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Back to Music as Biology: What We Like to Hear and Why

Learner Reviews & Feedback for Music as Biology: What We Like to Hear and Why by Duke University

4.3
stars
619 ratings
161 reviews

About the Course

The course will explore the tone combinations that humans consider consonant or dissonant, the scales we use, and the emotions music elicits, all of which provide a rich set of data for exploring music and auditory aesthetics in a biological framework. Analyses of speech and musical databases are consistent with the idea that the chromatic scale (the set of tones used by humans to create music), consonance and dissonance, worldwide preferences for a few dozen scales from the billions that are possible, and the emotions elicited by music in different cultures all stem from the relative similarity of musical tonalities and the characteristics of voiced (tonal) speech. Like the phenomenology of visual perception, these aspects of auditory perception appear to have arisen from the need to contend with sensory stimuli that are inherently unable to specify their physical sources, leading to the evolution of a common strategy to deal with this fundamental challenge....

Top reviews

TT
May 16, 2020

This course helped me to see music from a different angle i.e through history and biology. Prof. Dales is a wonderful human being and has a beautiful gift of explaining things in a much simpler way.

MM
Sep 21, 2016

This course has helped me to understand biological psychology of humans towards music. Based on this knowledge i am confident to create music which will seem good to the ears of humans.

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126 - 150 of 159 Reviews for Music as Biology: What We Like to Hear and Why

By MACÍA

Apr 30, 2018

Great topic, great information, poor structure design. IMHO this course should focus more on the theory of how biology explains music, and not in music theory itself. I think it was done in a way to allow people with no music knowledge to take the course, but i also think that is ambitious to pretend that these people follow up from ground up until modes and scales in a 6 week course, and for those who already know the music theory, it gets slow and cumbersome. However, i got some really good info on the topic, and is a good appetizer to start digging in the field. Thanks.

By Chloe B

Jan 20, 2021

The course was so interesting, it is exactly what I wanted to learn from it. I now understand why we like what we hear which and hopefully this course would help me later on with jobs and other courses I want to take.

It was great but the way they spoke was difficult to understand. I was only able to understand it from the discussions because people would explain the information in ways you could understand. I don't think it needed to be difficult, the language was just a bit extra, you could explain the same thing but in a simpler way.

By Meylien D H

May 17, 2016

The course was alright in the sense that it was descriptive, however, the level of critical thinking suggested for the course was not actually indicative of the material presented.

A lot of the material presented was great, but when the quiz came around, questions regarding the material were unequal. For example, in one quiz, there was a question about Galileo, but there was no mention of Galileo in the lecture for that week, and, a lot of the PDF'S were repetitive and not diverse in the material being taught.

By Sithara G

Sep 10, 2017

The video lessons weren't very helpful except in the case of where a certain musical concept was explained and demonstrated. The quiz questions weren't always answered very clearly in the lessons so it would come down to my inferences most of the time. The fact that I am a student who studies music in high school helped me, but if you don't have an advanced understanding of music before you start the course you may find it more challenging.

By Laura F

Apr 1, 2016

The material in this course is very interesting, and many of the musical demonstrations are extremely helpful. I am glad I took it. However, much of the most interesting material is poorly explained; I would loved if fewer ideas were covered in more depth. The quizzes were for the most part poorly written, and only somewhat correlated with the presentation of material in the lectures. So there is definitely much room for improvement.

By Arman S

Jun 15, 2017

The whole course is beneficial for someone with just rudimentary knowledge of physics of sound. The physics modules and some music theory parts were not useful for me, because I already had enough knowledge. I expected the course to deliver more biological information - as the title indicates - so that I could learn professional methods of interpretation of music from biological viewpoint.

By Andy L

Dec 27, 2018

The content of the course itself was engaging and presented well-enough, with some interesting data analysis whether or not you find the ultimate interpretations convincing. From a logistical perspective though, there were serious issues with the coherency of the quizzes and some minor issues with the organization and editing of video content (i.e. segments repeated multiple times).

By Ric E

Jun 14, 2016

Potentially interesting and useful material presented in boring and sometimes unclear manner. Quizzes failed to correlate to the material in the lectures. Got something out of the course but the potential was there for much more.

By Stefan D

Mar 8, 2016

This course fills a gap that is rarely taught by explaining biological origins of musical experiences. The material is very easy to follow. I wish there were more practical exercises or home works to play with the concepts.

By Donna N

Dec 31, 2016

Interesting material but the instructor was so monotone and spoke so slowly, I had to play the videos at a faster speed to stay awake. I'll bet it came in handy for those whose English was not as fluent, though.

By Selim Ö

Aug 1, 2017

Superb topic... Very interesting, but insufficient content... Videos are difficult to follow and comprehend. So is true for tests.

Moderately recommended because of these teaching imperfections...

By Taym A

Oct 4, 2017

This course needs a whole lot of editing. Many confusing mistakes both in lessons and in quizzes. Some fundamental concepts were not explained properly/sufficiently.

By Jairo A

May 7, 2020

It is interesting but it is slow and at some point in my opinion the class becomes boring. Any way it is worth to do it if you want to learn some things.

By Lillian L

Feb 5, 2018

Interesting, but has an evolutionary basis which was a bit disappointing. The piano and mbira demonstrations were both enjoyable and interesting.

By Adam L

Jun 27, 2017

Quiz choices should be more carefully put together. I noticed typos, erroneous grading, and MANY answers that are not mutually exclusive.

By Mieke d B

Jun 28, 2016

I did enjoy the course enough to see it through but it could use help on presentation correlation of lessons and tests

By Willian d S L

Jun 21, 2016

The second part of the course is very good. But first part, with introductions and definitions were very "heavy".

By Александра П

Sep 26, 2017

An overview of lots of topics, but the answer to the question in the title can be given without any of that.

By Lianis O

Mar 18, 2017

It was an interesting class but the quizzes did not reflect the class material.

By Jecca J

Feb 25, 2019

Great Professor and content but poorly designed quizzes.

By Grace M

Aug 8, 2016

The instructor is very dry and the mat

By Dave S

Nov 30, 2017

Caveat: I am not a music major or minor, and have no music theory background...I'm a computer scientist and polymath, but not deep in music. My low rating is due to unclear and rambling lectures, many small errors in the text and one very large one in week 5 lesson 1. This isn't up to the par of other Coursera courses I've taken. He could use more visuals to present the concepts, and speak more concisely to make the points. There are tons of materials available in this area of knowledge, and he didn't use that many of them, so it wasn't that great of a learning experience for me since I learn visually and he used only a small set of visuals.

By Seane C

Jul 20, 2020

The analyses presented in the course are excellent... to some extent. It fails to provide a more complex explanation to why we like music on a biological point of view, considering they only talk about how human vocalization affects music. I think there should be more modules trying to address the subject...

By Luis A

Oct 12, 2016

This class isn't very good. It is confusing and not well explained, and the quizzes are too short and badly written. I gave up on week 5 (of 6) because I just didn't feel i was learning very much, particularly about what the title of the course would suggest you'd be learning about.

By Sara A

Nov 16, 2017

I found that this course requires at least a basic knowledge of music and sound, which i did not have , making the classes a bit tedious. I would recommend it to musicians though, who might find it more interesting than I did.