L&S Curricular Connections

Big Ideas Courses

Music 128P / Philosophy C112

Music and Meaning

Arts and Literature; Philosophy and Values

This course will explore the question of whether music has meaning, and if so, what kind. Can music represent, say, birdsong, or the sea, or merely imitate? If music expresses emotions, then whose — those of the listener? the composer? the performer? We will consider parallels and contrasts between linguistic and musical meaning, theories of how music can be expressive, and the question of whether music can convey political meaning. The course will be taught as a seminar, and students will be expected to participate actively. Each week’s discussion will be structured around the interaction between musical excerpts and readings, drawn from historical and contemporary literature in philosophy, musicology, and the psychology of music. Requirements will include several short papers, a class presentation, and a final paper.

Hannah Ginsborg faculty profile
Hannah Ginsborg (Philosophy)
Mary Ann Smart faculty profile
Mary Ann Smart (Music)

Terms Offered

  • Fall 2013
  • Spring 2013