Syllabus (S21)

Last modified on August 30, 2023

Inclusivity in Learning

Your success in this class is important to me. We will all need accommodations because we all learn differently. If there are aspects of this course that prevent you from learning or exclude you, please let me know as soon as possible. Together we’ll develop strategies to meet both your needs and the requirements of the course.

I encourage you to visit Disability Services to determine how you could improve your learning as well. If you need official accommodations, you have a right to have these met. If you have a documented learning disability or other condition that may affect academic performance you should: 1) make sure this documentation is on file with Disability Services (SUB I, Rm. 4205; 993-2474; to determine the accommodations you need; and 2) talk with me to discuss your accommodation needs.

Course Information


  1. Review techniques of analysis that music theorists commonly use
  2. Critique and apply academic music theory literature
  3. Develop several crucial skills for the professional musician: a) analysis skills, through your assignments; b) writing skills, through your weekly responses; c) presentation skills, through your video presentations


MUSI 501, 502, and 516 or appropriate score on graduate placement exam.


This is a fully online course, with different “venues” for different activities.

  • This website is for distributing information about assignments.
  • Slack is for communication and collaborative work. You can also use Slack to ask questions to the whole class about assignments, etc.
  • Blackboard is for submitting assignments and receiving grades/feedback.


Calendar of Topics

Pace and workload

Due dates are typically Thursdays and Sundays unless otherwise noted—more details are given below in Assignments.

Please keep in mind that a 3-credit-hour class can mean up to 6 hours of work outside of class—this is what is normal and expected across all classes at a university.

Instructor Info

Course Materials

  • There is no required text. Materials will be accessible online or on our readings page.
  • You should have access to a microphone and camera for video chatting and making videos of yourself.

Recommended (not required):

  • Spotify (app)
  • Slack (app)
  • An app for making black-and-white .pdf scans from your phone. I recommend ABBYY FineScanner, which has a free version suitable for our purposes. I have also used CamScanner.


Your grades and rubrics will be on Blackboard.


Expand each category for more details on how the grade is calculated.

20% – virtual participation
Participation is pass/fail and based on your engagement in the Slack channel each week.
20% – weekly assignments
  • Weekly assignments are graded pass/fail, where anything above 70% is a passing grade.
  • Your assignments grade will be equal to the percentage of assignments you passed. For example, if you passed 8 of the required 11 homework assignments, your homework grade would be 72% (8 ÷ 11 = .72).
10% – symposium participation
Symposium grades have two components: 1) your individual analysis, and 2) your participation in the group discussion.

  • Your individual analysis will be given a grade according to a rubric; then, you may revise and resubmit your individual analysis as a second attempt. The final grade on your individual analysis will be an average of these two attempts.
  • Your participation in group discussion is another separate grade.
  • Your analysis symposium grade will average individual analysis and participation grades together equally.
50% – final project (15% video, 35% paper)
The final project is the majority of your grade, so your grade may change significantly bsaed on your performance on this project.

Letter grades

93–100: A
90–92: A−
87–89: B+
80–86: B


By Thursday, end of day: weekly reading and responses

Most weeks, you will have two readings and/or videos to complete.

On Thursday, please check in on Slack in the #reading-responses channel with some type of response about the reading. You might ask clarifying questions, summarize an important bit of it, or just relate to it in some way. You can also respond to someone else’s message (start a thread). This counts toward your participation grade (pass/fail). There’s no word count to worry about; I just want to see you engage with the reading.

By Sunday, noon (12 PM) EST: analysis assignments

Most weeks include an analysis assignment. I ask that you complete seven out of eleven total assignments in this course:

  • The first two assignments (Broadly Applicable Techniques) and the last two assignments (associated with the final project) are required.
  • The remaining three assignments are up to you to choose.

Analysis assignments for a given topic are due on the Sunday of that week unless otherwise noted. Assignments are submitted on Blackboard, in .pdf format.

Analysis Symposia

A few times during the semester, we will have group projects that I call “analysis symposia.” On symposium weeks, you will not have any additional reading. Instead, you will practice implementing the techniques you have already learned.

For each symposium, I will assign two pieces and divide students into groups. Within each group, half will do one piece, and half will do the other.

  1. You will begin with individual analyses. Make a video explaining what you discovered in the piece.
    • The video should be at least 5 minutes long, but no more than 10.
    • I would like to see your face in the video, because in an online class, I think that’s helpful for understanding that we’re all humans and not just names on a screen (but if you can’t do this for some reason, just discuss with me).
    • Note that this is an individual analysis, so you should not be collaborating with your group mates yet.
    • It will probably be helpful to have a visual of some kind, too, whether it’s in the video or in a PDF you upload to the channel.
  2. By Thursday end-of-day, upload your video to your designated Teams channel so your peers can view and respond to your video.
  3. After submitting their individual analysis, each group member will discuss how their findings interact with those of the other members (all other members, not just those who did the same piece!). Use the chat function in the Teams channel to do this.
    • Approach discussion like a chat conversation rather than a response essay—ask people questions, wait for their replies—just have a conversation! Don’t be too stiff.
    • Try to do this as soon as possible after all videos are submitted, to allow plenty of time for back-and-forth interactions. Your group may find it helpful to set expectations for when people will submit initial responses (i.e., make sure not everyone submits at the last minute).
    • Be sure you have something to say to each person that shows that you understood their analysis and makes a connection between theirs and your own.
    • I’ll evaluate these discussions on Monday, but again: please do not wait until the last minute to do this—everyone needs time to receive, understand, and respond to discussion. Timeliness in responding is part of your grade.

Late work policy

In general, I can work with you on late work as long as you communicate with me ahead of time. That said, weekly responses need to be timely, as discussion can’t flourish if everyone waits until the last minute. One other caveat is that if you submit something late, I can’t promise that it will be graded in a timely manner.

Final project

In the final project, you will analyze a piece of your own choosing, demonstrating your understanding of techniques learned in class.

The final project has two components: a video and a final paper.

Details on the content of the project may be found here.

Mason policies

Honor code

Mason is an honor code university. Read the honor code here.

Title IX

As a faculty member and designated “Responsible Employee,” I am required to report all disclosures of sexual assault, interpersonal violence, and stalking to Mason’s Title IX Coordinator per university policy 1412. If you wish to speak with someone confidentially, please contact the Student Support and Advocacy Center (703-380-1434), Counseling and Psychological Services (703-993-2380), Student Health Services, or Mason’s Title IX Coordinator (703-993-8730;


Students must use their MasonLive email account to receive important University information, including communications related to this class. I will not respond to messages sent from or send messages to a non-Mason email address.