Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2023

Course Description

There is a great difference between hearing a technically flawless performance and a truly musical one, one in which the composer seems to be speaking to us through the performer. This is not the result of chance, but rather of the performer making educated, intelligent decisions about what things are important in a piece of music and why. The performer has used eyes and ears to draw out those aspects of a given piece and make the piece come alive. This skill is not limited to performance-based musicians, but is invaluable to music educators and music consumers as well. A goal of this course is to give you the knowledge that you can use to make good artistic choices. Music theory provides labels for phenomena that you observe in music. Theory gives you tools to look inside the music for patterns that might not be obvious, or that become obvious once you are aware of them. You will be learning about four basic types of patterns: harmonic patterns, rhythmic patterns, melodic patterns, and thematic patterns. Some of these labels and patterns will be more rudimentary, like intervals and basic meters. Others will get more complex, such as comparisons of harmonic syntax between nineteenth-century art songs and the blues. There are two basic skills that you will be developing related to these patterns: identification and creation. You will first learn how to identify a particular pattern in abstract examples, then create your own abstract examples. Next you will learn to identify the pattern in contextual examples (real compositions, rather than things composed specifically to demonstrate a pattern), and then create your own contextual examples through composition and improvisation exercises. Besides gaining knowledge about music, I wish for you to grow in critical reading and writing. When you read assigned works, I want you to practice going beyond the obvious facts. Listen carefully to the musical examples, figure out why the author chose those examples and not others, ask why particular facts are mentioned or demonstrated

Student Outcomes

This semester will be devoted to advanced chromatic harmony, tonal ambiguity, and stylistic patterns and forms from the Common Practice Period, Jazz, Popular, 20th Century, 21st Century, and Indonesian Gamelan. By the end of this course, you will be able to analyze music from a wide array of genres and cultures, breaking down pieces into component parts and patterns. You will be able to identify shared structures, subtleties in communication based on cognitive or cultural expectations, and instances that do not follow any currently identified patterns. You will be able to compose music that makes use of stylistically expected patterns, both to better understand how to perform music from these styles, and as a launching point for creating your own style of music composition. Program outcomes: Develop artistic excellence, creativity, and critical thinking skills; Recognize and champion diversity of all kinds; Leverage Technology.