Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2023

Course Description

This course explores selected examples of European and American art, traditional, and popular musics from the 19th century to the present. As we consider each piece and composer as a case study indicative of broader trends, we will explore the historical contexts, philosophical and literary underpinnings, and social dynamics of this music and how it shaped and was shaped by the world from which it came. The overarching goal of this class is for you to enrich your experience of and knowledge about music in Western traditions by delving into the music of the past and the cultures that produced it. By understanding music and its historical context, you will become more sensitive to what it has meant in the past what it means to us now, in the present. This awareness will help you to interpret, perform, and teach many kinds of music, as well as give you perspective on your own role in the ongoing history of music. This course is intended for music majors, minors, and others who possess advanced skills in music reading and analysis.

Student Outcomes

Identify and describe exemplary works and composers’ styles from Western art, traditional, and popular music since 1800. Use historically appropriate vocabulary and concepts to articulate their stylistic elements. Contextualize these musics and composers amidst important cultural, scientific, religious, and philosophical shifts, and discuss how these developments influenced musical practices, and often how the musical practices influenced their cultures. Apply your understanding of these representative works to evaluate other unfamiliar music, enabling you to describe its main stylistic features, compare it to other pieces you know from this period, hypothesize about its possible social function and historical context, and suggest a possible composer and approximate date of composition. Articulate informed opinions and interpretations of composers and musical works. Understand and critique the underpinnings of the canon of Western art music and offer ways to diversify or dismantle said canon. Feel empowered with the skills and knowledge to create more diverse and inclusive concert, event, and/or teaching programming. More skillfully reflect on and evaluate your learning as both process and product. Cultivate a growth mindset.