Department of English

University of Toronto


ENG199H1S L0101 R3-5
Writing About Music 
Professor Paul Downes

Brief Description of Course: 

How do we describe music in words? What figures of speech do writers employ to convey the force or the beauty of musical compositions? What makes for a successful or effective piece of critical or creative writing about music? This course will try to answer these questions (and others) by looking at a wide range of essays, stories and poems that celebrate, evaluate, theorize, or otherwise attempt to translate the impact of classical, jazz and popular musical performances.

Required Reading: Excerpts from The Rest is Noise by Alex Ross, Absolutely on Music, by Haruki Murakami; How Music Works by David Byrne; “On Popular Music” by Theodore Adorno; stories by Cather, Nabokov, Baldwin, Ishiguro and others. Course reader.

First Three Authors/Texts: Byrne; Adorno; Cather.

Method of Instruction: Discussion, presentations. 

Method of Evaluation: short music and live performance reviews, presentations, participation.

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