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Music theory is the study of the practices and possibilities of music. The projects in this course explore some of these possibilities, opening up resources for your own compositional and analytical work. The course is organized into four sections, each with a specific focus:
1. Harmony: vertical combination of pitches
2. Counterpoint: interweaving independent melodies
3. Rhythm: movement in time
4. Form: structure in music
The history of music
From the ancient Greeks to modern day, music has played an important role in society. The history of music is a long and complicated one, with different styles and genres emerging and evolving over time.
The first known examples of music date back to around 3500 BCE, when ancient peoples used percussion instruments to create rhythms. By the Middle Ages, music had become an important part of religious ceremonies, with chants and hymns being sung in churches. In the Renaissance period, composers such as Leonardo da Vinci and Giovanni da Palestrina wrote complex pieces for choirs and orchestras.
In the Baroque era, composers such as Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel created some of the most famous pieces of classical music, while in the Romantic period, composers like Ludwig van Beethoven and Frederic Chopin wrote emotional and dramatic works. In the 20th century, composers like Igor Stravinsky and Arnold Schoenberg pushed the boundaries of what was possible with music, while popular musicians like The Beatles and Elvis Presley changed the face of popular culture.
The different genres of music
There are many different types of music, each with their own unique history, purpose, and sound. Knowing the different genres can help you better appreciate the music you listen to and find new artists that you may enjoy.
Some of the most popular genres include pop, rock, metal, punk, country, blues, jazz, hip hop, and classical. Each genre has subgenres that further define the sound and style of the music. For example, pop music can be divided into subgenres like bubblegum pop, dance-pop, synth-pop, and more.
Geographic location also plays a role in the development of musical genres. For example, ragtime originated in the southern United States while disco developed in Europe.
There are endless possibilities when it comes to music and new genres are always emerging. With so much variety out there, there is sure to be a type of music that you enjoy!
The different instruments used in music
Music is an art form consisting of sound and silence. The experience of music is created by performers who use their voices or playing instruments to produce sounds. Instruments can be classified according to their array of pitches, or notes, that they can play. The most common Western musical instruments are shown below, sorted by the number of pitches they can play.
Percussion instruments are the simplest type of instrument, as they generally only produce one kind of sound – a “thud” or a “crash”. The word “percussion” comes from the Latin percussio, meaning “to strike”. Percussion instruments include drums, cymbals, gongs and bells.
String instruments are so named because they produce sound by using one or more strings that are plucked or bowed. Common string instruments include the violin, viola, cello and double bass. The harp is another popular string instrument that uses a different method to produce sound – instead of being plucked or bowed, the strings are plucked with the player’s fingers.
Wind instruments are played by blowing air through a tube into a resonating chamber. Common wind instruments include brass instruments such as the trumpet, trombone and French horn; woodwind instruments such as the flute, clarinet and oboe; and reed instruments such as the saxophone.
The different styles of music
There are many different styles of music. Some of the more popular ones are:
Music composition is the process of creating a piece or pieces of music, either by musical notation or by direct manipulation of sound waves (an “automatic” or “real-time” composition). Composition can be purely instrumental, or it may include singing, although vocal compositions are generally considered a separate genre. Composers typically write music for performance by virtuoso musicians, which increasingly includes skilled amateurs such as music teachers and university students.
Music performance is the process of playing or singing music. It can take place in front of an audience, or in private. Music performers include soloists, duos, trios, quartets, orchestras, bands, and choirs.
How music is produced has changed greatly over the years with advances in technology. In the past, music was produced by playing instruments and then recording the sound onto a medium such as tape or vinyl. Today, music can be produced using a computer and software to create and mix sounds. This allows for a much more detailed and polished sound.
The first step in music production is to create the basic track, which is typically done by a producer or composer. Once the basic track is created, other instruments and sounds are added to it to create the full song. This can be done using real instruments or by synthesizing sounds using a computer. The final step is to mix all of the tracks together and add any final touches, such as EQing or compression, to create the finished song.
Music education is the study and practice of music in an educational setting. The main aim of music education is to develop students’ musical skills and knowledge, although it can also include the development of their understanding of the history and theory of music, as well as their appreciation of different genres and styles. Music education is available at all levels, from early childhood programs through to university level courses. It can be delivered in a variety of ways, including through formal classroom teaching, informal teaching in settings such as community choirs or orchestras, or through private lessons.
Music therapy is the scientific and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.