Goucher College Fall 1999 Thursday evenings 6:30-8:30 1.5 credits

Instructor: Kathleen Pierson Contact: or 410-830-3646

Office hours: by appointment, please feel free to e-mail or call to arrange a meeting time.


Text: No required text. Note: There is no standard text or syllabus for 'Music for Dance" courses, and such courses vary widely from one institution to the next, but the following seven books and CDs will be used to complete your assignments, and are on reserve for you in Julia Rogers Library at the main desk:

Banes, Sally Writing Dancing in the Age of Postmodernism 1994

Gilbert, Pia Music for the Modern Dance 1961

Steinberg, Cobbett The Dance Anthology 1980

Teck, Katherine Music for the Dance 1989

Teck, Katherine Movement to Music 1990

Two CD anthologies with companion texts, identified as "Kamien" and "Norton"


Julia Rogers Library holds a fairly extensive CD collection which can be searched via internet. The descriptions designate recordings as 331/3 LPs or cassettes or CDs. The CD anthologies on reserve are reference and cannot be signed out, but the general collection CDs can be signed out and may prove useful in your assignments. Towson Public Library holds a large and surprisingly varied CD collection that can be signed out with a Baltimore County library card. Your own personal collection of recorded music will of course also be useful, and I heartily encourage you (since you have no textbook costs with this course) to consider buying some new CDs this semester, as you discover new recordings in class.


Course Objectives:

(see "General Overview" and "Assignments" sections of this syllabus for further details)

With only thirteen class meetings, and at only 1.5 credits, this is clearly an introductory overview rather than an in-depth study, but the goal is to establish usable new skills and knowledge in four specific areas:

1) Performance encourage and improve each student's musical performance abilities through drumming, singing, and other actual music-making. The ability to "see oneself as a musician," accurately drumming rhythms and singing phrases, strengthens a dancer's dancing, teaching, and choreography.

2) Notational/Theoretical acquire simple, basic notational/theoretical skills and conceptual understanding. Even the most rudimentary skills in score reading, rhythmic analysis, and recognizing formal design, increase dancers' credibility and clarity in working with musicians and with other dancers.

3) Broadened Awareness of Recorded become increasingly aware of the enormous range of readily available recorded music. Knowing "where to look" among recordings of music from western heritage, from non-western cultures, and from the many categories of current event is an extremely useful knowledge for both choreography and teaching.

4) Choreographers' Musical briefly consider music's connection to dance historically through videos and readings, with focus on the musical choices of a few selected canonic choreographers.


Grading: 50% Attendance/involvement/participation/progress 50% Maintaining your class notebook and completing assignments

There are no written quizzes, there is no final exam, there is no formal paper, but each week there will be assignments which will be marked and returned to be included in your (graded) notebook.

Required materials: You need both regular notebook paper for note-taking, and music manuscript paper ("staff paper," available in the bookstore, either size 8-stave or 12-stave is fine)

Required attendance: We have only thirteen meetings, so attendance is crucial, especially since much of the material is as physical/experiential as dance technique class would be and cannot simply be "made up" in the way lecture courses might be. Unexcused absence will impact the course grade, at the instructor's discretion. To be Excused, an absence must be:

1) indicated as far in advance as possible in the cases of rehearsals or other scheduled conflicts

2) followed up by showing that you HAVE the notes you missed AND YOU HAVE ASSIGNMENTS READY. Both "missed" assignments AND THE CURRENT DUE ASSIGNMENT are due when you return, not at a later class, so you must find out what was assigned.


GENERAL OVERVIEW (An actual CALENDAR of what/when will have to wait until it is clear which classes will be missed by students for rehearsals or other known conflicts, so topics will probably NOT be covered in the ORDER given below)

~ Thinking about music + dance. what "works" and doesnŐt and why. different approaches: music first then choreo, choreo first then music, music and choreo developing simultaneously, collaboration, improvisation, silence. mimic vs. generally related vs. coincident vs. contrasting. historic choreographers' choices. "live" vs. "canned." parallels between composing music and choreographing dance.

~ Rhythmic explorations. speech rhythms. "stacked" rhythms. polyrhythms. beat vs. rhythmic patterns vs. meter. duple/triple/compound meters. tempo. western subdivided time vs. non-western pulse time vs. nonmetered time. notation. conducting patterns. rhythmic analysis. "with" vs. "across" the count in choreography. counting for teaching vs. counting for choreography. drumming and other percussion.

~ Pitch/melody/harmony explorations. physics. scales and modes. discreet vs. continuous. half steps and whole steps. chords and clusters. major/minor/modal/exotic/pentatonic. consonance/dissonance. tonal/ atonal. the visual logic of piano. playing piano, sequencing with synthesizer. the power of singing.

~ Texture and formal design. horizontal vs. vertical. monophonic/polyphonic/homophonic. new vs. repeated vs. variation vs. development. musical forms and formal designs.

~ Brief scan of style periods of western music. western vs. non western. pop vs. art vs. experimental etc.


ASSIGNMENTS (although again, this is not necessarily the ORDER in which they will be due)


Performance-oriented assignments:

P-1 Plan, practice, and be ready to drum appropriate accompaniment patterns for two different sorts of modern dance class exercises (foot articulations, triplets, swings, prances, etc.)

P-2 Write 4-measure rhythmic patterns for interesting clapping in 4/4, in 3/4, and in 6/8 meters (a total of 12 measures) and xerox enough copies for all class.

P-3 Write an 8-measure rhythm score for 4 different players to play at once, 4 different rhythm lines in clear vertical alignment (total 32 measures), and xerox enough copies for all class. BRING two interesting "percussion instruments" (bobby pins in plastic box, pan/spoon, etc.) to class.

P-4 Copy out onto music manuscript paper BY HAND (do not xerox, I want you to feel the writing of the notation) the first eight measures (it is "grand staff" so copy BOTH staves) of Gallop #2 on p. 87 of Pia GilbertŐs book Music for the Modern Dance (on reserve). Learn and be able to play on piano EITHER the right hand (upper staff) OR the left hand (lower staff).

P-5 Using either "Kamien" or "Norton" CD sets (on reserve) choose one piece that you like from each of the six standard style periods (Middle Ages to 1450, Ren. 1450-1600, Baroque 1600-1750, Classical 1750-1820, Romantic 1820-1900, Twentieth Century), and plan six brief bits of either ballet or modern class exercise OR possible group choreography (brief, simple) that you think would go well with each of your six different musical choices. I will bring the CDŐs to class and you will quickly present each of your six music/movement choices.

P-6 Bring in four CDŐs or cued cassettes of music NOT considered either "standard western canonic concert music" or "market pop" (what else IS there? jazz, new age, non-western, electronic, experimental, etc). You do NOT need to actually physically show choreography (though you may a little, if you want), but be able to TALK about choreographic ideas you have for each of your four musical choices.

P-7 Using ANY kind of recording you want, from any category and any historical era of music, plan two different warm-up exercises (such as plies and then tendus if ballet, swings and then foot articulations if modern) AND two different center or across the floor (such as adagio and grand allegro, or prances and big leaps) for a total of four different exercisesplanned to four different musical selections.

P-8 Actively participate in accompanying a technique class. (You are more than welcome to join me playing Stephanie PowellŐs Modern II at Towson University MWF 12:30-2:00 and KenŐs moderns Tuesday evenings at Carver Magnet High, but ANY class with live accompaniment ANYWHERE is GREAT).


Reading/Observing/Note-taking/Discussion-oriented assignments:

R-1 Sit in on a technique class, noting the musical choices with each exercise, what "works" and what doesnŐt, be prepared to present and discuss your observations. (Absolutely ANY technique class in ANY genre at ANY location with ANY accompanist or even with canned music is FINE).

R-2 From Steinberg read (from the composer/choreographer chapter) SteinbergŐs remarks pp. 126-127, Constant LambertŐs p. 137, and Horst/Della Joio/Schuller pp. 138-145 (up to Lloyd), and from TeckŐs Music for the Dance Ő89 see photo p. 147, read pp. 3-36 (through Wm Schuman), AND WRITE (or xerox/highlight) about ten sentences or ideas from scattered places in those readings that seem exciting/disturbing/memorable/etc. to you, noting writer/context in each case.

R-3 From Banes closely read pp. 310-326, writing as in R-2 above.

R-4 From Gilbert, read these snippets: Current Practice...bottom p. 31-32, Recorded vs. Live p. 37, Music as Stimulus for Choreo p. 38, Waltz/Polka/Schottische/Mazurka pp. 41-43, and scan the History Chart pp. 49-55, and from Teck Movement to Music Ő90 read pp.4-middle 11 (class accomp), pp. 99-103 (Toby Twining), pp. 173-middle 181 (ballet), pp. 194-middle 195 (modern), pp. 202-middle 203 (46 ways to treat a motif), writing as in R-2 above, and thinking "how is making music for dance like choreographing or improvising dance itself?"