Elvis Costello famously said that writing about music is like dancing to architecture. These are compelling words, though their force relies in part on the irony of the formulation—in effect, the quote does exactly that which it (convincingly) claims is impossible to do, explicating in words the difficulties of transposing musical experience into text.
In this class students will engage with a variety of written accounts of music: novels, poems, descriptive texts, blogs, music journalism, music history, and musicology. Furthermore, students will work to craft written accounts of musical sound and musical meanings, answering questions such as, “How does music mean what it means?” and “How can we put those meanings into words?” In the process, students will learn how to parse and critique the sounding world and to think constructively about the historical materiality of sound and music.
Music 121: Writing about Music is a College Writing 2 course. Instruction about writing is included throughout the semester; students should come to each class, prepared to write, to revise their own work, and to think constructively about the work of their peers.