This is an OU level 2 module and builds on the OU level 1 modules Discovering the arts and humanities (A111), or The arts past and present (AA100) (now discontinued), and Voices, texts and material culture (A105). These modules develop skills such as logical thinking, clear expression, essay writing and the ability to select and interpret relevant materials. They also offer an introduction to a range of subjects in the arts and humanities.
If you have not studied at university level before, you are strongly advised to study OU level 1 modules before progressing to OU level 2 study.
An introduction to music theory on OpenLearn provides a good introduction to the specific skills of listening and writing about music.
You are expected to have some elementary knowledge of music and music notation, but you don’t require any formal qualification in order to start the module. If you have played an instrument, or sung in a choir or group, you may well have the experience that you need. The level of knowledge required at the start of the module is roughly that of Grade 3 Theory of the Associated Board (ABRSM) music syllabus. This includes the following:
- common note-values, and equivalent rests, and their most usual rhythmic groupings
- time signatures
- pitches and their positions on the stave (treble and bass)
- the most common scales, keys and key signatures (major and minor, with up to four sharps and flats)
- common intervals and chords (triads).
If you have studied the discontinued module, The technology of music (TA212), you will already be familiar with these aspects of music theory. The early units of A224 revisit these elements, but on the assumption that you have encountered them before, and have some ability to read music notation.
It is appropriate to study Inside music even if you have already studied the discontinued module Understanding music: elements techniques and styles (A214) as the content of the module is not the same.
We strongly advise you to look at the preparatory material to check whether you have the necessary knowledge to start this module. This is available on our OpenLearn website.
If the material covered there is unfamiliar, you should work through it before starting this module. It is best to do this over several weeks, so that you have time to absorb it, rather than trying to cram it all in immediately before starting the module.
In a less formal way, listening to, and thinking about, a wide range of music would be good preparation. The module ranges from classical through jazz and musical theatre to folk and pop music. The more you have already got into the habit of thinking as you listen, ‘What makes this music sound the way it does?’ the more you'll be ready.
If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.