21M.011 | Spring 2006 | Undergraduate

Introduction to Western Music


This page includes a calendar of lecture topics.

Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 1.5 hours / session

Recitations: 2 sessions / week, 1 hour / session

General Information

This course gives an overview of forms and styles of Western classical music, with emphasis on the period of common practice, 1700-1910. The focus of the course is on the weekly listening and reading assignments. Weekly lectures will sometimes feature live performances by members of the staff and other professional musicians; tests and quizzes will draw on this material, which cannot be gleaned elsewhere. The core reading and listening assignments should be completed before the lecture and/or recitation in which the material is introduced. Your recitation instructor will provide a supplementary schedule of assignments for every class meeting.


21M.011 is both a HASS-D and CI-HASS subject. This means that each recitation can accept a maximum of 18 students. Priority is given to students who are registered in the class through the HASS-D lottery, but these students must attend the first two recitation meetings to keep their place in the class. Students who must change their preassigned recitation may do so, but they should inform the original instructor at once, so that an accurate count and class list can be quickly established. Normally the instructor will accept any additional students who wish to enter a recitation, so long as there are open slots, through the second week of classes. After that, instructors may or may not admit additional students at their discretion.


The required textbook and music CDs are:

Kerman, Joseph, and Gary Tomlinson. Listen. 5th brief ed. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s Press, 2004. ISBN: 9780312401153.

Kerman, Joseph, and Gary Tomlinson. A 6-Cd Set to Accompany Listen. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s Press, 2003. ISBN: 9780312411220.


Four essays are required of all students.

Oral Presentations and Class Participation

Students are required to attend lectures and recitations and to participate actively as part of the CI requirement of this class. Additionally, students will be asked from time to time to give oral presentations in recitation, such as reports on reading or listening, or to lead the discussions on the reading or listening.


A midterm exam will be given the week before Spring Break; there is a three-hour final exam during finals week. Questions on these tests will cover material discussed in lecture and/or in recitation. Some questions will deal with concepts (definitions of important terms, descriptions of musical forms, etc.), and some will concern particular excerpts from the assigned listening. In general the tests will follow the following format:

  1. definitions and short answers,
  2. questions based on aural excerpts from the assigned repertoire,
  3. questions based on unassigned (new) listening,
  4. conceptual and short essay questions.

A preview will be provided before the midterm and final. Recitations may include announced and unannounced quizzes.

Course Grade in 21M.011

The individual recitation instructors give the grades in this class, adhering to the following percentages:

Papers, Oral Contributions to Recitation, and Attendance 50%
Midterm and Final Exams 50%


1 Introduction; Music of the Middle Ages  
2 Renaissance and Early Baroque Music for Church, Chamber, and Theater  
3 Baroque Instrumental Music: Suite, Concerto, and Fugue; Bach Essay 1 due in recitation
4 Baroque Vocal Music: Opera, Oratorio, and Cantata; Handel  
5 The Classical Symphony and Sonata: Haydn  
6 The Classical Concerto and Opera: Mozart Essay 2 due in recitation
7 Midterm Exam  
8 From Classic to Romantic: Beethoven  
9 Romantic Songs and Piano Pieces: The Art of the Miniature  
10 Romantic Program Music and Opera: Fantasies on a Grand Scale  
11 Late Romantic Orchestral Music: Looking Forward and Back Essay 3 due in recitation
12 The Twentieth Century: The European Tradition  
13 The Twentieth Century: The American Tradition Essay 4 due in recitation
14 Catch-up and Review  


I would like to acknowledge my colleagues who have assisted in the preparation of this class over many semesters:  Martin M. Marks, George Ruckert, Charles Shadle and Teresa Neff.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2006
Learning Resource Types
Lecture Notes
Written Assignments