3. Music has many forms

Music has many forms, from songs to sound tracks, sonatas to symphonies. Whatever form of music takes your fancy, you’re likely to find it somewhere in our modules.

Just as novelists and poets all use the same letters to make common words, but express themselves in a multitude of different ways, so musical sounds can be put together in countless different combinations to create a range of musical forms that are meaningful to us in some way. We may hear music as part of a movie, manipulating our responses to the action on screen; or in the form of songs, perhaps sung on a stage in a field at a summer festival, inspiring us to dance with the crowd; or we may choose to listen to a recording of a favourite symphony in the privacy of our own homes. Whatever form it takes, music can touch our deepest feelings.

   The Double Bass Section, Jersey Symphony Orchestra, 1997 (oil on canvas)

So what is a symphony? You can find out at more on this openlearn unit . How does film music work? You may find some answers here. The celebrity status of modern pop stars is nothing new, and by exploring different forms of music through the ages we can understand more about our own culture, how things change or stay the same. Did you know that Madonna and 16th century Italian madrigal singers have something in common besides singing songs? Dip into our podcast about the diva and find out more.

Our level 1 and level 2 interdisciplinary modules AA100 The arts past and present, A105 Voices, texts and material culture and A207 From enlightenment to Romanticism offer a unique view of music alongside history, philosophy, history of art and other arts disciplines. A224 Inside music allows you to dig more deeply into songs to understand the nuts and bolts of how music works, while A342 Central questions in the study of music explores forms of music from other cultures feature alongside Western art music to address important issues about how we write down, perform and interact with music. Many of the topics touched on in these undergraduate modules are expanded in our MA modules A873 and A874.

Understanding the different forms of music and the contexts in which they were and are created enriches our experience of music and of how music is embedded in our lives.

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