Music, Science, and the Sublime


What is the course about?

This interdisciplinary course is intended for undergraduates of all disciplines. Through lectures, demonstrations, and interactive software the course will focus primarily on the scientific nature of music, but also the aesthetic nature of science, science and other arts, and the connections they share. The course will investigate the nature of problem solving in these fields, and contrast the different methodologies used in creating aesthetic objects, versus the methodologies used in the discovery and verification of factual knowledge. How can one inform the other? What exactly is meant by “ugly math” or a “beautiful solution” or equation? With such different goals and methodologies, how is it that the most elegant solutions to problems in these fields can approach sublimity –inspiring feelings of spirituality and awe?

The first half of the course will be devoted to an historical overview of the topic and establishing a commonality of key concepts and vocabulary for student of differing backgrounds. The second half of the course will comprise a series of more in-depth lectures, demonstrations and field trips on topics taken predominantly from the last 20 years, as well as topics germane to student’s interest and backgrounds, and the availability of guest lecturers on those topics. All students will have the opportunity of creating their own, scientifically inspired aesthetic objects of music, visual arts, poetry, graphics, and/or other art forms. Previous enrollment in Numeracy is suggested, but not required.

Course Code Offering Department(s) Area of Learning Units & Hours
GDAR1866 MUS ARTS (3,2,1)
Download the course syllabus


IGEThis is an interdisciplinary GE (IGE) course.

  1. One IGE course is listed for more than 1 area of learning. You can decide which area of learning you would like the course to fulfill, by enrolling in the course with the corresponding course code.

Notes for all GE courses

  • You can take a maximum of 6 additional units of GE courses from any categories as electives.