Adventures in Classical Music—Music Appreciation for All!
4.5 (155 ratings)
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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.
Best Seller
4.5 (155 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
2,510 students enrolled
Created by William Neely
Last updated 8/2017
Current price: $10 Original price: $200 Discount: 95% off
5 hours left at this price!
30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
  • 31 hours on-demand video
  • 1 Supplemental Resource
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
What Will I Learn?
  • 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.
View Curriculum
  • 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.

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.

    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.
    Compare to Other Classical Music Courses
    Curriculum For This Course
    148 Lectures
    The Elements of Music: Introduction to Music Appreciation
    4 Lectures 01:01:17
    A preview of what the course will cover, featuring a timeline of musical history.
    Preview 16:25

    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.
    1.2 A History of Rock and Roll, Part 1

    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.
    1.3 A History of Rock and Roll, Part 2

    The first of the musical elements to be discussed is rhythm. What is rhythm?
    1.4 Elements and Rhythm
    The Elements of Music: Rhythm, Meter and Melody
    5 Lectures 01:02:41
    What is meter and how is it related to rhythm? Simple meter is discussed first.
    2.1 Rhythm, Part 2

    Continuing our discussion of meter: compound meter
    2.2 Compound Meter

    Additive meter and miscellaneous rhythmic devices.
    2.3 Additive Meter and miscellaneous

    What makes up a melody?
    2.4 Characteristics of Melody

    How music is notated.
    2.5 Melody and Notation
    The Elements of Music: Melodic structure; Harmony and Texture
    5 Lectures 57:37
    There is a structure to every melody. Here we look at melodic structure in greater depth.
    3.1 Melodic Structure and Harmony

    Here we look at how harmony and melodic phrases work together.
    3.2 Harmony and phrase structure

    What is functional harmony and how does it relate to phrase structure?
    3.3 Harmonic progressions

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

    3.4a Texture —supplemental (non-musical)

    What is musical texture? 
    Please view the short supplementary video on general texture.
    3.4b Musical texture
    The Elements of Music: Timbre
    3 Lectures 43:50

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

    —Honoré de Balzac

    4.1 Timbre and the human voice

    The colors of the orchestral instruments
    4.2 Instruments of the orchestra

    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.

    4.3 The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra
    The Elements of Music: A Summary
    4 Lectures 57:06
    How musical structure works.
    5.1 What is musical form?

    Musical devices used in constructing a musical form. 
    5.2 a discussion of the building blocks of form

    5.3 Bringing all the elements together

    The various elements of music come together in Ravel’s Bolero.
    5.4 Ravel’s Bolero
    Antiquity and the Middle Ages
    4 Lectures 01:02:28
    Music from its early and sketchy past
    6.1 Beginnings

    6.2 Early church music

    Early Christian chant, often referred to as Gregorian Chant
    6.3 Plainchant

    Dies Irae is one particular plainchant that was frequently used.
    6.4 Dies irae
    The Late Middle-Ages and the transition to the Renaissance
    4 Lectures 01:04:57
    Early musical notation and the church scales
    7.1 Notation and modes; Hildegard von Bingen

    Notre Dame, Paris; world events and innovation in the 12th and 13th centuries
    7.2 The Notre Dame School

    New developments in the late Middle Ages
    7.3 The Late Middle Ages

    The 14th Century leading into the Renaissance.
    7.4 A Sleeping Europe wakes
    The Renaissance
    5 Lectures 56:40
    The acoustic foundation of modern harmony.
    8.1 The Overtone Series

    Polyphony based on a new consonance
    8.2 The Early Renaissance

    Imitative polyphony was the predominant texture in the Renaissance. 
    8.3 Imitative Polyphony

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

    8.4 The Renaissance Mass

    The church on trial and eventually, the reformers on trial.
    8.5 The Reformation and Counter-Reformation
    Secular trends and introduction to the Baroque
    4 Lectures 59:14
    The madrigal and a new interest in secular music.
    9.1 Secular trends in the Renaissance

    The madrigal in a new context; Beginnings of the Baroque.
    9.2 A New style for the madrigal

    A comparison between the older and newer styles.
    9.3 Introduction to the Baroque

    New style features in the early Baroque; Monteverdi’s Orfeo.
    9.4 Baroque opera and a new musical language
    The Early Baroque and the Beginnings of Opera
    4 Lectures 58:30
    Features of this new form called opera.
    10.1 Baroque opera, part 2

    Monteverdi’s Orfeo, concluding lecture.
    10.2 Monteverdi’s Orfeo

    A summary at the style features of the Baroque.
    10.3 New trends of the Baroque

    My own musings on what this opera thing is about.
    10.4 The Nature of opera
    22 More Sections
    About the Instructor
    William Neely
    4.6 Average rating
    165 Reviews
    3,003 Students
    5 Courses
    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.