Share Course Ware
Humanities > Music & Theatre > Fundamentals of Music
 Fundamentals of Music  posted by  boym   on 3/20/2008  Add Courseware to favorites Add To Favorites  
Further Reading
More Options

Wood, Pamela, 21M.051 Fundamentals of Music, Spring 2007. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare), (Accessed 09 Jul, 2010). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

21M.051 Fundamentals of Music

Spring 2007

Drawing of people of all ages enjoying playing music.
Music is for everyone! (Courtesy of Tilke Judd. Used with permission.)

Course Description

This class introduces students to the rudiments of Western music through oral, aural, and written practice utilizing rhythm, melody, intervals, scales, chords, and musical notation. The approach is based upon the inclusive Kodály philosophy of music education. Individual skills are addressed through a variety of means, emphasizing singing and keyboard practice in the required piano labs.


Amazon logo Help support MIT OpenCourseWare by shopping at! MIT OpenCourseWare offers direct links to to purchase the books cited in this course. Click on the Amazon logo to the left of any citation and purchase the book from, and MIT OpenCourseWare will receive up to 10% of all purchases you make. Your support will enable MIT to continue offering open access to MIT courses.

Course Content

This course covers the following topics.

  • Elements of music
  • Practice and mastery
  • In-tune singing
  • Relative solmization
  • Ear training and sight-singing
  • Meter and rhythmic patterns
  • Melodic and rhythmic dictation
  • Individual and ensemble work
  • Two- and three-part work
  • Pitch names
  • Intervals
  • Scales and modes
  • Key signatures
  • Functional harmony
  • Chord progressions
  • Harmonic analysis
  • Harmonic dictation
  • Score reading

Highlights of The Kodály Philosophy of Music Education Vis-À-Vis This Class

... He who cannot hear what he sees and cannot see what he hears is not a musician.

... The criteria of a good musician are: A well-trained ear, a well-trained intellect, a well-trained heart, and well-trained fingers.

... The real reward comes to those who sing and feel and think with others. This is what harmony means.

—Zoltan Kodály, Selected Writings

The Kodály Philosophy of music education is known among musicians worldwide for its inclusive points of view: Music is for everyone; no person is complete without music; the best approach to musical genius is through the instrument accessible to nearly everyone - the human voice; everyone can learn to sing in tune; authentic folk songs provide a body of masterpieces by which we can be led to the masterpieces of renowned composers; all musicians, whether novices or professionals, must aspire to develop their ability to hear with the inner ear the music which is on the page, and to express from the heart. It is due to this frame of mind that our approach to the Fundamentals of Music is based upon the Kodály Philosophy. You can read more about the Kodály Philosophy at the Web site of the Organization of American Kodály Educators.

While principles of musical notation are central to the course, we consider 21M.051 to be a skill-building course. In that regard, our goals include creating an environment in which the student can be encouraged to sing in tune, enabling the student to train her/his music literacy and inner hearing, and making music musically. Please be reminded that such skills are best learned under the guidance of a live teacher who possesses the experience necessary to evaluate your skill level and inspire your growth.


Students who have already taken 21M.301 or 21M.302 may not enroll in 21M.051.

Required Course Tools

  1. Amazon logo Duckworth, William. A Creative Approach to Music Fundamentals. 9th ed. Belmont, CA: Thomson/Schirmer, 2007. ISBN: 9780495090939.
  2. Kodály, Zoltán. 333 Reading Exercises. New York, NY: Boosey & Hawkes, 1972. ISMN: M060035661.
  3. Chromatic pitch pipe
  4. Staff paper and erasable writing implement
  5. Voice, mind, ear, hand, heart, desire for mastery
  6. Daily practice
  7. Regular attendance and recitation

Required Piano Labs

Students are required to attend a weekly Piano Lab for one hour. You will be expected to prepare for your lessons by practicing daily as assigned by your Piano Lab instructor. The lab sessions are limited to four students per hour.


Students will take four tests during the term.

  • The Unit I test requires individuals to sight-sing pentatonic melodies.
  • The Unit II test is written, and requires mastery of major scales and key signatures, and some intervals.
  • The Unit III test is also written, and requires mastery of minor scales and key signatures, and other intervals.
  • The final Unit IV test usually provides opportunities for harmonic analysis.


The greater portion of your grade will be determined by the quality of your daily preparation for and recitation in the Lectures and Piano Lab.


1-3 I: Elements of music  
4-7 II: Rhythm + pitch = melody; pentatonic exercises  
8 Unit test (oral)  
9-11 III: Major scales  
12-13 IV: Major key signatures  
14 Unit test (written)  
15-16 V: Major-minor key relationships  
17-19 VI: Minor scale types  
20 Unit test (written)  
21-22 VII: Foundations in tonal harmony  
23 Meet in music library for listening assignment  
24-26 VII: Foundations in tonal harmony (cont.) Listening assignment due in Ses #25
27-28 Culminating performances  
29 Final unit test   Tell A Friend