Spring 2020

Music, Language, Interaction

Listed in: Music, as MUSI-218



Music and language are intimately connected as forms of communication, meaning, and interaction, but this intimacy has been characterized in many ways in different times and places. In this course, we will explore a variety of the ways in which music and language have been related and made distinct by examining how music and language are understood in different social, historical, and cultural contexts. We will focus on models of musical and linguistic interaction: cooperation in conversation and in group musical performance, linguistic approaches to improvisation in jazz, indigenous theories of sound and political speech, and ritualized musical conflict. By examining both concrete acts of musical and linguistic expression and the concepts surrounding their use, such as sung poetry, oral notation, and sonically mediated musical coordination, we will work toward an integrated understanding of music, language, and social interaction. Prior knowledge of music or linguistics is not required but is helpful. The course will consist of a discussion of several weekly readings and will culminate in a research paper of the student's choosing.

Spring Semester. Visiting Valentine Professor Garvey.


Attention to Research, Attention to Writing, Fine Arts for Non-majors


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