Great Books Education

Beauty laid out Throught Time

Music's dance with the soul

Music Tutorial

This tutorial is now integrated with the choir and is no longer offered as a separate tutorial.

Philosophy often discusses abstract terms such as beauty, justice and love.  However, for such discussions to be meaningful, the student must be convinced that such terms have a corresponding reality.  Choral singing is one of the most universally accessible activities that bring us into direct contact with perhaps life's most pungent experience of beauty; however, to keep music from being a solely mystical experience that might dissappear before our minds in the sanctified mists of personal isolation, it is essential that we attempt to articulate our experience of beauty through the shared commerce of the mind- words.  Music theory is the attempt to articulate an account of why music moves us as it does and in so doing become better musicians and listeners.

The music tutorial is based on Victor Zuckerkandl's The Sense of Music.  Zuckerkandl was a Austrian conductor who emigrated to the United States and taught at St. John's College.  His text is oriented to the non-musical student, however, without some knowledge of the piano and an ability to read music, following his examples is difficult.  Yet, even for the non-musician who is eager to understand the phenomena of music, much can be gained. 

For some easy and fun music theory, listen to the Music Theory Song.  Also, a very quick history of music.  Also, a quick history of pop music (close the window during the riskay last part). To help learn your intervals, please listen to the intervals song.

Here are the musical selections used in The Sense of Music

Beethoven: Bagatelle No. 9, Op. 119
Oscilloscope example
Vibrating strings example
Atonal Music
From: Schubert, Impromtu, op. 142, No. 3
J.S. Bach, Twelve Little Preludes, NO. 3 in C minor
Schubert, Impromptu, op. 142, No. 2
Schubert, Moment Musical, No.2
From: Beethoven, Piano Sonate, op.13
J.S. Bach, Prelude and Fugue in C minor, The Well-Tempered Clavichord, I
From: Chopin, Mazurka, op. 7, No. 1
    A want to be in America- West Side Story  6/8 + 3/4 alternating
From: Schutz, St. Matthew Passion
From: Palestrina, Missa Papae Marcelli; Kyrie, Gloria
From: Hayden, String Quartet, op. 76, No. 3
From: Hayden, String Quartet, op. 76, No. 6 see 1:31
J.S. Bach, Two-part Invention, No. 1

Palestrina — Dies sanctificatus
From: Schubert, Der Mueller und der Bach
Schubert, Heidenroslein
From: Schubert, Der Wanderer
From: Schubert, Mein!
Schubert, Erlkoenig




Interval Ascending Descending
Minor 2nd White Christmas (Irving Berlin) Joy to the World (Christmas)
Major 2nd Happy Birthday to You Mary had a little lamb
Minor 3rd Greensleeves Jesus Loves Me
Major 3rd Oh, when the Saints Swing Low Sweet Chariot
Perfect 4th Amazing Grace Oh, come all ye faithful
Tritone Maria (West side story) YYZ (Rush)
Perfect 5th Twinkle Twinkle Little Star Flintstones theme
Minor 6th The Entertainer (Scott Joplin) Love story theme
Major 6th Dashing Through the Snow (Jingle Bells) Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen
Minor 7th Somewhere (West side story) Watermelon man
Major 7th Somewhere over the Rainbow (Wizard of Oz) *1st and 3rd pitch I Love You (Cole Porter)
Octave Singin' in the Rain Willow Weep for Me