This blog covers 12 classes — and over 40 short videos — related to MUS 470, “Harmonic Experience: Metaphysics and Music,” which met through the winter and spring of 2010.
While the class focused on the sonata form, especially the connection between mathematics and music, and between classical Greek culture and the classical music of Bach and Mozart, the big question that loomed over everything was, Why is music such a powerful force in our lives?
In many if not most cultures, music creates a spiritual link to the divine. It bypasses the limitations of language to involve the senses and emotions (and gut, according to Kant), and, perhaps most importantly, the memory.
If the class has taught us two things, one is the importance of attending to music closely. Most of us have grown up in a world of background music, channel surfing, and multi-tasking. The sonatas of Mozart require a different kind of listening: one that remembers the first section so that when it returns in an altered state, we can experience the thrill of recognition, even as it continues towards its precisely ordered yet unpredictable finale.
The second lesson is that the more we understand about the underpinnings of music, the more it can offer us. It is hoped that the insights shared here by Robert Spano and Professor Steve Everett, along with several other Emory musicologists, philosophers and neuroscientists, as well as the students in this class, will offer a tantalizing (and slightly unpredictable) glimpse of a great learning adventure.
Please share your ideas and comments so that we can continue the journey.