Jazz 455:
Jazz, Creativity, Consciousness, and the Future

Instructor: Professor Ed Sarath | |

Winter Semester 2015
Tuesdays, 7-9:30 p.m. | 506 Burton Tower | Central Campus
2 credits | first offered in Winter Semester 2014

Prerequisites: Permission of instructor (Please reply with info specified below to request a spot in the class.)

Course Description

Long acknowledged for its richly creative musical horizons, jazz in recent years has been increasingly regarded as a model for creativity across fields. Inspired by the idiom’s improvisatory core, practitioners in areas as diverse as architecture, athletics, business, communications, education, ecology, law, and medicine have begun to recognize that the capacities to spontaneously invent, interact, and synthesize influences from diverse sources are as essential to optimal performance and progress in their disciplines as they are in music. This class takes this thinking a step farther—into the interior dimensions of consciousness that underlie creativity, and which when enlivened, provide a foundation for wide-ranging transformation and growth. Described by psychologists as “peak experience” and “flow,” by athletes as “the zone,” and by mystics through the ages by the many names for transcendence, episodes of heightened consciousness are characterized by enhanced mental clarity, well-being, mind-body integration, ease of performance, noetic experience, and dissolution of boundaries between self and surroundings. Jazz musicians report some of the most vivid instances of these peak episodes and the jazz tradition boasts a long legacy of artists, including John Coltrane, Alice Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, Paul Horn, Charles Lloyd, and John McLaughlin, who have engaged in meditation and other contemplative disciplines to generate work and thought that transcends stylistic, ethnic, cultural, disciplinary, and spiritual boundaries.

Appropriating an emergent worldview called Integral Theory as a lens, the class will explore entirely new perspectives on wide-ranging issues of our times, including creativity, consciousness, spirituality, diversity, sustainability, the arts, and the role of education in invoking paradigmatic change. Class activities and assignments, also exemplary of an integral approach, will be equally broad, including theoretical inquiry, readings and written assignments, discussion, creative activities, listening to recordings, viewing video, and meditation practice.

Open to students from all fields. No prior experience with music required. Permission of instructor is required, however; interested students must contact Prof. Ed Sarath, and provide a brief statement (1-2 paragraphs) that indicates your major, year, and why you wish to take the class, and your 8-digit ID #.

PCCS Coursework & Degree Programs
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Class activities
include regular meditation practices. photo: Monte Fowler
Class mediation