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MUSI191 Introduction to Music

An introduction to the theory of music, including notation and the foundations of key, harmony and tonality.

Music is a language, and like any other language, it has a way of being written down, spelling, punctuation and all those grammatical things that languages have; and of course, it also has an enormous, and enormously pleasurable, literature.

If you couldn't read and write in your native language, you might be able to get along in everyday life, but you'd have to rely on audiotapes, films and film adaptations for any literature. It's the same with music. You can get by just listening to your favourite records without understanding them, but if you're really interested, you want to be able to read and write music and to know what's going on.

This paper introduces you to the dots and squiggles and what they mean, and it looks at how music is put together: what notes are available; how you make tunes out of them; and how you put other notes with them to make harmony.

Paper title Introduction to Music
Paper code MUSI191
Subject Music
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 1 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,092.15
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $4,692.00

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MUSI 101
Schedule C
Arts and Music
(i) MUSI191 cannot be credited to a degree if MUSI101 has already been passed. (ii) Students who are not fluent in the reading of music should enrol in MUSI191 in their first semester.
If you are not fluent in reading music or have little or no experience of music theory (or both), you should take MUSI 191 in your first semester.

Note: MUSI 191 cannot be credited to a degree if MUSI 101 has already been passed. However, it is quite possible to credit both papers to your degree as long as you pass MUSI 191 before you pass MUSI 101.
School of Performing Arts Office
Teaching staff

Teaching Staff: Dr Heleen Du Plessis

Teaching Arrangements
Three 50-minute lectures and one 50-minute tutorial per week.
Textbooks are not required for this paper, but it might be helpful for you to have a reference book of your own. We recommend the following:
  • Eric Taylor, The AB Guide to Music Theory, Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, 1989
  • Joseph N. Straus, Elements of Music, 3rd Edition, Sydney: Pearson, 2012
Course outline

Please contact the School of Performing Arts office ( for a copy of the most recent paper profile.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Lifelong learning, Communication, Information literacy, Self-motivation.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
Please contact the School of Performing Arts Office for a copy of the most recent paper profile.

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Semester 1

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Monday 15:00-15:50 9-13, 15-16, 18-21
Tuesday 14:00-14:50 9-13, 15-21
Tuesday 15:00-15:50 9-13, 15-21


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
A1 Thursday 12:00-12:50 10-13, 15-21
A2 Wednesday 12:00-12:50 10-13, 15-21
A3 Thursday 10:00-10:50 10-13, 15-21