2020 Essence of Humanities and Social Sciences28: 'Our' Sounds - Music, Society, Community

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Humanities and social science courses
De Ferranti Hugh 
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Course description and aims

During these 7 weeks we will study firstly the multiple ways in which music has meaning for people, as members of social units and as individuals, and secondly the ways in which those who hold power, and those who contest power, use music to strengthen or transform ideas of collective or communal identity, such as ‘nation’ and ‘ethnicity’. With regard to the latter topic, all students are required to critically examine the use of music by hegemonic powers (or those who oppose them) in their own society of origin, and complete at least one written assignment on that issue. The weekly readings are by Thomas Turino and other researchers of music in relation to society, community, and identity. They will be discussed with reference to actual examples of music from diverse cultures (including so-called protest songs), and the assigned tasks will draw upon diverse musical experiences (as listeners/fans, learners, performers or even composers of music) among members of the class.

Student learning outcomes

Students will acquire the following knowledge in this course:
* Various representative viewpoints on the question 'why does music matter?'
* A set of terms and analytical concepts for thinking about how music has meaning for those who play or respond to it.
* How music functions to 'produce' individual and group or community identities, and how those in power MAKE USE OF MUSIC.


society, participation, power, performance, identity, interpersonal and intercultural experience

Competencies that will be developed

Specialist skills Intercultural skills Communication skills Critical thinking skills Practical and/or problem-solving skills

Class flow

1. All students must read the assigned texts and listen to any assigned music extracts in advance of each class, and submit by Week 6 a recorded oral summary in English of one of the readings.  
2. A short report (400 words minimum) will be due in Week 4.
3. A written assignment of minimum 1,000 words (not including References list) must be submitted in Week 7.

Course schedule/Required learning

  Course schedule Required learning
Class 1 Introduction to the course; key concepts; music in their lives. Turino 2007, Chapter 1, pp1-12. Grasp course objectives. Discussion of one or more ‘music communities’ (cohorts) they have felt part of or are now involved in.
Class 2 [responses to initial homework due] Turino 2007, Chapter 1, pp 12-20; Chapter 7, pp 189-210 In light of Turino 1-12, complete homework sheet on “EXPERIENCING MUSICAL MEANING”. Ideas from first half of Ch 7 stimulate thinking about music and the exercise of power in their own society.
Class 3 Turino Chapter 7, pp210-224; Manabe 2012 Ideas from second half of Ch 7 as well as Manabe 2012 further stimulate ideas for writing of a short report on music and the exercise of power in their own society.
Class 4 [short written report due] Turino Chapter 2, pp23-51 Understanding of the 'participatory mode' of musical experience.
Class 5 Turino Chapter 2, pp51-65 Understanding of the 'presentational mode' of musical experience.
Class 6 Turino Chapter 4, pp93 - top of 97, and 100 - middle of 117 only Understanding of Turino's account of music in relation to the self, social identity, cultural cohorts and formations.
Class 7 Review; final written assignments due In the assignment individuals should demonstrate their understanding of some of the concepts and methods studied in texts by Turino and others. 

Out-of-Class Study Time (Preparation and Review)

To enhance effective learning, students are encouraged to spend approximately 100 minutes preparing for class and another 100 minutes reviewing class content afterwards (including assignments) for each class.
They should do so by referring to textbooks and other course material.


Music as Social Life: The Politics of Participation, by Thomas Turino (University of Chicago Press, 2007)

Reference books, course materials, etc.

Copies of some additional and optional reading materials will be provided by the instructor.

Assessment criteria and methods

written response to initial homework exercise (by Week 2)15%
oral summary of a reading (by Week 6) 15%
short written report (by Week 4) 20%
final writing assignment (by Week 7) 50%

Related courses

  • LAH.S429 : Essence of Humanities and Social Sciences29:'Other' Sounds - Music, Minorities, Japan
  • TAL.L404 : Essence of Humanities and Social Sciences29: 'Other' Sounds - Music, Minorities, Japan (Leadership)

Prerequisites (i.e., required knowledge, skills, courses, etc.)

Neither prior experience of the discipline of Musicology nor advanced knowledge of music theory is required.  (If you are uncertain about this aspect, please ask the instructor by email before the class begins.)  What IS required is an ability to listen deeply, a genuine love of music and an earnest desire to understand why human beings cannot live without it, as well as how we can think, talk and write about music coherently. Ability to read and discuss academic texts in English is also needed.

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