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Discovering Music: The Blues

This free course will introduce you to a musical tradition with roots in the nineteenth century but which is still relevant to making music today. You will learn about how the lyrics of blues songs reflect the social environment in which they were created, and about the musical techniques that underpin the structures of blues songs.


A224 assumes basic music literacy– knowledge of pitches, rhythms, staves, key signatures etc. The level of music theory needed to start the course is roughly equivalent to Associated Board Grade 3, but students need to be aware that the material progresses beyond this level very quickly. Students who have taken TA212 The Technology of Music will have already learned the music-reading skills needed to start A224. Online preparatory material – An Introduction to Music Theory – is available, free of charge, on OpenLearn and it is strongly recommended to students progressing from AA100 and A105.  You can find out more about the module by clicking on the links below:

Introduction to A224

This video features lecturer Robert Samuels in conversation with Karen Foley about studying music with the OU and focuses especially on Inside Music.

‘Over the Rainbow’ and the elements of Music
In this podcast, Senior Lecturer Catherine Tackley and Associate Lecturer Adam White discuss ‘the elements of music’ - rhythm, pitch, melody, harmony and form - in relation to the song ‘Over the Rainbow’.

Catherine Tackley is in conversation with professional songwriter Danny Cope to find out how he writes his songs – from the initial inspiration, through the development of ideas, to the final version.


Music and its media
This free course is an adapted extract from A342. It provides an introduction to some of the main ways in which music is transmitted. Three case studies focus on one form of musical media during a specific historical period in a particular geographical location. They look at a copyist of music manuscripts in the sixteenth-century Low Countries; a music publisher in early eighteenth-century London; and a record label in twentieth-century America.

Preparatory Online Resources

An Introduction to Music Theory

This 8-hour course takes you through basic concepts of western music notation and music theory and is pitched at a level equivalent to Grades 1-3 of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music theory exams.

The module provides preparatory material for students embarking on A224 Inside Music, but also stands on its own as an introductory course for anyone who would like to learn the fundamentals of reading music.

Understanding musical scores

This free 12-hour course explores how music is written down, what a musical score is, and what it does. It considers how musicians use and interpret music notation in their work. And it also helps you make connections between the notation you see and the music you hear, whether short, familiar melodies or pieces for full orchestra. 

The course is intended for anyone with an interest in music. You do not need to be able to read notation or play an instrument to be able to take it.

An introduction to music research

In this free course, we have gathered together materials to allow you to explore the ways in which music may be researched. After thinking about different kinds of musical knowledge and their relationship with various musical practices (including performance, composition, and listening), you'll be introduced to some of the digital resources and methodologies that inform music research. The next section, which constitutes the main part of the course, explores a variety of different resource types that can be the focus for music research including diaries, composer manuscripts, images, and instruments before the final section introduces you to a contentious area of current scholarship: the relationship between music and politics.

Previous Modules

The Diva (from AA100 The Arts Past and Present)

Schubert's Lieder: Settings of Goethe's Poems (from A207 From Enlightenment to Romanticism)

Sound for Music Technology: an introduction (from TA212 The Technology of Music)

Music Printing (from TA212 The Technology of Music)

Brass Instruments (from TA212 The Technology of Music)

Music in code (from TA212 The Technology of Music)

Composing with MIDI (from TA212 The Technology of Music)

Reception of music in cross-cultural perspective (from AA302 From Composition to Performance)

Composition and improvisation in cross-cultural perspective (from AA302 From Composition to Performance)

Voice Leading Analysis of Music (3 units from AA314 Studies in Music 1750–2000: Interpretation and Analysis)

Voice of Indian Song (from AA317 Words and music)

Indian raga music (from AA317 Words and music)

The Italian Cantastorie (from AA317 Words and music)

Teaching Music

Teaching secondary music
This free course identifies and explores some of the key issues around teaching music in secondary schools.

Assessment in secondary music
This free course identifies and explores some of the key issues around assessing music in secondary schools.

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