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Music between Work and Event


Admission requirements

There are no admission requirements for this elective course.


Aesthetics of music is about essential questions like What is music?, Do musical works imitate something? Is there any meaning or idea? Is something expressed, or is it just free play of forms, signifying nothing? However, this course deals also with music in a slightly different perspective, asking: Where is music as event?, Whose music is this?, does it address someone’s cultural identity?, When is music as performance? Thus we enter the terrain of cultural philosophy, to explore artistic, social-political and ethical aspects of music within the historical context of our contemporary, multicultural society.

This course elucidates perspectives of aesthetics and cultural philosophy of music in 12 lessons, by contrasting concepts of an “open work” with “performances as events”. It faces questions on musical meaning, authentic performances and idolatry of originality. We look at the role of technological reproduction, media audience and its effects on listening and music education. We follow discussions on cultural capital, artistic entrepreneurship, the dynamics of social-economic forces, but also on conflicts between globalizing tendencies, cultural imperialism and musical practices in local communities.

Key-insights are offered by reading texts and clarifying concepts from philosophers (Benjamin, Gramsci, Adorno, Danto, Derrida, Sloterdijk, Scruton and Zizek, cultural theorists (Bauman, Kramer, McClary, Eco, Attali), composers (Cage, Stockhausen, Boulez) and performers (Gould, Barenboim). They help us analyzing our present “culture of liquid modernity”, retracing the origins of current musical practices in some radical philosophical debates: on the influences of cultural contexts on artistic and musical practices, on the way cultural identities today are experienced, as well as ways in which cultural education itself is formed by an underlying dynamics of ethical, aesthetic, political, economic, social and ideological choices.

Course objectives

At the end of the course the student:

 - has gained some conceptual tools within theoretical perspectives on music (-practice) which enables a reflection on their abilities as musician/pedagogue.  - is able to situate and reflect his/her activities as a teacher and professional within a diversity of sectors of contemporary culture;  - is able to comprehend some crucial texts of philosophers, cultural theorists, composers and performers  - has theoretical insight in relevance of cultural locations in an age of liquid modernity, and has a developed a sensibility for interdisciplinary and intermediary in contemporary art


((semester 1 2018-2019:

Thursday 20 September 2018
Thursday 27 September 2018
Thursday 4 October 2018
Thursday 11 October 2018
Thursday 18 October 2018

Thursday 1 November 2018
Thursday 8 November 2018
Thursday 15 November 2018
Thursday 22 November 2018
Thursday 29 November 2018
Thursday 6 December 2018 (PLEASE NOTE: CANCELLED!)
Thursday 13 December 2018 (instead of 6 December)

From 19.00-21.00 hrs. Lipsius building, room 308, Cleveringaplaats 1, 2311 BD Leiden))


Thursday 20 December 2018 (instead of 13 December!)
From 19.00-21.00 hrs. Lipsius building, room 308, Cleveringaplaats 1, 2311 BD Leiden

Mode of instruction


Course Load

This course is worth 5 EC, which means the total course load equals 140 hours.

  • Seminar: 12 seminars of 2,5 hours = 30 hours

  • Literature reading & practical work: 55 hours

  • Self study – MOOC: 5 hours

  • Assignments & final essay: 50 hours
    Course Level is 200.

Assessment method

  • 40% weekly seminar assignments

  • 50% final essay

  • 10% active participation in class


Reading list

Here is a small list of (non-compulsory) literature, as reading suggestions for those students who want to prepare themselves on the main topics of the course. Some additional articles will be distributed during the course.

Richard Middleton (2012). Introduction: Music Studies and the Idea of Culture. In The Cultural Study of Music. Crayton, Herbert and Middleton (ed.). London, Routledge, 2012. p 1-14.
Terry Eagleton: The Idea of Culture. Oxford, Blackwell, 2000.
Zygmunt Bauman: Culture in a Liquid Modern World. Cambridge, Polity Press 2011.
Lydia Goehr (2007). Introductory Essay: His Masters Choice, and Introduction. In The Imaginary Museum of Musical Works. Oxford, OUP, 2007
Wayne D. Bowman: Introduction: Music and Philosophy. In Philosophical Perspectives on Music. Oxford, OUP, 1998. p 1-17.
Christoph Cox and Daniel Warner: Auditory Culture. New York, Continuum Press, 2010.


Register for this course via uSis.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs


Dhr. ir. R.T.W.L. Schneemann
Dhr. drs. Tom Dommisse


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