Producing a Musical Exhibition

Graduate students in Anne Shreffler's seminar, "The Fromm Foundation and Contemporary Music in the United States," collaborate during the semester to produce an exhibition in the Loeb Music Library entitled, Composing the Future: The Fromm Foundation and the Music of Our Time. All participants are graduate students in music with strong academic and musical backgrounds, but no special knowlege or skills are required. Professor Shreffler and her students consult with librarians and curators as well as PITFs and LITFs (Library Instructional Teaching Fellows), who are all extremely helpful. Luci Mok and William O'Hara work closely with Shreffler on this project. 

Below are detailed instructions from the syllabus. The entire syllabus is attached at the end. 

Description: The seminar will collaborate to produce an exhibition in the Loeb Music Library, entitled Composing the Future: The Fromm Foundation and the Music of Our Time. The subject is Paul Fromm, an influential patron of contemporary music, and the Fromm Foundation, which was founded in 1952 and still exists. Working with Harvard’s museum curators, librarians, and archivists, we will draw on the extensive Fromm Foundation archival holdings in the Department of Music, Houghton Library and the Harvard University Archives. Since an exhibition about music without sound would be dry and lifeless, it will be accompanied by multimedia presentations of sound and moving images. Students will learn how to work with archival material to achieve a deeper and more nuanced understanding of how music history is written. Through the exhibition, they will also learn to communicate the results of their research visually and audibly to a broader audience.

Course requirements: The class will be divided into working groups, each responsible for one or more exhibit cases and the accompanying multi-media component for that case. Each group will select, research, label, and position the materials. With the assistance of the PITFs, they will also create short (1-2 min.), attractive presentations including music, video, score examples, and background information that can be accessed on an iPad or smart phone.

The class relies heavily on collaborative work, both within and among the working groups. The members of each group should divide the tasks among themselves, making sure that the work is evenly distributed. While the process is collective, the individual accomplishments (for example, a blog entry, response paper, inventory contribution, label text, and multi-media project) are prepared and signed by their authors. Grades are based on individual contributions. Everyone should be aware of their own contribution as well as recognizing and respecting those of others, giving ample credit to everyone who participated in a particular facet of the research.

Since Fromm’s passion was new music, we will listen to and discuss some relevant repertoire: works commissioned by or dedicated to Fromm and those recorded on his “Twentieth-Century Composer Series.” A listening assignment is given most Fridays (see schedule). You may, of course, do this in advance. It is best to listen repeatedly (once is emphatically not enough!) In some cases, there will be published scores on reserve. In other cases, the scores are unpublished and you will have to listen without a score. It may also be helpful to consult the Grove Online article about the composer. For three of these assignments (your choice), please write a short response paper (250-300 words) recording your reactions to the piece. This is not meant to be an analysis paper; you may use any approach or writing style that best communicates your reactions to or questions about the piece (see details below). Please read your classmates’ responses, and we will discuss them on Mondays.

Specifically, the course requirements for groups and individuals are:

• Each group will post a short blog entry on the course website by Thurs. afternoon at 5 most weeks (specified in the schedule) describing what they’ve done, any obstacles they’ve encountered, etc. Please read your classmate’s blog entries.

• Each individual will post three short response papers (1-2 pages, 250-300 words) over the course of the semester. You may choose which pieces to write about. Listening assignments are given on Fridays. Please post your responses by the following Monday morning at 10, and please read your classmate’s responses. Given the schedule, it would make sense to do these early in the semester.

• Each group will hand in a concept (1-p. summary of topic and aims) and inventory of potential objects for each case (short descriptions and images): these will be presented orally in class on 10/19 and 10/26, and are due Oct. 29.

• Label texts for physical items to be exhibited (discussed with the group, written by individuals).

• Short (1-2 min.) multi-media presentations to accompany the exhibit (coordinated with the group, written by individuals).

The due dates for label texts and multi-media projects are: Nov. 12: first drafts (presented in class); Nov. 19: second drafts (presented in class); Nov. 26: final label texts and multi-media projects due.

There is no final paper requirement for this class. Given the amount of research that you will do, however, and the likelihood that your original research may prove to be interesting and valuable, you may wish to write up your results for presentation at a conference or for publication. These papers may (and probably will) be co-authored, reflecting the collaborative nature of the research. A student-organized conference in the spring might be an option here.

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