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Music and Other: On Arts and Differences


This music appreciation course explores music and the issue of differences, better known as Other in social science and cultural studies. In music, portraying something foreign (or Other) involves various complex aesthetic and technical concerns. For example, it brings up the questions of how to define the Self, and Self relates to Other. From a technical standpoint, it also poses of the questions of how a composer determines the nature of the Other that he/she portrays, whether his/her models are based on something real or imagined, and which elements in music could be manipulated into sounding foreign.

This course is divided into the five parts. Parts I (Romantic Other) & II (exotic Other) deal with an imagined Other and how the imagination relates to Romanticism, Imperialism, and Exoticism. Part III (The racial Other in America) & Part IV (The Other gender) concern Otherness in race and gender. We will discuss how African American culture is reinterpreted and integrated in America’s cultural context, and how gender plays a role in the composition and performance of classical music and dance. Part V (Aesthetic Other) explores avant-garde music with question of how and why some progressive composers chose to pose as Other in the context of Western art music.

The aim of this course is to link music studies with cultural studies. Although most of our examples come from Western art music, issues involving pop, Jazz, and ethnographic music will come up from time to time. We will view music not only as a product of culture, but also as an active contributor to cultural trends, as well as contributor to certain value systems and aesthetic standards.

This course is taught in English. Class discussion will be conducted primarily in English, with explanation of more complex concepts in Mandarin; students can use either English or Chinese in their in-class discussion and the quizzes. The quizzes will be bilingual. Music literacy is not required.

109學年度 下學期 音樂中的他者:藝術與差異性 課程綱要