Music 14: Contemporary Music
Spring quarter 2018. University of California, San Diego

Meetings: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 12:30-1:50, Conrad Prebys Music Center (CPMC) 127
Instructor: Professor Miller Puckette, CPMC 251, 858-534-4823,,
Office Hours:Tuesdays 11:30-12:30 (either in office or classroom) or by appointment

Teaching Assistants:
Wen Liu (wel191 at ucsd dot edu)
Elliot Patros (epatros at ucsd dot edu)

This course takes advantage of the feverishly inventive and up-to-date concert offerings of UCSD's music department to give an overview of the state of music in our time. The music in question won't be "popular" or "accessible" or even "classical". Most of you will like some of it and dislike most of it. The aim isn't to please your ears but, instead, to help you develop listening strategies that you can then apply to any kind of music you want.

There are three tests and five short (500 words or less) papers. The first of these is on a specific topic, but the four others are concert reports. To write these, attend one of the concerts listed below and write a short report about what you heard and what you think about it. The grade breakdown is: 10 points each for in-class tests and first two papers, and 15 points for the final and the last three concert reports. The usual grade cutoffs apply: 90-92 points for an A-, 93-96 for an A, 97-100 for an A+, and so on.

There are weekly reading and listening assignments, available from the UCSD library reserve system on These will appear as the class develops.

NOTE: Much of the materials of the course are introduced in class, and so it is important to attend classes regularly.

NOTE DATE CHANGE: test 1 will take place May 1.

Week 1:
Apr 3-5: Musical genre and style.
Paper 1 (500 words max), due April 12: There's a famous (and variously attributed) aphorism: "Writing about music is like dancing about architecture". What does that mean, and do you agree, and why?
Henry Litolff - Scherzo from Concerto Symphonique no. 4 (c. 1852; 6:59)
Luigi Russolo - Risveglio di una citta (1914; 3:45)
Pauline Oliveros - Bye Bye Butterfly (1965; 8:10)
Conlon Nancarrow - Study for Player Piano No. 3a, (c. 1948; 3:01)
Laurie Spiegel - Appalachian Grove I (1974; 5:20)
Don Van Vliet aka Captain Beefheart - She's too much for my mirror/My human gets me blues (1969; 5:21)
Salvatore Sciarrino - Let me die before I wake (1982; 4:56)
Reading: Luigi Russolo, The Art Of Noise (1913; in English translation)

Week 2:
Apr 10-12: Listening and hearing. Paper 1 due. April 12.
Steve Reich, Piano phase : 1967 (13:40)
Maryanne Amacher, Head rhythm 1; Plaything 2 (1999; 10:14)
Peter Ablinger 33-127: for electric guitar and CD (nos. 60-70). Note: Library hasn't put this up; see youtube video 3REhP6Uhn1A)
Sonic Youth, Audience (1983; 6:00)
Steve Coleman and the five elements, Snap-sis (2013; 3:09)
Rand Steiger, A Menacing Plume -- available HERE
Reading: Claire-Louise Bennett. The Recordings of Pauline Oliveros (New York Times, Feb 12, 2017)

Week 3:
Apr 17-19: Voice and language.
Pauline Oliveros, Sound patterns (1967; 4:00)
Robert Ashley, She was a visitor (1967; 5:46)
Charles Dodge, Speech Songs (1972; 7:01)
Milton Babbitt, Phonemena (1969; 4:12)
Luciano Berio, Thema (Ommagio a Joyce) (1958; 6:12)
Bobby McFerrin, Thinkin About Your Body (1986; 3:11)
Janis Joplin, Mercedes Benz (1970; 1:49)
Reading: Linda Nochlin, Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists? (1971; reprinted in The Feminism and Visual Culture Reader)

Week 4:
Apr 24-26: Twentieth-century European art music. Concert report 1 due April 26.
Kaija Saariaho, Noanoa (1991; 9:10)
Edgard Varese, Integrales (1923; 10:24)
Pierre Boulez, Sonatine pour flute et piano (1946-9; 11:27)
Olga Neuwirth, Settori (1999; 5:41)
Gerard Grisey, Talea (1986; 16:38)
Harrison Birtwistle, Betty Freeman, Her Tango (2000, 2:08)
Reading: Miles Hoffman, A Note to the Classically Insecure (New York Times, April 19, 2018)

Week 5:
May 1-3: Written and unwritten music. Test 1 is on May 1.
Trio M (Mark Dresser, Myra Medford, Matt Wilson), The Guest House (2011; 8:09)
Mark Dresser, Ed Harkins, Steven Schick, Xonia (2008; 11:18)
Anthony Davis, Wayang, no. 5 (2014; 25:14)
Vijay Iyer, Shape of things (2006; 3:25)
(sorry; no reading assignment this week.)

Week 6:
May 8-10: The west and the world. Concert report 2 due May 10.
Chris Brown and Guillermo Galindo, Transmission Tenderloin (2005; 7:06)
Ivan Naranjo, Uno (2005; 13:40)
Mauricio Rodriguez, Ligero (9:04)
Roberto Morales-Manzanares, Servicio a domicilio (8:32)
Pablo Cetta, ...que me hiciste mal... (1992; 7:57)

Week 7:
May 15-17: American takes on European classical music
Stefan Wolpe, Form (1959; 3:27)
Earle Brown, Hodograph 1 : version 1 [for trio] / (1994; 3:15)
Henry Cowell, Sinister Resonance (1930; 3:45)
John Cage, Daughters of the Lonesome Isle (1945; 8:51)
Julia Wolfe, Dark full ride (2009; 17:54)

Week 8:
May 22-24: Jazz, pop, and art music. Test 2 and concert report 3 May 24.
NOTE - these are available on BandCamp, not on the course reserves; see the URLs below):
Richards/Deane, New Moon -
Richards/Turetsky/Golia, SunnySide Up ->
Richards/Drury, Thaw -
Pixies (Asphalt Orchestra, performers),Bone Machine -

Week 9:
May 29-31: Art music meets pop music.
John Cage, Williams Mix (1952; 4:13)
Negativland, The Perfect Cut, 11 minutes (1989; 4:26)
Fatboy Slim, The Rockafella Skank (1999; 7:04)
Yoshihiro Hanno On/off edit (2001; 9:10)
Charles Dodge, Any Resemblance is Purely Coincidental (1979; 7:56)
Reading: Chris Cutler, Plunderphonics, in Simon Emmerson, ed., Music, Electronic Media, and Culture, pp. 88-114

Week 10:
Jun 5-7: Electronics in live music performance. Concert report 4 due June 11.
Louis and Bebe Barron, Forbidden planet
Iannis Xenakis, Concrete PH
James Tenney, Collage #1
Pink Floyd, On the Run
Trevor Wishart, Vox, no. 5
George Lewis, Voyager, no. 1
Reading: Grove ditionary of Music entry on electroacoustic music

Concerts for concert report 1, due April 26 (choose 1):
Friday, April 6, 5PM: Madison Greenstone, clarinets
Friday, April 13, 5PM: XX: Music by women
Tuesday, April 17, 7PM: Andrew Raffo Dewar, brain&muscle
Saturday, April 21, 7PM: Kallisti - Queen of the Ether

Concerts for concert report 2, due May 10:
Wednesday, April 25, 7PM: Palimpsest: Grisey and Birtwistle
Wednesday May 2, 7PM: Anthony Davis and Mark Dresser
Tuesday May 8th, 7PM: Wilfrido Terrazas, flute

Concerts for concert report 3, due May 24 (NOTE CHANGES):
Thursday, May 10, 7PM: Todd Moellenberg, piano
Monday, May 14, 7PM: Tyler J. Borden, cello
Friday, May 18th, 5PM: Barbara Byers presents BEOWULF
Wednesday May 23, 7PM: Stephanie Richards Trio

Concerts for concert report 4, due June 11:
Friday, May 25, 7PM: Mathhew Kline, double bass
Thursday May 31, 8PM: Gospel Choir
Wednesday June 6, 7PM: Pamplemousse
Sat/Sun June 9/10: La Jolla Symphony - Steiger, Template, Courtney Brian, Chodos/Coleman
See the music department website for details on concerts.