Brainy Bagpipers

MIT, that northeastern institute of all things brainy and innovative, has devoted pieces of their curricula in all subject areas to something they are calling “OpenCourseware.” Put simply, it is entire courses offered digitally, online, and for free. Anyone with the time and inclination can take beginning level courses in, well, just about anything, from Aeronautics to Women’s Studies, but here at The Voicelog, we are concerned with musical matters.

And it just so happens that there is an entire subject area devoted to music and theater arts with an interesting array of helpful coursework in the elements of harmony, musical structure, and general studies in western music.

An interesting course that offers possibilities for the bagpiper is Introduction to Musical Composition. From the course description:

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. Aesthetic issues are considered in the pragmatic context of the instructions that composers provide to achieve a desired musical result, whether these instructions are notated in prose, as graphic images, or in symbolic notation. No formal training is required. Weekly listening, reading, and composition assignments draw on a broad range of musical styles and intellectual traditions, from various cultures and historical periods.

Pretty heavy, but stripped down, this course should provide some interesting framework for the Pipe Major or musical director setting up a new medley, or any piper who feels inclined to dabble in composing pipe tunes. And, oh yes, it is wholly downloadable. All you need is some media software and you’re good to go!

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