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Music and Science

Semester and Year FA 2015
Course Number IDSEM-UG1833
Section 001
Instructor Myles Jackson
Days MW
Time 2:00 PM - 3:15 PM
12:00 AM - 12:00 AM
Units 2
Level U
Requirement   SCI


Course meets last seven weeks,10/28 - 12/14.


Music and science seem to be two different disciplines, a classic example of C. P. Snow’s two cultures. Upon closer inspection, however, the two have historically enjoyed a very close and mutually fruitful interaction. This course is dedicated to unearthing the intricate and historically contingent relationships between the two fields from the eighteenth century to the present. Given such a rich history, we shall limit ourselves to an analysis based on material culture. Specifically, we shall focus on how physicists and engineers provided musicians with new forms of aesthetic expression, such as the ability to increase in volume without increasing in pitch, or the use of electricity to generate sounds and tones never heard before. We shall also consider how music provided scientists and engineers with experimental resources to test natural phenomena, such as the testing of adiabatic phenomena and work relevant to the creation of the theory of thermodynamics. Texts include those of Pesic, Voskuhl, Jackson, and Pinch and Trocco.


All Syllabi

Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)