Chromatic Harmony and Counterpoint I

Dec 2009

Dull, dull, dull, dull, dull. Voss has no personality and this comes across in his teaching. Everything about him is the embodiment of the word 'neutral'. He provides no incentive to come to class (attendance is not factored into your grade) and does little else in class than correct assignments. If you can keep yourself from falling asleep, you'll find that he has a very thorough knowledge of his material and presents everything clearly and effectively. He has no wit or humor and this makes every interaction with him stilted and boring. Despite his stiff demeanor, you will come to realize that he is very laid back. I don't get the impression that he cares any more about the class than his students do, which is unfortunate. He could teach a great theory class if he wanted to. Like all theory teachers, he is meticulous with his grading and pretty harsh. Even with effort, don't expect to come out of the class with anything higher than a B+.

Dec 2007

Fabien is simply wonderful - while this class requires a rather broad approach to the material, due to a wide range of ability within the students, he manages to walk a very fine line between making the class overly technical and complex and dumbing it down, missing the point altogether. His assignments are extremely useful for understanding the material but he is a generally easy grader and will work with you until you are at a good level. Although he has a strong accent and lacks a great command of English, he is still quite clear and communicates very well with his students. Unlike most theory classes, Fabien grades a lot of the assignments himself so you are getting feedback straight from the professor. As an aside, since most people don't realize, Fabien is one of the leading composers out of Europe and is pretty darn accomplished himself...aside from his composition, he has an Economics degree and plays jazz (although his piano skills, like it seems with every theory teacher, are wanting)

Apr 2007

Terrific, terrific teacher. Fabien is one of the most knowledgeable teachers I've had at Columbia. He knows all of the material inside out, seemingly without limitation. Take a class with him, and you'll quickly realize that the man could probably teach music history, theory, composition, analysis, electroacoustics or any other music course offered by the music department. Sometimes it seems like he could handle philosophy, economics, French, German, or Russian as well. If you're taking a class with him, you are probably a music major or very strongly interested in music, so classes will generally be engaging, and he highly encourages participation. It's particularly interesting taking music courses with an active composer. He has strong opinions about all the music we study, but is always interested in hearing yours. He has a good sense of humor about himself and the course and always understands if you need an extra couple of days to do a homework assignment. (They are not particularly hard, but sometimes are substantially long.) His style of analysis might take a little getting used to, and he will insist that you use his methods of analysis, but he means well and genuinely likes teaching.

Apr 2003

I like George. He is a very nice guy despite his absent-mindedness. Once he started writing on the dry-erase board with a big black permanent marker, and when he couldn't erase what he had written said "Oh, it wont erase!" and kept on writing. He is the director of undergraduate studies, but not too much help... Luckily the music major is pretty straightforward in terms of requirements. Class can be fun, it can also be boring. You could say that about almost every course at CU... as for grading, well, he is a composer, so if you knock off a final assignment (like a Goldberg variation) without putting much feeling into it he'll most likely be aware and grade you down.