MUSV3137 - Music and Ecology


Lessons are not given in the academic year 2023/2024

Course content

This course offers an exploration into the field of ecomusicology, which is the study of music and its role in the reciprocal relationships between nature, culture, and society. In this course, we will explore a selection of contemporary composers, popular music artists, and sound artists who make use of various musical techniques to comment on the relationship between humans and nature.

This course proceeds from the idea that music and sound-based art can impact our relationship with the natural world. During this course, we will test this assumption together with the help of various pedagogical and artistic activities. In addition to lectures, the students will work on practical exercises in groups, with the aim of developing new musical tools for promoting ecological literacy. These practical exercises will include working with field recordings and recordings of natural sound, a ‘soundwalk’, and podcast production. By way of the lectures and group work we will become more aware of musical practice as a cultural resource in the transition to a more ecological societal model. During the course we will confront a range of questions such as: How can music express our complex relationships to places and landscapes? How does the ocean deep sound? How is music used in environmental activism? Are whales and birds musicians?

Learning outcome


Students who complete the course successfully will have:

  • gained knowledge of key theories and concepts from ecological philosophy and ecocriticism
  • deepened their understanding of the cultural and aesthetic assumptions that govern our thinking on nature
  • learned about selected musicians, composers, and sound artists who incorporate ecological themes in their work


Students who complete the course successfully will be able to:

  • interpret and discuss the cultural and musical dimensions of environmental crisis
  • present their knowledge of music and ecology in written and oral form
  • identify and critically evaluate soundscapes and acoustic pollution
  • do field recordings of natural sound and reflect on these
  • connect topics from the environmental humanities to contemporary issues in music and musical culture

Learning methods and activities

The course will include both lectures and a variety of practical exercises, including group work.

Compulsory assignments

  • Group work. Each group will produce one episode for the course podcast.
  • Satisfactory participation in compulsory instruction

Further on evaluation

An individual semester assignment (essay) will be submitted digitally in Inspera, as a PDF-file, at the end of the semester. The essay should have a length of ca. 4,000-6,000 words. The course instructor will present the essay question in the first half of the semester.

If the course is not passed, the student must retake the whole assessment. If the candidate retakes the exam, there is no need to retake the compulsory assignments.

Specific conditions

More on the course



Version: 1
Credits:  7.5 SP
Study level: Second degree level



Language of instruction: English, Norwegian

Location: Trondheim

Subject area(s)
  • Musicology
Contact information

Department with academic responsibility
Department of Music


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