Music, Meaning and Values

Course Code: HUMA 2003

Academic Year: 2021-2022

How is it that even music without words can "speak" to us? And if it "speaks" to me, does music speak to others in similar ways? Another way of thinking about such questions is to ask: Does music involve meanings and values that address whole communities? This course examines the value of music in terms of four different ways we use it - music to dance to, to identify with, to tell stories through, and to evoke our feelings - as well as in terms of our "encounter" with it. We begin by examining the ways that neuro-scientists, evolutionary biologists, sociologists and psychologists have explained music's four different uses. But we end by thinking about how the act of encountering music, of listening attentively to it, and engaging in it, relates to the act of mutual respect that lies at the center of our shared sense of what it means to be human. This act cuts across boundaries of genre and probes the heart of why and how we make the musical judgments we do. It demands that we engage music self-critically, as it unfolds, and that we consider why, years after its initial creation, the music of the Beatles or of Mozart remains central to our lives. Category and Level: Arts & Humanities, Lower Level Restrictions: Bachelor of Music students are restricted from taking this course as a breadth elective.