Course Name: How Music Works
Instructor: Scott Whiddon
This course will explore – rather than definitively answer – a number of questions: How does music function as both a rhetorical and aesthetic product? What is the relationship between music and performance space(s)? How do changes in listening and production technology change the ways we experience music? How do changes in music dissemination change the ways we understand music itself? What roles do visual texts play into how we use and experience music? How might popular music inform us about issues of race, class, and/or gender? And, finally, is writing about pop music like, as the great Elvis Costello once posited, “dancing about architecture?”
The title of our section is derived from David Byrne’s recent collection of essays, which we will read in full. We’ll also look at a variety of academic articles that use popular music as a leaping point to help us develop skills that are crucial to the university experience, such as drafting a thesis, finding and evaluating source materials, explaining multi-sided issues, crafting arguments, and presenting ideas in a public forum.