Developing Your Musicianship

George W. Russell , Berklee College of Music
Related Topics: singing sing college writing

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Course Description

If you have a passion for music and are curious about how it works, or if you are a musician who learned to play by ear without formal study, this course will provide you with an engaging introduction to key concepts and approaches needed to understand, create, and perform contemporary music. Taught by Berklee College of Music professor George W. Russell, Jr., the course includes six lessons that delve into harmony and ear training-two areas of intensive focus for every entering Berklee student.

The course will teach you the major scale and minor pentatonic scale, and how they are constructed. You will learn what intervals are, how to sing them, and how to find them in music. The course explores tonal centers and how to find the key a song is in, in addition to common time signatures such as 4/4 and 3/4. You will learn how to build chords-major and minor triads, and major and dominant seventh chords-and how to build a common chord progression-the I IV V. You will also learn how to recognize the blues and AABA song forms, and write a basic chord sheet to express your song ideas.

In addition to the video lectures, each lesson features Berklee student performances and interviews. The students share their musical journey and offer advice for those wanting to study music. The course culminates with an assignment that asks you to compose and perform a riff blues tune using the minor pentatonic scale. Above all, the course is designed to share the joy of creating music and sharing it with others.


Lesson 1: Major Scale
Defining Harmony, Ear Training, and Intervals; Constructing and Singing the Major Scale; Major 2nd and Major 3rd Intervals; Finding the Tonal Center
Lesson 2: Major and Minor Triads
Review; Perfect 4th and Perfect 5th Intervals; Building Major and Minor Triads; the I IV V Chord Progression
Lesson 3: Minor Pentatonic Scale
Review; Major 6th and Major 7th Intervals; Building and Singing the Minor Pentatonic Scale
Lesson 4: Major and Dominant Seventh Chords
Review; Building Major and Dominant Seventh Chords; Blues Progression
Lesson 5: Song Form
Review; 7-3-5 Chord Voicings; 4/4 and 3/4 Time Signatures; Blues and AABA Song Forms; Chord Sheets
Lesson 6: Review
Review of All Material; Composing a Blues Riff Tune Using the Minor Pentatonic Scale


The ability to play an instrument is helpful but not required. You should have a passion for music and a strong interest in developing your understanding of music and ability to create it.

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Developing Your Musicianship

by George W. Russell, Berklee College of Music