Sunday, 11 February 2007

more Monteverdi

Last week's Monteverdi classes went OK. I should have planned this week's sessions already but of course I haven't. Last week we ended up talking about “suit and tie” music and dealing with some of the less welcoming beliefs some students bring to class. We were able to look at the kinds of language used to describe Monteverdi and the 1610 publication and see how the authors were trying to bring Monteverdi into the Western canon. (Quotes will follow.) I think all in all it was a reasonably successful session, although next time I need to remember to define canon earlier in the class.

My other lecture course was utterly dreadful. I'm gonna scrap that lecture on laude and devotional music because I never seem to have time to work out what I'm talking about and it's just boring.

My seminar group started their presentations last week. Got off to a great start, and the new format is working a treat. I've had students pair up so that a student introduces the student speaker, thanks them and chairs the question session at the end. And I also assigned a pair of students each week the responsibility of getting the question session going. I said I'm happy for them to read the papers in advance, or to practice with each other, or even for the speakers to plant questions, but I wanted the students to pay each other the courtesy of discussing the ideas in some detail after the paper. And it worked better than I could have imagined: I didn't ask questions at all, but stayed off to the side acting as camera operator and the students did a fantastic job.

Sunday, 4 February 2007

Music, Ideas and Monteverdi

Well, I'm about to start teaching the entire music first year undergrad cohort in my third of a compulsory unit that is my department's answer to the survey course. We don't do a historical survey, and I'm very pleased about that. But I need to review my portion of the unit and decide what to keep, what to replace, and what the hell I'm gonna say tomorrow. And I still don't know if the bookshop has the scores.

My main problem, actually, is why did I choose Monteverdi?

This really bugs me, because I didn't think I was really in to doing the canon thing, and yet somehow that's exactly what I've managed to do.

Next year, I'm not 'doing' Monteverdi. Next year, I'm gonna use music by Maddalena CasulanaChiara Margarita Cozzolani. That's a cert.

But this year, I'm stuck with Monteverdi.

I want to introduce the students to studying early music, but most importantly to the idea that we define early music--that it's not about unearthing the right or wrong way to do something, but it's about contemporary imagination and possibilities. That it's not all clear cut.

I wondered about starting by having the students role play going to a concert, or rather, coming out of a concert and talking about what they heard. Maybe compare what they might say then with what they might say after coming out of a trad gig, or out of a dance club? I'm interested in the way we talk about 'classical' music, specifically things like 'did you like the Beethoven?' That definite article, the privileging of the composer. These are all issues I want to raise tomorrow.

Need to think about this some more, though.

Going to do dishes and think.