Music for the Listener
Music for the Listener


". . . education in music is most sovereign, because more than anything else rhythm and harmony find their way to the inmost soul and take strongest hold upon it, bringing with them and imparting grace, if one is rightly trained. . ."

PLATO from Republic

man listening
Welcome to Music for the Listener, an introductory course in music history and literature for undergraduates at Lewis University. This online text has been developed by the faculty of the Department of Music to help you fulfill the General Education Requirement in the Fine Arts.

You may be asking, "Why do I have to take a course in music?" There are a number of answers to that question:

How is the text organized?

Unit One introduces the concept of critical and active listening and proceeds to some important preliminaries such as musical vocabulary, notation, and acoustics. Basic components of music such as pitch, rhythm, dynamics and timbre are discussed in chapter two. Chapter three introduces the musical instruments used in Western music, and Chapter four lays the foundation for a discussion of emotion and meaning in music.

Beginning with Unit Two, Music for the Listener is organized chronologically, beginning with a lecture on music in the ancient world and progressing through the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Baroque, the Classic Period, the Romantic Period, and the Modern Era. In each chapter major composers are introduced, along with their most important contributions to the canon.

All along the way you will encounter sidebars that interject fascinating facts, clarify concepts, and give more information about major composers and the works that changed the course of music history. Playlists will direct you to recordings of pieces you should hear. Listening to these pieces is analogous to reading the poems, stories, essays, and novels you would read in a literature course. That's why we refer to them as music literature.

At the end of the book you will find a couple of ancillaries that will prove quite useful: a glossary and a timeline. These will be especially helpful in organizing your materials and preparing for exams.

Complete information about the course Music for the Listener [14-110] will be found in the syllabus, which your instructor will provide. That will include things like how many assignments and exams you can expect and how you will be graded.

Here are the Student Learning Outcomes. Upon successful completion of this course, you should be able to:

All of us who teach Music for the Listener hope you will find this text engaging and useful. We welcome your input and encourage you to send us your comments. We will incorporate your suggestions into future editions. But for the present, we wish you much success in this course and hope it brings you joy!