Music Appreciation: The Enjoyment of Listening

Course Overview

Units at a glance

The world is full of music. We hear it as we shop and while driving in our cars. We attend concerts and buy albums and digital downloads to listen to by ourselves. Yet, despite having music surround us, we may not always stop to consider the elements and pieces that combine to make music. In this unit, we will consider some of the basic elements of music and how these elements are used in different genres of music.

Since the mid-twentieth century, pop music has been associated with youth culture. With the advent of rock and roll in the 1950s and the gradual separation of rock and pop music, young people have flocked to popular artists, spending billions of dollars on music, concerts and performances, and merchandise. In this unit, we will discuss the development of pop music, with its catchy tunes and lyrics. In doing so, we’ll learn how pop music built on the musical genres that came before it and how technology influenced pop.

While we may never know what the first music sounded like, we do know that music has played a role in human history for thousands of years. This unit will focus on what is known about the history of music through the Middle Ages. It will include a discussion on the types of instruments that were used as well as the role of music in early societies. We will examine what is known about music in ancient Greece and the development of classical music in the Western world.

In this unit, we will learn more about the music of the Renaissance. The Renaissance in Europe was a time of great discovery and creation, and this was reflected in the music of the time. Music and society influenced each other in a number of complex ways, from the invention of the printing press to the increasing popularity of dancing and instrumental music. A number of instruments were created during this time that would eventually be adapted into the forms that we are familiar with today.

The Baroque period of music left a lasting impression on Western music. From about 1600 to 1750, composers changed some of the musical notation, established opera, and expanded instrumental performance. This unit will focus on the development of music styles such as opera and classical music. Composers such as Bach and Handel will be considered.

From about 1750 to 1830, the Classical period of music occurred. Often lighter and less complex than music from the Baroque period, music from the Classical period features frequent changes in mood and an emphasis on instrumental music. This unit will focus on the classical period of music. It will discuss composers such as Mozart and Beethoven.

During the 1800s, the Romantic period in music developed, creating many of the modern forms of music. This unit will focus on the Romantic period in music. It will discuss composers such as Chopin, Liszt, and Tchaikovsky. We will explore the effect of the increase in orchestra size on the music composed, as well as the increased importance of music performance and concerts.

During the early twentieth century, jazz evolved as a musical style that brought together music traditions from both the West and Africa. One of the key features of this musical style is improvisation. In this unit, we will discuss the development and influence of jazz. We will learn about some of the jazz musicians who helped to develop this form of music.

Course Highlights

Investigate the development of jazz music and its influence on other genres.
Examine how music has influenced nations, communities, and individuals.
Learn more about the lives of some of the world’s greatest musicians and composers.
Explore the development of music from ancient music to today’s popular music.

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