109 | CCN: 78327

Aesthetics and Rhetoric

"Music to Hear" : On the Philosophy of Music

Instructor: Ramona Naddaff,

TuTh 5-630P, 205 DWINELLE

4 Units

What are the affective and neurological effects of listening to music? Is there any art to listening to musical sounds? What kind of art practice is music? Modern philosophies of music have posed such questions, attempting to identify the unique and exceptional power of music in order to distinguish it from other arts such as drama, literature, painting or sculpture. Certain philosophers have claimed, in fact, that music is the highest of all arts—aesthetically, psychologically, and epistemologically—because of its abstract purity, its universality, and its singular capacity to express, represent and incite emotions. This course explores such issues in 19th-21st century philosophy.

We begin with introductory readings in the field and discipline of the philosophy of music. We then read—among other philosophers, novelists, critics and musicologists—Schopenhauer, Nietzsche Adorno and Barthes’ philosophical writings on music. Finally, we will have the occasion to listen to specific musicians, both popular and classical, and to explore the contexts of their work, concentrating on the historical and political dimensions of the practice, performance and art of making music.

Students’ active participation in the course is essential to both the course’s success and their grades. The course will include not only written work, oral group participations but also weekly blog postings combining image, music and words.

Class Prerequisites: RH10 and RH20.

Final class list will be determined at the end of the second week of classes.