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Approaching Music Theory: Melodic Forms and Simple Harmony


This course is about how music works. It is about the relationship between the technical and aesthetic details of the music. It is also about how developing a meaningful theoretical vocabulary can help you think and talk about musical style and how learning that vocabulary can expand your musical appreciation.

In this course, you will learn music theory not by looking at the theory itself but by listening to, looking at, and—yes!—writing your musical examples. You will learn about classical, modern, ancient, pop, jazz, and folk styles by hearing, seeing, and writing yourself.

We will examine the fundamental aspects of a melody through lectures, relevant examples, and numerous practice assignments. We will move into working with two voices and counterpoint and finally to three voices and the beginnings of harmonic function.

This is an intermediate-level course for musicians and composers who already have some understanding of music theory through previous study. You have come to the right place if you are a musician or composer looking to build a deeper understanding of music theory for composing, performing, or improvisation. Suppose you are an amateur music lover or, perhaps, play a musical instrument and want to develop a deeper appreciation for music theory, aesthetics, and history. In that case, you are also in the right place!

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This Specialization will develop and enhance your understanding of the global field of journalism. You’ll learn best practices and ethical standards for newsgathering processes and compile news reports through hands-on projects, peer-to-peer feedback, and issue exploration. You will also study journalism’s impact on societal issues and trends, plus explore career opportunities in newspapers, magazines, social media, Internet multimedia, television, radio, corporate, and community journalism. The final Capstone project will guide you through the journalistic portfolio process, where you will conceptualize, report, and complete a professional-quality news report.

Marc Lowenstein

Marc Lowenstein

Roy E. Disney Family Chair in Musical Composition California Institute of the Arts



Organizing operas in limousines and train stations, writing operas in the spirit of Bugs Bunny, singing whispering premieres, and teaching young songwriters that it’s Bartok who brings the baby back, Marc Lowenstein has a rich, vibrant, and eclectic career. Marc is the founding Music Director of the Industry, Los Angeles’ groundbreaking and widely acclaimed experimental opera company. With the Los Angeles Philharmonic, he recently conducted the premiere of his and Yuval Sharon’s new performing edition of Lou Harrison’s fantastically colorful Young Caesar. Also, with the Industry, he has conducted Anne LeBaron’s enormously fun Crescent City, Christopher Cerrone’s deeply moving Invisible Cities, three iterations of the new opera workshops First Take and the recent workshop production of Andy Akiho’s Galileo. He has been the Industry’s Music Director for In C by Terry Riley and Hopscotch, the mobile opera for 24 limousines which the New Yorker described as “Awe-inspiring. One of the more complicated operatic enterprises to have been attempted since Richard Wagner staged The Ring of the Nibelung in 1876. Hopscotch triumphantly escapes the genteel, fenced-off zone where opera is supposed to reside.” Marc composes music infused with a searching sense of narrative and mysticism. Focusing on larger-scale works, he was one of the principal composers of Hopscotch, writing scenes for limousine interiors, an outdoor park, and an abandoned theater. He has written long-form pieces based on concepts of Jewish and Buddhist meditations, including this for Jodie Landau. He wilds up, T’shuvah for improvising Bassoon and string quartet and a ’Cello concerto, T’filat ha-Derech. He has written an opera based on the movie The Fisher King and is at work on a family opera called Little Bear. Marc has been Music Director for several opera premieres, including John King’s Cage-ian Dice Thrown, and the American premieres of George Aperghis’ breathtaking L’Origine des Espèces, Veronika Krausas’ dramatic The Immortal Thoughts of Lady Macbeth, Stephen Oliver’s cross-cultural Peach Blossom Fan, and Murray Schaeffer’s Loving. He conducted on New York City Opera’s Vox opera workshop program for four years. Marc also conducts the Gurrisonic jazz orchestra and is deeply interested in cross-genre and cross-cultural musical styles, avoiding “music” at all costs in favor of the more apt word “music.” Marc has sung about twenty-five opera roles, including Madeline X in the premiere of Foreman/Gordon’s What to Wear (which is not only findable on youtube but, in a postmodern sense, oddly reminiscent of Marc’s first stage role at age 13, which also was in drag). Marc has been active as a performer of contemporary vocal music singing at the Ojai festival and on the Monday Evening Concert series. He has been called “a terrific singer” (LA Times), an “assured conductor” (New York Times), and “raptly lyrical” (New Yorker). He has recorded on Naxos, Industry Records, Innova, Poobah, Bedroom Community, Q Division, Nine Winds Music, and Three Kids. Marc is an educator at heart and loves reading and writing about the many reasons and ways we love music. He holds the Roy E. Disney Family Chair in Music Composition at CalArts’s Herb Alpert School of Music.

by PG Mar 13, 2021
An excellent, challenging course that opens your eyes and ears to many genres of music. Wonderfully presented with humor and concise, descriptive explanation. Thank you

by MB Feb 23, 2021
A lot of work required in a fairly short time helped me observe music much more.

by RN Jun 27, 2022
Challenging, enjoyable, and funny elements are all necessary to engage with course content. I recommend it to everybody with an interest in deeper diving into music, with a hand/ears-on approach.

by CS Jun 25, 2021
I appreciate the ability to take this course online. It was difficult but rewarding.



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