The Nature of Music: Patterns, Paradox, and Possibilities

Fall 2015 quarter

Taught by

“Our humanity rests upon a series of learned behaviors, woven together into patterns that are infinitely fragile and never directly inherited .” – Margaret Mead

“Intelligence is the ability to take in information from the world and to find patterns in that information that allow you to organize your perceptions and understand the external world.” – Brian Greene

The human brain seeks comprehension through the identification of patterns. Yet while we seek predictable organization, we also crave the excitement of the unexpected. Could an examination of this paradoxical human desire increase our understanding of the powerful role music plays in the lives of individuals and the communities in which they live? In this program, we will examine the many layers of patterns that fill our music as well as the unexpected disruptions within those patterns that captivate our imagination. We will consider corresponding patterns in the natural world and other human endeavors in order to better understand our environment, our place in it, and the role of art in shaping our experiences.

Our work with progressive skill development will require physical immersion into the practices of listening, moving, and making music. Theory and literature studies will require the development of a common working vocabulary, writing skills, quantitative reasoning, and critical-thinking skills. Weekly activities will include readings, lectures, seminars, and interactive workshops designed to encourage students to expand and meld their creative interests within an intellectual infrastructure. Performance workshops will provide opportunities to gain firsthand understanding of fundamental skills and concepts as well as the transformative possibilities that exist through honest confrontation of challenging experiences. Writing workshops and assignments will encourage thoughtful consideration of a broad range of program topics. This balanced approach to the development of physical craft, artistry, and intellectual engagement is expected to culminate in a significant written and performance project.

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

music, performance, education and arts-related fields.

Academic Website

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day


Buy books for this program through Greener Bookstore.

Online Learning

No Required Online Learning: No access to web tools required. Any web tools provided are optional for students.

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Fall)

Class standing: Freshmen–Senior; 25% of the seats are reserved for freshmen

Maximum enrollment: 24


Course Reference Numbers

Fr (16 credits): 10060
So - Sr (16 credits): 10063

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