An Upper-level Undergraduate Course Syllabus
designed by Kevin Mendoza
Stanford University, 2012
In Partial Fulfillment of the Special Area Exam
Contact: [email protected]
Office hours: NA
is syllabus is designed for an upper-level undergraduate course that meets for 2 hours, twice a
week, for the duration of a fifteen-week semester. It may be modified for a ten-week quarter or for
holidays, vacations, and/or student presentations/analyses, as needed. Several of the included topics
may be adapted as separate courses.
Course Description: Composers who borrow from others’ music have been called
unoriginal, derivative, or, worse, thieves and plagiarists. But how just are these accusations?
is course will attempt explore the ontology of “musical borrowing” from Aristotle and
Cicero up to modern thinkers like Bloom, Deleuze, Lacan, and Foucault. We will re-imagine
the field of musical borrowing and discuss its terminology, focusing on the enigmatic
“recomposition.” Along the way, we will look at and examine relevant music from the middle
ages, the renaissance, and composers like Bach, Handel, Beethoven, Liszt, Busoni,
Schoenberg, Webern, Stravinsky, Cage, Boulez, Kagel, Schnebel, Castaldi, and others.
1. Introduction I: An Attempt to Locate Musical Plagiarism
• Course introduction and disclaimer (DON’T PLAGIARIZE!)
• Now, what is plagiarism?
• e curious case of George Frideric Handel (ongoing accusations of
• What does the law have to say?
◦ Labor, intellectual property, and…Marx?
2. Introduction II: Fun with Musical Copyright and Social Attitudes
• A survey of several prominent court cases
• Premonitions (Contextualizing attitudes towards ownership): Josquin and
Ockeghem, Liszt and Schubert, Schoenberg and Brahms, Guns & Roses
and Paul McCartney
1. Borrowing from Rhetoric, Part I
• What do the ancients say?
◦ Aristotle’s Rhetoric
◦ Cicero’s De Oratore
◦ Quintillian’s Institutes of Oratory
2. Borrowing from Rhetoric, Part II
• Imitatio and music education
◦ Fux ad Parnassum
◦ Matthesson
• Imitatio in composition
1. Growing historical consciousness and artistic autonomy
• What shifting attitudes meant for plagiarists and borrowers (Bach and the
French Suites?)
• Handel: an unimaginative thief?
• e conditions for a work-concept, briefly (Lydia Goehr)
2. Taxonomy of Borrowing, Part I: Oldies but Goodies
• Imitation
• “Parody”
• Paraphrase
• Quotation
• Modeling
• Allusion
• Transcription/Translation
• Quodlibet
1. Taxonomy of Borrowing, Part II: More Goodies, from J. Peter Burkholder, “All
Made of Tunes”
• Medley
• Stylistic Allusion
• Programmatic Quotation
• Cumulative Setting
• Collage
• Patchwork
• Extended Paraphrase
• “Parody II”
2. Taxonomy III: Problematics
• Transcription/Translation vs. Arrangement
◦ Burkholder: ‘Setting’ and/or arrangement
• What about Jazz? Oral traditions?
• Problems of agency
1. A Deleuzian Interruption: Difference & Repetition
• Outline of repetition, resemblance, and difference (passive/active)
◦ Can we escape resemblance? Creatio ex nihilo?
• Introduction to intertexuality
2. Re-imagining the Field of Musical Borrowing, Part I
• What does the term “borrowing” tell us?
• Further criticisms of borrowing
• Borrowing as the norm rather than the exception
1. Re-imagining the Field of Musical Borrowing, Part II
• Composition as passive and active difference (recomposition?)
• What would passive or active difference tell us? What wouldn’t passive or
active difference it tell us?
• Passive and active difference in music (ree thought experiments as
2. At the Precipice of Plagiarism: Introduction to Recomposition
• More thought experiments: What is the opposite of a simulacrum or Xerox
◦ What would it look like?
◦ How close can we get to plagiarism without plagiarizing?
◦ What would it look like? What would it tell us?
1. Recomposition, Part I
• Current (mis)uses of the term “recomposition”: interchangeability of terms
◦ Similarity and dissimilarity between uses
• A new definition of recomposition (closest to plagiarism)
◦ Recompositional properties
2. Recomposition, Part II: “Really, Structuralism?”
• A proposal of the plagiarism scale and recomposition
• Why focus on recomposition?
1. Recomposition: Part III
• A brief survey of recompositional stratagems before ca. March 26, 1827
• A more detailed survey of recompositional stratagems thereafter
2. An abbreviated history of the nineteenth-century piano “transcription” (e fall of
aristocracy, rise of the bourgeoisie, industry, and the dissemination of music)
• Composers who transcribed (Everyone. Including: Mendelssohn,
Schumann, Brahms, Godowsky, Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Reger, etc.)
• Compositional issues concerning piano transcriptions
◦ Liszt-Beethoven
◦ Liszt: Opera Fantasies
◦ Liszt-Schubert
◦ Liszt-Bach
1. Ferruccio Busoni
• Bach-Busoni or Busoni-Bach?
• Ideen, Einfalle, Bearbeitungen, Ubertragungen, Nachdictungen
• Busoni: Bach Chaconne
• Busoni (Fantasia Contrappuntistica) and Bach (Die Kunst der Fuge)
2. Introduction to Harold Bloom & Belatedness
• e anxiety of originality (historical awareness, artistic autonomy, and the
emergence/solidification of the canon)
• e Anxiety of Influence
◦ Romantic belatedness
◦ Misreading (misprision)
◦ Intertextuality
1. Harold Bloom & Belatedness: e Six Stages of Misprision
• Clinamen
• Tessera
• Kenosis
• Daemonization
• Askesis
• Apophrades
2. Towards a New Poetics of Musical Influence: e Brahms-Chopin Connection as
Described by Kevin Korsyn, Part I (Clinamen to Kenosis)
• Chopin, Berceuse, Op. 57
• Brahms, Romanze, Op. 118, No. 5
• Korsyn on Korsyn
1. Towards a New Poetics of Musical Influence: e Brahms-Chopin Connection as
Described by Kevin Korsyn, Part II (Daemonization to Apophrades)
• Taruskin on Korsyn
2. Joseph N. Straus, Remaking the Past, Part I: Anxiety in Schoenberg and Webern
• Schoeneberg, Concerto for String Quartet and Orchestra
• Handel, Concerto Grosso, Op. 6, No. 7
1 & 2. Joseph N. Straus, Remaking the Past, Part II: Anxiety in Schoenberg and
• Webern, Ricercare
• Bach, Das Musikalisch Opfer, BWV 1079
• Taruskin on Straus
1 & 2. Freud: the Oedipus Complex in a Nutshell
• e triangle of identity formation
◦ Ego, Id, and Superego
• e Oedipus Complex
◦ For boys
◦ For girls
◦ Criticisms (esp. sexism, primordial father)
1. Lacan & the Sinthome
• Re-imagined Oedipus (the early years)
◦ e Big O and the Missing PIece (Shel Silverstein)
• Fabrication of a new problem, which just happens to be the solution: the
2. Foucault: What Is an Author? Stravinsky Makes an Appearance
• What is an author?
• Duchamp and the readymade
• Stravinsky, Choral-Variationen
1. (Cont. from previous) Kagel, Cage, Castaldi, Schnebel, John Oswald: Authors
• Kagel, Sankte Bach Passion, Ludwig Van
• Cage, 4’33
• Castaldi, Elisa
• Schnebel, Re-Visionen Cycle
• Oswald: Plunderphonics
2. Reflections
• Johannes Kreidler, et al.
◦ Making music with music
◦ Compression sound art
• Business as usual
Grading is based on several aspects: attendance* (20%), preparedness for (20%), and
participation in (20%), each discussion/class (for which there is often required reading), and
a written analysis (40%) of two related works (the latter of which must borrow in some
significant way from the former).
Topics for the written analysis must be approved by Friday of Week VI. 12-15 pages
maximum (not including bibliography and supplementary materials). It is is due two weeks
before the last class (Friday, Week XIII).
*Note: since preparedness and participation is dependent upon attendance, do not miss class.
STUDENTS WITH DOCUMENTED DISABILITIES [will vary from institution to
Students who may need an academic accommodation based on the impact of a disability
must initiate the request with the Student Disability Resource Center (SDRC) located within
the Office of Accessible Education (OAE). SDRC staff will evaluate the request with required
documentation, recommend reasonable accommodations, and prepare an Accommodation
Letter for faculty dated in the current quarter in which the request is being made. Students
should contact the SDRC as soon as possible since timely notice is needed to coordinate
accommodations. e OAE is located at XXXXXX (phone: XXX-XXXX).
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Foucault, Michel. What Is an Author? in Aesthetics, Method, and Epistemology, edited by James
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