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MUS101: Introduction to Music

Unit 2: Learning to Listen   Music communicates emotions and ideas, telling stories through sound.  Composers and musicians work with the building blocks of sound: pitch, rhythm, dynamics, texture, and tone color, which is the quality of a musical sound.  Organizing these elements to create a whole, or the art of large-scale design, allows artists to create what we call musical form.  The choices that composers make in their music are not only highly personal and intuitive but contingent on cultural traditions and norms.  Musical instruments were created to extend the capacity of the human voice and body. 
 
In this unit, we will explore the elements of music and principles of formal design, and we will become familiar with the vocabulary used to describe and analyze music.  Learning the language of music will enable you to sharpen your listening skills as well as your appreciation of music. 

Unit 2 Time Advisory
This unit should take 20 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 2.1: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 2.2: 4 hours

☐    Subunit 2.3: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 2.4: 4 hours

☐    Subunit 2.5: 4 hours

☐    Assignments: 5 hours

Unit2 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:

  • Identify the specific properties of music as organized sound.
  • Identify basic music notation.
  • Conduct simple meters.
  • Describe and use techniques for listening and discerning melodic phrases, meters, and major and minor harmonies.
  • Identify textures of instruments in the Western orchestra.

  • Assignment: The Saylor Foundation’s “MUS101 Unit 2 Vocabulary Worksheet” and “MUS101 Unit 2 Learning Journal” Links: The Saylor Foundation’s “MUS101 Unit 2 Vocabulary Worksheet” (PDF) and “MUS101 Unit 2 Learning Journal” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Before you read this unit, refer to the MUS101 Unit 2 Vocabulary Worksheet and the MUS1010 Unit 2 Learning Journal.  Please fill out both as you complete the unit. 

2.1 The Language of Music   - Web Media: The San Francisco Symphony’s Michael Tilson Thomas’s “A Symphonic Revolution: Ludwig van Beethoven: Eroica” Link: The San Francisco Symphony: Michael Tilson Thomas’s “A Symphonic Revolution: Ludwig van Beethoven: Eroica (Adobe Flash)
 
Instructions: Visit this webpage to explore some of the musical tools that Beethoven (and other composers) uses to tell stories with drama and emotional impact.  After listening to the introduction by San Francisco Symphony conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, click on “Explore the Score” (lower right of screen), and then click on “Play the Score” to hear examples from each of the four movements of the symphony.  This exercise will introduce you to some of the themes and vocabulary to be explored more in-depth later in this course.  Please note that this source also covers material explored in Subunit 4.4.1 on the development of the symphony.

                                                                                                      
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2.2 Rhythm   - Reading: Connexions: Catherine Schmidt-Jones’s “Rhythm” Link: Connexions: Catherine Schmidt-Jones’s “Rhythm” (HTML or PDF)
 
Instructions: As you read through this webpage, please focus particularly on the concepts of rhythm, meter, tempo, and syncopation. To access the PDF version, click “Download” on the top right corner of the page.
 
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  • Web Media: BBC: GSCE Bitesize’s “Rhythm and Meter” Link: BBC: GSCE Bitesize’s “Rhythm and Meter” (Adobe Flash)
     
    Instructions: Read the first webpage linked here, and then use the “next” hyperlink to view content of subsequent webpages.  Please view webpages one through five, which cover the topics of rhythm, meter, tempo, and syncopation, as well as include playable musical examples, in their entirety.  Please note on the second webpage, rhythm notation is explained in British terminology.  In this course, we use American terminology (i.e., quarter note, not crotchet).  If clarification is needed, please see the Saylor Foundation’s Unit 2 Vocabulary Sheet.  Also, click on the “Play” icons for the audio clips of music examples on the webpages where these appear.  Finally, take the “Test Bites Quiz” to assess what you have learned from this reading; to access the quiz, click on the hyperlink in “Now Try a Test Bite.”
     
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  • Lecture: Yale University: Professor Craig Wright’s “Lecture 3: Rhythm: Fundamentals” and “Lecture 4: Rhythm: Jazz, Pop, and Classical” Links: Yale University: Professor Craig Wright’s “Lecture 3: Rhythm: Fundamentals”  (Adobe Flash, Quicktime, or Audio mp3) and “Lecture 4: Rhythm: Jazz, Pop, and Classical” (Adobe Flash, Quicktime, or Audio mp3)
     
    Instructions: Listen to both lectures (mp3) or view the videos via Flash or QuickTime (approximately 50 minutes for Lecture 3 and 45 minutes for Lecture 4) to deepen your knowledge of how rhythm works in music.  Try to get a sense of how meter, syncopation, tempo, etc. contribute to the mood and feel of a musical work, as well as the different ways in which jazz, pop, and classical composers have used rhythm.  In Lecture 3, students are taught to conduct basic patterns in these meters through musical examples drawn from Chuck Mangione, Cole Porter, REM, Chopin, and Ravel.  In Lecture 4, Professor Wright begins this lecture with a brief introduction to musical acoustics, discussing the way multiple partials combine to make up every tone. He reviews fundamental rhythmic terms, such as "beat," "tempo," and "meter," and then demonstrates in more depth some of the more complex concepts, such as "syncopation" and the "triplet."  Professor Wright then moves on to discuss the basics of musical texture, giving detailed examples of three primary types: monophonic, homophonic, and polyphonic. At the conclusion of the lecture, Mozart's Requiem is shown to weave different rhythms, textures, and pitches together to depict the text effectively.
     
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  • Web Media: G Major Music Theory’s “Identifying Meters” Link: G Major Music Theory’s “Identifying Meters” (mp3)
     
    Instructions: Listen to the audio clips on this website to practice your ability of recognizing simple meters.  If you are having difficulty after the first try: take these steps: 1. Listen for the “one,” the strongest group in a group of 2, 3, or 4 beats; 2. 1-2, 1-2-3 to get in sync with the music; and 3. Try conducting, using the conducting pattern demonstrated in Professor Wright’s lecture, also linked in this subunit.
     
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2.3 Melody   - Web Media: BBC: GCSE Bitesize’s “Melody” Link: BBC: GCSE Bitesize’s “Melody” (Adobe Flash)
 
Instructions: Follow the links to pages 1-6, which explain basic concepts of melody and pay particular attention to scales (major and minor), phrases, and the concept of ornament.  Click on the “Play” icons to access the music samples.  Also, assess what you have learned by clicking on “Now Try a Test Bite” on the last webpage (page 6). Note: the concept of Ostinato introduced on Page 4 will be explored further in Unit 3 of this course, as an element of music structure.
 
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  • Web Media: Connexions: Catherine Schmidt-Jones’s “Melody” Link: Connexions: Catherine Schmidt-Jones’s “Melody” (HTML or PDF)
     
    Instructions: Please read the text and click on the hyperlinks to listen to the musical examples.  You may want to print out the article so that you can follow the musical excerpts while listening to the music.  If you are unfamiliar with how to read music, you should try to follow the arc of the melody as it goes up and down. To access the PDF version, click “Download” on the top right corner of the page.
     
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  • Lecture: Yale University: Professor Craig Wright’s “Lecture 5: Melody: Notes, Scales, Nuts and Bolts” Link: Yale University: Professor Craig Wright’s “Lecture 5: Melody: Notes, Scales, Nuts and Bolts” (Adobe Flash, QuickTime, or Audio mp3)
     
    Instructions: Listen to the entire lecture (mp3) or view the video via Flash or QuickTime (approximately 46 minutes) to explore the basic nature of melody.  Touching on historical periods ranging from ancient Greece to the present day, Professor Wright draws examples from musical worlds as disparate as nineteenth-century Europe and twentieth-century India, China, and America.  Professor Wright puts forth a historical, technical, and holistic approach to understanding the way pitches and scales work in music.  He concludes his lecture by bringing pitch and rhythm together in a discussion of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.
     
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2.4 Harmony   - Web Media: Connexions: Catherine Schmidt-Jones’s “Major Keys and Scales” Link: Connexions: Catherine Schmidt-Jones’s “Major Keys and Scales”  (HTML or PDF)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire text and explore the hyperlinks embedded in it.  You may want to also test your recognition of major and minor scales by playing the musical examples and completing the “Exercise.” To access the PDF version, click “Download” on the top right corner of the page.
 
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  • Web Media: Connexions: Anthony Brandt’s “Harmony in Western Music” Link: Connexions: Anthony Brandt’s “Harmony in Western Music” (HTML and mp3)
     
    Instructions: Read this whole text and click on the hyperlinks at the left to deepen your knowledge of key features of Western harmony and hear musical examples:  The Tonic, Major-Minor Contrast, Modulation, and Return to the Tonic.  More advanced students or those with an interest in music theory may explore additional topics found in the same menu of hyperlinks, such as Circular Progressions, Modes and Scales, and Cadences. To access the PDF version of this article, click “Download” on the top right corner of the page.
     
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  • Reading: Wikipedia’s “Chord Progression” Link: Wikipedia’s “Chord Progression” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Please read this webpage in its entirety to learn about chord progression, which is a series of chords played one after another.  In many types of Western music, from Baroque to the blues, there are specific chord progressions that are used over and over again and are easy to recognize in certain types of music that have repetitive phrase structures.  To hear some of these, play the musical examples in the Wikipedia article.
     
    Terms of Use: The article above is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0 (HTML).  You can find the original Wikipedia version of this article here (HTML).

  • Web Media: YouTube: rasc1944: Gene Chandler’s “Duke of Earl” Link: YouTube: rasc1944: Gene Chandler’s “Duke of Earl” (YouTube)
     
    Instructions: Please view this brief video in its entirety (approximately 3 minutes).  We can easily hear chord changes in a specific type of 1950s and 1960s popular music called doo-wop.  The harmony for doo-wop melodies consisted of short chord progressions repeated over and over again.  In Gene Chandler’s 1962 hit “Duke of Earl,” there are four chords in the progression, which change every four beats.  In other words, every fourth beat coincides with a new chord (an easy way to hear this is to listen for the word “Earl”).  Listen to hear the chord changes and try to sing along.
     
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  • Lecture: Yale University: Professor Craig Wright’s “Lecture 7: Harmony: Chords and How to Build Them” Link: Yale University: Professor Craig Wright’s “Lecture 7: Harmony: Chords and How to Build Them” (Adobe Flash, QuickTime or Audio mp3)
     
    Instructions: Listen to the lecture (mp3) or view the video via Flash or QuickTime (approximately 50 minutes) for a discussion of the fundamental workings of harmony in music.  Professor Wright discusses the ways in which triads are formed out of scales, the ways that some of the most common harmonic progressions work, and the nature of modulation.  Professor Wright focuses particularly on the listening skills involved in hearing whether harmonies are changing at regular or irregular rates in a given musical phrase.  His musical examples in this lecture are wide-ranging, including such diverse styles as grand opera, bluegrass, and 1960s American popular music.
     
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2.5 Instruments and Genres   - Web Media: The Dallas Symphony Orchestra: DSO Kids: “Listen by Instrument” Link: The Dallas Symphony Orchestra: DSO Kids: “Listen by Instrument” (HTML and Flash)
 
Instructions: Please click on the hyperlinks on the webpage to get an overview of instrument groups and instruments, hear the sounds of all the instruments in the Western orchestra, and understand how they produce sound.  Click on the arrow buttons to hear clips of each instrument playing solo and with the orchestra.  DSO Kids is a project of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and will provide an introduction to types of orchestra instruments. 
 
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  • Reading: Connexions: Catherine Schmidt-Jones’ “Orchestral Instruments” Link: Connexions: Catherine Schmidt-Jones’ “Orchestral Instruments” (HTML or PDF)
     
    Instructions: Please review information on this webpage in its entirety.  This site provides more detailed information on the historical development of instruments in the orchestra, their function in the orchestra, and their tonal ranges.  After reviewing the information on Sections of the Orchestra, click on the hyperlinks at right for discussions of specific instruments.
     
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  • Web Media: BBC: GCSE Bitesize’s “Instrumentation” Link: BBC: GCSE Bitesize’s “Instrumentation” (HTML and Adobe Flash)
     
    Instructions: Please read about instrumentation, the craft of writing music for instruments of the orchestra, by reviewing both webpages.  You may use the “next” button to navigate from the first page to the second.  Then, try to assess your knowledge by clicking on the “Now Try a Test Bite” on the second webpage.
     
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  • Reading: Oracle ThinkQuest: Benjamin Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra: Transcript of Narration Link: Oracle ThinkQuest: Benjamin Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra: Transcript of Narration (HTML)
     
    Instructions: To find the narration for this piece, please scroll down to the heading Notes.  Print out the narration and follow it as you listen to the work.  Please note that no performance of the work appears on this page.  Please view these through the YouTube link under Web Media for this subunit.
     
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  • Web Media: YouTube: Simon Rattle conducts Benjamin Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, Part 1 and Part 2 Link: YouTube: Simon Rattle conducts Benjamin Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, Part 1 and Part 2 (YouTube)
     
    Instructions: As you watch the videos (approximately 3 & 8 minutes respectively), try to hear the different versions of the theme varied in melody, rhythm, texture and tempo—in short, all elements of music.  These versions are called variations.  Listening to Benjamin Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra can serve two valuable purposes: to learn the tone colors of the Western orchestra and to introduce important concepts of covered in our next unit: theme and variation, fugue, and formal design in music.  In this piece, Britten introduces a short tune by an earlier British composer, Henry Purcell.  At the end, Britten writes an energetic fugue, based on yet another version of the Purcell tune.  Astute listeners will also note that the tune wraps in a variety of A B A form, a symmetrical, three-part form introduced in the next unit. 
     
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  • Web Media: BBC: Discovering Music: Listening Notes of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition  Link: BBC: Discovering Music: Listening Notes of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition

    Instructions: Watch this video.

    Watching this video should take approximately 1 hour.

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  • Web Media: Wikipedia: Skidmore College Orchestra’s performance of the “Promenade” from Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition Link: Wikipedia: Skidmore College Orchestra’s performance of the “Promenade” from Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition(MP3)
     
    Instructions: Please scroll down the Wikipedia page to “Promenade” under the “Movements” section and listen to the promenade performed by the Skidmore College Orchestra.  This audio will be useful in completing the assignment for this unit.

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  • Web Media: Wikipedia: Skidmore College Orchestra’s performance of “Gnomus” from Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition Link: Wikipedia: Skidmore College Orchestra’s performance of “Gnomus” from Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition (MP3)
     
    Instructions: Please scroll down the Wikipedia page to “No.1 ‘Gnomus’” under the “Movements” section and listen to this audio track in its entirety.  This audio will be useful in completing the assignment for this unit.
     
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  • Web Media: Wikipedia: Skidmore College Orchestra’s performance of “The Old Castle” from Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition Link: Wikipedia: Skidmore College Orchestra’s performance of “The Old Castle” from Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition (MP3)
     
    Instructions: Please scroll down the Wikipedia page to “No. 2 ’Il vecchio castello’” under the “Movements” section and listen to the audio of “The Old Castle” section of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition in its entirety.  This audio will be useful in completing the assignment for this unit.
     
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  • Web Media: Wikipedia: Skidmore College Orchestra’s performances of “Interlude, Tuileries, Cattle (Bydlo), Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks (Балет невылупившихся птенцов), and Two Polish Jews (Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuÿle)” from Mussorgsky’s *Pictures at an Exhibition* Link: Wikipedia: Skidmore College Orchestra’s performances of “Interlude, Tuileries, Cattle (Bydlo), Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks (Балет невылупившихся птенцов), and Two Polish Jews (Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuÿle)” from Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition (MP3)
     
    Instructions: Please scroll down the Wikipedia page to the “Movements” section to locate and listen to the entire audio track of the “Interlude, Tuileries, Cattle, Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks, and Two Polish Jews” section of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.  This audio will be useful in completing the assignment for this unit.
     
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  • Web Media: Wikipedia: Skidmore College Orchestra’s s performance of “Catacombs/The Hut on Fowl’s Legs (Baba Yaga)” from Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition Link: Wikipedia: Skidmore College Orchestra’s performance of “Catacombs/The Hut on Fowl's Legs (Baba Yaga)” from Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition (MP3)
     
    Instructions: Please scroll down the Wikipedia page to the “Movements” section to locate and listen to the entire audio track of the “Catacombs” and “The Hut on Fowl’s Legs (Baba Yaga)” section of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.  This audio will be useful in completing the assignment for this unit.
     
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  • Web Media: Wikipedia: Skidmore College Orchestra’s performance of “Great Gate of Kiev (La grande porte de kiev)” from Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition Link: Wkipedia: Skidmore College Orchestra’s performance of “Great Gate of Kiev (La grande porte de kiev)” from Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition (MP3)
     
    Instructions: Please scroll down the Wikipedia page to the “Movements” section to locate and listen to the entire audio track of the “La grande porte de kiev” from Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.  This audio will be useful in completing the assignment for this unit.
     
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  • Assignment: The Saylor Foundation’s “Guided Listening 1: Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Guided Listening 1: Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Click on the link to download the assignment page and apply what you have learned in this course so far to complete the assignment.