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The Affective Power of Music
CHUM 350
Fall 2016 not offered

"Hope," Johann Mattheson tells us, "is a raising of the spirits. Despair, however, is a depression of the same. These can be very naturally represented with tones, especially when other factors such as tempo contribute their part." When Mattheson penned these words in the early 18th century, he was contributing to a growing body of theory known as the Affektenlehre, or the doctrine of affections in music. The aim of this hopeful Enlightenment project was to specify how, exactly, musical tones were able to evoke basic emotions in listeners. For Mattheson, the project was straightforward: use tones in a way that is directly homologous to the operation of the "animal spirits" within the body. Although Mattheson's ideas--and the Affektenlehre in general--faded into obscurity by the early 19th century, the notion that music has a power to touch our emotions has persisted from antiquity to the present day. This course will explore the sound world of various moments in intellectual history in an effort to understand how theory and aesthetics have adduced music as a chief progenitor of basic affects such as hope, fear, despair, and joy. In addition to the Affektenlehre, we will explore classical warnings about the power of music, medieval accounts of music's ability to afford religious transport, the use of music in the theoretical work of the Frankfort School (including its important role in Ernst Bloch's Spirit of Utopia), and selected writings from the recent "affective turn." Together we will discover how the nondiscursive medium of musical tones has been used to speak so eloquently on the basic forms of human feeling.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: HA MUSC
Course Format: SeminarGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: None

Last Updated on JUN-22-2024
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