Music Theory


T658 Crossing Boundaries: Musical Subjectivity, Meaning, and Cognition

Prof. Marianne-Kielian-Gilbert

1:00-2:15 PM MW Room SYI00

Cross-disciplinary intersections between the experimental sciences (psychology, cognition, computer science, linguistics) and music research (temporality, performance, signification, affect) suggest new frameworks for engaging issues of musical subjectivity, listening and interpretation, perceptual/cognitive modeling, and expression.

This seminar brings together work on music perception/cognition and music interpretation (semiotics and critical theory) in order to explore connections between music theory, psychology and cognition, sociology, and performance. We will approach these issues by considering (among other things):

1. What does it mean to perceive sound as music? How is our neurobiology entwined with our sense of music's temporality?

2. What aspects of identity figure into cognition? How do cognitive processes figure into one's subjective awareness of music?

3. How does music achieve its effects? How do hierarchical, associative, temporal and expressive factors interact? And how do different models depict the strategies of listeners?

4. How do we (individuals and communities) personalize musical experience through body and dance, performance and gesture, poetic imagery, and sociaUcultural identity? What are the implications of broadening our choice of music for study?

Readings will draw on work in psychology (e.g., on embodied mind), cognition (e.g., on dynamic modeling and the bodily grounding of perception and cognition), and music (e.g., on musical signification, perceptiontcognition, rhythmic-metric processes). Selections will be geared to the cross-disciplinary interests of those participating and may include texts by authors such as: Adorno, Agawu, Boretz, Browne, Brown and Butler, Cazden, Clarke, Cook, Dahlhaus, Deutsch, Epstein, Gjerdingen, Guck, Hatten, Kielian-Gilbert, Jones, Kramer, Krumhansl, Lerdahl, Lewin, Marvin, Maus, McAdams, McClary, Narmour, Nattiez, Palmer, Rahn, Seeger, Shepherd, Sloboda, and Tarasti. Although we will deal mainly with western classical music, the music of popular and other traditions will also figure into the discussion.

Course requirements: readings, class discussion, short reaction papers or reports on issues arising in the readings, one major seminar paper and class presentation.