Philosophy of Music - Part 2

Over the last few decades no area of aesthetics has grown and expanded as rapidly as the philosophy of music, producing new insights into one of humanities most beloved art forms. In this course we will cover contemporary theories in psychology, cognitive science and music education. Philosophers in contemporary theory of music are reconsidering the connection between music and the brains emotional, imaginative, and creative functions. We will also consider the different areas of music such as Opera, Jazz, Pure Music, Rock and Film music.


Opera will be a focus for discussions of music’s relationship to narrative, and also to Opera’s political interconnections. Some composers considered are: Mozart, Wagner, Puccini, Benjamin Britten and John Adams’s Nixon in China. Lastly we will turn to music in films. Film music allows us to explore the relationship between sound, dialogue and image: how do these three elements work together to form a unified aesthetic whole. Throughout the course we will listen to many examples of musical styles to illuminate the theory.


COURSE OUTLINE

  • New theories in the psychology of music. The social aspects of music, songs and dancing are important issues here.
  • Music and cognitive science. Issue in cognitive science concern how the brain ‘understands’ music and why do we respond to it in the ways we do.
  • Education theories: What are the benefits of learning to play a musical instrument; what are the attributes of ‘talent’; and can almost anyone be taught to play music at some level.
  • Opera: historical development and character.
  • Opera: narrative structure and meaning.
  • The politics of Opera: Mozart, Wagner, Puccini, Benjamin Britten and John Adams’s Nixon in China.
  • Jazz: The nature of improvisation; the ascendance of beat; the politics of social revolt.
  • Rock Pop Rap Electronic. We will consider the history and unique characteristics of contemporary popular music.
  • Film Music: What are the functions of music in film; how does music, dialogue and image work together to form a unified aesthetic whole.
  • Film Music in action: Now let’s apply the theory; we will view a number of films and analyze the effects which the musical score has on the reception and meaning of the film.


PLANNED LEARNING OUTCOMES
By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Have an understanding of the history of music from the Ancient Greeks to now.
  2. Understand the philosophy behind Opera, Modern atonal music, Jazz, and contemporary popular music.
  3. Critically assess the social aspects of music, songs and dancing are important issues here.
  4. Gain a deeper understanding of the issue in cognitive science concerning how the brain ‘understands’ music and why we respond to it in the ways we do.