terms (use relevant terms; please bold or italicize in your text):
Accessible modernism, micropolyphony, continuous variation, postmodernism, polystylism, parallel motion

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