Spring 2020

How Music is Used

Listed in: Music, as MUSI-118



Music is sometimes portrayed as an abstract art, standing apart from the mundane everyday. However, music has also functioned as a tool for a large range of social and individual purposes throughout human history. Rather than tendentiously opposing these claims--music is an art or it is a tool--this survey course explores the vast diversity of ways that humans have put music to use in their social worlds. Each week we will discuss one function of music (in love and war, medicine, spreading news, education, marking status, protest, identity formation, managing conflict, forming social bonds, propaganda, law, speaking with gods, spirits, and demons, and so on) drawn from all over the world and aim to understand how artistic and functional aspects of music coalesce in human practice. As a final project, students will imagine and develop a use for music in addressing some concrete aspect of their lives.

No prior knowledge of music is necessary. Spring Semester. Visiting Valentine Professor Garvey.


Attention to Writing, Fine Arts for Non-majors


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020