Sounds Divine and Mundane in Nature, Language and Music
We will become familiar with the sound culture of Asia, focusing on the various natural
environments, languages and musics in the region with a view to discovering both distinctions and
universalities that may also aid us in understanding other disciplines and regions. From their origins
in classical India, Greece and China and evolution in other places and times, we will trace
influences of sound in health, religion, society, politics, and material worlds of traditional and
contemporary culture. Examining principles and examples of instruments, rhythm, melody,
improvisation and composition, we will approach music as both art and science, and discuss its
interface with mathematics and linguistics. We will try to be aware of cultural and economic
development, regional identity and globalization, and gender and other factors facing the makers
and consumers of sound culture, and recognize East-West and North-South exchanges that have
shaped our respective musical and linguistic identities.
We will begin with a survey of the nature of sound and its use as a means of communication and
expression, then travel through the sound cultures of Asia with the aid of audio-visual materials, live
music demonstrations, and whatever other resources are available. Students will find opportunities
for active participation, and to share their perceptions and experiences in class.
One 90-minute class per week
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