Music makes us human. Every culture on earth has music. In fact, every human society extending back into prehistoric times has had music. Most of us are surrounded by music. We use it to enhance our mood and to regulate our metabolism, to keep us awake and help us go to sleep, as background to accompany the work, study, exercise, and relaxation that fills our days.
But it is precisely when music steps out of this background and asks for our attention, engages our memory and our expectations, that it becomes a fundamentally artistic endeavor. Music is a sonic response to a question that’s not really about sound at all but rather is historical and social. The study of music is the study of human thought, experience, and history.
This course is about the musical imagination. It’s how to think about music, but it’s also about music as a mode of thinking.
(Inspired by Michael Hays, Professor of Architectural Theory at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design: Welcome to The Architectural Imagination [edx.org]).
For another take on music, watch Louisiana’s own Wynton Marsalis at Harvard. “Music and Meaning” is the first in a series of videos from Harvard, “Music as Metaphor,” discussing topics like “sound as identity” and “American identity” in music.