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Listening to Music

Course Times & Enrolment

This course is currently unavailable.

Course Summary

In this course we shall listen to a range of Western classical music, and discuss its ingredients - melody, harmony, rhythm and more – asking, what does each one contribute? How do they combine to make what we call “music”?

Course Details

Content of Course

With discussion and many examples from centuries of classical music, this course separates out some ingredients of music, and considers how they combine to make the music we hear.  The topics for the six weeks will be:

1. Melody

What is a melody? What do we expect from a melody? Melodies for voices, melodies for instruments.

2. Harmony

More than one sound at a time, and how we listen to them.

3. Rhythm and Dynamics

Fast and slow, loud and soft. How does changing the speed or the volume of the music, affect the way we listen?

4. Colour / Tone

An orchestra is like a rainbow, in which each instrument is a different colour. The same notes played on different instruments, can make us listen quite differently.

5. Words

Beginning with the title, the words and metaphors around music change the way we listen.

6. Mixing the Ingredients of Music

How do these ingredients combine to make what we call “a piece of music”?

Teaching method(s)

Lecture, discussion and listening to appropriate excerpts.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Identify the key ingredients that create a piece of classical music;

  • Recognise and discuss the different ways composers have treated and used melody, harmony, tone, rhythm and dynamics;

  • Discuss the effect these different approaches have on the music, the way they are interpreted.


Core Readings


Class Handouts

Handouts will be provided.


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.