Adventures in Classical Music—Music Appreciation for All!

Understand and enjoy classical music at your own pace. A music history course, including a music theory introduction.
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  • Lectures 148
  • Length 31 hours
  • Skill Level All Levels
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
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    Available on iOS and Android
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About This Course

Published 3/2013 English

Course Description

Music appreciation for the 21st century. Learn about Classical Music in the Western world from the Middle Ages to the present.

You’ll begin with an introduction to the various elements of music -- for example, melody, rhythm, pitch and harmony – to give you the basics and vocabulary of music theory to understand and appreciate any type of music. You’ll then explore the History of Classical Music through its various stylistic periods, from medieval chant right up to the current cutting edge. Anyone interested in classical music will benefit from this course.


About this course:

  • Over 1600 happy students
  • Updated regularly (Latest Update: On January, 2016)
  • Full, free lifetime access
  • All future extra and upgraded lectures are always included for free
  • Unconditional Udemy 30 day money-back guarantee
  • See testimonials from former students below
  • ______________________________________________________________________

    This course is structured in 32 sections;

    • the first section is devoted to the elements of music in order to give you a detailed primer in music theory: melody, rhythm, pitch, harmony, texture, tempo, dynamics and form. Section 1 includes a Short History of Rock and Roll to illustrate the musical elements and musical style.

    After that, each section is devoted to one of the broad eras of music history:

    • The Middle Ages. Learn about early music beginning with monophony and how polyphony developed during the period of the building of the great cathedrals.

    • The Renaissance. What was happening in music during the period in which Michelangelo was painting the Sistine Chapel? A return to some Ancient ideals led to a rediscovery of the science of acoustics, providing a basis for the theory of modern harmony. How the course of music changed as a result of Martin Luther’s break from the Church.

    • The Baroque. Here we have the origins of opera, as well as a flowering of instrumental music, culminating in the works of Bach, Handel and Vivaldi.

    • The Classical. In reaction to the florid complexities of the Baroque, and influenced by the Age of Reason, the Classical period focused on simplicity and elegance, producing such composers as Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven.

    • Romanticism. The Age of Reason was too “reasonable” for the the Romanticists. They valued heightened emotion over elegance. The music of Schumann, Chopin, Wagner, Tchaikovsky, Verdi and Puccini were some of its greatest accomplishments.

    • The Modern Period. Formerly referred to as the 20th century period, it now needs to reflect its expansion into the 21st century. Some of the greatest composers of this period have been Stravinsky, Bartok, Schoenberg, Britten, Shostakovich, Ives, Copland and Barber.

    • We conclude with a retrospective and some final remarks to wrap it all up.


    Testimonials from former students. I concurrently teach this course at Santa Rosa Junior College (for core Humanities credit). Please take a moment to read a few testimonials by Santa Rosa students about this course, as they testify to my passion and command of the subject matter.

    “I wanted to thank you, Bill Neely, for sharing your knowledge with us. This has been a super-duper class, and I find myself a little sad to find it drawing to a close. I've always enjoyed classical music rather passively; I now feel that I can be an active participant, with a deeper understanding of the musical concepts, the composers themselves, and their historical context. Very cool!”

    —Sandra L

    “My love for classical music has grown as I understand more now the times and styles and detours of styles these great composers took. I have found these lectures easy to understand and digest into my appreciation and education of classical music.”

    —Kathy J

    “I wanted to thank you for this wonderful class. I have a doctorate degree, and this has been one of the most thorough and informative classed I have ever taken. It has deepened my understanding and enjoyment of the music I have been listening to for the past 35 years...I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate the depth and clarity of presentation of this class. Do you offer any other online classes? I have recommended it to many of my friends…”

    —Loretta Z

    “I really like your lectures, very informative, interesting and filled with a lot of information… This is what I hoped for in an online course. Great lectures, this is the first online class I've taken that I felt the instructor was as dedicated to his online students as his in-person ones.

    Thank you!”

    —Stephanie M

    “...lectures were terrific, especially the use of the history of Rock 'n' Roll to begin a very clear and concise exploration of the basics of music ...Thanks very much for teaching such an excellent course. Sincerely,”

    —Daniel N

    Many more testimonials available on my musicappreciationonline dot com website.

    What are the requirements?

    • I don’t require a textbook, but if you wish to complement your studies, the textbook that most closely parallels this course is The Art of Listening by Jean Ferris.

    What am I going to get from this course?

    • You will learn the component parts of music—rhythm, pitch, melody, harmony, form, etc.
    • Then you will apply those concepts to an exploration of the history of classical music.
    • In the end, you will have developed a greater understanding of music in its various stages of development
    • You will be able to more accurately identify the works and the composer’s style, as well as place it in the timeline of the history of music.

    Who is the target audience?

    • This course is intended for the beginner, although many students with classical music history training have reported that they too have benefitted from the class.

    What you get with this course?

    Not for you? No problem.
    30 day money back guarantee.

    Forever yours.
    Lifetime access.

    Learn on the go.
    Desktop, iOS and Android.

    Get rewarded.
    Certificate of completion.


    Section 1: The Elements of Music: Introduction to Music Appreciation
    A preview of what the course will cover, featuring a timeline of musical history.
    This is the first of 2 parts of a brief history of Rock and Roll, presented to illustrate how key elements of music contribute to style.
    This is the second of 2 parts of a brief history of Rock and Roll, presented to illustrate how key elements of music contribute to style.
    The first of the musical elements to be discussed is rhythm. What is rhythm?
    Section 2: The Elements of Music: Rhythm, Meter and Melody
    What is meter and how is it related to rhythm? Simple meter is discussed first.
    Continuing our discussion of meter: compound meter
    Additive meter and miscellaneous rhythmic devices.
    What makes up a melody?
    How music is notated.
    Section 3: The Elements of Music: Melodic structure; Harmony and Texture
    There is a structure to every melody. Here we look at melodic structure in greater depth.
    Here we look at how harmony and melodic phrases work together.
    What is functional harmony and how does it relate to phrase structure?

    A collection of definitions of texture, all non-musical.

    What is musical texture? 
    Please view the short supplementary video on general texture.
    Section 4: The Elements of Music: Timbre

    In music, instruments perform the function of the colors employed in painting.

    —Honoré de Balzac

    The colors of the orchestral instruments

    Composer Benjamin Britten wrote a set of orchestral variations on a theme written by Henry Purcell, in which he highlights the instruments of the orchestra.

    Section 5: The Elements of Music: A Summary
    How musical structure works.
    Musical devices used in constructing a musical form. 
    5.3 Bringing all the elements together
    The various elements of music come together in Ravel’s Bolero.
    Section 6: Antiquity and the Middle Ages
    Music from its early and sketchy past
    6.2 Early church music
    Early Christian chant, often referred to as Gregorian Chant
    Dies Irae is one particular plainchant that was frequently used.
    Section 7: The Late Middle-Ages and the transition to the Renaissance
    Early musical notation and the church scales
    Notre Dame, Paris; world events and innovation in the 12th and 13th centuries
    New developments in the late Middle Ages
    The 14th Century leading into the Renaissance.
    Section 8: The Renaissance
    The acoustic foundation of modern harmony.
    Polyphony based on a new consonance
    Imitative polyphony was the predominant texture in the Renaissance. 

    The mass was the cornerstone of Renaissance music—the most common form and, for much of the Renaissance, an essential crucible for experimentation.

    The church on trial and eventually, the reformers on trial.
    Section 9: Secular trends and introduction to the Baroque
    The madrigal and a new interest in secular music.
    The madrigal in a new context; Beginnings of the Baroque.
    A comparison between the older and newer styles.
    New style features in the early Baroque; Monteverdi’s Orfeo.
    Section 10: The Early Baroque and the Beginnings of Opera
    Features of this new form called opera.
    Monteverdi’s Orfeo, concluding lecture.
    A summary at the style features of the Baroque.
    My own musings on what this opera thing is about.
    Section 11: 17th century developments and the Rise of Instrumental Music
    World events and musical stylistic changes in the 17th century
    Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas
    Instrumental music begins to free itself from vocal music and creates some new genres of its own.
    Characteristics of the Baroque concerto
    An in depth look at Bach’s famous concerto
    Section 12: Instrumental Genres; the fugue and the church cantata
    in which I walk you through the first movement progressively
    a progressive look at Bach’s Little Fugue in G Minor
    A look at Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 3 as an example of the Baroque dance suite
    A look at one of Bach’s most famous cantatas, “Wachet Auf” (Cantata No. 140)

    In which we conclude our look at one of Bach’s most famous cantatas, “Wachet Auf” (Cantata No. 140) —part 2 of 2.

    Section 13: Opera and Oratorio of the High Baroque; transition to the Classical Period
    A cursory look at opera of the high Baroque with a few excerpts from Julius Caesar.
    A few excerpts from Handel’s Messiah
    some comparisons between the Baroque and Classical styles
    An introduction to the Classical Era
    Section 14: Unity and Form in the Classical Era

    Before looking at form (structure) in music, we look at form in poetry first, then at painting (in next lecture segment).


    Before looking at form (structure) in music, we've just looked at form in poetry; now we look at form in painting (in next lecture segment).

    The Music Man (the musical comedy) is used here to illustrate form in music.
    a look at some of the forms used in the Classical era
    We continue to explore the forms of the Classical era.
    Section 15: Forms of the Classical Period; Introduction to Sonata Form
    How the choice of omission affects a work
    To get into this common form, we look at the rock band, The Police’s Every breath you take

    then a Mozart’s horn concerto.

    To look at this most complex form, we’re going to listen to one of the Mozart’s most popular works.
    Sonata Form is looked at in depth in the first movement of Mozart’s Symphony No. 40.
    Section 16: Instrumental Genres
    In this lecture, we listen to Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23
    A female composer, Francesca LeBrun, and Benjamin Franklin figure in this lecture.
    Section 17: Opera according to Mozart: The Marriage of Figaro
    Introduction to Mozart’s opera, The Marriage of Figaro

    There appears to be a problem here. YouTube has allowed this video to be embedded here for several years, but now, they have revoked access. Here is the YouTube link that will allow you to access the video while this gets sorted out.;end=4600

    16.5 Marriage of Figaro preparation for Scene ii

    Susanna hides Cherubino as she hears the Count approaching and mayhem ensues.


    Here, I fill in the plot before you begin Act 2 of Marriage of Figaro.

    17.2a Marriage of Figaro, Act II, part 1

    When the Countess finds out that the Count is trying to seduce Susanna, Figaro, Susanna and the Countess hatch a plot that doesn't quite work out according to plan. (Part 2)

    17.2c Marriage of Figaro, Act II, part 3
    First watch Act 2. Then, I invite you to watch the rest of the opera, but it is not required.
    Section 18: Transition Beethoven
    Beethoven is considered the pivotal character that bridges the Classical period to the Romantic.
    With this lecture, we begin our in-depth examination of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.
    In this lecture, we look at Beethoven’s Fifth, movement 1.
    In this lecture, we look at Beethoven’s Fifth, movement 2.
    Section 19: Beethoven, Part 2
    In this lecture, we look at Beethoven’s Fifth, movement 3.

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    Instructor Biography

    William Neely, Instructor / Developer, Adventures in Classical Music

    In addition to teaching Adventures in Classical Music at Santa Rosa Junior College and @ Udemy, Bill has also taught this course on the Skillfeed and LearnSocial platforms. He grew up in Newton, Massachusetts, and has lived in San Francisco, California since 1977. He attended University of Massachusetts in Amherst, where he got his Bachelor's Degree in Music Education, with a minor in Music History and Conducting. After that, he went to University of Colorado in Boulder, where he got a Master's Degree in Vocal Performance. He has been on the faculty of Santa Rosa Junior College since 2000, where he began to develop this music appreciation course for online delivery. Prior to Santa Rosa Junior College, he had taught at Napa Valley College.

    In his other life, he is a classical singer in the San Francisco Bay Area, enjoying performing in many operas, musicals and choral concerts. He has sung in the chorus with San Francisco Opera in 11 productions. As a soloist, some of his favorite solo performances have been the title roles of Mozart's Don Giovanni, Sondheim's Sweeney Todd, and Leigh/Wasserman's Man of La Mancha as well as Baron Scarpia in Puccini's Tosca, Count Almaviva in Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, Danilo in Lehar's The Merry Widow, Voltaire/Pangloss in Bernstein's Candide and most recently, Dr. Falke in Die Fledermaus.

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