MSC 1003 - Music in Civilization

Section ETR: Tuesdays and Thursdays 2:30-3:45 in Room 6-170
Section FTR: Tuesdays and Thursdays 4:10-5:25 in Room 6-170
Section UR: Thursdays 6:05-9:00 in Room 6-170
Class 25ETR: Thursday, November 30 at 2:30
FTR: Thursday, November 30 at 4:10
document iconClass Notes for Session 25 document icon

Quiz Four News

Quiz Four Study Guide

Jazz playlist: Youtube / Spotify / Youtube for Phones
Modern Classical playlist: YouTube / Spotify / Youtube for Phones

Quiz four is supposed to be Thursday, Dec 7. It will cover our Jazz and Modern Classical units.

Then I hope to have a "game show final" (not a real final, just a game with prizes) on the last day of class, Dec 12. We will not meet during finals week.

Homework #18: Avant-Garde Classical Music

As the semester rapidly comes to an end we are starting to run short on time. Thus, we are going to spin off one last online unit.

First task is to read through our online material on the wacky world of Avant-Garde Classical Music, and then assignment 18 asks you 10 questions about it.

This unit gives you important background on one quiz piece, Schoenberg's Pierrot lunaire. It is due before class 27 (Dec 7, quiz day).

Assignment #19: Quiz Four Preview

Our last online assignment gives you the usual selection of real quiz questions that might appear on quiz four.

(The real quiz also has a short answer and "essay" with mystery track.)

This one is also due on quiz day (Thurs, Dec 7).

Jazz History Part II - Bebop to Present

Cool Jazz (1950s onwards)

This is simply jazz that is much more smooth and laid-back than bebop. I started off by playing something from this TV special, which is very similar to the Miles Davis's album Birth of the Cool:

...and then we focused on Miles Davis, "All Blues" from Kind of Blue [1959] which is both cool and modal. This is a quiz piece.


Avant-Garde Jazz (50s to present)

While Miles was making very relaxed and accessible music others were trying to push jazz to challenging new places.

The most radical figure from this movement is Cecil Taylor, whose music is usually both "free" and "atonal."

The clip I play in class isn't on youtube any more, but here is another performance that you can watch IF YOU DARE

...and I also slipped in this performance from 2014, to show that some people are still doing pretty much the same thing.

I've also put up a bonus page about Ornette Coleman. Ornette's music is "free" but not necessarily atonal.

Also, we can put John Coltrane in the avant-garde category. Coltrane was always a very skilled bebop and modal player, but he emerged in the 60s as an original and highly influential force. His music from this time is also modal, but it has a new length and intensity that people found inspiring and spiritual.

In class I usually play live video of the tune "Impressions." Here is the original album cut, which is even more intense:

Spotify Link

Jazz-Rock Fusion (70s onwards)

We watched some more of Ken Burns' Jazz, which showed Miles Davis's conversion to "fusion." Some of the talking heads in the video had negative things to say about it.

For the quiz we will learn Miles Davis, "Spanish Key" from Bitches Brew [1970]


Post-Modern Eclecticism (90s onwards)

I think we are still in an "eclectic, post-modern" period for jazz (and classical music, for that matter.) Basically the idea here is that an artist can stand outside of history and pick and choose what he or she wants to do, often putting things together in a unique combination.

We usually look at some of the many projects of John Zorn, each one very different from the other.

John Zorn, "Cobra" (invented 1984, this perfomance is from 2008)

John Zorn's Naked City, "You Will Be Shot" [1990]

I usually play John Zorn's Masada Quartet, "Kisofim" from Masada Live at Tonic 2001 in class. Here is a live version with his spin-off band Bar Kokhba.

Conservative Countermovement, 1980s

We usually also back-track a bit to look at the emergence of a more conservative movement in jazz that centers around Wynton Marsalis. Marsalis would argue that many of these more recent developments aren't really jazz at all.

Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Big Band recreate Duke Ellington's "The Mooche."

More Bonus Tracks!

I usually wrap up the session by showing you some more recent performances from youtube.

More "Eclectic" Performances from the 2000s

Vijay Iyer covers M.I.A.'s "Galang"

Robert Glasper merges together Radiohead's "Everything in its Right Place" with Herbie Hancock's "Maiden Voyage"

The Bad Plus covers Nirvana's "Lithium"

The Bad Plus actually kicked off this trend of acoustic jazz groups covering rock tunes back in 2003. I've stopped playing this clip in class because students seem to dislike it, but you can't stop me from posting it here.

Esperanza Spalding, singing her original tune "Little Fly"