Getting Started in Music, the Supernatural, and Otherworldly Realms

Hi there! My name is Sam Seymour and I am the student blogger for Music, the Supernatural, and Otherworldly Realms. This is the first year this incredible course is being offered at Colorado College, and it is being taught by the newest addition to the music faculty, Liliana Carrizo! 

In this class, we are exploring how music is connected to consciousness, spirituality, and many different types of religion in the world. We have examined different soundscapes and rituals from different cultures, analyzing its musical quality and significance. The class has also emphasized the importance of sound and space, looking at how sound moves within our body, and the power of silence and meditation. 

For our assignments, we have utilized a site called StoryMaps, which allows you to create and tell a story using video, audio, and geography. We have used this as a means to get to know our fellow classmates by creating a StoryMap about the certain sounds and sights of where we grew up. It was a very interactive way to learn more about our classmates and their upbringings, which is something I personally really enjoy about this class. I enjoy being able to interact with people who I have not met before or have a much different background than me; being able to not only read their story, but to see it and hear it as well, is a very pleasing feeling. 

We have explored different types of listening and how they affect what we hear and what we take away from these sounds. One topic we have explored is the idea of deep listening. After reading an excerpt and watching a video by Pauline Oliveros, a composer who focuses on using space in an innovative way, we participated in a deep listening exercise that guided us towards observing the surrounding sounds, no matter how loud or quiet. We also learned about the Habitus of Listening, which refers to the unique patterns and methods of listening for each person and what we focus on specifically. Listening methods and practices are different for each person due to our different backgrounds, experiences, and upbringings. 

One thing I have taken from this class so far is the use and importance of silence. Although it is something that we often overlook in our busy lives, taking a step back and observing silence in certain areas allows us to appreciate the smaller sounds that we might also overlook. Listening to the sounds that I don’t usually pay attention to has given me a wider appreciation for my surroundings and for nature. 

For our end-of-week project, we had a two-part assignment built off of the different types of listening we have learned about, such as critical listening and habitus of listening. The first part was to take a soundscape, song, or any sort of sonic artistic piece and analyze its quality and significance, along with describing the different emotions it evoked. The second part was to create an assignment or exercise that was based off the first part for the whole class to do. For my project, I discussed the connection between song and meditation, and I used an Iron & Wine song called “The Trapeze Swinger” as my example. I described the beautiful simplicity and trancing feel of the piece and how it made me feel reflective and nostalgic. I then created a guided meditation where I recorded a 10-minute acoustic guitar piece while narrating over it. In the next few days of the block, we will be doing each other’s exercises both during class and for homework; I am very excited to see what my peers created and to do the exercises myself!

Published by Sam

Hi! My name is Sam Seymour, and I am a junior Music Major at Colorado College! I grew up outside of Washington, D.C. in Chevy Chase, MD (no relation to the actor). I enjoy playing guitar and drums, singing, and writing music. I am the co-captain of the club baseball team at CC, and I also enjoy playing spikeball and watching football, baseball, and most other sports.