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MUSIC 3JJ3 Topics Music Hist.: Before1750

Academic Year: Winter 2018

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Andrew Mitchell


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 433

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 24217

Office Hours: by appointment

Course Objectives:

In this course we will examine western European music in the the period commonly referred to as the Baroque.  This is a fascinating and formative period in Western music history, stretching from the beginnings of the heyday of European absolutism to the publication of monuments of the Enlightenment by such figures as Diderot, Voltaire and Rousseau.   Although students will have been introduced to the period in an earlier course, the study of any period of music history is inexhaustible and this course will provide fresh perspectives and a more intensive immersion in the scholarship on the period.

The evaluation in this course is weighted significantly in favour of the research and writing of a major paper (approximately 10 pages).  Students will also complete two presentations (20 min. each) during the term.  There will be weekly reading assignments (a short quiz will be given on the readings each week) and students will also be able to reflect on the readings and learn from the ideas of others in the class through regular class discussions.

This course is designed to give students an opportunity to do serious musicological work.  The skills stressed in the course (reading, analysis, critical thinking, research, oral and written communication of research findings etc.) are important preparation for students interested in academic graduate work in music, but are also applicable for students pursuing other career paths such as music education and performance.


Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Heller, Wendy.  Music in the Baroque.  New York:  W.W. Norton & Company, 2013.

Heller, Wendy.  Anthology for Music in the Baroque.  New York:  W.W. Norton and Company, 2013.

Method of Assessment:

Class Participation


Presentation Evaluations


Reading Quizzes


Essay Progress Assignments (3)


Long Presentations (2)


Essay (Final Product)


N.B. Students will have received 10% of their final grade by March 16, 2018.


Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Attendance:  Full attendance at all scheduled classes is expected.  For each unapproved absence the class participation mark will be deducted 1% out of the total 10%.  Exceptions for attendance will only be made if absences are documented by the self-reporting system ( or an approved absence by the Faculty of Humanities for the particular days missing.

Class Participation:  Students will be graded on quality of participation in class discussions which will be structured primarily around reading assignments and presentations.  Students are encouraged to contribute often and vigorously to maintain an atmosphere of free inquiry amongst the class members.  The quality of the class discussion is dependent on the degree to which students do the reading assignments and thinking about possible topics for discussion.  This cannot be emphasized too much!  In this course we will be using a web-based service ( to reveal plagiarism. Students will be required to submit their work electronically to and in hard copy so that it can be checked for academic dishonesty.  Students who do not wish to submit their work to must still submit a copy to the instructor. No penalty will be assigned to a student who does not submit work to All submitted work is subject to normal verification that standards of academic integrity have been upheld (e.g., on-line search, etc.). To see the Policy, please go to


Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:





Week 1

Jan. 5



Specific dates will be determined once the membership in the class is settled.

Week 2

Jan. 8, 12




Week 3

Jan. 15, 19

Chapter 1 (Jan. 19)

Quiz #2 (Jan. 19)


Week 4

Jan. 22, 26

Jan. 22: Essay Proposal Due

Chapter 2 (Jan. 26)

Quiz #3 (Jan. 26)


Week 5

Jan. 29, Feb. 2

Chapter 3 (Feb. 2)

Quiz #4 (Feb. 2)


Week 6

Feb. 5, 9


Chapter 4 (Feb. 9)

Quiz #5 (Feb. 9)


Week 7

Feb. 12, 16

Feb. 12 Annotated Bibliography Due

Chapter 5 (Feb. 16)

Quiz #6 (Feb. 16)






Week 8

Feb. 26, Mar. 2


Chapter 6 (Mar. 2)

Quiz #7 (Mar. 2)


Week 9

Mar. 5, 9

Chapter 7 (Mar. 9)

Quiz #8 (Mar. 9)


Week 10

Mar. 12, 16


Chapter 8 (Mar. 16)

Quiz #9 (Mar. 16)


Week 11

Mar. 19, 23

Mar. 19: Essay Outline Due

Chapter 9 (Mar. 23)

Quiz #10 (Mar. 23)


Week 12

Mar. 26

No Class Good Friday (Mar. 30)

Chapter 14 (Mar. 26)

Quiz #11 (Mar. 26)

No presentations this week

Week 13

Apr. 2, 6

Chapter 15 (Mar. 6)

Quiz #12


Week 14

Apr. 9

Apr. 9: Essay Due




Other Course Information:

Readings: The readings should not be viewed as unassailable repositories of factual information, but as documents created by a real human being who has a point of view that is not necessarily universal.  The ability to critique writing (even writing that seems mostly factual in content) is an important skill in scholarship and I want us to view the reading assignment as exercises in developing this skill.

As you approach the reading for any given week consider focusing on at least one or two of the questions below and bring your thoughts to the class.  As we discuss the readings each week, I will go through the various questions below and ask for feedback.

  • What are some biases hidden or expressed overtly in the author’s writings?  Do you agree with them?  If you don’t know, are they perhaps open to question?
  • What are the main points the author is trying to convey?  If this chapter were the research you had gathered to give a short lecture, what would you bring forward as the main points?
  • Who is the best audience for this reading?  The answer to this question is most likely going to be similar for most, if not all of the readings, but it still can be a fruitful question to ponder.
  • What is of benefit in this reading for your own work?  Are there analytical approaches used that could be useful for you?  Are there other approaches taken that you think might be applicable for your own work?
  • Did you like the reading overall?  Why or why not?  How does it compare with the other material we have read and discussed so far this term (or other reading you have encountered recently)? 
  • What is the most difficult section(s) of the reading (and, of course, why)?  What is the least difficult (and why)? 

Reading Quizzes:  Short multiple-choice quizzes will be given most classes on the assigned reading for that week.  Each student’s lowest quiz mark will be removed from the final calculation at the end of the year.  These can only be written on the appointed day and the appointed time (all quizzes will be written at the beginning of class).  If a student is missing because of an approved absence (documented as indicated above), the student will be given the option of writing a summary of the week's reading (approx. 3 pages, double spaced).  Summaries are due one class after the quiz and will be deducted 5% for each week-day the assignment is late afterwards.   

Essay Progress Assignments:  Throughout the term a series of assignments will be completed to aid students in their work on their research paper.  Because these assignments are intended to encourage progress over time, lateness is a significant issue.  Late progress assignments will be deducted 5 % per week-day late.  

1)  In the first assignment students will propose an essay topic.  The proposal need not be longer than a paragraph.

2)  The second assignment will be an annotated bibliography of 10 sources.  The format should be “Chicago” style (reference guides available through the library website).  Each citation should be accompanied by a statement indicating the usefulness of the source to the essay topic.

3)  The third assignment is an essay outline.  This should be approximately 1-2 pages long.  Point form should be used.  The outline should show the sequence of topics and subtopics covered in the paper.

Presentations:  Each student will make two long presentations (approx. 20 min. each) to the class.  Both presentations will be a summaries of a scholarly article on a topic relevant to the subject matter of the class.   The presentation will be accompanied by a handout that presents the main points of the article in an organized fashion (with references for verification) as well as the student’s assessment of the article.  The handout should include any particularly important figures or examples relevant to understanding the points made.

Presentation Evaluations:  Students must complete brief written evaluations of all the other students’s presentations.  Students should comment in point form on areas such as clarity, organization and insightfulness.  All evaluations will be submitted to the instructor, who will distribute the comments anonymously to the presenter.  Evaluators will receive a grade from 0 to 5 for each evaluation.  Class time will be given to complete these evaluations, which will be due before the class of the presentation ends.

Essay:  Students will complete a research essay (approx. 10 pages) on any topic relevant to the subject matter of the course (topics to be approved by the instructor).  Students may choose to have the topic correspond to one or both of their presentations or not.  Late essays will be penalized 5 % per week-day late.  Extensions for the essay will be considered, but the new due date must be agreed upon by the professor through email.