Anthony Perman asks his first-year students to question music and beauty:

  • What does it mean to say music is beautiful?
  • Can Chinese opera, American country music, and Zimbabwean spirit possession drumming all be beautiful?
  • Does musical beauty thus vary from one society to the next, from person to person? Or is there something universal in the expression of beauty through sound?
  • What makes music beautiful or ugly, good or bad, moving or annoying?

In his tutorial Music and Beauty, Perman’s students explore ideas of beauty and philosophies of aesthetics through a cross-cultural exploration of music and its potentials.

They draw on philosophy, ethnomusicology, and other disciplines, then study specific case studies from various times and places to question the ideas of aesthetics, its relationship to ethics, and several alternative approaches to beauty and music.

The students close the course by addressing how music and the arts shape our understanding of the humanities and the value of the liberal arts.

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