Fall 2020

Sacred Sound

Listed in: Music, as MUSI-123

Formerly listed as: MUSI-03

Moodle site: Course (Guest Accessible)


Jeffers L. Engelhardt (Section 01)


This course examines the relationship between music, sound, and religion in a broad, comparative perspective. We will devote particular attention to the intersections of religious sounds and racialized and minoritized communities. In the context of major world religions, new religious movements, and traditional spiritual practices, we will address fundamental issues concerning sacred sound: How does music enable and enhance the ritual process? How is sound sacred and what are its effects and affects? What happens as sacred sound circulates globally among diverse communities and in secular spaces? Listening, reading, and discussion will include Sufi music from Pakistan, Haitian Vodou, the songs of Ugandan Jews, Orthodox Christian hymns from Estonia, Islamic popular music from Malaysia, Chinese Buddhist chant, spirit possession music from Bali, and the music of Korean shamans. We will also engage with practitioners, scholars, performers, and the sacred sounds of religious communities in Amherst and beyond. Two class meetings per week.

Limited to 25 students. Professor Engelhardt. Fall semester. Regular class meetings will be fully remote; when possible, frequent face-to-face individual and small group meetings will be held.

If Overenrolled: Priority given to music majors, then to seniors and 1st-year students


Artistic Practice, Attention to Writing, Fine Arts for Non-majors


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2009, Fall 2012, Fall 2016, Fall 2020, Spring 2022