The Family of Musical Elements

I don't believe I've ever seen a music textbook, or observed or even taught a music course that didn't include plenty of instruction on the elements of music. Melody, harmony, pitch, rhythm, beat, and so forth all are rightly considered critical to any course on music. These things are the very raw materials out of … Continue reading The Family of Musical Elements

Structure and Form: What’s The Difference?

Structure and form are two words that surface frequently in music analysis and education. Two words should be associated with two different concepts, but these two are frequently used interchangeably. But are they really the same? I maintain that they are not; that there are important differences between their meanings, and today I will discuss … Continue reading Structure and Form: What’s The Difference?

How Does Music Work?

We have all encountered teachers who began some music course or other by asking "What Is Music?" Leonard Bernstein, paraphrasing this often posed question, I suppose, asked "What Does Music Mean?" Many answers have been proposed to the former question, and Bernstein's answer to the latter, after an interesting lecture, was that music doesn't mean … Continue reading How Does Music Work?

What Isn’t Music?

I read an interesting definition of music today. Music is "a pattern of sounds made by musical instruments, voices, or computers, or a combination of these, intended to give pleasure to people listening to it" (Mambo entertainment). The essentials are there, namely that music is sound patterns and there is an intent attached to those … Continue reading What Isn’t Music?

Problems in Responding to Music

There are essentially three things to which a person can respond in music; structure, form, and emotions. Structure are those things in music that we intuitively understand, such as beat, phrasing, and meter. Because of the natural way we perceive these structures, we are able to sort out the musical sounds and organize them in … Continue reading Problems in Responding to Music

What Are Some Effects of Combining Music and Video?

While both music and visual art, including video, are powerful art forms in their own rights, both capable of eliciting emotional responses and memories of experiences of artistic work, their affects when combined are even more potent. While research in this area has largely been inconclusive, researchers have suggested that videos do influence a listener's … Continue reading What Are Some Effects of Combining Music and Video?

What Does Music Mean–Revisiting Bernstein’s Lecture

In 1958, Leonard Bernstein gave a Young Peoples Concert entitled “What Does Music Mean?” In it, he said that music doesn’t mean anything in the ways language does, but instead means what it is. Today, I will take up the matter of musical meaning, restricting myself to developing Bernstein’s points, and avoiding deeper aesthetic and … Continue reading What Does Music Mean–Revisiting Bernstein’s Lecture