01:098:331 - Sounds of Asia

Introduction to musical sound, musical activities, and musicians as a means of understanding Asia. Analysis of musical genres, instruments, musicians, and associated artistic/cultural ideas that have developed historically, and are current today. (3 cr.)

This course aims to understand “Asia” through musical sound, musical activities, and musicians. The course will examine a broad range of musical genres, instruments, musicians and the associated artistic/cultural ideas that have developed historically, and are current today, in selected places across the Asian continent. This class is intended to help students understand not only the way in which musical sound has been constructed, but also how the idea of music has developed as an aspect of cultural phenomena and as the expressive site of people’s emotional, political and philosophical ideas.

In exploring musical genres and musical phenomena, rather than geographical categories, this class aims to offer an opportunity to explore comparative views of different geographical musical materials, so that students can develop a broader view through which to understand not only each country’s unique characteristics, but the overall cross-cultural and transnational interactions of the musical cultures of the East, Inner and Central Asian regions during the global era.

The general structure of the course will be based on lectures, close-listening, discussions, writing assignments and student presentations. There will be readings and audio/visual material made available to the students via Canvas.

Two Exams (20/20=40%): All the exams will be a combination of short answers and listening questions.

Listening Journal I and II (20%): Completing the Listening Journals will help you to train your close listening skill and the way in which you can describe the musical sounds. You will need to pick musical examples from each unit between Unit 1 and 4 for Journal I, and musical examples from each unit between Unit 5 and 8 for Journal II. Once you pick the musical examples from the list of what we have covered in the class, write a reflection paper, in which you consider questions such as “How would you describe this music?”, “How does the sound in this piece work?”, and “How does the sound relate to, or influence, the society.

Discussion Leader & Discussion Journal (10/10=20%): Everyone will be assigned into a discussion group. At the end of each unit, we will have discussions (see the schedule below). Each of you will be responsible at the beginning of the semester for signing up as leader for two discussions. Please remember that you will be responsible for bringing critical questions to the group discussion on the day you signed up for and also for submitting the Discussion Journal.

Students are expected to attend all classes; if you must miss a class, please use the University absence reporting website https://sims.rutgers.edu/ssra/ to indicate the date and reason for your absence. An email is automatically sent to me. Please note: Students are allowed a maximum of four excused absences without penalty. After you miss 4 classes, your attendance grade will suffer (please see below.) There is one exception: if course meetings conflict with your religious observances, or with university events (performance trip, athletic event), please contact me in advance. Make-up work and paper due-date extensions are allowed by arrangement in advance only.

  • Missing 5 classes: you will get only 4% for attendance
  • Missing 6 classes: you will get only 3% for attendance
  • Missing 7 classes: you will get only 2% for attendance
  • Missing 8 or more classes: you will get 0 for attendance.

Final Presentation (5%) Final Presentation - Please note that this is a team project. Students will pair up for the presentation team- you will be paired randomly by a drawing. Your team will need to pick any singer/composer/performer within any Asian musical genre. Important: Please do not pick something that we have covered in the class unless you intend to conduct extensive and in-depth research, and go considerably beyond what we have already learned. Your team will have about 10 minutes to present your material.

Final Paper (10%) - Please note that this is an individual project, and you are required to make observations distinctive from your teammate’s. For the singer or group, or the musical piece, or musical genre that you choose for your team presentation, you will need to find an important aspect- politics, gender, global impact, economical aspect, etc. - and explain your musical materials using that framework. This is a research paper, so you will need to provide a full-length bibliography. Please remember that, while this research paper should flow from your presentation, it is not a team effort. It should be submitted individually, and be different from the papers submitted by your teammates.

Asian Languages and Cultures Departmental Learning Goals: “Majors will be able to analyze issues concerning Asia and relate them to other areas in the humanities and social sciences following an interdisciplinary approach.” Assessment of learning goals will be accomplished through the final paper, which requires students to exhibit their mastery of interdisciplinary analysis of aspects of Asia’s musical culture addressed in the course.