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Values in Music


Admission requirements

This course is aimed at students with a broad interest in music, aesthetics, society and cultural policy. There are no admission requirements.


Music is an object of aesthetic appreciation. Various kinds of music compete for the favour of concert-goers and music consumers. But the scope of music reaches far beyond the concert hall or listening room. Music plays a vital role in daily life activities: it accompanies our travelling, sporting, shopping and working. Music is also increasingly used as a tool or a cure in contexts of health care, education, mental training or community building.

However, music is not only highly valued as a product or a tool. It also forms in itself a field where values are constantly negotiated. Values of form, sound, expression and interaction are fundamental to the emergence of musical features and characteristics. To what extent are these values to be considered musical? Are values in music a matter of taste, or do they above all reflect societal norms, power relations and cultural identity? Conversely, do we recognise musical values at play in the world around us? Can developments in the field of music have an impact on styles of conduct, social norms and interaction?

This course starts from the premise that music offers a playground where we can audition, imagine and experience 'living today’ in manifold ways. Close listening to its features is, therefore, key to a better understanding of the dynamics between culture and society. The focus will be mainly (but not exclusively) on non-pop musical genres and niches in which music acts not only as a mirror but also a field of expression, exercise and experiment and as such an active and constitutive element of society.

Course objectives

In this course, students will:

  • relate musical features to esthetical, ethical and societal values

  • broaden the musical horizon and develop differentiated listening perspectives to music

  • learn to talk and write about music, based on personal listening experience, aural analysis and informed by historical, philosophical and sociological discourse

  • understand motivations for music creation, production and consumption

  • understand different roles, functions, and positions of music in contemporary society


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

10 lectures and 2 seminars.

Course Load

Total course load 5 EC x 28 hours= 140 hours •10 two-hour lectures: 20 hours •2 interactive seminars: 4 hours •personal listening and writing assignments: 42 hours •collaborative work assignments: 14 hours •study of compulsory literature and listening assignments: 60 hours

The course is structured as one introductory lesson, followed by 3 thematic blocks of 3 interactive lectures. Two additional seminars will build on the preceding lectures, literature study and assignments.

Assessment method

Assessment and weighing

The grading of the course is based on participation, personal and collaborative work. Full attendance is a requirement in order to receive the credits for the course.

Active participation in class: 20%
Personal assignments: 50%
Collaborative assignments: 30%


Brightspace will be used for:

  • announcements

  • study materials

  • assignments

Reading list

Compulsory: articles, sound files and videos, to be disseminated in advance to every lecture.
to be announced


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte
Registration Contractonderwijs


Lecturer: Dr. P.C.A. Craenen
Coordinator: Ir. R.T.W.L. Schneemann


For other courses in the domains of music and fine arts, please visit:

Elective courses music and fine arts