Fundamentals of Music

Course Number: MUS 110
Transcript Title: Fundamentals of Music
Created: February 26, 2013
Updated: June 7, 2017
Total Credits: 4
Lecture Hours: 40
Lecture / Lab Hours: 0
Lab Hours: 0
Satisfies Cultural Literacy requirement: No
Satisfies General Education requirement: Yes
Grading options: A-F (default), P-NP, audit
Repeats available for credit: 0


MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Prerequisite/concurrent: WR 121.

Course Description

Covers the basic concepts of music: pitch, rhythm, meter, intervals, modes, scales, harmony and music notation. Introduces the science of sound and music theory terminology. Begins development of musical performance skills through singing, clapping and performance on the piano keyboard. Includes basic aural/vocal skills. Course intended for non-music majors and to prepare students for further music theory study. Prerequisite: MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Prerequisite/concurrent: WR 121. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course the student will be able to:

  1. Apply basic principles of music theory to critical listening, performing and analytical skills.
  2. Utilize basic practicum (keyboard, rhythm and singing skills) which comprises the foundation of comprehensive musicianship.
  3. Manifest music literacy through grand staff reading, basic manual notation, and accurate intonation.
  4. Understand basic musical ensemble principles.

Alignment with Institutional Core Learning Outcomes

In-depth 1. Communicate effectively using appropriate reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. (Communication)


2. Creatively solve problems by using relevant methods of research, personal reflection, reasoning, and evaluation of information. (Critical thinking and Problem-Solving)
3. Extract, interpret, evaluate, communicate, and apply quantitative information and methods to solve problems, evaluate claims, and support decisions in their academic, professional and private lives. (Quantitative Literacy)


4. Appreciate cultural diversity and constructively address issues that arise out of cultural differences in the workplace and community. (Cultural Awareness)

Not Addressed

5. Recognize the consequences of human activity upon our social and natural world. (Community and Environmental Responsibility)

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Methods used to evaluate student progress and the criteria for assigning a course letter grade should be made clear by the instructor at the beginning of the course. The individual instructor will determine the method of assessment. Assessment methods may include:

  • Qualitative and/or quantitative examinations
  • Homework assignments
  • Listening assignments
  • Concert reports
  • Research project
  • Class participation

Course Activities and Design

In-class rudimentary student performance opportunities including patterned vocalization, accurate rhythmic clapping and introductory keyboard playing. Use of multi-media and digital examples to illustrate and guide the learning of musical parameters and elements. Hands on lab time on keyboard and percussion instruments. In class expert performance by instructor and guest artists. Recorded playlists exemplifying pertinent musical skills for independent study or extracurricular improvement.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

  • The six elements of music
    • Melody
    • Harmony
    • Rhythm (tempo meter)
    • Form
    • Texture
    • Timbre (instrumentation)                                    
    • Notation of rhythm; reading and writing.
  • Nature of sound
  • Notation of pitch
  • The piano keyboard
  • Simple meter
  • The recorder
  • Compound meter
  • Borrowed rhythms
  • Major scales and keys
  • Intervals
  • The circle of fifths
  • Minor scales and keys
  • Root position and inverted triads
  • Basic musical design (form)
  • Introduction to harmonic function
  • Ensemble principles


The following skills are expected to successfully meet the minimum requirement of "C" or "Pass" for the course.

  • Read and interpret basic melodies in treble and bass clef.
  • Locate specific pitches on the piano keyboard.
  • Label pitches by letter name and Hertz.
  • Visually and aurally determine the meter of a musical composition.
  • Visually identify and notate major and minor scales.
  • Visually identify the key of a basic musical work.
  • Visually identify and construct intervals.
  • Visually identify and construct basic triads.
  • Determine the form of a basic musical work.
  • Provide an harmonic analysis of a basic diatonic composition.