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MUS 121 W — A Practical Introduction to Music Theory and Harmony

Quarter: Summer
Course Format: Flex Online (About Formats)
Duration: 7 weeks
Date(s): Jul 12—Aug 27
Refund Deadline: Jul 15
Unit: 1
Tuition: $460
Instructor(s): Ilias Chrissochoidis
Limit: 35
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Registration opens May 17, 8:30 am (PT)
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Flex Online(About Formats)
Jul 12—Aug 27
7 weeks
Refund Date
Jul 15
1 Unit
Ilias Chrissochoidis
Registration opens May 17, 8:30 am (PT)
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Music theory is often considered to be irrelevant to our experience of music. This course will demonstrate that the opposite is true—understanding the laws governing the art of sound enhances our ability to appreciate, enjoy, and even remember music. Reversing the traditional academic practice of moving from concepts to real music, we will start with concrete musical examples and seek to extract their theoretical premises. The opening of Richard Strauss’s “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” will serve as a roadmap introducing such concepts as the overtones series, music intervals, major and minor modes, and chord progression. We will then use a repertory of well-known themes, songs, and large-scale compositions, from “Greensleeves” to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, and from “Flight of the Bumblebee” to “Star Wars,” to expand our understanding of the theoretical foundations of Western music. Finally, we will learn how to use chords to harmonize a melody, and we’ll explore basic ways of composing music.

No music-reading ability is required.

Research Associate, Department of Music, Stanford

Ilias Chrissochoidis is a music historian, composer, and pianist. The recipient of numerous research appointments and fellowships, he has authored dozens of articles on Handel and opera, and with Steffen Huck and others has introduced cognitive perspectives in opera analysis. He is also the editor of Spyros P. Skouras’s memoirs and has released the music albums Inspiratorio, Ringtones, Hellenotropia, and Eviva!

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.