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MUSIC 3. Introduction to Musical Concepts. 4 Units

MUSIC 3. Introduction to Musical Concepts. 4 Units. Introduces students to selected broader historical and cultural themes through music analysis, critical readings, and active listening.

MUSIC 16A. Piano for Majors. 1 Unit. Develops piano skills including interval and chord quality identification, melodic and harmonic dictation, and score reading.

MUSIC 41. Study of a Major Composer. 4 Units. Examines various ways in which classical music plays an integral role in aspects of society.

Music History

In a prehistoric period that may have lasted for 40,000 years, music developed along with other cultural phenomena. Initially, it was probably drum-based and used as a religious ritual. Later, it was a form of social activity and entertainment.

Around 850 CE musicians in the Church had a breakthrough by inventing musical modes. These became the basis for the polyphonic (2 unrelated melodies/voices at once) style that replaced Gregorian chants. A new music emerged that was oriented less in the relation of God to man and more on human drama.

Guido D’Arezzo made many improvements to music theory, including separating time signatures from key signatures and inventing solfege (the vocal note scale of do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti). The Renaissance marked the beginning of a new age in which great composers could be appreciated for their artistic merit alone. The printing press allowed works to be spread rapidly. A number of classical summaries of musical composition were written, among them L’Institution Harmoniche (1555, reprinted 1562 and 1573). Music moved away from being just liturgical art and toward becoming a more universal activity.

Music Theory

Music theory is the study of the structure and rules of music. It’s essential to understand if you want to read sheet music, compose your own songs, or improvise.

Musicians use their knowledge of theory to create well-balanced and emotionally resonant pieces. The core elements of music theory are rhythm, melody, harmony, and form. Musicians often find that a solid foundation in music theory enhances their creativity and allows them to push the boundaries of musical expression.

For composers and songwriters, music theory teaches them a standardized language that enables them to communicate their ideas more effectively. For example, by understanding chord progressions and key changes, they can craft more complex melodies, harmonies, and rhythms. A deeper understanding of these elements also helps them understand the historical and cultural contexts that give their favorite compositions their distinctive sound. Music theory also teaches musicians how to analyze their own work and make improvements. This can help them improve their performances and become more confident in their musical abilities.


Musicianship refers to the thought processes that go into making a musical performance. This can happen consciously or unconsciously and is what gives great performances their magic. It is the difference between a player or singer who can merely play their instrument or sing their notes and one that can create emotion in the audience.

It is also the ability to make music with your mind as well as your hands. This can include transcribing or writing down the music you hear in your head or creating a melody from a rhythm that you have heard. It can also be a way of cueing other musicians in an ensemble to let them know that a change is coming, such as letting the bassist know that it is time for their solo.

Musicianship can also be the understanding of how music is made in the context of its cultural and social significance. This can be from the music of a particular composer to the ways in which gender and culture influence the creation, performance, and consumption of music.


The word composition is also used to describe anything that has been put together, such as an abstract painting or a piece of music. In fact, writing classes are often called composition classes because they focus on the act of putting words together in order to create a particular work.

The concept of composition is central to the study of music. Historically, composers created songs that were based on one key or tone and used a concept known as tonality. As technology advanced, however, the idea of composing songs based on a single tone or key fell out of fashion and musicians began to orient their pieces around harmonies and rhythms.

A musical composition is a work protected by copyright law and can be licensed to interested parties through a music publisher. This guide will provide a detailed account of what constitutes a composition as well as help readers understand how to navigate the complex web of music industry licensing structures and business entities.

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