About Music Crash Courses
"I hold it equally impossible to know the parts without knowing the whole and to know the whole without knowing the parts in detail."
- Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), French mathematician, physicist, and philosopher
Music Crash Courses aims to provide a wide variety of music lessons and resources for musicians of all levels. The lessons fall into two main categories: music theory and musicology.
Music theory is the study of the organization and underlying structures of music. Knowing about these structures helps composers and songwriters create new music, and helps performers to create the most compelling and historically-informed performances. Theory also helps us to understand the history of music and to recognize the features that distinguish one style from another. Music theory is a description of musical practices, not a prescription of how music should be. Theory analyzes music that is performed and enjoyed, and it helps us understand what makes music powerful and meaningful.
Musicology is the study of the history and cultural aspects of music. This is a broad field that includes the study of musical instruments, musical genre, and music history, to name a few. Our topical essays in music history, which each span several historical periods, suggest connections between contrasting styles that may not be apparent simply from listening. These insights help us discover the meaning and purpose behind various musical works, adding new dimensions to our listening and performances.
We believe that the enjoyment of music is increased and deepened as our understanding of it is expanded, and we hope that the lessons here will spark your interest and enrich your musical experiences.
This site was created by musicologist and software engineer Sienna M. Wood, Ph.D. Contributions to the music history topics (formerly part of Theme and Variations: New Perspectives in Music History) were also made by musicologist Juliana Madrone, Ph.D. Thanks to Juliana and music theorist John Peterson, Ph.D. for their advice and support on this project.