Introduction to Music

Language, Literature & Performing Arts
Performing & Fine Arts
Course Code
PEFA 1136
Semester Length
15 weeks
Max Class Size
Method(s) Of Instruction
Course Designation
Certificate in Global Competency
Industry Designation
Typically Offered
To be determined


Course Description
This course offers a global perspective on music. Students will explore music in a wide variety of cultural contexts and traditions. The course topics represent the diversity of music available in the contemporary world including world music, Western classical music, folk, jazz and rock music. The approach emphasizes the development of critical listening skills along with a vocabulary for discussing music. Attendance is required at one or more live musical events. This course is designed for students with a general interest in music and no music background is necessary.
Course Content

A.  Foundations for Experiencing Music

  1. Defining music and its place in culture.
  2. Constructing a personal musical culture in the contemporary world.
  3. Developing active listening skills.
  4. Learning the elements of music: rhythm, melody, harmony, colour, texture, and form.
  5. Identifying musical instruments and voice types.
  6. Considering spaces for music and media for musical transmission.
  7. Exploring the expression of ideas and feelings in music.

B.  The Study of Music in Context

  1. Cultural contexts of music; cultural meaning in music; social functions of music.
  2. Folk and traditional music from around the world; examples selected from North and South America, Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Asia.
  3. Historical style periods of Western classical music; examples selected from Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Modern, Post-Modern and Contemporary music.
  4. Genres of Western classical music; examples selected from symphony, opera, chamber music, choral music, and song.
  5. Jazz and blues in American culture.
  6. Rock music; commercial music; music in electronic culture.
  7. Global music: the fusion of traditions, styles and resources.
  8. Music in film: source music and functional music.
  9. Music in the arts: architecture, painting, sculpture, dance, theatre and literature (as related to the musical examples under discussion).
  10. Music in Canadian culture: issues of identity; the Idea of North; tradition and innovation.
  11. Music in Vancouver: East meets West.
Learning Activities
  1. Lecture and class discussion, with focus on active listening to music.
  2. Viewing of video programs on music.
  3. Attendance at live concert performance(s).
  4. Presentation(s) by guest speaker(s).
Means of Assessment
Assignments:  Report on a video program about music 10%
Review of a live concert 10%
Listening guide to a piece of music 15%
Weekly listening and/or  reading quizzes 20%
Listening and written tests (2 in total) 20%
Final examination 25%
Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the course, the successful student should be able to demonstrate the following.

  1. Awareness of the diversity of music in the world, as well as its traditions and contexts.
  2. A critical vocabulary for describing music of various cultures and traditions.
  3. Critical listening skills that allow students to make pertinent observations about the musical characteristics and cultural context of the music they hear.
  4. Understanding of the relationship of music to other arts and disciplines such as theatre, stagecraft, film and visual arts.
  5. Deepened comprehension of the ways in which music works as an art.
  6. Enriched response to the experience of music in life.
Textbook Materials

The instructor will designate a text-and-CD package from the following titles (or will select a text of a similar type).  These titles also include access to online study and resource materials. 

  • Larsen, Arved M., ed. Crossroads in Music: Traditions and Connections. Thomson/Schirmer, 2003.  (Text bundled with 4-CD set.)
  • Nichols, David C. Musical Encounters.  Prentice-Hall, 2001.  (Text bundled with 4-CD set.)
  • White, Gary, David Stuart and Elyn Aviva.  Music in Our World: An Active-Listening Approach. McGraw-Hill, 2001.  (Text bundled with 2-CD set.)

Note: Students may be required to pay for tickets to a maximum of three music events attended as part of the course (no more than $50.00 in total).




(Note: This course is not open to students in the Basic Musicianship or University Transfer music programs at Douglas College.)


No corequisite courses.


No equivalent courses.

Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

These are for current course guidelines only. For a full list of archived courses please see

Institution Transfer Details for PEFA 1136
Capilano University (CAPU) CAPU MUS 108 (3)
Simon Fraser University (SFU) SFU GE 1XX (3)
Thompson Rivers University (TRU) TRU MUSI 1XXX (3)
Trinity Western University (TWU) TWU MUSI 150 (3)
University of British Columbia - Okanagan (UBCO) No credit
University of Northern BC (UNBC) UNBC HUMN 1XX (3)
University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) UFV MUSC 1XX (3)
University of Victoria (UVIC) UVIC MUS 1XX (1.5)

Course Offerings

Summer 2023