Beautiful Ideas: The Art and Science of Music and Biology

Fall 2022
Freshman - Senior
Class Size: 50
16 Credits per quarter
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Does the universe embody beautiful ideas?  Can the experience of beauty inspire a renewed search for truth?  These questions by authors Frank Wilczek and Elaine Scarry will serve as the basis of our interrogation throughout this program.  We will consider the concept of beauty through the writings of a diverse group of thinkers from antiquity to the present as we examine principles that connect the beauty of scientific structures, musical structures and our perceptions of truth and beauty.

Our experience-based study of music will include development of fluency with technical language, musical notation, and approaches to listening as well as music creation and performance.  Complementing our study of music, we take a biological approach to understanding how we perceive and respond to music. We will focus on auditory perception and interpretation, beginning with brain anatomy, proceeding onto the logic of auditory processing, and concluding with an examination of the specialized neurons and molecules involved in transducing sound waves to electrical signals.  Studies in literature and philosophy provide a framework to consider the emergence, examination, and transformation of ideas from a broad range of disciplinary perspectives.

Program activities will include lectures, workshops, labs, and seminar.  Student learning will be assessed by a program portfolio, writing assignments, performances, exams, and a lab notebook.  Credit equivalencies may be awarded in applied music, music literature, music theory, introductory biology, and writing and literature.

This program incorporates Greener Foundations. Greener Foundations is Evergreen’s in-person 2-quarter introductory student success course, which provides all first-year students with the skills and knowledge they need to thrive at Evergreen. First-year students who register for 14 credits in this program will be placed into Greener Foundations for an additional 2 credits, totaling 16 credits. Once first-year students have been placed into Greener Foundations, they will receive an email confirming their registration status.


Fall 2022 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

So - Sr (16): 10004
Fr (14): 10165

Academic details

Preparatory For

music; biology

Maximum Enrollment
Class Standing

$50 lab fee, $40 reader fee


In Person or Remote
In Person
Time Offered
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule

First Meeting

Com 110 - Perf and Prod Studio


Date Revision
2022-08-17 $35 concert fee is now $40 reader fee
2022-04-12 $50 required lab fee added