Music and Philosophy

Discovery Core Experience: VLPA Courses


60-Second Syllabus: Music and PhilosophyVisual and Literary Arts Icon

About This Course: 

About half the class will be hands-on: playing music on guitar, learning the basics of music theory and improvisation, learning to use audio recording and engineering software.  Obviously, active participation will be an essential component of the class. You don't need to have any musical ability to take this class.  But you do need to be willing to try new things.  For example, every student will learn to play the guitar.  We will also create, record, and mix a number of original compositions throughout the quarter.  

The other half will be philosophical, and involves a fair amount of reading, writing, and discussion. As philosophers we will ask, What is creativity? And what is music? Does John Cage's infamous 4'33" (a piece comprised of four minutes and thirty-three seconds of silence) count as a piece of music? Why or why not? What makes bad music bad? What's the connection between music and the emotions? We will also talk about popular music history, trends in music business, and the ways that the internet and the availability of recording technology has shaped music in the recent past.

Dr. Nixon (He/Him/His)

School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences

Image of Professor NixonAbout Dr. Nixon: 

B.A. Philosophy, University of Washington
M.A. Philosophy, University of Washington
Ph.D. Philosophy, University of Washington



"I want to get the students to learn to love ideas.  I want them to enjoy their philosophy classes as opposed to walking away thinking that philosophy is stuffy, boring, and totally divorced from anything in their own lives. - Dr. Nixon