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Music in the Present (216-0-1)


Ryan Wayne Dohoney
Office Hours: Email instructor to arrange a meeting.

Meeting Info


Overview of class

This course explores contemporary music through its circulation, reception, and mediation. Examples are drawn from Western art, popular, and global musical genres though we will explore how all these musics share—at least in part—similar modes of distribution. In the first unit we will learn how recording technologies and globalizing initiatives have fundamentally reshaped musical practices in the past hundred years. We will learn how musical commodities have been gradually dematerialized—transformed from radio broadcasts, vinyl records, and compact discs which have in turn been supplanted by streaming data.
The second unit of the course focuses on how the use of new technologies have led to changes in listening practices and aesthetics. We will think about personal listening habits—the "soundtracking" of everyday life—and the uses of music for emotional management. We will also consider changes in musical taste from hierarchical aesthetics based on high/low distinctions to forms of "omnivorous" listening. We'll consider how these changes in aesthetics have impacted concert music institutions and produced more permeable boundary between commercial genres and traditionally classical ensembles.
The final unit of the course will explore how musicians have responded to the changes in technology and listening practices. Drawing on a range of institutions, ensembles, and record labels, we will examine how musicians create sustainable communities by both harnessing and resisting new technologies and aesthetic values.

Class Materials (Required)

There will be a course reader for purchase. Price TBD.