What is Music?

What is music?

On the occassion of our approaching 100-year anniversary, the UVa Music Department asks: What is Music? This new website offers a platform to help us explore what music has become and what it could be in the 21st Century. The Music Life blog provides one forum for such an exploration. The Audio Lounge offers another. The front page of the site itself presents images coupled with evocative texts:

"Music: a place to gather" showing hundreds of students gathered in front of Old Cabell Hall... Music as a safe space for creative action, free imagination, celebration, gathering... 

"Music: a future sound" showing the Mobile Interactive Computer Ensemble (MICE) performing at the Digitalis Festival. Music as the pursuit of a future sound, something mysterious and unknown, and the possibilities of what it might become. 

"Music: a profound attachment" showing the Charlottesville Symphony at the University of Virginia's Petting Zoo, an event at which children can try out instruments and talk to the orchestral musicians.... Music's profound possibility to form a life-long connection to beauty... the openness and care for community and sharing exhibited by musicians.  

"Music: the mind open" showing students at work in the Music Library. The quiet of scholarship is also a pursuit of noise. The study of writings about music, and musical scores themselves open the mind in unexpected and profound ways. Through our mind, our ears open and through our ears, our minds open. 

"Music: an expression of heart" showing our African Music and Dance ensemble and University Singers performing together at the Charlottesville Film Festival and led by faculty member, Michelle Kisliuk. The image evokes the joy of people coming together through song, exuding heartfulness. 

"Music: embodying the intangible" showing the MEI code for a Schubert song... the power of music to contain recipes for feeling through abstract notations, ready to come to life in performance.

"Music: moved by imagination" showing our Marching Band presenting a powerful expression of sound across space. Music is invisible, but it takes up space, and the Marching Band embodies the power of such motion.

"Music: a spontaneous structure" showing our Free Bridge Jazz Quintet performing an original score by faculty member John D'Earth from the perspective of the band looking out at the audience. Improvisation, control, spontanaetity and formalism: the interplay of dynamic contrasts coming together on stage. 

What else is Music?

Through a series of seminars, events and meetings the Music Department will be exploring this question in 2016.

Matthew Burtner, Chair



McIntire Department of Music
112 Old Cabell Hall
P.O. Box 400176 Charlottesville, VA 22904-4176

Email: music@virginia.edu