PHIL 4560-001 - Philosophy of Music - Fall 2013

Ron Bombardi
Department of Philosophy
Middle Tennessee State University

Syllabus
 
Objectives Texts Topics Assignments Grades Disabilities Annotations Calendar

              COURSE OBJECTIVES
  The course will provide an overview of traditional and
  contemporary problems in the philosophy of music. While a
  number of specific interpretive frameworks, theories, and agenda
  (expressionism, symbolism, formalism, acoustics, social history,
  phenomenology) are discussed, emphasis is placed on the
  conceptual consequences music imposes generally on our basic
  philospohies of nature and experience. Topics from both classical
  aesthetics and recent pluralist perspectives will be covered;
  after considering the tradition and its discontents, students will
  be encouraged to advance and criticize a variety of philosophical
  views concerning the meanning and making of music.

Email: Ron Bombardi
Office: 307 JUB, Ext. 2049
Office Hours: 8:00-9:00 and 11:30-12:30, MWF; 9:00-12:00, TR


Texts

Required Texts

The following texts will figure prominently in class discussion; a thorough familiarity with their contents is advised:

  • Bowman, Wayne D.. Philosophical Perspectives on Music. Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.
  • Gouk, Penelope. Music, Science and Natural Magic in Seventeenth-Century England. New Haven, Yale University Press, 1999.
  • Levitin, Daniel J. This is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession. New York: Dutton, 2006.
  • Wald, Elija. Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues. New York: Amistad, 2004.
Recommended Texts and Media

The following media are recommended as ancillary; a limited supply of them should be available in local bookstores:
  • Adolphe, Bruce. Of Mozart, Parrots, and Cherry Blossoms in the Wind: A Composer Explores the Mysteries of the Musical Mind. New York: Proscenuim Publishers, 1999.
  • Gioia, Ted. Delta Blues: The Life and Times of the Mississippi Masters Who Revolutionized American Music. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2008.
  • Kivy, Peter. Introduction to a Philosophy of Music. Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.
  • Yates, Frances Amelia. Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age (Routledge Classics). New York: Routledge, 2001.
  • Mississippi Sheiks, et al. Back to the Crossroads: The Roots of Robert Johnson. Audio CD, Yazoo 2070.
  • Kronos Quartet. Early Music (Lachrymae Antigua). Audio CD, Nonesuch 79457.

Course Links


Course Division

(1) CLASSICAL AESTHETICS
         Primary Readings:         Bowman, Chapters 2-6.
         Supplemental Readings:  Adolphe, Chapters 4-12.


(2) CONTEMPORARY AESTHETICS
         Primary Readings:         Bowman, Chapters 7 & 8.
         Supplemental Readings:  Kivy, Chapters 1-13.


(3) PYTHAGOREAN PROBLEMS
         Primary Readings:         Gouk, Chapters 1-8.
         Supplemental Readings:  Yates, Chapters 1-9.


(4) MAKING WAVES: THE PROBLEM OF MEANING
         Primary Readings:         Wald, Chapters 1-14.
         Supplemental Readings:  Gioia, Chapters 1-11.


(5) MUSIC AND THE PHILOSOPHY OF MIND
         Primary Readings:         Levitin, Chapters 1-9.
         Supplemental Readings:  Adolphe, Chapters 1-3 & 13-26.


Assignments and Course Mechanics
A calendar of readings, discussion topics, and written assignments is provided below. Since the readings will serve as the primary springboard for discussions, it is vital that you be familiar with whatever texts are appropriate to a topic BEFORE that topic is covered in class. Class discussion will approximate seminar format, so joint inquiry will generally take precedence over ex cathedra lecture.

There will be three (3) written assignments (none to exceed ten double-spaced typed pages), as follows.

(1)  Theoretical Analysis. Outline the essential features of a classical or contemporary philosophy of music; include some discussion of the metaphysical assumptions, methodological practices, and substantive claims that characterize the theory in view.

(2)  Socio-Historical Analysis. Examine the social and/or political significance of a particular musical achievement (a form, style, a body of work, even an individual piece of music) within historical context.

(3)  Critical Analysis. Choose one from of the following three approaches: (a) select a musical example, and provide an extended criticism of the piece from the twin perspectives of both the performer and an ideal listener; or (b) select a musical example, and provide a phenomenological account of whatever noticeable differences in experience appear after listening to the piece on at least two different occasions and contexts; or (c) select a musical example, and provide two introspective reports of listening to the piece, firstly in the idiom of folk-psychology, and secondly, in the idiom of neuro-speak.


Grades
Ten percent of the final grade will reflect class participation. The remaining ninety percent of the final grade will be based on the following division (total possible points = 90):

   (a)  Theoretical Analysis:            30 pts.
   (b)  Socio-Historical Analysis:     30 pts.
   (c)  Critical Analysis:                  40 pts.


Accomodation for Students with Disabilities
If you have a disability that may require assistance or accommodation, or you have questions related to any accommodations for testing, note takers, readers, etc., please speak with your instructor as soon as possible. Students may a lso contact the Office of Disabled Students Services (898-2783) with questions about such services.




Essay Annotations
 
The following markers are designed to index problems in essay work. They are NOT arranged in order of severity. They do NOT necessarily correlate with grade assignments.
 

*****SYNTAX*****

(1) Spelling error here.

(2) Noncritical weakness in sentence structure.

(3) Critical weakness in sentence structure. (meaning lost).

(4) Punctuation not clear.

*****SEMANTICS*****

(5) Term or phrase unclear or unexplained.

(6) Term or phrase ambiguous.

(7) New paragraph warranted here.

(8) Circumlocution here; simpler expression available.

*****ANALYSIS*****

(9) General structure of this argument unclear.

(10) Conclusion does not follow without unstated assumptions.

(11) Relevance of this point to your argument is not clear.

(12) This assertion is questionable and requires further support.

(13) Further consequences of this claim are unmentioned but relevant.

(14) This inference is formally invalid.




Course Calendar
 

DATE

MATERIALS COVERED

DATE

MATERIALS COVERED

A. 26

Introductory; Syllabus

16

Gouk, Chapter 1 / Theoretical Analysis due

28

Bowman, Chapters 1-2

18

Gouk, Chapter 2

30

Bowman, Chapter 2

21

Gouk, Chapter 3

S. 02

Labor Day - No Classes

23

Gouk, Chapter 3

04

Bowman, Chapter 3

25

Gouk, Chapter 4

06

Bowman, Chapter 3

28

Wald, Chapters 1 & 2

09

Bowman, Chapter 4

30

Wald, Chapter 3

11

Bowman, Chapter 4

N. 01

Wald, Chapter 4

13

Bowman, Chapter 4

04

Wald, Chapters 5 & 6

16

Bowman, Chapter 5

06

Wald, Chapter 7

18

Bowman, Chapter 5

08

Wald, Chapter 8

20

Bowman, Chapter 5

11

Levitin, Chapter 1 / Social Analysis Due

23

Bowman, Chapter 6

13

Levitin, Chapter 2

25

Bowman, Chapter 6

15

Levitn, Chapter 3

27

Bowman, Chapter 6

18

Levitin, Chapter 4

30

Bowman, Chapter 7

20

Levitin, Chapter 5

O. 02

Bowman, Chapter 7

22

Levitin, Chapter 6

04

Bowman, Chapter 7

25

Levitin, Chapter 7

07

Bowman, Chapter 8

27

Levitin, Chapter 8

09

Bowman, Chapter 8

29

Thanksgiving Holidays - No Classes

11

Bowman, Chapter 8

D. 02

Levitin, Chapter 9 / Critical Analysis Due

14

Fall Break: No Classes

04

General Review