Music Humanities

HUMA UN1123 – The focus of Music Humanities is on the many forms of the Western musical imagination in art music, through works studied in their historical and cultural contexts. The specific goals of the course are to awaken and encourage active, critical, and comparative listening practices, to provide tools to respond verbally to a variety of musical idioms, and to create engagement with the debates about the character and purposes of music that have occupied composers and musical thinkers since ancient times. The extraordinary richness of musical life in New York is an integral part of the course.

The course moves chronologically from the Middle Ages to the present, examining the choices and assumptions of composers, their patrons, audiences, and performers, and exploring what we can and can’t know about how music of the past may have sounded. Students’ critical perceptions and articulate responses to the music, and to the source readings that are a hallmark of the Core, will be a vital part of the class.

For information about registering for Music Humanities, please refer to the College Bulletin, Engineering Bulletin, or General Studies Bulletin and consult your advising dean.


Associate Professor of Music

621 Dodge Hall

(212) 854-8191

The Readings

All readings for Music Humanities will be made available to registered students in CourseWorks.

The Units

  • Musical sound and critical listening
  • Hildegard of Bingen and Josquin des Prez
  • Claudio Monteverdi and Barbara Strozzi
  • Johann Sebastian Bach and Joseph Bologne (Chevalier de Saint-Georges)
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Franz Schubert, Frédéric Chopin, and Clara Schumann
  • The Romantic Stage and Claude Debussy
  • Igor Stravinsky and Arnold Schoenberg
  • Harry T. Burleigh and William Grant Still
  • Edward “Duke” Ellington
  • Billie Holiday and Nina Simone
  • John Cage, Steve Reich, and Pauline Oliveros
  • The 21st century [instructor choice]

Additional Resources

Students also have access to additional resources developed for Music Humanities by Department of Music faculty, Music & Arts Library staff, and the Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning.