Humanities Courses

Music and Social Justice

Accessible for both the musician and non-musician, Music and Social Justice examines the very real implicit and explicit roles music plays in the construction of identity, authentic culture, stereotypes, social platforms, and message. Music serves to articulate and clarify an identity and can be used as propaganda – both for good and for ill. Students unpack the use of music as a form of critique and as a source of unification and cultural preservation. They read and discuss, watch and debate, listen and think. Students also perform close readings of song lyrics to unearth themes of social injustice as well as social justice. They identify implicit assumptions and behaviors of the privileged majority populations that are delivered by wide-reaching pop music and that have profound effects on prolonging and promoting social inequities. Present throughout the course is our consideration of how music can change the world.

  • .5 credits – semester-long minor

Music in Film

Music in Film will serve as an introduction to the major styles and composers of film music from the twentieth and early twenty-first century. Students will explore different roles music can play in film to create tone, energy, and atmosphere. Students will explore the history of the development of music in film, analyze the formal structure of music, examine the various roles music plays in films, probe the psychological connections between sound and the visual image, and explore scoring music to short scenes in the video module of GarageBand. The course provides a cultural vehicle for exploring both music and film through listening, delving into the impact of music and film in the target period, and allowing students to fuse music and moving images, creating alternative film scores for classic movie trailers. Students will explore the history of the technological development of film along with relevant historical events which had an impact on that progress. Students will also learn to identify melody, harmony, rhythm, meter, form, and counterpoint to better understand the structure of music. Further, students will learn to identify point of view, diegesis, narrative, genre, and viewer’s perception within the structure of film. Students will gain a broad knowledge of award-winning films and their scores, analyze music for its component structural parts, and gain experience analyzing the structure and coordination of music in a film scene. Finally, students will use critical thinking skills to write about the relationship between a film and its music and will use technology to combine music and moving visual images in a creative manner.

  • .5 credits – semester-long minor

Psychology of Music

Psychology of Music is a semester-long minor that investigates issues related to music perception and cognition with an emphasis on the psychological effects of both. This course will utilize the latest scientific research to investigate why music makes us feel the way it does, how it affects us physiologically, and what role it plays in our social development and identity formation. Our study will necessarily include some beginning neuroscience, developmental psychology, and biology. Accessible for both the musician and non-musician, the texts will include scientific papers, current popular and academic articles, song text, film, and literature that capture the experience of, inspiration for, and outcome of music-making and listening.

  • .5 credits – semester-long minor