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#2295740 - 06/27/14 10:20 AM Edinburgh Coursera - Fundamentals of Music Theory  
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Coursera and University of Edinburgh is putting together a free course on Fundamentals of Music Theory.

https://www.coursera.org/course/musictheory


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#2295748 - 06/27/14 10:40 AM Re: Edinburgh Coursera - Fundamentals of Music Theory [Re: 8 Octaves]  
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I just signed up. I did the Grade 5 ABRSM theory a couple of weeks ago, and I found it really helpful. Hopefully this course will dovetail nicely with that! Thanks for the heads up.

#2295749 - 06/27/14 10:41 AM Re: Edinburgh Coursera - Fundamentals of Music Theory [Re: 8 Octaves]  
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All that in 5 weeks? I can see it as a way of getting an overview, and it might be excellent for that.

#2295761 - 06/27/14 11:01 AM Re: Edinburgh Coursera - Fundamentals of Music Theory [Re: 8 Octaves]  
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Nice!

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#2298159 - 07/03/14 09:07 AM Re: Edinburgh Coursera - Fundamentals of Music Theory [Re: 8 Octaves]  
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I'm in, got the book, got the twitter account.

There are over 55,000 people signed up!

My kind of thing. Being a bit on the nerdy side, I am always drawn to stuff with "Theory" in the title (unless preceded by "Conspiracy", "Harebrained", or "Cockamamie"). smile

Ed

Last edited by Riddler; 07/03/14 09:10 AM.

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#2298179 - 07/03/14 10:01 AM Re: Edinburgh Coursera - Fundamentals of Music Theory [Re: 8 Octaves]  
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I signed up too, but unlike Riddler, I am usually all for harebrained and cockamamie. Conspiracy, not so much.


Having power is not nearly as important as what you choose to do with it.
– Roald Dahl

#2298258 - 07/03/14 12:54 PM Re: Edinburgh Coursera - Fundamentals of Music Theory [Re: 8 Octaves]  
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I'm signed up. There's a book?


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#2298275 - 07/03/14 01:27 PM Re: Edinburgh Coursera - Fundamentals of Music Theory [Re: PianoStudent88]  
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Originally Posted by PianoStudent88
I'm signed up. There's a book?


Here's what the course page says:

Quote
Suggested Readings
Although not required to participate in the course, an excellent text/reference book for the course would be:

S. M. Kostka, D. Payne. Tonal Harmony. McGraw-Hill Education, 2008.


BTW, there is also a Facebook Group.


Ed

Last edited by Riddler; 07/03/14 01:29 PM.

http://edsjazzpianopage.blogspot.com/

My fingers are slow, but easily keep pace with my thoughts.

#2298303 - 07/03/14 02:26 PM Re: Edinburgh Coursera - Fundamentals of Music Theory [Re: 8 Octaves]  
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Thanks, Riddler.

Yikes, it's 605 pages, with a 268 page workbook (*). I already have about a million harmony books, but I'll get it from interlibrary loan and see what I think.

(*) That's the 1984 edition, but I don't particularly want to buy another harmony book.


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#2298459 - 07/04/14 12:57 AM Re: Edinburgh Coursera - Fundamentals of Music Theory [Re: Riddler]  
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I'm cramming for RCM music theory exams for August, so this course may be a bit late since it ends mid August after my exams.

My only comment on theory having done it for hours each night is this - Whoever invented the current music notation should fall on their swords. I hate whoever invented the notion of whole tone and semitones. They should have given 12 letters A-L to all the notes and have a clef system that worked for 12 tones instead of relying on sharps and flats. Strangely enough I have no problem playing all the intervals in the book but I just can't tell you what they are... major 6th ... ah, no minor 6th.

I really enjoy conspiracy theories. They make me feel normal, which is rare. But harebrained and cockamamie theories... not so much. While I'm on conspiracy theory, who was it that made keys of Eb with 3 flats and Ab with 4 flats while E# with 4 sharps and A# with 3 sharps? Wouldn't life be a lot simpler if A# and Ab both have the same number of sharps and flats? It's a conspiracy I tell you.

#2298528 - 07/04/14 08:49 AM Re: Edinburgh Coursera - Fundamentals of Music Theory [Re: 8 Octaves]  
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Will there be English subtitles?


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#2298531 - 07/04/14 09:01 AM Re: Edinburgh Coursera - Fundamentals of Music Theory [Re: ClsscLib]  
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Originally Posted by ClsscLib
Will there be English subtitles?


Ha ha!
When I visited Edinburgh in the 1970s I was always kind of entertained by our mutual lack of intelligibility!

It does look like subtitles is an option.


Having power is not nearly as important as what you choose to do with it.
– Roald Dahl

#2298539 - 07/04/14 09:27 AM Re: Edinburgh Coursera - Fundamentals of Music Theory [Re: malkin]  
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Originally Posted by malkin
Originally Posted by ClsscLib
Will there be English subtitles?


Ha ha!
When I visited Edinburgh in the 1970s I was always kind of entertained by our mutual lack of intelligibility!

It does look like subtitles is an option.


I'm quite sure my Chicago accent would be a challenge to my far more educated friends in Edinburgh.


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#2298596 - 07/04/14 12:40 PM Re: Edinburgh Coursera - Fundamentals of Music Theory [Re: 8 Octaves]  
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8 Octaves, do you mean E with 4 sharps and A with 3 sharps (not E# and A#)? There's actually a reason and a pattern for why Eb has 3 flats and E has 4 sharps; and why Ab has 4 flats and A has 3 sharps.

Consider Eb major. It has 3 flat notes and 4 natural notes. When you move the key up a half step to E major, each note moves up a half step. Each of the 3 flat notes moves up to a natural note, and each of the 4 natural notes moves up to a sharp note. So E major has 3 natural notes and 4 sharp notes. Here is what the scales look like:

Code
Eb F  G  Ab Bb C  D
E  F# G# A  B  C# D#

Look at how the flat notes in the Eb major scale correspond to the natural notes in the E major scale. Also the natural notes in the Eb major scale correspond to the sharp notes in the E major scale.

This kind of pattern appears with all comparisons of a key with raising or lowering the tonic by a half step. It's perhaps easiest to see with C major, compared to Cb major or C# major:

C major has 7 natural notes. When you move down a half step to Cb major, every note moves down a half step to a flat note, so Cb major has seven flat notes:

Code
C  D  E  F  G  A  B
Cb Db Eb Fb Gb Ab Bb

Start from C major again, and now go up a half step to C# major. Each of the 7 natural notes in C major moves up a half step to a sharp note in C# major, so C# major has 7 sharp notes:

Code
C  D  E  F  G  A  B
C# D# E# F# G# A# B#

Work out this pattern for Ab major and A major. Other pairs of major keys to look at:

Db, D
F, F#
Gb, G
Bb, B

Count the numbers of flats and naturals in the first key of each pair, and then see how they move up a half step to naturals and sharps when you move up a half step to the second key in the pair.


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#2298599 - 07/04/14 12:48 PM Re: Edinburgh Coursera - Fundamentals of Music Theory [Re: 8 Octaves]  
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(Cross posted with PianoStudent88)

This caught my attention, because I taught all three levels of the RCM theory, and have some ideas about it. Since then I've worked a lot with my teacher on theory, including ways of teaching it (and not teaching it). What you wrote leads to some thoughts and impressions.
Originally Posted by 8 Octaves
I'm cramming for RCM music theory exams for August, so this course may be a bit late since it ends mid August after my exams.

My only comment on theory having done it for hours each night is this - Whoever invented the current music notation should fall on their swords. I hate whoever invented the notion of whole tone and semitones. They should have given 12 letters A-L to all the notes and have a clef system that worked for 12 tones instead of relying on sharps and flats. Strangely enough I have no problem playing all the intervals in the book but I just can't tell you what they are... major 6th ... ah, no minor 6th.

I really enjoy conspiracy theories. They make me feel normal, which is rare. But harebrained and cockamamie theories... not so much. While I'm on conspiracy theory, who was it that made keys of Eb with 3 flats and Ab with 4 flats while E# with 4 sharps and A# with 3 sharps? Wouldn't life be a lot simpler if A# and Ab both have the same number of sharps and flats? It's a conspiracy I tell you.


The RCM theory book comes across as a series of facts divided into chapters each holding its own theme. Trying to study it "as is" doesn't give you the right thing. It could be simple and straightforward, and it becomes anything but.

Theory describes patterns and concepts occurring in music and in sound. Some of it is a rough guidelines. It should come together with experiencing it, rather than just a thing on paper. That experience needs time - just like your practical studies - so that you truly absorb it. So cramming doesn't work. That is - if you've registered for an exam you may need to - but then go back and explore these in a more real way.

Quote
I hate whoever invented the notion of whole tone and semitones.

I think you are referring to the sequence within a scale - WWH(W)WWH - rather than the concept where 1 whole tone = 2 semitones because that part of it is obvious. Note how I wrote out that sequence, because it shows a symmetry. It's one good way of remembering it, if you're inclined to patterns.

But also - look at your piano - The C major scale on the piano gives you a visual representation, because the black keys between notes gives you where the whole tones are. (C to C# (black) is one semitone - C# to D (white) is another semitone - so C to D = one whole tone). The two touching white keys: E,F and B,C gives you the semitones. So if you forget your intervals, visualize the C major scale on the piano in order to derive your W's and H's.

Your three minor scales all have a minor third; 6 and 7 toggle. You can find various ways of getting at those two degrees. Since you probably already play all three, you might want to bring in your physical and aural memory, and attach them to the theory.

Quote
While I'm on conspiracy theory, who was it that made keys of Eb with 3 flats and Ab with 4 flats while E# E with 4 sharps and A# A with 3 sharps? Wouldn't life be a lot simpler if A# and Ab both have the same number of sharps and flats?

What you have learned so far is not real for you yet - let's look at this from some other angles.

We'll start with the concept of 5ths, and add the physical sensation of 5 fingers, and maybe sounds that are already in your ear.

Start with C major. No sharps or flats. Do you have the sound of a major scale in your ear already? (I think you do).

Go up a 5th. Literally place your RH thumb where your pinky was. You're on G. Try playing a major scale starting with G, and use your ear. If you played G,A,B,C,D,E,F,G then it sounded wrong at the F, and you changed - sharped - the F.
G,A,B,C,D,E,F#,G ---- one sharp.

You sharped F# - the note just below the G Tonic. Notice that there is a semitone from F# to G. Notice what it DOES. Because it is so close to the G, your ear craves that G. This "pull" is not as strong from F to G.

Ok - now from G, go up a 5th again. You are on D. Keep the F# you already have. Your ear makes you want to sharp the note just before D - C#.
D E F# G A B C# D. Two sharps - the F# from before, the C# added, and it's below your tonic.

A 5th up from D gives you A major. Same deal: keep your sharps, and raise the note under A = G#.

Same deal with E major - D# under E. 4 sharps.

I assume you are writing the exam that covers C, G, D, E major and not past that.

What I have presented gives you several things:
- the 5ths gives you a connection physically and aurally, and again you might visualize a piano
- there is also a pattern

C - no sharps or flats
G - a fifth up - F# which is below the G
D - a fifth up - same F#, add C# which is below the D
A - a fifth up - same F#, C#, add G# which is below the A
E - a fifth up - same F#, C#, G#, add E which is below the E.

-----
Meanwhile, as you play music, notice those signatures, and when you play that F# in G major, also visualize the theory. Also notice that when your piece that is in G major ends, you will have a D chord, followed by a G chord, and this is the same pattern of fifths. When you advance, you'll notice some magical things.
-------
For flats signatures, we can go along 4ths of backward along 5ths.

C major - no flats
F major - is up a 4th from C major - the 4th note is flatted
Bb major - starts on the 4th we just flatted - the 4th note is flatted (Bb, C, D, Eb......)
Eb major - starts on the 4th we just flatted - the 4th note is flatted - Eb, F, G, Ab
Ab major - ditto - Ab, Bb, C, Db

Again, each time, you keep the note you flatted before, and add one.

Last edited by keystring; 07/04/14 12:49 PM. Reason: noted cross posting
#2298613 - 07/04/14 01:16 PM Re: Edinburgh Coursera - Fundamentals of Music Theory [Re: 8 Octaves]  
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Originally Posted by 8 Octaves
Strangely enough I have no problem playing all the intervals in the book but I just can't tell you what they are... major 6th ... ah, no minor 6th.

There are two distinct concepts to intervals that you should get sorted out. One is sound / actual distance, and the other is "naming".

Take C Eb (your minor third). Play it at the piano, and notice how many piano keys you have covered: C to C#, C# to D, D to Eb = 3 semitones. Also do something else - play C Eb and then CE - play D F and then D F# - play G Bb and then GB. You have played m3 and M3 back and forth. You will notice that all the minor thirds had one quality or mood of sound, and all the major thirds had another quality or mood. All the m3's had two things in common: they are 3 semitones apart, and have the same quality. We could take semitones to be like inches on a yardstick, which give an absolute measurement.

Now play C Eb again. And then play C D#. Of course you are using the same piano keys, and it gives you the same sound quality. These two notes are also 3 semitones apart: C to C#, C# to D, D to D#. Later you will learn to call this "aug 2". For now ignore this part. The point is that we are dealing with "what it actually is", "what it sounds like", what the actual measurement in "inches" (semitones) is.
==================
ASPECT 2 - NAMING
That's what you are working with " major 3rd", "minor 3rd", "major 6th" etc. This is a grammar part. Later in harmony theory you will see reasons for this. It's like spelling "through" vs. "threw".

The names are based on major keys. If the notes of the interval fall on notes belonging to the key of the bottom note, then the interval will be major or Perfect. Thus:

CC - P unison
CD - M2
CE - M3
CF - P4
CG - P5
CA - M6
CB - M7
CC' - P octave

or
DD - P unison
DE - M2
DF# - M3
DG - P4
DA- P5
DB - M6
DC# - M7
CC' - P octave

In both cases, all notes involved belong to C major, or D major.

If the upper note falls a semitone below the note belonging to that key, then what would have been major, becomes minor. For example, we had DF# = M3. If it were DF, then it is m3 (minor 3rd), because F is a semitone below F#.

So in a theory exam, when you see an interval, look at the lower note, and ask yourself what the higher note in that degree would be for the major key of that note.

Example:
G Eb
Thinking, G to Eb (counting letters) = 6 letters over, so we have some kind of 6th. What is the 6th of G major? It is E. GE is the major 6th, so G Eb is a minor 6th.

This is how you work it out in an exam situation, with paperwork.

Beyond exams, as a growing musician, you want to train your ear toward the sound of these intervals. That takes time. In training your ear for intervals, you want both melodic (C, then A) and harmonic (C and A at the same time).

You want to do the same thing with chord qualities. Your chord also contains your intervals.

hth

#2298621 - 07/04/14 01:39 PM Re: Edinburgh Coursera - Fundamentals of Music Theory [Re: 8 Octaves]  
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Last one
Originally Posted by 8 octaves
They should have given 12 letters A-L to all the notes and have a clef system that worked for 12 tones instead of relying on sharps and flats.

There have actually been attempts to change our notation system, using a different staff with more lines and spaces. Music has evolved, and when you get to atonal music and other things, our system becomes awkward.

However, a lot of the music we play, esp. at the student level, works well with the existing system. Often we refer to a "Common Practice" period.

Some examples:
Pieces are commonly in one key and the modulate to a key which is a fifth up - G major, and D major, for example. I see that F# in the signature, and immediately I expect that my tonic will be either G for G major, or E for E minor. If it's in E minor, I expect to see pepperings of D#'s as accidentals, because we'll have a bunch of B chords (B D# F#) which is your preferred V chord, with some harmonic minor or melodic minor chords. I'm looking for an E at the end of the piece.

If the piece is in G major, then it will probably end on G, with a G chord, and I expect lots of D chords as the V of G.

So at a glance I can predict a lot about my piece before I have played a single note.

Meanwhile, if it is in G major, it is likely to modulate to D major, which is a 5th up. If it modulates, we won't have a key signature, but we'll have accidentals. We saw before that G major as F#, and D major shares the F# but also has a C#. So I will see pepperings of C#'s where it modulates. It is a single accidental, because the system is set up along the circle of fifths, and we have simplicity.

If we had "A - J" we would lose all of that. We'd have a kind of piano playing that works like touch typing or trained chickens pecking at coloured lights. It gives instant results, but we lose musical understanding and patterns.

Of course once music moves outside of that system, we lose those advantages. Atonal music with whole tone and octatonic scales and other things to deliberately bring us outside the system, won't work as well.


#2298625 - 07/04/14 01:46 PM Re: Edinburgh Coursera - Fundamentals of Music Theory [Re: PianoStudent88]  
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Originally Posted by PianoStudent88
Consider Eb major. It has 3 flat notes and 4 natural notes. When you move the key up a half step to E major, each note moves up a half step. Each of the 3 flat notes moves up to a natural note, and each of the 4 natural notes moves up to a sharp note. So E major has 3 natural notes and 4 sharp notes.


Thank you for the explanation. That's eye opening. An A-ha moment.

Yes, I meant E and A. That's what happens posting late at night. Also, I do not know the existence of E# or A#, haha, I'm only in level 5.

#2298643 - 07/04/14 02:17 PM Re: Edinburgh Coursera - Fundamentals of Music Theory [Re: keystring]  
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Originally Posted by keystring
The RCM theory book comes across as a series of facts divided into chapters each holding its own theme. Trying to study it "as is" doesn't give you the right thing. It could be simple and straightforward, and it becomes anything but.


Yes, you hit it on the nail. It is partly my fault. I elected to purchase the books for my level only. The is the approach for children mostly. There is a All-in-One version for college students which in retrospect may have been better (by the same author).

The difference is, the All-in-One version when discussing clefs it covers all the clefs, C-clef, alto clef, tenor clef, G clef, etc. When discussing keys, it discuss the circle of 5th and every key. When discussing time, it discuss all time not just simple time. The children version only discuss what you need to know up to your level for your exam. So at level 5, I only know keys with 4-sharps and flats major and minor. So it doesn't talk about the key of C# major, which to me doesn't exist in my universe of repertoire or etude. When discussing time and writing rests, it is only simple time (which I find ironic because all the exercises has my brain twisted in a knot and not all cases are so simple... yes I know that's not the usage of simple here.) Anyway, flipping through the AiO book, I decided to not swallow the ocean and bought the separate books, which divides the Rudiments book into 3 separate books aligned with Basic, Intermediate, and Advance Rudiments exams. Like you said I am only seeing bunch of facts because information has been held back.

Thanks so much for the lesson. Really appreciate. By the way, I was just ranting a bit, not really that serious about hating theory. I do like WWH(W)WWH. BTW, RCM's notation is T-T-S-T-T-T-S. I love patterns since I'm majored in science and engineering in school and am a working engineer.

By the way, the notion of per 4 and per 5 makes sense in terms of aural training. When you are asked to sing a maj 3 up from C, it's the E. But signing a maj 3 down from C, you have to sing Ab not A. I never knew why but knew that is, but remember this fact for aural exam. But per 4 and per 5 don't have this problem. You sing the same up or down. I never knew why until this week and I've been doing ear training for a while. Another a-ha moment. I have been learning music the same way it is presented to a child instead of to an adult, but I'm ok with this approach. I don't have to learn basic harmony until I have to prepare for the level 8 exam, for instance. I guess that's what happens if you only have 1 hour a day at best for piano. I have to take the spoon-fed approach. When I have time, after the exam in August, I think I'll read the adult book to get better perspective.

#2298671 - 07/04/14 03:29 PM Re: Edinburgh Coursera - Fundamentals of Music Theory [Re: 8 Octaves]  
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8 Octaves - re: the "all in one version" (which I have)

I recommend getting that one, and I'll tell you how it works.

The version you have (probably "Sound Advice"?) has three levels - Preliminary (P), Intermediate (1), Advanced (2).

The original (Wharram - updated) has these same three levels and they are designated as such (marked P, 1, 2). You have the chapters: i.e. Scales, Intervals, Chords, Time (signature) etc. Within each chapter, each entry is marked P, 1, or 2. Some of the exercises and instructions have two designations. For example, I am looking at "The Pentatonic Scale" and it is marked "1 2". General exercises with scales is marked P 1 2 - I'm guessing some is review for higher grades. But then we get to scales with 6 sharps or flats in the alto clef, and this is marked "2".

What you get is overlap and choice. I.e. if a student is at "preliminary" level but really strong in that area, then she might go further toward P 1, where it is more of a "1". If a student is "intermediate" level but is weak, she might want to get at the tail end of P 1, to strengthen it.

When you have the whole book, you also get an overview of how one thing flows into the next. It's incremental. For example, at level P you get a good handle on major and minor chords in root position. At level 1 you work with those chords, add the diminished and augmented, and deal with inversions. At level 2 you have these solid, and now you can do things with them.

For scales, at level P you get at major and minor up to 4 sharps or flats. At level 1, you are solid in this, but now you are adding a concept of "enharmonics" which happens after 4. For example, with 7 flats in the key signature, your "Cb major" will have you playing exactly the same piano keys as "B major" because if you lower C by a semitone, your Cb = B. By the next level you are ready for that. In the meantime, at the P level, you already learned about enharmonics, so no sweat.

#2298677 - 07/04/14 03:48 PM Re: Edinburgh Coursera - Fundamentals of Music Theory [Re: 8 Octaves]  
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Quote
When I have time, after the exam in August, I think I'll read the adult book to get better perspective.


Well, now you know that the "whole" book is also divided into three sections, with a more fluid overlap. Don't *read* it -- review what you learned more slowly, by exploring each concept physically. For intervals, explore how they make you feel and the semitones involved for the smaller ones. As you play your music, become aware of it. As you have the radio on or a CD, listen for them.

Do this for every concept. Simple time - how does it manifest in your music? What is happening with strong beats and weak beats; what if it's a dance, or slow? If you watch an orchestra, what is the conductor doing?

You can "study" theory everywhere you go.

#2298760 - 07/04/14 09:53 PM Re: Edinburgh Coursera - Fundamentals of Music Theory [Re: keystring]  
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Yup. I'll look into it. smile Thanks.

#2299111 - 07/06/14 07:07 AM Re: Edinburgh Coursera - Fundamentals of Music Theory [Re: 8 Octaves]  
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signed up for he course. I already had the book and workbook so i'm all set.
judy


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#2300261 - 07/09/14 12:32 PM Re: Edinburgh Coursera - Fundamentals of Music Theory [Re: zillybug]  
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I'm signed up, just hope my book arrives before July 14th.

#2300269 - 07/09/14 12:45 PM Re: Edinburgh Coursera - Fundamentals of Music Theory [Re: ClsscLib]  
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Originally Posted by ClsscLib
Will there be English subtitles?


LOL grin

I got married (civil-partnered... whatever) in Glasgow, and to the right person, so I should be fine! Can't wait to hear that impossible lovely accent again!


Diana & Wally - Yamaha W110BW
To create a beautiful sound, one must imagine it at first and then learn to produce fluid physical motions that breathe life into music. (Shirley Kirsten)
http://soundcloud.com/sinophilia
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#2300306 - 07/09/14 02:28 PM Re: Edinburgh Coursera - Fundamentals of Music Theory [Re: sinophilia]  
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Wow, BIG CONGRATULATIONS!

#2302210 - 07/14/14 11:45 AM Re: Edinburgh Coursera - Fundamentals of Music Theory [Re: 8 Octaves]  
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Watching Lecture 1.
Feeling quite smart so far.


Having power is not nearly as important as what you choose to do with it.
– Roald Dahl

#2302234 - 07/14/14 12:39 PM Re: Edinburgh Coursera - Fundamentals of Music Theory [Re: malkin]  
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Just got back from Summerkeys in Maine last night. Will start watching later today. Is anyone doing it for the certificate? I was thinking of doing it but then read that you have to evaluate the finals of other students. That sounds a bit intimidating. Has anyone else had any experience doing this?
Thanks Judy


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#2302252 - 07/14/14 01:26 PM Re: Edinburgh Coursera - Fundamentals of Music Theory [Re: zillybug]  
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I've generally enjoyed writing up the peer assignment evaluations in other courses.


There have been a few times in other courses when I haven't felt sufficiently competent to judge an answer for accuracy.
In those cases, I've stated that in the evaluation, and have based my evaluation on how well the student explained a concept.



I'd rather play badly than not at all...
#2302313 - 07/14/14 04:09 PM Re: Edinburgh Coursera - Fundamentals of Music Theory [Re: carlos88]  
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Thanks Carlos,
Judy


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