MUS 273
Dangerous Music Spring 2013
Division I Writing Skills
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As a largely non-referential art whose meanings are far from transparent, music might seem to pose little danger. How could mere sounds represent a threat? Yet precisely because its meanings can be obscure, enabling it to achieve its ends surreptitiously, music has intertwined with danger throughout history. With its power to stir the emotions, stimulate bodily movement, encode messages, and foment rebellion, music has often been perceived as an agent of harm. Plato claimed that too much music could make a man effeminate or neurotic, and warned that certain musical modes, melodies, and rhythms promote licentious behavior and anarchic societies. Puritans, Victorians, and Totalitarians, as well as opponents of ragtime, rock ‘n roll, and rap, have also accused certain musical genres or styles of exerting dangerous influences, and sought to limit or suppress them. In Afghanistan, the Taliban banned music altogether. While music has often been unfairly accused, its potential for placing people in actual danger is undeniable. Works that are played at ear-splitting decibel levels, that call upon performers to injure themselves, that are used as a form of psychological torture, or that incite violence demand reconsideration of the widely shared view that music is fundamentally a form of entertainment. Part of the Gaudino Danger Initiative, this tutorial course will explore the intersection of music and danger in a broad range of historical, cultural, and global contexts.
The Class: Format: tutorial
Limit: 10
Expected: 10
Class#: 3490
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: evaluation will be based on participation, five 5- to 6-page papers/presentations, and five 1- to 2-page responses
Extra Info: may not be taken on a pass/fail basis or Gaudino option
Prerequisites: an ability to read music is desirable but not required
Enrollment Preferences: sophomores and juniors
Distributions: Division I Writing Skills

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