About This Chapter
Who's it for?
Anyone who needs help learning or mastering introductory humanities material will benefit from taking this course. There is no faster or easier way to learn humanities. Among those who would benefit are:
- Students who have fallen behind in understanding instrument families or how to read music
- Students who struggle with learning disabilities or learning differences, including autism and ADHD
- Students who prefer multiple ways of learning humanities (visual or auditory)
- Students who have missed class time and need to catch up
- Students who need an efficient way to learn about the basic elements of music
- Students who struggle to understand their teachers
- Students who attend schools without extra humanities learning resources
How it works:
- Find videos in our course that cover what you need to learn or review.
- Press play and watch the video lesson.
- Refer to the video transcripts to reinforce your learning.
- Test your understanding of each lesson with short quizzes.
- Verify you're ready by completing the Basic Elements of Music chapter exam.
Why it works:
- Study Efficiently: Skip what you know, review what you don't.
- Retain What You Learn: Engaging animations and real-life examples make topics easy to grasp.
- Be Ready on Test Day: Use the Basic Elements of Music chapter exam to be prepared.
- Get Extra Support: Ask our subject-matter experts any basic music question. They're here to help!
- Study With Flexibility: Watch videos on any web-ready device.
Students will review:
This chapter helps students review the concepts in a basic elements of music unit of a standard introductory humanities course. Topics covered include:
- Notes on the treble and bass clefs
- Sharps and flats
- Major and minor key signatures
- Musical scales
- Instrument families
- Tempo and rhythm
- Musical forms
- Time signatures and meters
- Melody, harmony, texture and dynamics
1. How to Read Notes on the Treble Clef Staff
How do musicians interpret notes on the treble clef staff? What types of instruments play notes that are read in the treble clef staff? Who invented the notation system? Find out in this lesson!
2. How to Read Notes of the Bass Clef Staff
How do musicians interpret notes on the bass clef staff? What types of instruments play notes that are read in the bass clef staff? How is the bass clef staff different from the treble clef staff? Find out in this lesson!
3. Sharps and Flats: Reading and Identifying Sharp and Flat Notes in Music
What do sharp and flat notes look like? How are they different from regular notes? When and where are sharp and flat notes used? Find out in this lesson!
4. How to Determine Major Key Signatures in Music
What is a key signature? How can you tell the key of a song by just looking at it? Are there flats and sharps in all songs? What are some common key signatures in the Major tonality? Find out in this lesson!
5. How to Determine Minor Key Signatures in Music
Key signatures are useful in playing and understanding music, but how do you know if the key signature is for a Major or a minor key? Find out in this lesson!
6. Understanding and Building Musical Scales: Definitions & Types of Scales
What is a 'scale' in music? How do tonality, pitch, and accidentals play a role in making a scale? What kinds of notes make up a scale? What is the difference between a Major scale, minor scale, blues scale, and pentatonic scale? Learn all about scales in this lesson!
7. Musical Timbre of Instruments and Singers: Definition
How can you tell if you are listening to a violin or a flute? How do composers use timbre to express their ideas and keep the listener interested? Find out in this lesson on timbre!
8. Instrument Families of the Orchestra: String, Woodwind, Brass & Percussion
There are so many instruments in the orchestra! What similarities and differences can one find between them? How do the instruments work? Find out about the string, woodwind, brass and percussion families in this lesson!
9. Tempo: Definition and Uses in Musical Forms
How does the speed of a song affect our emotions? How can we determine the speed of a song just by looking at it? By learning about tempo, we can find out!
10. Rhythm: Quarter Notes, Eighth Notes, Rests & Other Basic Rhythms
Rhythm is an imperative part of music. Knowing the basic rhythms such as quarter notes, eighth notes, and rests will give you a deeper understanding of the music you hear. Learn about these notes and other basic rhythms in this lesson!
11. Rhythm: Recognizing Syncopation, Dotted Notes & Ties
Beyond simple quarter notes and eighth notes, musical rhythm can become confusing. In this lesson, you'll learn how to recognize and define ties, dotted notes and syncopation. You'll also learn two styles where syncopation is often heard and how ties and dotted notes contribute to creating syncopation.
12. Major and Minor Keys: Tonality in Music
How does a movie's soundtrack enhance our emotions? Watch this video lesson to learn how musical tonality can express feeling in everything from movies to rock songs to operas.
13. Musical Form: Definitions and Analysis
What is musical form and why is it important? How can we determine the form of a song just by listening? In this lesson, learn the different parts that make up a musical form.
14. Musical Form: Phrasing, Binary, and Ternary Forms
Why do composers use form? How do composers use phrases to create tension and release in their music? What is binary form, and how does it compare to ternary form? Find out in this lesson!
15. Classical Music Forms: Symphonic, Sonata, Theme and Variation & Rondo Forms
What exactly is a symphony? Why are some classical songs called sonata or rondo? Discover the answers to these questions as you study the different forms of classical music in this lesson.
16. Time Signature in Music: Definition and Examples
Time signatures, or meters, are a way to communicate the pulse and feel of a piece of music. Musicians, dancers and listeners alike use them to interpret where the strong and weak beats lie, including their divisions. Find out the specifics of time signature in this lesson.
17. Meters and Time Signatures in Musical Forms
What's the difference between a waltz and a polka? What's a 'mazurka,' and why did Chopin write so many of them? How can time signature imply a type of form? Find the answers to these questions and more in this lesson!
18. Melody vs. Harmony: Definitions and Examples
What is a 'melody?' How are 'melody' and 'harmony' different? What kinds of harmonies are used in classical and current popular styles of music? Find out the basics of melody and harmony in this lesson.
19. Development of Musical Form Throughout History
If you think that classical music has always been classic, think again - it was really just one in a line of musical forms. Western music has evolved throughout history, starting with monastic chants and continuing through today's varied styles.
20. Dynamics in Music: Piano, Forte and Why They Are Important
Dynamics are a way of communicating volume and intensity in music. Piano, forte and other markings help musicians interpret the expressive quality of the music. What do these markings look like? What types of markings exist, and what do they mean? Learn more about dynamics in this lesson!
21. Texture and Voices in Music: Definition & Overview
Why are background instruments important? What do 'thin' and 'thick' mean in a musical sense? Let's find out more about texture and how we use it to describe music.
22. What is A Cappella Music?
A cappella music refers to vocal music, either solo or choral, that is sung without music behind it. In this lesson you will learn about the history of this style of singing and what kind of vocal music is sung a cappella today.
23. Backmasking of Songs: Psychology & Examples
This lesson will explain the strange controversy surrounding the technique known as backmasking. The origins of this concept will be explored and the hysteria surrounding it during the 1980s will be assessed.
24. What is the History of the Bolero?
Learn about the origins and development of the Bolero, a popular dance form in Spain and Latin America. Discuss the music, movement, and changes since the Bolero first appeared in the 18th century through modern times.
25. Aerophones: Types & Examples
Aerophones are a family of instruments that use a vibrating column of air to produce sound. They are prevalent throughout all cultures. This lesson explores the different types of aerophones.
26. Camerata: Definition, Music & Singers
In the study of music, camerata can refer specifically to a late sixteenth-century organization that was based in Florence or to present-day music ensembles that have adopted the name. This article discusses both uses of the term.
27. Composer Rameau: Operas & Music
Jean-Phillipe Rameau was an important composer of the French Baroque period. This lesson will discuss his music, compositional style and his contribution to the development of opera.
28. Tone Color in Music: Definition & Explanation
Tone color is an element of sound that allows the listener to identify the distinct qualities of that sound that are not related to pitch, volume, or duration. This lesson explores how tone color is created and altered, as well as the ways in which it should be described.
29. Declamation: Definition, Music & Examples
Declamation is the relationship of text to music. In this lesson we will learn how it is used by composers and singers to enhance the music and also how it functions as a musical style.
30. Diatonic Scale: Definition & Patterns
Did you know that you can play an example of every type of diatonic scale just by using the white keys on the piano? Learn about diatonic scales, including major scales, natural minor scales, and modes.
31. Diminution: Definition & Value
This lesson will teach you about the musical practice of diminution, including how composers have used it in various settings. You will learn about diminution of intervals, diminution of chords, and diminution of rhythms and melodies.
32. Enharmonic in Music: Definition, Equivalents & Notes
An enharmonic tone is a musical note that has multiple names. Like a homophone, the enharmonic tone is spelled differently but has the same meaning (or does it . . . ?) This lesson will explore the how and why of this musical curiosity.
33. Etude: Definition & Instruments
Etudes are musical studies that help students learn the techniques of their instruments. In this lesson we will learn about some of the etude composers, and about piano etudes in particular.
34. Fortissimo: Definition, Music & Instruments
If you are writing a piece of music and want to tell the musicians to play really loudly, how do you do it? Find out why, when, and how composers use the musical dynamic marking 'fortissimo.'
35. French Horn: History, Facts & Songs
Despite being one of the few orchestra pieces to have a geographical name, the French horn is actually German. Keep reading to learn about the surprising history of the horn, how it is used in music, and addition information on this musical instrument.
36. G Major: Scale, Chord & Music Theory
In this lesson we'll explore the music theory behind the key of G major. We'll learn about the scale, the chords, and how they interact. The concepts explored in this lesson can be applied to any of the major keys.
37. Ground Bass: Definition, Composers, Instruments & Examples
This lesson provides a brief overview of what the term 'ground bass' means in Western music and how it is used to create comprehensible, meaningful musical structures. You'll also get some examples of famous works constructed using this technique.
38. Harpsichord: Definition & History
How could it be that the instrument that made Bach famous, before being rejected in favor of the piano, is now finding its way to video games? Keep reading to learn more about the harpsichord.
39. Phrase in Music: Definition & Structure
Could you read a book that had no punctuation? Could you play music that had no phrases? Learn all about phrases and why they're important, including the meaning of key terms such as cadence, period, antecedent, consequent, and phrase mark.
40. Sitar: Definition, History & Parts
Providing a uniqueness of sound immediately recognizable as South Asian, the sitar has seen its popularity grow exponentially since George Harrison picked one up more than fifty years ago. Learn more about this instrument and how it came about.
41. Styles of Music: Types & History
This lesson will detail three basic categories of music that will help to formulate an introductory knowledge of musical style and history. Examples will be provided for each category and notions concerning audience, production, and distribution will be discussed.
42. Syncopation: Definition & Examples
The element of surprise makes life interesting. In the rhythm of music, the element of surprise is called syncopation. Learn about the various ways to use syncopation for greater effect.
43. Ternary Form in Music: Definition & Examples
In this lesson, you will learn about musical form and what defines ternary form. You will also learn to identify ternary form by looking for large sections, changes in the music, and returning to music heard at the beginning of the piece.
44. The Mbira Instrument: History & Music
The mbira is a traditional African instrument that has been played for over a thousand years. In this lesson we will discuss the instrument and its history.
45. Through-Composed Music: Definition, Form & Songs
In this lesson, you will learn about what make a piece of music through-composed. You will learn about the form of through-composed music and become familiar with some examples in this style.
46. Tremolo: Definition & Effect
Before there were synthesizers, guitar pedals, and microphone filters, composers found cool ways to change how music sounded by using different performance techniques to create special effects. This lesson explores one of these effects: tremolo.
47. Troubadour: Definition, Music & Instruments
Troubadours were a highly respected group of poets and musicians who lived during the Medieval period. In this lesson, we will learn about their art and influence.
48. Walking Bass: Definition, Patterns & Technique
This lesson will cover walking bass, a technique for improvising bass lines that's used by musicians in many different genres from classical to jazz. You'll learn about the technique and how musicians have used it throughout history.
49. Western Music: History & Timeline
Have you ever wondered what exactly Western music is, or how it has changed over time? This lesson will answer both of these questions and more as we explore the history of Western music.
50. What Is Secular Music? - Definition & History
Simply put, secular music is any music not written for the church. This lesson will examine the history of this important musical genre and look at how it became what it is today.
51. Crescendo in Music: Definition & Notation
In this lesson, we learn about the musical term, crescendo. We're going to cover how it's used, how it's written, how it's performed, and where it came from.
52. Key Signature in Music: Definition & Concept
In this lesson, we're talking about key signatures. We'll learn how to properly write them, how to quickly identify them, and why they're used in the first place.
53. Scherzo: Definition & Form
In this lesson, we're going to discuss the scherzo. It will provide a broad overview of the concept by addressing its form, its musical characteristics, and what scherzo means in the first place.
Earning College Credit
Did you know… We have over 79 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 2,000 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.
To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page
Transferring credit to the school of your choice
Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.
Other chapters within the Introduction to Humanities: Help and Review course
- Literary Terms & Techniques: Help and Review
- Literary Time Periods: Help and Review
- Literature of the Middle Ages: Help and Review
- The English Renaissance: Help and Review
- Literature of the Victorian Era: Help and Review
- British Romanticism: Help and Review
- British Literature of the 20th Century: Help and Review
- Literary Modernism: Help and Review
- Romantic Poetry: Help and Review
- World Literature - Drama: Help and Review
- Poetry of the Ancient and Modern Worlds: Help and Review
- Prominent American Novelists: Help and Review
- Philosophy and Nonfiction: Help and Review
- History of Visual Art: Help and Review
- History of Architecture: Help and Review
- Overview of Opera and Orchestral Music: Help and Review
- Intro to Medieval Music: Help and Review
- Intro to Renaissance Music: Help and Review
- Intro to the Baroque Period in Music: Help and Review
- Music's Classical Period: Help and Review
- Music's Romantic Period: Help and Review
- Music of the Modern Era: Help and Review
- Overview of Jazz Music: Help and Review
- Intro to Musical Theater and Popular Music: Help and Review
- Intro to World Music: Help and Review
- Introduction to the Performing Arts: Help and Review