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Introduction to Music

Course Code: PEFA 1136
Faculty: Language, Literature & Performing Arts
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15 weeks
Learning Format: Lecture
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

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.

Methods of Instruction

  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.

course prerequisites


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

curriculum 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 schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.