Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Foundation Courses in Music


Musicians typically complete several courses designed to build a solid foundation in advanced instrumental techniques. These courses serve as the basic core curriculum of any music student’s study. Through these courses, students learn how to analyze, interpret and gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for music. Musicians and non-musicians benefit from these courses by learning about music mechanics and becoming more well-rounded musicians and patrons.

Ear Training

Ear training teaches students to identify musical elements quickly. All students enrolled in a university or conservatory music program are required to take ear-training courses. Ear-training courses are designed to help the student develop the ability to sight-sing music and aurally identify intervals, scales, chords, and progressions. The final semester of theory usually requires students to dictate a four-part harmony. Students develop their ears through classes that meet several times per week. They sing melodies from the literature and tap rhythms that progressively become more complex.

Music Theory

Music theory teaches the written elements of music and helps students interpret music. Music theory is typically a two-year program that teaches students the elements of tonal harmony and then in the final segment teaches 20th-century music. Every musician is required to take theory, whether studying music history, performance, composition, or education. Music theory is the basis for understanding the structure behind musical systems. Students are required to identify the written component of the same elements learned in ear training — intervals, scales, chords, and progressions.

Counterpoint

Counterpoint teaches students to compose music and write chord progressions. Counterpoint loosely translates to “note against note.” In counterpoint, students learn how to combine two-, three-, four-, and five-part harmony in a way that creates multiple independent musical lines. Students learn to write melodies that are both balanced and adhere to standard chord progressions by learning voice-leading principles. This subject is usually reserved for advanced composers and musicians. Not all schools require music students to take counterpoint, but usually, it is a recommended elective.

Music History

Music history courses teach identification of literature and composers. All students of music must take basic courses in Western art music. From Ancient Greece to modern times, students learn about the composers, musical works, techniques, styles, and social significance of each time period. Students are usually required to identify by ear works from specific time periods including title, date of composition, and composer. This information serves as a general overview of music so that students have a broad understanding of the music they will perform.

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