fullscreen background
Skip to main content

Summer Quarter

Summer Registration Now Open
Most Classes Begin Jun 26
shopping cart icon0


« Back to Liberal Arts & Sciences

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 17—Sep 1
Refund Deadline: Jul 20
Unit: 1
Tuition: $490
Instructor(s): Ilias Chrissochoidis
Limit: 39
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Open
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Flex Online(About Formats)
Jul 17—Sep 1
7 weeks
Refund Date
Jul 20
1 Unit
Ilias Chrissochoidis
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 awards, he has written extensively on Handel and opera. He is also the editor of Spyros P. Skouras’s memoirs and has released the music albums Inspiratorio, Ringtones, Hellenotropia, and Eviva! He received a PhD in musicology from Stanford.

Textbooks for this course:

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