c o u r s e s

a c o u s t i c a l   a n d   c o g n i t i v e   a s p e c t s   o f  
m u s i c   c o m p o s i t i o n   a n d   p e r f o r m a n c e


Course Description
The course is an introduction to and survey of the study of music as sound and a product of cognitive behavior. Acoustical, perceptual, and cognitive principles are addressed from within specific scenarios linked to music composition and performance. No formal background in acoustics and psychology is assumed.
The aim of the course is to offer music majors (a) an understanding of the broad physical, physiological, and cognitive issues related to music in general and music listening in particular and (b) means to explore such issues creatively in composition and performance. Students are encouraged to go beyond the music-as-notation approach and take advantage of developments in several music disciplines that can inform and expand on traditional music theory.
Traditional approaches are compared to current work in the field, and music is examined from within a wide range of disciplines including psychoacoustics (link between vibrational, physiological, and perceptual frames of reference), music cognition (cognitive aspects of organizing sounds into music - cognitive aspects of musical meaning and emotion), semiotics (issues of communication and meaning), and experimental aesthetics. The main approach is that of empirical science, but other modes of acquiring knowledge (e.g. phenomenology) are also addressed. Discussion of the theoretical and philosophical bases for the scientific study of music and of our responses to it provides a unifying theme throughout the course.

Sample Syllabus (.pdf - 120KB)

A series of articles, book chapters, and on-line notes are compiled for the course.