Exploring the World of Music: From Jazz to Classical to Opera and More

The Art of Music at UCI

UCI’s small jazz groups showcased their raw talent in Winifred Smith Hall on Wednesday. The groups played a mixture of fan favorites and classical jazz.

Supplemental instruction in performance, conducting, composition or musicology with faculty guidance and culminating in a formal paper/project. Restricted to graduate students.

The study of broader historical and cultural themes as they relate to selected works of classical music.

Introduction to Music

The art of music, in one form or another, permeates every culture on earth. From a complex orchestral composition to a simple folk song, it is credited with the ability to reflect and influence human emotion.

The origins of music are a source of debate. Some philosophers, like Plato, equated it with speech or noise and held that its function was to convey ideas and emotions. Others, like Kant, ranked it below the other arts and deprecated its wordlessness.

Study of selected broader historical and cultural themes through the prism of music – from African music to rock. Prerequisite: MUSIC 1 or MUSIC 2. Restriction: Music majors have first consideration.

Introduction to Opera

The art form of opera takes any type of dramatic story and makes it more exciting and believable with the help of music. It’s not only entertaining, but also explores the springs of human motivation and asks profound questions about the meaning of life.

The modern concept of an opera starts with Renaissance Italy, where the Florentine Camerata began depicting Greek drama on stage with music. Claudio Monteverdi’s Orfeo (1607) was one of the earliest surviving operas that is still regularly performed today.

By the 1700’s, the serious style of opera seria had become diluted by excessive vocal embellishment, and the music needed to return to its basic elements. Christoph Willibald Gluck’s reform operas were a successful attempt to do so.

Popular Music in the U.S.

Music plays a major role in American culture. From the pop sounds that power TV musicals like Glee to the country tracks heard on Nashville radio, music is a key node in the matrix of popular culture.

From vaudeville and ragtime to jazz, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and reggae to disco and hip hop, the development of popular music in America is fascinating.

The story begins with a simple song: Clari, Maid of Milan an opera by Henry Bishop with lyrics by John Howard Payne that was first performed in 1823. It soon spread throughout the world and became a standard of American entertainment.

Piano for Majors

Pianos are a key instrument in many musical traditions. Mozart wrote 23 piano concertos; Beethoven included five in his oeuvre, and both were virtuosic pianists before deafness ended their careers. Beethoven also taught Carl Czerny, the influential teacher who authored the piano studies that pianists use today.

Other advances have made the piano even more powerful. Today’s pianos can “play themselves” using sophisticated electronic technology, taking cues from floppy disks, specially formatted CDs or internal memory systems. Some systems can load vast libraries of pre-recorded music, ranging from pop to the classics, played by world-class performers. Kurt Vonnegut might have written about this, had he lived to see it.

Music Theory

Whether you play an instrument or sing, music theory gives you the tools to understand the structure of songs. Music theory is the language that musicians use to communicate compositional elements with each other and with others.

Musical theory focuses on the core musical fundamentals that form harmony, melody and rhythm. It covers topics like meter (tempo, beat patterns), chords, intervals and scales.

Before the 19th century, however, musicians were rarely theorists, if this term is taken to mean someone who explicates meaning. Instead, most composers wrote not learned treatises but monumental works of art. Preserved instruments, artifacts and later depictions of performance in artwork can help scholars uncover the pitch systems that these masters employed.


Music composers use a wide variety of musical devices to create works of art. These include melodies, phrases, rhythms, harmonies and lyrics. While there is no one way to compose a piece of music, certain criteria must be met for the work to be protected under American copyright law. Compositions are distinct from sound recordings, which are covered under a separate set of laws and are usually licensed by recording companies.

In the 16th century, composers began to orient their songs around one key or tone; this concept is called tonality and remains an important part of musical composition today. Composers and songwriters seeking a deeper understanding of how to maximize their compositions should read the following guide.

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