Getting Started With Music Theory

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Description

When you enroll for courses through Coursera you get to choose for a paid plan or for a free plan

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  • Paid plan: Commit to earning a Certificate—it's a trusted, shareable way to showcase your new skills.

About this course: This course is a brief introduction to the elements of music theory for those with little or no music theory experience. We will explore pitch, rhythm, meter, notation, scales, keys, key signatures, meter signatures, triads, seventh chords, and basic harmony. If you listen to music or play music by ear, and you want to know more about how music is organized and notated, this course is for you. By the end of the course, you should know all major and minor keys, how to read and write in treble and bass clef using standard meters and rhythmic values, and how to notate and harmonize a simple melody. This course can serve as a stand-alone basic music theory course, or it c…

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When you enroll for courses through Coursera you get to choose for a paid plan or for a free plan

  • Free plan: No certicification and/or audit only. You will have access to all course materials except graded items.
  • Paid plan: Commit to earning a Certificate—it's a trusted, shareable way to showcase your new skills.

About this course: This course is a brief introduction to the elements of music theory for those with little or no music theory experience. We will explore pitch, rhythm, meter, notation, scales, keys, key signatures, meter signatures, triads, seventh chords, and basic harmony. If you listen to music or play music by ear, and you want to know more about how music is organized and notated, this course is for you. By the end of the course, you should know all major and minor keys, how to read and write in treble and bass clef using standard meters and rhythmic values, and how to notate and harmonize a simple melody. This course can serve as a stand-alone basic music theory course, or it can be a springboard to more advanced theory and composition courses. Your instructor is Bruce Taggart, Associate Professor of Music Theory at Michigan State University, in the College of Music, where he has taught undergraduate and graduate music theory since 1996.

Created by:  Michigan State University
  • Taught by:  Bruce Taggart, Associate Professor

    College of Music
Level Beginner Commitment 4 weeks of study, 2-3 hours/week Language English How To Pass Pass all graded assignments to complete the course. User Ratings 4.5 stars Average User Rating 4.5See what learners said Coursework

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Michigan State University Michigan State University has been advancing the common good with uncommon will for more than 150 years. One of the top research universities in the world, MSU pushes the boundaries of discovery and forges enduring partnerships to solve the most pressing global challenges while providing life-changing opportunities to a diverse and inclusive academic community through more than 200 programs of study in 17 degree-granting colleges.

Syllabus


WEEK 1


Basic Materials: Overview, Tonality, Notation



Learning Outcomes: By the end of this module, you should be able to: (1) discuss the elements of music, (2) explain the difference between tonal and atonal music, (3) sing the tonic in tonal music, (4) identify the fundamental and partials of a note, (5) explain the difference between chord and harmony, (6) explain the five-line staff, (7) read and write notes using treble and bass clefs, and (8) identify rhythmic values in notation. You should be able to (9) distinguish between pitch and pitch class, (10) describe octaves and how to label pitches based on octave placement, (11) identify and write accidentals and find them on the piano keyboard, (12) and define equal temperament (the artificial scale used on the modern piano) and tell how it differs from other tuning systems.


9 videos, 1 reading, 2 practice quizzes expand


  1. Video: Course Overview
  2. Video: Tonality and Atonality
  3. Video: Harmonic Function
  4. Video: Harmonic Hierarchy
  5. Video: Acoustics
  6. Practice Quiz: Tonality and Acoustics Practice Quiz
  7. Discussion Prompt: Why Music? What Music? My Music.
  8. Video: Notation I: Pitch
  9. Video: Notation II: Rhythmic Notation
  10. Video: Notation III: Measures and Measure Numbers
  11. Video: Notation IV: Notation In Action
  12. Practice Quiz: Notation Practice Quiz
  13. Discussion Prompt: Music Notation and Me
  14. Reading: Notation Reading

Graded: Tonality, Harmony, Acoustics
Graded: Pitch and Rhythm Notation

WEEK 2


Scales, Keys, and Intervals



Learning Outcomes: By the end of this module, you should be able to (1) describe the diatonic set and understand how it is used to create major and minor scales, (2) sing major and minor using solfeggio (solfege) syllables, (3) explain the difference between natural, harmonic, and melodic minor, (4) spell major and minor scales starting on any note using accidentals in treble and bass clef, and (5) spell parallel and relative major and minor scales. You should also be able to (6) identify and spell by size and quality diatonic intervals (within a key) and chromatic intervals (outside a key).


12 videos, 3 readings, 2 practice quizzes expand


  1. Video: Half Steps, Whole Steps, and the Diatonic Set
  2. Video: Major Scales
  3. Video: Key Signatures
  4. Video: Sharp Key Signatures
  5. Video: Flat Key Signatures And The Circle of Fifths
  6. Video: Minor Scales
  7. Video: Relative Minor
  8. Video: Forms Of Minor Scales
  9. Reading: On Minor
  10. Reading: Key Signature Practice
  11. Practice Quiz: Diatonic Set, Major, Minor: Practice Quiz
  12. Discussion Prompt: Sad Minor?
  13. Video: Generic Intervals
  14. Video: Interval Quality and Diatonic Intervals
  15. Video: Diatonic Intervals
  16. Video: Chromatic Intervals and Inversion
  17. Reading: On Intervals
  18. Practice Quiz: Intervals Practice Quiz
  19. Discussion Prompt: My Favorite Intervals!

Graded: Diatonic Set, Major, Minor
Graded: Intervals Quiz

WEEK 3


Rhythm and Meter



Learning Outcomes: By the end of this module, you should be able to (1) read and write all possible rhythmic values, including dotted notes and ties, (2) understand how many notes fit within a measure in various meters, (3) determine meter signatures based on note grouping, and note grouping based on meter signatures, (4) define the types of musical accent and how they create a sense of meter, (5) distinguish between duple and triple meters in notation and by sound, and (6) describe and identify metrical syncopation. You should be able to (7) write melodies on the treble, bass, and grand staves using correct meter signatures, note values, rhythmic grouping, stem direction and beaming, and key signatures and accidentals,


6 videos, 2 readings expand


  1. Video: Accents and Meter Beats
  2. Video: Rhythm and Meter II: Subdivisions of the Beat
  3. Video: Meter III: Simple and Compound Meters
  4. Reading: About Meter and Meter Signatures
  5. Discussion Prompt: Fascinating Rhythm
  6. Video: Metric Notation In Practice
  7. Video: Metric Notation: Tuplets
  8. Reading: On Tuplets
  9. Video: Syncopation

Graded: Rhythm and Meter
Graded: Meter, Tuplets, Syncopation

WEEK 4


Chords, Triads, and Harmony



Learning Outcomes: By the end of this module, you should be able to (1) identify and spell major, minor, diminished, and augmented triads in root position and inversions, and (2) identify and spell major, minor, dominant, half-diminished, and fully diminished seventh chords in root position and inversions. You should also be able to (3) use Roman numeral labels to identify diatonic triads within a key, (4) write triads within a key when given Roman numerals, and (5) spell chords when given pop/jazz chord symbols.


8 videos, 3 readings, 1 practice quiz expand


  1. Video: Triads
  2. Video: Triads II: Inversions
  3. Video: Triads III: Quality
  4. Reading: on Triads
  5. Practice Quiz: Triads
  6. Discussion Prompt: When Is A Chord Not A Chord?
  7. Video: Seventh Chords
  8. Video: Qualities of Seventh Chords
  9. Video: Fully Diminished Seventh Chords
  10. Reading: On Seventh Chords
  11. Reading: 7th Chords In Jazz
  12. Video: Chord Symbols
  13. Video: Roman Numeral Notation
  14. Discussion Prompt: What Now?

Graded: Seventh Chords
Graded: Labeling Chords
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