Music, Self, and Society

All in all, this was an interesting course, with some very insightful and spirited conversations during the live classes. Very thought-provoking. I felt the instructor did a fine job of guiding us through the term.

Here’s what we went over during the twelve weeks:

Week 1 – “Who Are You? What Are We?”, Sep 26th – Oct 2nd
Introduction, Meet and Greet, What’s the Use of Music?, Other Uses of Music, What is A Self?, Immanuel Kant, John Locke and David Hume, Charles Horton Cooley, Daniel Dennett, Workshop: Identify the Philosopher, Discussion 1.1: Which Idea of “Self” Do You Choose?, What is a Society?, Examples of Society, Discussion 1.2: What Society Do You Belong to?, In the Thick of It, Quiz 1.1: Thin or Thick Description?, Discussion 1.3: Cooley’s “The Looking-Glass Self”, Assignment 1: Thick Description, Recap

Week 2 – “What is Music?”, Oct 1st – Oct 7th
Introduction, Does Music Exist?, First Implication, Second, Third, and Fourth Implication, Discussion 2.1: Do You Agree?, The Emergence of “The Work”, “Old System of Art” Before 1800, “New System of Art” After 1800, Workshop: The Emergence of “The Work”, Works and Canons, Canons, Works, Discussion 2.2: Who are the “Patrons” of Today’s Music?, Assignment 2: “The Work”, Recap

Week 3 – “How Does Music Have Meaning?”, Oct 8th – Oct 14th
Introduction, How Does Music “Mean”?, Music and Semiotics, Three Categories of Signs, Workshop: Sort Signs by Mode, Why Does It Matter?, Absolute Music and Program Music, Non-Absolute Music, What is Music About?, Workshop: Match Terms, Bringing Things Into Focus, Filling in the Gaps, Filling in the Gaps Examples, Workshop: Timed Writing, Discussion 3.1: Frith’s “Performing Rites”, Assignment 3: Segmentation, Gaps, and Focalization, Recap

Week 4 – “Getting Emotional”, Oct 15th – Oct 21st
Introduction, Does Music Have Emotion?, Cognitivist View, Emotivist View, Discussion 4.1: Can Music Produce an Emotion in You?, Why Do We Respond the Way We Do?, Output Variables, Input Variables, Routes to Emotion: Appraisal and Memory, Routes to Emotion: Commotion, Discussion 4.2: What Emotions Do Songs Elicit?, Making the Unfamiliar Familiar, Workshop: Identify Psychophysical Cues, Music and the Brain, Discussion 4.3: Chance Factors, Assignment 4: Share Playlist, Recap

Week 5 – “Getting Together”, Oct 22nd – Oct 28th
Introduction, The Problem with Feelings, Discussion 5.1: Evaluating Music, You Are What You Listen To… Or Are You?, Discussion 5.2: What’s the “Badge”?, Fandom, Where Did Fans Come From?, Quiz 5.1: True or False?, Geek Culture, Discussion 5.3: Fan Behavior, Assignment 5: Music Interpretation, Recap

Week 6 – “The Meaning of Taste”, Oct 29th – Nov 4th
Introduction, Taste and Audience, What is Taste?, Discussion 6.1: In the Best Possible Taste, Hume Sweet Hume, Advanced Genius Theory, Discussion 6.2: Advancement Theory, Taste as an Act of Faith, Sentimentality, Quiz 6.1: What’s My Line?, Discussion 6.3: Do You Agree with Wilson that Taste is “Competitive”?, Assignment 6: “Good” and “Bad” Taste in Music, Recap

Week 7 – “Music and Ritual, Part 1”, Nov 5th – Nov 11th
Introduction, What is Ritual?, Ritualization, Quiz 7.1: Rite, Ceremony, Liturgy, or Routine?, Genres of Ritual, Calendrical Rites, Rites of Exchange and Communion, Discussion 7.1: Identify a Calendrical Rite, Genres of Ritual: Rites of Passage, Discussion 7.2: White Coat Ceremony, Characteristics of Ritual, Part 1, Traditionalism, Invariance, Assignment 7: Analyze a Ritual, Recap

Week 8 – “Music and Ritual, Part 2”, Nov 12th – Nov 18th
Introduction, Magic Words, Quiz 8.1: Performative Utterance?, Discussion 8.1: Music and Weddings, Genres of Ritual: Affliction, Genres of Ritual: Feasting, Genres of Ritual: Political Rites, Discussion 8.2: Identify a Rite of Affliction, Feasting, and Political Rites, Characteristics of Ritual: Rule Governance, Characteristics of Ritual: Performance, Characteristics of Ritual: Sacral Symbolism, Discussion 8.3: Analysis of a Ritual, Assignment 8: Create a Ritual, Recap

Week 9 – “Music and Commerce”, Nov 19th – Nov 25th
Introduction, The Sounds of Capitalism, Radio, Workshop: Timeline, Music in Commercials, How Does Music Work in Advertisements?, Discussion 9.1: Use of Music in Commercials, Going Deaf, Buying Wine, Discussion 9.2: Music and Commercial Space, Art Meets Commerce, Discussion 9.3: Does it Matter Whether It’s Painting or Art?, Assignment 9: Identify Examples of Music Intersecting with Commerce, Recap

Week 10 – “Music and Censorship”, Nov 26th – Dec 2nd
Introduction, Censorship after 9/11, What is Censorship?, Quiz 10.1: What Kind of Censorship is This?, DUE NOV 30, The Specter of Censorship: The PMRC, Part 1, Discussion 10.1: The Specter of Censorship, Words, Words, Words: The PMRC, Part 2, Ripped from the Headlines, Discussion 10.2: Is Music Intrinsically Political?, Assignment 10: Censorship Analysis, Recap

Week 11 – “Music and Social Change”, Dec 3rd – Dec 9th
Introduction, Music and Social Movements, “We Shall Overcome”, “Strange Fruit”, “God Save the Queen”, “Born in the U.S.A.”, “Fight the Power”, Quiz 11.1: Music and Social Movement, Pussy Riot, Songs for Social Change: Interview with Christiane Karam, Discussion 11.1: Does the Music Have to Be Good?, Assignment 11: How Has the Legacy of Protest Songs Evolved?, Recap

Week 12 – “Into the Great Wide Open”, Dec 10th – Dec 16th
Introduction, Voyager 1 and 2, The Golden Record, Discussion 12.1: Voyager Golden Record, “The Mixtape of the Gods”, Discussion 12.2: Planet Earth’s Greetings, Recap and Mission, Assignment 12: Analyze the Musical Playlist on Voyager’s Golden Record, Recap