Go Figure

Thirteen Sixteen kids have signed up for my 12-tone Analysis seminar, and only 6 7 for my Beethoven class.

UPDATE: And by the way, for those of you who were getting malware warnings when trying to access my blog, Fearless Leader Douglas McLennan explains. Sorry about that.


  1. says

    Just mis-spell Aaron.
    KG replies: I’m not triskaidekaphobic. I’m just afraid some of them think it’s a 12-step program.
    Nyuck, nyuck, nyuck.

  2. Ernest says

    Would it be heretical to say a twelve tone class sounds more interesting than one on Beethoven? Nothing against Ludwig.
    Hell, I’d take both if I could.
    KG replies: I think not. But the first comments students made when I announced the course were along the order of, “Aw, why are you teaching that?” “I need a theory course next semester, but I don’t want *that*.” “That’s only for people who want to go to grad school in theory!” So I was afraid at first that no one would sign up. I did play up the class, and played the Mahler movement from Berio’s Sinfonia as one of the pieces we’d study. And I’ve since been told that the Beethoven course has suffered because on class is on Fridays, and Bard students like to head for the city on Fridays. I always teach on Friday: the music building is quiet then.

  3. says

    and Bard students like to head for the city on Fridays. I always teach on Friday: the music building is quiet then.
    I teach on Fridays also, because no one else will. But I have to switch my Friday students to Wenesday a lot, so I can leave on Friday for Joshua Tree.

  4. mclaren says

    Yes, it’s completely sensible that so many kids would sign up for a serialism class instead of a Beethoven class. Music students are desperately interested in anything that’s different. Anything that’s not the same-old same-old 16th century counterpoint, or Mozart-Hayden sonata form analysis.
    The dirty little secret, though, is that if you ever offered a course on totalism, you’d get about 27 students signing up for it. And if you offered a course on microtonal totalism, you’d get 45 students, and if you offered a course on algorithmic microtonal totalism using real-time softsynths, there’d be standing room only and they’d have to remove all the chairs in the classroom to give all the students enough room to jam in.
    But, of course, the music department would never let you teach a course on algorithmic microtonal totalism using real-time softsynths. Because that just isn’t “serious” enough, it isn’t “award-winning” enough, it isn’t “high modernistic” enough, it doesn’t have a proven track record of generating Pulitzer prizes and the Europeans don’t have any festivals in Donaueschingen devoted to it.
    KG replies: Well, the upside of Bard is that I can pretty much teach any course I want. Such decisions aren’t even submitted to the department any more, but to a cross-divisional committee that includes my sympathetic department chair. If anybody tried to tell me I couldn’t teach a certain course, the burden would be on them to justify and enforce it. And we’re supposed to limit classes to 22. I did teach a minimalism seminar and got 10 students. it was a blast. Why more for 12-tone, I can’t figure yet, except that maybe everyone suspects the reason I’m teaching it – it’s fun to analyze.

  5. Daniel Rutkowski says

    Hey…if I was going to be here next semester, I’d be in the Beethoven class. Probably.
    KG replies: What!? I’m offering a class you’re not taking!?