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Music's Mechanical Makeup

Music is made up of many different musical elements. In this series we look at these elements, how they different in other cultures and how they have changed over time.


  • Melody – Melodies can bridge the gap between cultures when language fails us; they can convey patriotism, hope, fate, love, loss and can touch our most raw emotions. But what makes a good melody and how does this differ throughout the world?
  • Rhythm – Essentially rhythm is a series of sounds and silences put together to create a pattern. But rhythm is much more than that, it makes us want to tap our feet and swing our hips – why??
  • Harmony – Harmony is the mysterious element in music only developing in the Middle Ages. What is it, how and why did it come about and how has it developed?
  • Bass – Bass is the youngest element in music being only around 400 years old; but it is the foundation of all music and is essential to all forms of modern music. This class explains this conundrum.
  • The Orchestra – How and when did an ensemble of instruments become an orchestra? How has its instrumentation changed over time or has it always been the same?
  • Music and Literature – Music and words have always been entwined together. Beautiful words are made more poignant by sweeping melodies while words give music an added dimension. How do composers treat this combination?

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Identify the different elements of music.
  2. Explain how these elements have evolved over time within Classical Music.
  3. Discuss the relationship each of these elements have with each other.