50 Fascinating Lectures for Music Lovers

by Staff Writers

50 Fascinating Lectures for Music Lovers

From Ludwig van Beethoven to Johann Sebastian Bach, most music lovers can appreciate the fact that there's a lot to learn. Music has been a huge part of history, and is one of the most ancient art forms. So, whether you just want to learn the structure of a symphony or you want to know everything there is to know, these awesome college lectures will increase your musical intelligence in ways you never thought possible.

Best of the Best

Here are the top online lectures for students researching the sound of music.

  1. Bach: The Baroque and Beyond: Get an introduction to Bach by Timothy A. Smith, Northern Arizona University.
  2. Classical, Romantic, and 20th Century Music: Jean Richards of the University of Minnesota, Morris discusses music history here.
  3. Form and Analysis: Timothy A. Smith introduces more music discussion here.
  4. Instrumental Literature: Study music and literature along with Katherine Norman from the University of North Dakota
  5. Introduction to World Music: Dane Kusic from Towson University introduces you to music from around the world here.
  6. Jazz Improvisation: Joan Wildman from the University of Wisconsin-Madison will teach you about the laid-back world of jazz.
  7. Music Appreciation: Learn how to critically listen to music when you listen to this lecture by Scott Faulkner, University of Nevada, Reno.
  8. Music Bibliography: John J. Deal takes you through a music bibliography here.
  9. Music Fundamentals: Gil Trythall of West Virginia University tackles music fundamentals.
  10. Music and Religion: Study the relationship between music and religion when you listen to this lecture from Dane Kusic, University of Maryland Baltimore County.
  11. Opera: Get an introduction to opera with Tim Cordell from the Edinboro University of Pennsylvania.
  12. Psychology of Music: Steve Hedden explains that music is more complex than you might have thought.

MIT Open Courseware

Believe it or not, MIT offers free open courseware for everyone. Even if MIT seemed like a pipedream growing up, you, too have an opportunity to take classes from one of the most renowned universities in the world.

  1. Introduction to Western Music: This course gives a broad overview of Western music from the Middle Ages to the 20th century, with emphasis on late baroque, classical, romantic, and modernist styles (1700-1910).
  2. Intro to World Music: This course explores the ways that music is both shaped by and gives shape to the cultural settings in which it is performed, through studying selected musical traditions from around the world.
  3. Fundamentals of Music: This class introduces students to the rudiments of Western music through oral, aural, and written practice utilizing rhythm, melody, intervals, scales, chords, and musical notation.
  4. Introduction to Musical Composition: Through a progressive series of composition projects, this course investigates the sonic organization of musical works and performances, focusing on fundamental questions of unity and variety.
  5. Developing Musical Structures: This course features projects which are completed using the computer music authoring environment Impromptu.
  6. Early Music: This class covers the history of Western music from antiquity until approximately 1680, about 2000 years worth of music.
  7. Introduction to Anglo-American Folk Music: This course examines the production, transmission, preservation and qualities of folk music in the British Isles and North America from the 18th century to the folk revival of the 1960s and the present.
  8. Schubert to Debussy: This course is a survey of developments in Western musical style, 1815-1915.
  9. Modern Music: 1900-1960: This subject covers a specific branch of music history: Western concert music of first sixty years of the twentieth century.
  10. Music Since 1960: This course begins with the premise that the 1960s mark a great dividing point in the history of 20th century Western musical culture, and explores the ways in which various social and artistic concerns of composers, performers, and listeners have evolved since that decade.
  11. Symphony and Concerto: This course is a survey of significant orchestral masterworks composed during three centuries. Listening assignments include 34 symphonies and 24 concertos, composed from the 1720s to the 1990s.
  12. Music of India: This course focuses on Hindustani classical music of North India, and also involves learning about the ancient foundations of the rich classical traditions of music and dance of all Indian art and culture.
  13. Music of Africa: This course is an introduction to selected musical traditions of West Africa. A variety of musical practices and their cultural contexts will be explored through listening, reading, and written assignments, with an emphasis on class discussion.
  14. Popular Musics of the World: This course focuses on popular music, i.e. music created for and transmitted by mass media.
  15. Harmony and Counterpoint: In this subject we will study the basic harmonic, melodic, and formal practices of western music, principally the classical music of central Europe during the eighteenth century.
  16. Writing in Tonal Forms: Written and analytic exercises based on 18th- and 19th-century small forms and harmonic practice found in music such as the chorale preludes of Bach.
  17. Composing for Jazz Orchestra: This class explores composition and arrangement for the large jazz ensemble from 1920s foundations to current postmodern practice.
  18. Musical Analysis: This class is an introduction to the analysis of tonal music. Students develop analytical techniques based upon concepts learned in previous music classes.
  19. Composing with Computers I: This class explores sound and what can be done with it. Sources are recorded from students' surroundings – sampled and electronically generated.
  20. Vocal Repertoire and Performance: African American Composers: The primary focus of this Vocal Repertoire and Performance course is placed upon the works of African American composers and concert artists.
  21. Vocal Repertoire and Performance: Women Composers: This course is for the singer and/or pianist interested in collaborative study of solo vocal performance.

Graduate Classes


Anyone can enjoy the wealth of knowledge presented in these classes, but they will be especially useful for graduate students.

  1. History of Media and Technology: Sound, the Minority Report — Radical Music of the Past 100 Years: This course looks at the history of avant-garde and electronic music from the early twentieth century to the present.
  2. The Anthropology of Sound: This class examines the ways humans experience the realm of sound and how perceptions and technologies of sound emerge from cultural, economic, and historical worlds.
  3. The Physics of Music: From the vibration of strings to the resonation of melody, find out what makes music, music.
  4. Turkish Muslim Devotional Music: A Program on the History, Theory, and Performance of Turkish Music: In this concert, two members from the world-renowned Turkish ensemble Lalezar perform classical Ottoman devotional songs.
  5. Columbia Interactive Arts: These art classes offered through Columbia often include music classes such as the history of the pops or music from the renaissance and baroque.
  6. The Open University Arts and History: Search this section of The Open University's courses to find plenty of music classes that include examples such as Creating musical sounds and Using film music in the classroom.
  7. Harvard University Extension School: These classes change every semester with only two semesters offered at a time, so stay updated with the course offering here. Some classes have included topics such as History of Blues in America.
  8. Gresham College: The lectures assembled here include several courses on music including such varied topics as Chamber Music Fights Back and The Composer in Action.
  9. Sofia Project. This project of the Foothill College offers only one music class at this time, but stay tuned for any potential additions in the future.
  10. Fathom. Search this site to discover all music courses offered from any of Fathom's member institutions.
  11. Utah State University: The anthropology department offers a class on cultural anthropology that includes information about music, dance, and more in early civilizations.
  12. Brigham Young University Division of Continuing Education: The free classes offered here include organ workshops, English horn, and adult modern dance.

Music-Only Resources

These resources focus only on music instruction through either specific instrument lessons or with classes on music theory, songwriting, and more.

  1. Berklee Shares: This premier free music lesson site offers a wide variety of classes any musician can enjoy. Study specific instruments or more technical aspects of making music.
  2. Ricci Adams' Search by lessons, trainers, or utilities to find a vast amount of free lessons and classes from this site.
  3. May Music Studio: Learn to play an instrument with the free lessons on this site or find out about music theory, songwriting, and more with the more academic classes offered.
  4. Gary Ewer's Easy Music Theory: Get 26 free lessons complete with an instruction sheet, quizzes, and answer sheets to learn the basics about music theory.
  5. These ten lessons culminate with an examination to see how far you've come. Using a combination of video, text, and photos, these lessons will have you playing the piano in no time.