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MUS201 Introduction to Western Music

Twentieth-Century Modernism

Click a link for a sample article of the following topics, but you can look at the subjects under the article information and click any that are close to what you're looking for in your research. Also, go to the tab (to the left) called Music Information Search to find links and instructions to help you find more articles.


Series and Place: the phrase ‘site-specific music’ is commonly used to describe developments in music since the latter part of the twentieth century in which the exact environment chosen is integral to the conception of the piece or the installation. In this essay, the author argues that the alternative term ‘place-specific music’ may help describe one of the most important characteristics of many pieces and projects by Wandelweiser composers.

The Politics of (New) Music: article discusses post-minimalist contemporary music community in relation to popular music (pop music). Topics include political aspects of this music, commentary by author Susan Sontag on the work of filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl, and the personalities of composers John Cage, Laurie Anderson, and Meredith Monk.

Jazz and the Magic City: For much of the twentieth century, Birmingham, Alabama, was home to a thriving and unique jazz tradition, one whose influence on American music has been long overlooked. In the decades before the Civil Rights Movement, African American teachers in Birmingham's segregated schools pioneered an instrumental music program that trained generations of professional jazz players, composers, and arrangers. 

Roustabouts, Steamboats, and the Old Way to Dixie: The Mississippi River and the Southern Imaginary in the Early Twentieth-Century:  article discusses the depiction of the Mississippi River in the U.S. Southern States within early 20th century Southern popular culture, including in literature, songs and magazines. An overview of the depiction of the Mississippi River in travel account books, including the portrayal of steamboats and roustabouts, or unskilled laborers, is provided.

Sounds' Modest Witness: Note on Cage and Modernism: John Cage's work has been interpreted by various critics as representative of both modernism and postmodernism. Although scholars have focused on the aesthetic and historical dimensions of modernism, the subject can also be approached from the perspective of ontology.

Politics and Compositional Aesthetics: The conception of projective music that I have attempted to realize over the last quarter-century attempts to rescue the visionary component of Modernism from the exhaustion into which the discourses of both Formalism and Postmodernism have sunk.