Music and Language

Dec 2003

Professor Fox is one of the few people who have made my experience at Columbia memorable. He is a fascinating man who bases his knowledge in the subject not only on his studies in classrooms, but on his field work in which he immersed himself in a different culture. Professor Fox explains the theories of the relationship between music and language and then goes on to show real life examples through his research plus that of fellow colleagues. Perhaps the most amazing thing about Prof. Fox though, is his relationship with his students. I have never met a professor that is so open to random walk-ins in his office without prior appointment. He is friendly with each student and is genuinely interested in the work that his students do. To be honest, it sometimes feels as if he sees you less as a student and more as a peer. He will go out of his way to find resources that a student may need for research, etc.... Class is never anything less than entertaining, though still informative. Attendance is important, as there is no textbook, but he does offer a class webpage that contains the materials (papers, songs, etc....) used in the class. If at all possible, TAKE A CLASS WITH PROFESSOR FOX!!!!! It will be a class in your Columbia career that you will not forget.

May 2003

Professor Fox is really cool and I recommend him highly. Some students have a hard time with the fact that his classes aren't formal, but that's exactly why everbody else loves him. He runs a fun class in which you aren't itching to go home. And for those who don't wake up early: I've never seen a class of his listed to start before 5:30.

May 2003

There are many good things to say about Aaron Fox, and many bad things. Overall, I think the good outweighs the bad. He's probably one of the two or three most brilliant people I've encountered at Columbia, and this class is a fascinating fusion of almost every academic discipline. (I bet you never thought Marina Cords's monkey sex class would come into play in a course in the music department!) He's also a likeable, very funny guy with a badass-rebel streak. The trouble with Aaron is that he is wildly, hopelessly disorganized. We never started class on time because he was always futzing with his uncooperative laptop; he went off on tangents constantly and talked himself in circles when he was able to stay on task; and we didn't cover half the stuff on the syllabus. But again, he's blindingly brilliant, and he's got a lot of interesting and relevant things to say if you pay close enough attention. And the theory that he did talk about, he explained very thoroughly and clearly. Also, this was his first time teaching the class, and he threw the syllabus together rather quickly after finishing a book over winter break. Some suggestions for the future, for whoever's reading this: 1) the class should meet once a week for 2 hours, not twice a week for an hour and 15 minutes. If it met on a seminar schedule, Aaron's digressions wouldn't eat up entire class meetings, and we'd be able to delve more deeply into the difficult theory presented here. 2) Integrate the theory and the empirical reading. All the reading before spring break was theory, everything after was empirical. The thousands of pages of theory, bereft of context, were overwhelming, especially for those in the class without a strong anthro background. 3) Narrow down the course content. "Music and language" is an exceedingly broad topic, and I doubt that even an organized professor could have covered all the ground that Aaron tried to. Overall, despite the frustrations, this is a good class for those with a SERIOUS interest in musicology on a very abstract level. Those looking for a random cool elective will probably find it tedious.