Explain Why Music Matters.
For this assignment you are expected to “philosophize” (or to “theorize” or to “think rigorously/critically”) about music in a sustained way. In the process, you will be “applying” (or even just “emulating”) some of what you have been learning through the readings and discussions.
You are expected to do your “philosophizing” by (1) articulating an abstract question about music into which you would like to inquire or an abstract idea (or philosophical claim) about music whose implications you would like to consider and pursue, and then (2) grappling with this question or idea with careful reasoning and rigorous analysis and argumentation, and, as appropriate, by reflecting on your own experiences with music. This should all take place in the form of an essay.
What to Post
You should post a well-reasoned essay of approximately 1000-3000 words. (You may post your text here directly or upload it as a document attachment.)
Make sure that in your essay you make it clear to us (as readers) what question you are inquiring into, what idea you are pursuing, or what point you are trying to argue. Your analysis, exploration, or argument should be coherently sustained and precisely written at an advanced level. You should provide substantive evidence (citing sources appropriately when applicable) and/or credible argumentation to support any individual opinions expressed. When and where relevant, you should make explicit any significant connections to ideas in the readings or other materials that have been considered in the course thus far (or even to the work of other students’). If your work in this essay builds on or elaborates on earlier posts that you have made in the course, you should also engage with any important questions, concerns, or disagreements that have been addressed to you by other students and/or the instructor.
Hesmondhalgh, David. 2013. Why Music Matters. West Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell – Read Chapter 1: Music as Intimate and Social, Private and Public
What to Post First
Everyone should first post a response to the following questions within the first week of the module:
The opening chapter of our main text for this course is short but abundant. In it, the author (David Hesmondhalgh) articulates several interrelated abstract questions and ideas about music that he will consider for the duration of the book, and he offers a preview of the analyses and arguments that will follow (in subsequent chapters) in support of his inquiry into those questions. (Soon enough, in your Individual Philosophical Essay assignments, each of you will practice articulating abstract questions and ideas about music that you wish to consider at length through carefully reasoned analysis and argumentation. Your own questions may or may not happen to overlap with the author’s, but either way you can learn from the author’s approach to “philosophizing” about music.)
For our discussion: Consider the many (carefully thought-out) questions that the author articulates in this chapter. Tell us which one of his questions resonates most with your own abstract curiosity about music.
Next, explain how the author sees this particular question fitting into the scope or plan of his overall project. (For example, why does he believe it to be an especially important question? How might addressing this question fit into his overall argument about “why music matters”? What is the author assuming—for instance, about “value” or about “human flourishing”—in raising such a question in the first place? What key vocabulary, concepts, or categories does the author require in order to articulate or to prepare to address this question? Are such terms or concepts already familiar to you?)
Finally: The author writes that his overall argument in the book will constitute a “critical defense” of music. What does he mean by a “critical defense”? (In other words, what does it mean to offer “a defense” of music? Also, how might “a critical defense” be different than, simply, “a defense”?)
Emotional expression: Music has the ability to express and evoke a wide range of emotions, from joy and love to sadness and grief. Listening to music can help us process and express our own emotions, as well as understand and empathize with the emotions of others.
Cultural identity: Music is often closely tied to cultural identity, and can help us understand and appreciate different cultures and traditions. It can also be a powerful tool for
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Cognitive benefits: Listening to and playing music has been shown to have a variety of cognitive benefits, such as improving memory, attention, and spatial reasoning skills. Learning to play an instrument can also help develop discipline, patience, and perseverance.
Social connection: Music can bring people together and create a sense of community. Playing music with others, attending concerts or music festivals, or simply sharing favorite songs with friends can all help strengthen social bonds and foster a sense of belonging.
Creative expression: For many people, music is a form of creative expression that allows them to express themselves in a way that words alone cannot. Whether through writing, performing, or producing music, people can use music to explore their own creativity and push the boundaries of what is possible.
Overall, music matters because it has the power to touch our hearts, connect us to others, and help us understand and express the world around us.