Common Core Courses
Music contributes significantly to HKU’s Common Core curriculum by offering three common core courses, namely, CCHU9038 Music and the Human Body, CCHU9049 Reinventing Classical Music, and CCCH9035 Music along the Silk Road.
The course will illustrate the full extent of the role of the body in music making and listening. Our initial goal is to revisit the ear’s astonishing synthetic and analytical powers in the context of a holistic view of music as the (literal) embodiment of sound. To this end, we will use the human body as a map for the topics covered in the semester. More than a mere gimmick, the idea of the body-as-map will help the students grasp the rationale that guides our choice of topics while at the same providing a clearly defined conceptual anchor for their tutorials, readings, and assignments. The repertory will mingle the familiar with the less familiar. Many of our case studies will be drawn from the vocal and instrumental repertories of the Western Classical Tradition, Opera, and Musical Multimedia. There will also be significant forays into early musical practices as well as dance, religious, and popular music of other traditions.
Whether performed, danced or listened to, music is an appealing starting point for challenging the old, rigid separations between nature and culture on the one hand, and body and mind on the other. Music and the Human Body aims to make good on this premise by examining the fluid and extraordinarily productive relationship between physiology, psychology, and culture as exemplified by a wide range of types of musical behaviour.
This course explores classical music and the ways in which it has been reinvented over time. Students will learn how different generations have deliberately or unconsciously chosen what to cherish or reject from the past. Whether it be composers altering their musical language to adhere to the political climate of their time, performers reinterpreting the “great works,” or the music industry repackaging ancient melodies for use in contemporary media, classical music figures in a vast social and cultural landscape that is in a constant state of change. This course examines the history and culture of classical music from the early modern era to the present, focusing on the themes of innovation and tradition, in order to understand the social and cultural processes through which Western art music is made anew again.
The Silk Road has long facilitated dynamic cultural exchanges, many of which were manifested in various musical traditions that flourished along the ancient conduit. This course examines some of these musical traditions and treats each of them as a cultural process, focusing on the spread and development of these orally-transmitted art forms, thereby highlighting the complexity of Chinese culture by way of its interaction with other cultures on the Silk Road.
In this course, the Silk Road is understood as an ever-changing series of peoples, places, and musical traditions. Through examining a broad range of these pre-modern Eurasian musical cultures, the course helps students move beyond their preconceived understanding of music, open their minds and ears to musics of the past, and interpret interconnections between past and present.
By exploring the globalized music scene of the Silk Road as a product and reflection of culture, the course nurtures critical intellectual enquiry and self-reflection across a wide range of socio-cultural issues, so as to enable students to be aware of the wider world, to respect and value diversity, and to understand how the world works culturally, socially, and politically.