Music 30: 1000 Years of Musical Listening

Hardly a day goes by without us listening to music.  It is engrained in our rituals, public and private, and through it we connect to people across the world, and across the vast community of history.  We listen to it because it has an effect: it can move, distract, excite, delight, and comfort us.  The image above depicts Orpheus, the mythical symbol for music’s powers, in a story dating back to the classical writings of Ovid: in it we see him in enraptured performance, and entrancing all of nature around him.  Yet while we know that we like music, and that it moves us, it is often difficult to pinpoint exactly why, and harder still to explain what it is we are hearing.  Music 21 takes on those issues.  It aims to introduce you to a variety of music, and a range of ways of thinking, talking and writing about music.  The majority of music dealt with will be drawn from the so-called “Classical” repertory, from the medieval period to the present day, including some of the “greats” such as Beethoven’s 5th, but also introducing you to music you will most likely never have encountered before.  Our class will explore the technical workings of music, and together we will build a vocabulary for analyzing music and articulating a response to it; we will also explore music as a cultural phenomenon, considering what music has meant for different people, from different societies across the ages and across geographical boundaries.  In other words, as well as learning to listen ourselves, we will also engage with a history of listening.  By the end of the course, you will be equipped with the skills and the historical background to enable you to embark on a lifetime of informed listening.