Project #22130 - music essay

2-3 pages., 12-pt font, double spaced. 

Although some music is explicitly ideological, one might consider all music to be ideological, as it is founded in beliefs about the world. In this assignment, you consider the ideological implications of music, particularly the question "How can music be moral?"

Confucius distinguished between ‘proper music’ (yayue) and vernacular music, suyue, holding that music that reflected and encouraged proper morality was a key means of cultivating harmony and order in society and cultivating oneself, whereas “music that he considered sentimental and immoral leads to degeneration of one’s mind and society” (Lau: 118). Review Confucius' thought about music and morality. Choose a piece of music you are familiar with (it doesn't have to be East Asian music, and could be pop music, classical music, or anything you like) and consider it from a “Neo-Confucian” perspective—by which I mean think about it morally, not using Confucius’ standards but using a moral standpoint historically appropriate to the music you are considering, or to its era. Does it promote an idea of right relationships in society? Does it promote some contemporary notion of social virtue (ren) and/or social propriety (li)? Does it help one “regulate one’s mind and induce proper behavior” (Lau: 119)? You may find evidence for a number of perspectives, and feel free to contrast them. For instance, anti-war music might be considered immoral by some and deeply moral by others. Bear in mind that when we speak of morality we are typically speaking of a conversation about morality, not a fixed bunch of principles. There are many possibilities as to how a piece of music or a pop song can realate to morality: it might rehearse familiar moral tropes, even gesturing towards a 'mainstream morality' that might be itself fundamentally unstable; it might transgress such ideas of conventional morality in the interest of proclaiming a new one, for instance advocating for marginalized social groups or against perceived social injustices; it might transgress moral codes in a nihilistic way, for the sake of enjoyment, and that may or may not be a morality. Bear in mind that the transgressive in popular music is often, paradoxically, profoundly conventional. 

Pay attention to lyrical content, of course, but it is of primary importance that you talk about the sound of music when making your argument about how the didactic function of music works or doesn’t work in the particular piece you are considering. Provide a Youtube link to the piece if possible.

I don't require you to reference other writings, but if you choose music of a particular historical period--say Mozart's music or something--you may need to to establish the morals and ideals of the day. If you do cite sources, be sure to cite them. Cite your sources using parenthetical reference list format (Li 2006:  43) + full citation  at the end in a list of references. There is no need to provide a full citation when you are citing the Lau book, just the parentheses (Lau 45). Also make sure you have a central thesis stated at the outset, and several points/examples to support it, each of which gets its own paragraph. For more info on parenthetical reference list format, see this link: 

http://www.noodletools.com/helpdesk/kb/index.php?action=article&id=53

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Due By (Pacific Time) 02/06/2014 08:00 am
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