Open Books

  • The Basic Elements of Music (OpenStax CNX)
    This open book by Catherine Schmidt-Jones has units on time elements (rhythm and meter), pitch elements (timbre, melody, and harmony), and the combination of these elements.
  • Beyond the Classroom: World Music from the Musician’s Point of View
    “This resource is a library of video demonstrations and explanations by musicians from various global traditions, including Indigenous pow wow music and fiddling from Canada (Ontario), Cuban drumming and urban music, the mbira of the Shona of Zimbabwe, Balinese gamelan (Indonesia), classical music from North and South India, Persian classical music, and the maqam of West Asia and North Africa.” Review the license before using this resource [PDF].
  • Fundamentals, Function, and Form: Theory and Analysis of Tonal Western Art Music
    “This text provides readers with a comprehensive study of the theory and analysis of tonal Western art music.”
  • Introduction to Music Appreciation
    This book “is about listening, appreciating, understanding, and discussing music. It explores the history, aesthetics, and criticism of Western music for an enhanced understanding of the topic.”
  • Music in World Cultures
    “Music can be found in every corner of the globe in a variety of different contexts. […] Not only does this text explore the music itself, but also the people and conditions that led to its genesis.”
  • Music on the Move
    This book “introduces a variety of concepts related to music’s travels—with or without its makers—including colonialism, migration, diaspora, mediation, propaganda, copyright, and hybridity. The case studies represent a variety of musical genres and styles, Western and non-Western, concert music, traditional music, and popular music.”
  • Music Theory for the 21st-Century Classroom
    This textbook is designed for four semesters of college-level music theory, and it “differs from other music theory textbooks by focusing less on four–part (SATB) voiceleading and more on relating harmony to the phrase.”
  • Open Music Theory x CUNY
    Open Music Theory × CUNY is a free, open-source, online textbook remixed from Open Music Theory. The resources in this edition of Open Music Theory have been designed to support music theory courses at York College, The City University of New York.”
  • A Practical Approach To Understanding Music Theory
    This book is “designed for the non-music performance major or music business/audio engineer who needs to professionally interface with musicians without needing to write or compose music.”
  • A Quick and Dirty Guide to Art, Music, and Culture
    This guidebook accompanies a course on art and music since 1945 taught by Clayton Funk at The Ohio State University.
  • Resonances: Engaging Music in Its Cultural Context
    This book is “for the college-level music appreciation course. The musical examples are drawn from classical, popular, and folk traditions from around the globe. These examples are organized into thematic chapters, each of which explores a particular way in which human beings use music. Topics include storytelling, political expression, spirituality, dance, domestic entertainment, and more.”
  • Understanding Basic Music Theory (OpenStax CNX via the Open Textbook Library)
    The purpose of this text is to “explore basic music theory so thoroughly that the interested student will then be able to easily pick up whatever further theory is wanted.”
  • Understanding Music: Past and Present
    “The text covers the fundamentals of music and the physics of sound, an exploration of music from the Middle Ages to the present day, and a final chapter on popular music in the United States.”

Open Courses

  • Art and Music since 1945
    This site for Clayton Funk’s course at The Ohio State University includes a syllabus, readings, and lectures, and it is accompanied by the open guidebook A Quick and Dirty Guide to Art, Music, and Culture (also linked above).
  • Music in Global America (Brooklyn College)
    This course site by Marc Thorman at Brooklyn College includes material on: “The transnational roots of America’s vernacular music traditions. The diaspora of folk and popular styles from Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Asia, and the transformation and hybridization of those music styles in diverse U.S. ethnic and cultural communities. Loops of ongoing transnational interaction between contemporary U.S. music styles and urban musics around the world.”
  • Music: Its Language, History, and Culture (Brooklyn College)
    This site for students of music appreciation includes an interactive textbook and open access web resources.
  • Sound Reasoning: A New Way to Listen
    “Sound Reasoning is designed to help you listen. This course encourages you to be self-reliant—to get up close to the music, without mediation or interference. […] The course assumes little or no prior musical background. The ability to read music is not required. A minimum of musical terminology will be invoked. When it is necessary, all terms are defined in a glossary easily accessible by hyper-link. Most importantly, musical examples are interpolated directly into the text, making it easy to evaluate all the concepts that are introduced.”

OER for Teaching and Learning Instruments and Singing

Additional Open and Zero-cost Resources

  • Free Music Archive
    “The Free Music Archive offers free downloads under Creative Commons and other licenses.” All songs are available for free downloads, but only those in the public domain or licensed CC BY, CC BY-SA, CC BY-NC, and CC BY-NC-SA can be used in podcasts and videos.
  • International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP)
    This library has scores and recordings that are CC-licensed or public domain in Canada. Refer to IMSLP’s page titled Public Domain for more information about use outside of Canada.
  • The Lester S. Levy Sheet Music Collection (Johns Hopkins)
    “Browse over 30,000 pieces of American popular music, dating as far back as 1780.” PDFs of sheet music can be downloaded.
  • Musopen
    “We provide recordings, sheet music, and textbooks to the public for free, without copyright restrictions. Put simply, our mission is to set music free.”
  • Open Goldberg Variations
    “The Open Goldberg Variations is a project by pianist Kimiko Ishizaka, and, to create a public domain recording and score of J.S. Bach’s masterpiece, Die Goldberg Variationen (BWV 988).”
  • Teoría
    This website on music theory by José Rodríguez Alvira provides tutorials, exercises, and articles. In 2006 the cite received the MERLOT Classic Award in music, and it has been peer-reviewed by MERLOT as well.
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