Music Appreciation

The home of Music Appreciation for Red Rocks students.

Chapter 1: Sound and Silence

Chapter 1: Sound and Silence

I. Chapter 1: Sound and Silence (read about John Cage’s piece on page 3)

Watch the performance of 4’33 with commentary

B. The Properties of Sound (the specific parts of sound that a musician can control and that we can discuss)

  1. Dynamics (how loud the sound is)
  2. Duration (how long it lasts)  Listen: Log in to Cengage and listen to Shamanic Drumming. Shamans were the first doctors and priests. To access their powers, they enter an altered state, almost always aided by the kind of drumming heard in this recording.
  3. Pitch (how high or low it is) Definite pitch means there are regular sound waves; indefinite pitch does not have these.  Listen: Log in to Cengage and listen to Chanting Om. Chanting the syllable “om” is a spiritual practice that is over 3,000 year old. Notice how the experience is shaped by the fact that the pitch never changes — there are no interruption or modifications of the sound.
  4. Timbre (its distinctive tonal quality; the unique sound each voice or instrument Read the rest of this entry »

Chapter 2: Dynamics and Timbre

Chapter 2: Dynamics and Timbre

A. Dynamics: the general loudness or softness of a musical sound

When you listen to the symphony play the last movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, all sixty-three string players play a melody and the harmony that supports it. At the same time, only seven members of the orchestra’s brass section play the same melody and harmony. Despite the disadvantage of numbers, the brass dominates.

Listen: Log in to Cengage and listen to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, Fourth Movement

  1. This can be one of the easiest musical elements to discern; a great place to start when listening.
  2.  This can help immediately communicate the character of a work or a section of a work.

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Chapter 3: Rhythm

III. Chapter 3: Rhythm (page 14)

In 1979 Sugarhill Gang formed and recorded “Rapper’s Delight.”

Listen: Rapper’s Delight


A. Rhythm: the pattern or patterns of musical movement in time

  1. Rhythm is the long and short sounds in music; the duration of each musical sound
  2.  Because rhythm may be constantly changing (the duration of each sound may be different), rhythm must be notated. The most common rhythm symbols can be seen on page 19 of the text.
  3. Notice that specific durations of silence are also notated. Rest refers to measured silence in music. These symbols are also seen on page 19 of the text.
  4. All music has rhythm!

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Chapter 4: Melody

IV. Chapter 4: Melody

A. Melody: an organized succession of pitches that completes a musical idea

  1. A melody is a horizontal idea…notes following each other in a meaningful way
  2. Interval: the distance between two pitches
  • a. Unison: the interval that occurs between a pitch and itself; the same pitch performed simultaneously or in immediate succession
  • b. Octave: interval between two pitches that vibrate in a 2:1 ratio; the distance from one note to the next note of the same letter name; notes that are an octave apart share the same note name
  • c. Step: a small interval between two adjacent pitches

1). Half-Step: the smallest interval possible between any two pitches; the
distance between two immediately adjacent keys on the piano
2). Whole Step: the equivalent of two half steps

  • d. Leap: any interval larger than a step

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Chapter 5: Harmony and Texture

BONUS VIDEO: Evelyn Glennie talks about non-traditional ways to listen to music.

Chapter 5: Harmony and Texture (page 29)

A. Harmony: the study of chords and how they work with the other elements

The clangorous sound that begins The Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night” is arguably the most famous single chord in the history of rock…..For forty years, that chord remained one of rock’s great unsolved mysteries: what were the notes in it, and who was playing them?…. However, in 2004, Jason Brown, a Canadian mathematics professor and an enthusiastic amateur guitarist, decoded the chord through a computer-aided mathematical procedure called the Fourier transform. He was able to identify all of the pitches in the chord and determine their relative strength. From that he deduced that pitched sounds were played not only by Harrison, Lennon, and McCartney, but also by Martin on the piano.

Listen: A Hard Day’s Night

How would you describe the sound of this chord? Sometimes harmonies, over melodies and rhythms, will be the first things to catch our attention.

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Chapter 6: Form

Chapter 6: Form (page 33)

A. Form: the organization of musical elements in time

  1. Concerned principally with the structure and coherence of a musical work
  2. Composers provide musical cues that help listeners hear a work as a single coherent statement or understand it as a unified whole.

B. Recognizing Form

  1. Identify the boundaries within the work
  • a. Punctuation in music is a decisive change in the musical flow that marks a boundary between two sections of music
  • b. May be indicated by a descent of the melody, or a long note following shorter notes, or a cadence on tonic.
  • c. We hear these cues as decisive punctuation, like the period at the end of a sentence.
  • d. Typically, the more music within the boundary, the stronger the punctuation at the end of it.

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Chapter 7: Style

Chapter 7: Style (page 39)

In School of Rock Jack Black gives his class a crash course in rock appreciation. Filling the blackboard with little boxes containing words like “punk,” “soul,” and grunge,” as well as a host of band names and lines connecting the various boes, he takes his students on a whirlwind tour of fifty years of rock.

As he points to the boxes, Finn relies on his students to make connections between the boxed words and the music that they have heard. This pedagogical approach is a frenetic version of one strategy for introducing students to music: play examples of different kinds of music and link them to words that represent the style of each example.

…Style labels in music work only to the extent that they call to mind a set of choices in one or more musical elements. Whether it is Baroque or blues, hip-hop or bebop, Romantic or rock, a label is meaningful only if it evokes sound images that are representative of the style.

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