MUS 475
Hearing Through Seeing: Music and Visuality Spring 2023
Division I Writing Skills
This is not the current course catalog

Class Details

We hear music, but seldom is the experience purely aural — the visual also plays a crucial role. Sound and sight converge when we observe musicians performing in concert venues, patterns of notes and rhythms on the musical score, pictures and text on album and sheet music covers, moving images on screens in films, music videos, and video games. A programmatic work conjures specific images, even whole narratives, in our “mind’s eye,” or imagination. A work of absolute music, such as a fugue or symphony, can do so as well, although what we envision here may be largely abstract. With hybrid genres, such as opera, musical theater, and dance, the musical and the visual jointly command our attention, often in a spectacular display. This seminar explores myriad ways that “seeing” mediates our experience of hearing, making, and understanding music. We will examine a broad range of topics, including synesthesia; visuality in performance and interpretation; visual metaphors such as line, color, and space in music analysis and criticism; music and representation; intersections between music and painting, sculpture, and architecture; operatic staging; illuminated music manuscripts; eye music and graphic notation; and sound and image in digital media.
The Class: Format: seminar; Students will give four presentations based on the subjects of their papers.
Limit: 8
Expected: 8
Class#: 3870
Grading: no pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: evaluation will be based on three 5-6 page papers and presentations, a final 8-10 page paper and presentation, and class participation
Prerequisites: ability to read music
Enrollment Preferences: junior and senior music majors, and any student with a demonstrated interest in music
Unit Notes: satisfies the 400-level course requirement for the music major
Distributions: Division I Writing Skills
WS Notes: Students will write three 5-6 page papers and a final 8-10 page paper. They will receive detailed feedback on their writing and will have the opportunity to revise their work.

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