A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

Coursera – DYM Lesson 2 videos (2)

The 2nd video for Lesson 2 of Coursera’s Developing Your Musicianship class is a 2-minute review of Lesson 1.

2. Review (2:18)

The video begins with 50 seconds of Professor Russel playing an original song on piano called “Something in C”. Naturally, its name comes from the fact that its in the key of C major.  The Professor lets us know that that was the tonal center, or key the song was in. He promises more information about tonal centers and then moves on to a quick review of what was covered in Lesson 1.

He then starts the actual review by asking how many students remember the C major scale and how its constructed, then plays part of that “whole-step, whole-step, half-step song”, which illustrates the intervallic construction of the major scale. Next, he asks what an interval is, and onscreen, we see a definition (the distance between two notes) as well as a treble cleff that shows 8 intervals in the C major scale by name and with their music notation using whole notes.

C Major intervals

Coursera – Developing Your Musicianship: C Major intervals

After this, we’re asked to define harmony and shown another definition onscreen. The Professor underscores this by stating that “Harmony is very good” and reiterating “Harmony is just basically, you’re talking about chords, scales and melodies.”

Coursera - Developing Your Musicianship: Harmony is very good

Coursera – Developing Your Musicianship: Harmony is very good

He moves on from this and asks what ear training is, presenting us with another definition onscreen and reinforcing it with “Right, ear training,” and “Your ear identifying what it’s hearing.” He then says that we’re going to be doing exercises to help us to hear more accurately and concludes with a “Very, very good.”

I like the idea of ear training, even though its a bit boring and somewhat difficult for me at the moment. I think that the cognitive activity is important and actually associating a pitch that we hear with a name in our heads must have all kinds of implications to music, cerebral activity and communication in general.

My overall impression of the class so far is that its the opposite of the IIB’s Music Theory for Bass class that I started at the tail end of 2011. That class, which basically consisted of a 12-week series of PDFs (about a dozen PDFs per lesson), was very detailed and loaded with exercises meant to teach students how to read standard notation. It was a bit difficult for me to make it through back then (I made it partly through Lesson 4), although I think I’ve read enough that I can handle it (slowly) now. I plan on revisiting it this year, after I complete this Coursera class. Cliff Engel, the instructor, also hosted online chats once a week for the classes and was very responsive over email.

I’m curious if there’s a method that a mid-point between the two, something that would include videos, discussion forums, responses from the instructor and more detailed guidance on each of the topics. Cliff defined every musical term that he wrote about in the classes. They’d make excellent videos. Professor Russell, on the other hand, talks about scales and other concepts without giving definitions, and at other times, gives ambiguous definitions that don’t match what other materials say. I’m sure that they both know their theory very well, but the articulation and foundational progression for both courses are completely different. Its like I’m adrift in one and somewhat drowning in the other. There’s got to be a remote class in which I can float.


One response

  1. Pingback: Coursera – Developing Your Musicianship Lesson 2 | Ugly Bass Face

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