May 22, 2024  
College Catalog 2021-2022 
College Catalog 2021-2022 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

MUSI 155 - Music and Freedom

The concept of freedom both lies at the heart of human rights discourse and provides the spark that ignites any number of musical movements. Intended for students with strong interests in the intersection between the performing arts and humanities, this course serves as an introduction both to the concept of freedom as it developed in Western societies since the late eighteenth century and to the history of music in the cultures that have fostered such ideals. It intends to introduce students to the study of music (and, by association, arts in general) from social, cultural, and critical perspectives, using the framework of freedom as a common theme. It also aims to contextualize the discourse of human rights within the history of arts and ideas, providing students with a a sense of the term’s changing meanings and emphases over time and across space. We will explore traditions in both Western art music (also known as “classical music”) and the American popular (recorded) music in a search for ways in which music has served social-political ideologies - overtly through the aims of its composers and performers, and unintentionally through the conditions of its reception. Historical readings on the concept of freedom from a variety of disciplinary perspectives (history, philosophy, political science, critical theory) will introduce students to several of the most influential thinkers on the subject and the central concerns and questions that animate the discourse on freedom. No prior background in music is required for the course, although it is assumed that students will have a true interest not only in popular music of the twentieth century but also other traditions and genres, such as opera and symphonic music. “Freedom” signifies a number of ideals, which operate in real-political and abstract-aesthetic realms. Music can represent, convey, and “mean” freedom in infinite ways, and it is the intention of this course to introduce students to this diversity. (4 Credits)