Class puts classical music in current cultural context

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    By Jennefer Barton

    BYU students will be able to understand the impact of classical music in popular culture, through a new Honors course being offered this upcoming 2006 Fall Semester.

    For the first time, Luke Howard, associate professor in the School of Music, is teaching how classical music is still around in our pop-culture, but society doesn”t always realize it.

    “It”s what I research,” Howard said. “I have a lot of material on the subject. I want to teach this class because I”m excited, and students respond positively to the idea of understanding music in today”s culture.”

    Howard is specifically teaching about music in movies and TV.

    “I”m looking at music that is mostly used in movie soundtracks,” Howard said. “I want to explain situations where the director wants to say something particular to the audience, and why he picks a particular piece of music.”

    One example Howard will use in his class is Carl Orff”s, “Carmina Burana.” He said this piece is vigorous, exciting music.

    “[It”s a piece] that everyone has heard.” Howard said. “They might not know the name of it though, but can recognize the tune. Music is a powerful force in movies and on TV; it shapes emotions and feelings of viewers.”

    The class is full and students are excited about the unique class.

    “I think it is a great class because a lot of people resent classical music, they believe it”s only for a certain type of person,” said Jessica Gillespie, a 22-year-old music major. “But this class will help show people that classical music is everywhere.”

    Howard will use seven or eight 20th century pieces in his class. Students will watch a clip of a movie using classical music and then the music will be discussed.

    “What I want students to know is that orchestral music is not only about the concert hall,” Howard said. “It”s implicated in other media. Very few people like classical music, there is a reputation for being elitist, and I want to show that it doesn”t have to be limited.”

    In order to teach this class, Howard had to submit a proposal to the Honors program.

    The process of proposing a class involves professors finding an interest and creating a curriculum to be reviewed by the Honors faculty council, said Heather Price, administrative assistant for the Honors program. The council reviews the proposal and looks at how the class will fill a GE requirement.

    The class is offered as the Honors 304 class titled classical music in popular culture.

    “Students are already required to take GE classes and taking [the classes] through the Honors program is a way to take a unique class and fulfill requirements in a fun way,” Price said.

    It is a class that may be offered in the future, but it is a case-by-case basis.

    “Sometimes we”ll have a unique class only offered once or twice, while we have some classes that are offered every year,” Price said. “It depends on the class and availability of the professor.”

    For more information on classes such as this, consult the Honors online course guide.

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