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Values in Music


Admission requirements

This course is aimed at students with a broad interest in the relationship between music, aesthetics and society, with a focus on classical and contemporary art music. The course consists of 10 lectures with reading, listening and writing assignments. There are no admission requirements.


Music is an object of aesthetic appreciation. Different types of music compete for the interest of concertgoers and music consumers. Music also plays an essential role in everyday life: it accompanies people while travelling, exercising, shopping or working. It is also increasingly used as a tool in 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 artistically. 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? Is valuation in music only a matter of personal taste, or do values in music above all reflect social norms, power relations and cultural identity? Conversely, do we recognise musical values in the world around us? Can developments in the musical field impact styles of conduct, social norms and interaction?

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

Course objectives

In this course, students will:

  • relate features of art music to esthetical, ethical and societal values;

  • broaden the musical horizon and develop differentiated listening perspectives to art 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 art music creation, production and consumption;

  • understand different roles, functions, and positions of art 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


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