Centre for Continuing Education

Music Appreciation Course: How Do We Listen to Music?

Music. Learn, enjoy, appreciate.

Appreciate and learn about music the smart way with Music courses at the University of Sydney.

In order to develop our listening skills to their fullest potential, it is necessary to think deeply about listening and our past experiences of music. A full understanding of the range of listening modes requires assessment of a wide variety of musical genres, and an understanding of ‘purpose’ that underlies every composition.

Aims

This course aims to provide a thorough survey of how we listen to music, supported by numerous examples from the repertory. It will address the broader question of what constitutes ‘music’ through an assessment of musical content, the role of performance, and the dynamic modes of listening. Additionally, it will explore the effect of external factors, such as status perceptions and cultural diversity, in the ways music is listened to, while identifying the roles that interpretation and contextual awareness play in presumptions of ‘significance’ and ‘meaning’ in music.

Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, participants should be able to:

  1. Critically evaluate their own listening skills, and the listening abilities of others.
  2. Define music in terms of melody, harmony and rhythm.
  3. Critically identify modes of both passive and active listening.
  4. Identify the role of interpretation in both performing and listening situations.
  5. Exhibit a familiarity of ways that music acts as a status symbol.
  6. Assess the existence of bias in different music cultures.
  7. Define the notion of ‘meaning’ as applied to the content of music.

Content

Part 1

  • The place of music in societies
  • The content of music – melody, harmony and rhythm
  • The performance of music – interpretation, artistry
  • The ability of the listener to listen – active vs. passive listening
  • The effect of fame on our perception of musical 'greatness'

Part 2

  • Assessing ‘purpose’ behind compositions
  • Examples (ranging from ‘muzak’, tribal music, modern dance music, ancient liturgical music, minimalist music, ‘program’ and ‘absolute’ music, atonal music, film and television, etc.)
  • Music as status symbol
  • Cultural biases
  • ‘Meaning’ in music

Intended Audience

Suitable for those who have an interest in music, and who wish to further develop their listening skills.

Delivery Style

This course is delivered as a series of lectures where active participation is encouraged.

Participants will learn through a variety of methods including:

  • listening to musical excerpts;
  • group discussion about listening and musical choices;
  • various readings.

Recommended Reading

Hegel, G. W. F. Aesthetics.

Kant, Immanuel. Critique on the Power of Judgement. Trans. P. Guyer & E. Matthews. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Ross, Alex. The Rest is Noise: Listening to The Twentieth Century. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007.

Features

  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Small class sizes
  • Free, expert advice
  • Student materials – yours to keep
  • Statement of completion
$150 Limited inc GST
Music Appreciation Course: How Do We Listen to Music?

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