The curriculum, building upon Nadia Boulanger’s vision, includes intensive coursework in the fundamental tools of musical understanding, choral singing, and musicianship classes.
Intensive classes are offered in the study of the craft of counterpoint. These classes are not style-based. Rather, the classes are designed for the study and perfection of contrapuntal principles fundamental to the control of all Western musical styles.
This class examines the often-neglected single-line counterpoint, and the four basic species in two, three, and four voices. Exercises concentrate on the concepts of metrics, melodic control, imitation and non-chord tone usage. The majority of new students will be placed into this course. Higher levels of these courses will study all forms of polyphonic imitation, invertible counterpoint, and multiple invertible counterpoint.
Canon and Fugue
This class begins with the study of canonic procedures, including the study of cyclical canons, inversion canons, cancrizan canons, retrograde canons; and the study of ‘flip’ chorales, segueing into the study of fugue. Special topics concentrate on how to write the most flexible subject, what is involved in writing the appropriate answer, working out all possible procedures available in the subject such as stretto, canon, inversion, augmentation, etc. Fugal exposition, episodic writing, sequencing, modulation, middle entries and coda, as well as writing the appropriate prelude, are also studied. The class will culminate in the completion of a Prelude and Fugue for either organ or piano.
Boulanger firmly believed that harmony was best studied at the piano, beginning with the internalization of basic sequences and cadences before proceeding to the harmonization of figured basses and melodies. In our classes, we use the famous basses and melodies of Paul Vidal and Henri Challan, both of the Paris Conservatory. We offer two levels of intensive keyboard harmony training.
Keyboard Harmony I and II:
Intensive introductory keyboard harmony class, beginning with the study of the three fundamental root motions and their corresponding voice leading. Cadence patterns and sequence patterns are practiced in the light of the above voicings. Root position and first inversion harmonic issues involving questions of doubling, choice of soprano note, and voice distribution are closely examined.
Keyboard Harmony III and IV
These classes offer a more in-depth look into complex harmonic issues, beginning with first and second inversion, and including the study of seventh chords, ninth chords and non-chord tone treatment in harmonic realization. Extensive work is done on four-voice harmonization of melody.
Musicianship and Score Reading
In her famous “cours d’accompagnement” at the Paris Conservatory, Nadia Boulanger took great effort to have her students not simply know but rather truly hear and experience the knowledge they were acquiring. To that end, musicianship classes and choral were vital counterparts to her harmony, counterpoint and analysis classes.
This class will improve sight-singing skills through focused practice and application of all intervals. Class work will consist of Bach Chorale exercises in multiple clefs as well as projects sculpted for the individual’s goal. It will also work toward fluency in solfege and the singing and dictation of intervals, triads, basic chord progressions, tonal melodies, and scale patterns. We will work in fixed-DO solfege and will use treble, bass, alto, tenor, and soprano clefs. Other skills will include fluency in the singing and dictation of intervals, triads and seventh chords, chord progressions, atonal melodies, and scale patterns.
Introduction to Score Reading
Note: There is a pre-requisite of fluency in reading clefs (including treble and bass plus at least one additional clef). This fluency will be evaluated in placement interviews. Students will work on reading multiple clefs, using two-part, three-part, and four-part examples from the literature. The class will also focus on B-flat, F, E-flat, A, and other transpositions. Four-part Bach chorales in open score will be realized, and modest orchestral excerpts will be realized in class.
Score Reading I and II
Note: There is a pre-requisite of fluency in reading clefs, particularly Soprano, Alto and Tenor clefs. This fluency will be evaluated in placement interviews. Students work collaboratively under the instructor’s guidance toward the goal of achieving greater fluency in deciphering printed music. Emphasizing an active, hands-on approach, the sessions entail playing and singing through orchestral and choral repertoire in a variety of styles. Throughout the classes, we discuss practical ways to approach transposition, reduction, clefs, “what-to-leave-out” and other potential stumbling blocks. The course will help you establish a foundation for successful, pleasurable score-reading.
Nadia Boulanger was famous for her Wednesday analysis class. Modeled after her class and taught in relation to the other courses, this class studies in-depth contrapuntal, harmonic, structural and rhythmic issues in great works of Western music. (A list of the works to be studied this year will be sent to students enrolled in the program.) The class is taught at two levels for the first two weeks of the program. Advanced Analysis level is for returning students only. The levels then merge for the analysis classes on major works. The selected major works vary from year to year.
Nadia Boulanger insisted that music should be heard and experienced through playing and singing. Students learn masterpieces of the choral repertoire and sing selected works of their own and of their colleagues. Accepted students will be sent guidelines for composing their choral works. Works will be selected to be performed at readings and concerts.
Composition Group Lessons
While the focus of the program is on the crafts of composition, Counterpoint, Keyboard Harmony, Analysis, Musicianship and Chorale, small group lessons in composition are offered to work on the problems and concerns of each student.
Composition Techniques Seminars
Composition Techniques Seminars are our electives for composition students. Each composer will take one of the following.
This year we will be offering:
Elements of Composition (Naris Bonet)
Elements of Composition is a thorough exploration and discussion of fundamental aspects of composition through the unique perspective of Prof. Bonet. This course strongly recommended for younger composers and/or those new to the Boulanger methodology.
Vocal Composition (David Conte)
This seminar covers solo vocal writing, accompaniment strategy, writing for the stage, vocal writing in the orchestra choral composition, and choral/orchestral work.
Orchestration (Michel Merlet)
Study the orchestral repertoire by orchestrating piano works and chamber music, and by reducing large orchestra pieces to solo or duo piano. (Reserved for returning students. Advanced first-time students may petition for entry)
Bach’s WTC (Philip Lasser and Benjamin C.S. Boyle)
Augment your studies of analysis with additional in-depth and advanced looks into the Well-Tempered Clavier from the unique EAMA Institute perspective.