MSH 114 – C301: Introduction to Music 3 hours, 3 credits Tuesdays/Thursdays 11:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Spring 2022 Instructor: Robert Wrigley, Graduate Teaching Fellow Office Hours: Thursdays, 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. or by appointment. Please make an appointment at least 24 hours prior even if during normal hours.


Course Description

From the catalogue description: History of Western music through the study of various complete works. Focus on the skills and perspectives needed for informed listening.


There are three main topics to which this course provides an introduction:

  • First, the sonic structure of music, apprehended through analytical listening. This is centrally concerned with the musical elements of rhythm, pitch, timbre, and dynamics, both for themselves as well as for the ways in which they are organized into melody, harmony, texture, form, and, ultimately, style and genre
  • Second, the history of the main genres and stylistic trends in the notated music of Europe and North America over the last millennium.
  • Third, the interaction of music with its various contexts: social, religious, technological, performative, commercial, artistic, and intellectual.


Through studying these issues, you will gain both a greater critical awareness of and a greater ability to precisely discuss the roles of many different types of music within your own lives, in historical, social, and personal terms. However, it is equally important to note that this class has limits: most importantly, it focuses almost exclusively on one particular tradition of music, that is, the notated music of Europe and North America of the last millennium, touching on other musical traditions only as they intersect with that tradition or other broader issues. While this certainly has its disadvantages, it does allow for a more intense focus, a more detailed examination, of that tradition and how it developed over time.


Learning Goals and Objectives

  • To develop critical listening skills, which is to say:
    • To be able to discuss precisely what is heard through the technical vocabulary of music, dealing with the parameters of pitch, rhythm, timbre, and dynamics.
    • To aurally recognize and communicate features of musical organization, such as melody, harmony, texture, and form.
    • To recognize and distinguish aurally, and to describe, various different styles and genres of Western Classical music.
  • To recognize and contemplate the functions which music has within social and personal life.
  • To understand the ways in which music interacts with technology, ritual, venue, and the market.
  • To consider aspects of music’s meaning and aesthetics.


Online Components

Formal assignments will be submitted through Blackboard, and the (mostly) weekly online quizzes will also be hosted there.

All other online components of this course—the syllabus, class schedule, assigned class readings and listenings, and discussion fora—will be handled through the CUNY Academic commons site,

Please familiarize yourself with the interfaces to both of these sites as soon as possible to make the remainder of the class move smoothly. Also, please make sure that the e-mail address listed in Blackboard for you is one you check frequently (at least once a day). This is the only way I have of contacting you.


How to access Blackboard:

  1. Visit
  2. Login with your CUNY login credentials (looks like
  3. Under the My Courses tab on the left side of the screen, click on the title of our course.

Blackboard is also available as an app on the App Store and Google Play Store—however, using the browser version is strongly recommended, especially when taking quizzes.

How to access the CUNY Academic Commons:

  1. Visit
  2. Click on the “Register” button and create an account.
  3. Go to our course site,

The various course materials, including the syllabus, course schedule, pdfs of assigned readings, and links to assigned listenings will all be posted on Blackboard.

In the event that for whatever reason there is a need to meet online rather than face-to-face, this will be handled through Zoom. I will post a Zoom link to the Commons to use should this transpire.


Required Materials

  • Douglas Cohen, et al., Music: Its Language, History, and Culture, available for free download from Brooklyn College: It is also on the class Commons Site, under the “Course Reading” tab.

Note: This book was created for a course at Brooklyn College which varies from this one in many particulars; not all of its directions (e.g. “In this class you need to worry about x, but not y”) will hold true.

  • Other readings will be made available on the course Commons site.
  • Links to recordings of all pieces studied will be available on the course Commons site.
  • STRONGLY RECOMMENDED: A laptop and high-speed internet. Both Blackboard and Zoom are easier to use on a computer than on a phone, and the quizzes in Blackboard especially interface better with a computer. If you have trouble securing these, contact Lehman IT. Lehman is providing laptops, iPads, and/or wireless hotspots to those with a demonstrated need.



  • Quizzes                                25%
  • Final Playlist Project          40%
  • Listening Guide Project       5%
  • Discussion Forum Posts   20%
  • Class Participation             10%

Please note that due to these weightings, the point total you see on Blackboard doesn’t necessarily reflect your course grade, since a “point” in any given category is not necessarily worth the same amount as a “point” in another.



There are no exams in this class. There will, however, be a number of online quizzes that must be completed before our class meetings. They are open-book and open-note, but please work by yourself. You will have only twenty minutes to complete them: in other words, you will need to know the material at least well enough to know where to look it up in order to complete the quizzes on time. Though there will be some purely verbal questions, the bulk of questions will focus on identifying audio excerpts and using class vocabulary to describe what is going on in them.

Most weeks quizzes will fall on Thursday, but some weeks, particularly in the first few weeks of the semester they will fall on Tuesday—be sure to check the course schedule. Quizzes during the first segment will focus on review of the previous week’s material; quizzes during the second segment will focus on the week’s assigned reading and listening. I will drop the two lowest quiz grades at the end of the semester.

IMPORTANT: because of the way Blackboard quizzes work, I STRONGLY RECOMMEND taking these on a computer, not a phone. People in the past have had trouble accessing the audio components of assessments from phones. If you have trouble accessing a computer, please contact Lehman IT services and see if they can help you. Lehman is providing laptops, iPads, and internet access hotspots to those who need them.



The largest component of your course grade is long-term projects. What follows are very brief overviews; you will receive more detailed guidelines later in the course.

The first of these, the Listening Guide Project, is in a sense a preparation for the Final Project, and will require you to make a listening guide for one piece of music, with the goal of introducing you to the concept and practice of listening guides.

The Final Playlist Project will involve compiling six complete pieces (or at least movements) of music that relate to some sort of social theme (cf. our class days on topics like “Music and Nationalism” or “Music and Technology”). You will need to complete listening guides for each of the six pieces, as well as short written overviews for your pieces, explaining how each one relates to your chosen theme. Since this is such a large portion of your grade, it is broken up into multiple stages that you will complete throughout the semester: see the course schedule.

The written components of these projects should follow all rules of proper formal English, and be formatted as following: twelve-point Times New Roman, 1-inch margins, double spaced, and left aligned. Please submit the written components as either .doc or .pdf files to ensure accessibility: if you submit other file types, I may not be able to read or comment on them. Failure to follow these formatting guidelines will result in an automatic 5% grade reduction.


Discussion Forum

Each week you will need to write a short post in response to a prompt I give in the Discussion Forum on the Commons site. These will be connected to the material we are discussing in class, and often will involve responding to the weekly reading assignments. You should respond to the prompt in a post of about 200 words. In your posts you should use formal English, support your arguments with specific evidence, and properly cite any quotations from, paraphrases of, or references to outside material.  

Most weeks, these will be due by 11:59 p.m. on Monday, but some weeks, especially early in the semester they will be due by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday. Be sure to check the course schedule.

These will be graded largely on participation, though this means that they should demonstrate thorough engagement with the week’s material; in later weeks this will mean demonstrating that you have read and understood the course readings. There will be twelve posts in total; however, I will take your total out of ten. This means that you can miss up to two posts without penalty, or that doing all the posts will afford you a small amount of extra credit.

You may additionally earn a small amount of extra credit by replying to one of your colleague’s posts. Be sure to treat your interlocutors with respect even when—indeed, especially when—you disagree with them. To earn the extra-credit points these replies will need to demonstrate meaningful engagement with the arguments and examples raised in the post (i.e. just saying “I agree” won’t earn you anything). If you wish to earn this extra credit, please reply within a week of the posting of the original prompt.


Late Work Policy

Work must be submitted on-time for full credit. Discussion forum posts will not be accepted late—however, you can miss up to two of them without penalty and even beyond that, each one is only one percent of your final grade. Likewise with quizzes; they must be completed on time for credit, but again you can miss up to two without penalty and each one is worth less than two percent of you final grade. Up to one of the checkpoints of the final project, or the Listening Guide Project may be submitted late without penalty—if you contact me and ask for an extension well in advance of the due date. Last minute extensions will not be granted: If there is a last-minute emergency, send me what you have, and I will give you a prorated grade based on what you managed to complete: the idea is that these are assignments you should be working on over the course of at least a couple of weeks, not rushing at the last minute.


Attendance Policy

Lehman College policy, as given by the Student Handbook, is that “Students are expected to attend all class meetings as scheduled, and are responsible for all class work missed as a result of late registration or absence. Excessive absences in any course may result in a lower final grade.”

Note that although I will not be marking you down specifically for attendance, there is still a class participation grade: in other words, although missing or arriving late to any one class won’t directly hurt you, if you are absent or late regularly, you won’t be able to participate enough to earn full credit.


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Accommodating Disabilities

Lehman College is committed to providing access to all programs and curricula to all students.  Students with disabilities who may require any special considerations should register with the Office of Student Disability Services in order to submit official paperwork to instructor. Please do this as soon as possible, preferable within the first week of class. Disabilities must be documented.

For more information, please contact the Office of Student Disability Services, Shuster Hall, Room 238, 718-960-8441. For detailed information on services and resources visit: , or email:


Academic Integrity and Plagiarism Policy

“Academic dishonesty is prohibited in The City University of New York.  Penalties for academic dishonesty include academic sanctions, such as failing or otherwise reduced grades, and/or disciplinary sanctions, including suspension or expulsion.”  All violations are reported to the Department and college’s Academic Integrity Officer.

For detailed information on definitions and examples of Academic Dishonesty, including Cheating, Plagiarism, Obtaining Unfair Advantage and Falsification of Records and Documents, please refer to the student handbook or visit:  


Technology and Blackboard Information

You are required to use Blackboard to access course materials and to post response papers to Safe Assign. You are required to sign into your Lehman student email account for course messages as well as to check it frequently. You are responsible for knowing the contents of messages sent to your Lehman student email account. See For Information Technology, go to


Instructional Support Services (ISSP)

Lehman College’s Instructional Support Services Program (ISSP) is home of the Academic Center for Excellence (ACE) and Science Learning Center (SLC).  Both offer students an array of activities and services designed to support classroom learning.  Open to students at any level, there are individual, small group, and/or workshop sessions designed to improve “proficiency in writing, reading, research, and particular academic subject areas.  Computer-assisted writing/language tutorial programs are also available,” as well as individual tutors, workshops and tutors.

To obtain more information about the ACE and the SLC, please visit Old Gym, Room 205 or or call ACE at 718-960-8175, and SLC at 718-960-7707.

Regular tutoring hours for fall & spring semesters are: M–T 10 a.m.–7 p.m., and Sat. 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Library Tutors are also available in the Library.  These tutors offer help with Library resources and computers.


Student Handbook

Students are strongly encouraged to download and become familiar with the Student Handbook:

See also: Experiential learning opportunities:




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