Coffey

Ted
Associate Professor of Music

I teach subjects at the intersection of music, culture, and technology. I make acoustic and electronic chamber music, sound installations, and songs, and much of my practice involves collaboration with artists working in other media.

I was drawn to the College Fellows to enrich and refine my teaching, especially through community with other scholars thinking through new perspectives, ideas, and methods. When I consider “engaging aesthetics” as one of the themes for the Engagements courses we’ve designed, to me it implies appreciating and evolving an ancient, profoundly human way of reasoning, one distinct from and not reducible to other ways of reasoning. Both in the apprehension and in the poetic practices of art, things can be demonstrably true without being quantifiable. In fact, we may not even be able to specify what quanta are relevant. Yet even where haphazard proliferation of ‘facts’ effects white noise, art maintains its power to speak, to cut through, to tell stories that we recognize as true.

This is part of why the arts are fundamental rather than ornamental to human experience. The other part has to do with what education fundamentally is: the transformation of areas of knowledge and practice once unfamiliar into that which we hold dear, full of logic, specificity and care. As more of the world is transformed in this way, we gain traction toward humility and intellectual honesty, less inclined to prejudge our fellows and worlds, more inclined and able to commune with them.