The Great Courses: Understanding the Fundamentals of Music – Review
Found in: Reviews
Presented by Professor Robert Greenberg
16 parts, 45 min each = 12 hours
85 page course summary with references to the music selections
Everyone can enjoy music, but for those who don’t already know, your enjoyment can be multiplied many times over when you understand a little about it. Obviously, the best way to understand music is to participate actively in it, but even as a listener, the experience is greatly enhanced when you listen with awareness, and with an understanding of how it’s put together – the things the composer and performer consider as they develop their work.
Professor Greenberg is as forthright in his opinion as he is sound in his knowledge. You may not always agree with him (the tritone is rarely used? a blues or jazz musician may disagree) but that just makes the experience more stimulating and engaging. And his passion for music comes through loud and clear. If you need evidence, listen to his description of the cello (with which I heartily agree) for a blushingly frank example.
The audio-and-notes format is, for me, the ideal way to present a topic like this. Being spoken to directly by an expert who is equal parts authority and aficionado, who humanises the subject in a way that’s difficult for a book to do, backed up by the text summary, and with the aid of extensive examples of quality performances, brings to life a subject that might be dull in the wrong hands. I’m certain that it will make you listen to music in a more involved way. You’ll start to notice distinctions and layers that serve to deepen your understanding and sense of connection to the music. You may find that music you were never really much into starts to reveal its qualities.