The Open University since 2006
Alternatively you can skip the navigation by pressing 'Enter'.
More or Less: How many cows for a fiver?Sunday, 4th December 2016 20:00 - BBC Radio 4 BBC Radio 4
The Secret History of Our Streets - London: Arnold CircusTuesday, 6th December 2016 22:00 - BBC Four
The Secret History of Our Streets - London: Arnold CircusThursday, 8th December 2016 00:45 - BBC Four
Vienna: Empire, Dynasty and Dream: Episode 1: The Imperial City 1160-1683Thursday, 8th December 2016 21:00 - BBC Four
More or Less: How many cows for a fiver?Available for over a year
Colour: The Spectrum of Science: Episode 1: Colours of EarthAvailable until Saturday, 31st December 2016 23:00
BBC Inside Science - 2016/2017 series: Alzheimer's research, Lucy, Glowing bandage package, Supernovas to HollywoodAvailable for over a year
The Secret History of Our Streets - London: Reverdy RoadAvailable until Saturday, 31st December 2016 01:30
Human Rights Week10 December is Human Rights Day but here at The Open University we'll be exploring progress made... Read more: Human Rights Week
Take the photographic memory testCan you capture scenes just by looking at them? Find out with our photographic memory test. Launch now: Take the photographic memory test
Exploring equality and equity in educationThis free course, Exploring equality and equity in education, considers the complexity of social... Try: Exploring equality and equity in education now
Organisations and management accountingThis free course, Organisations and management accounting, examines the nature of organisations,... Try: Organisations and management accounting now
Improvisation and composition are words frequently used in the western world to describe the creation of music. But are they really two distinct processes, or are they aspects of the same phenomenon? In this free course, Composition and improvisation in cross-cultural perspective, we will explore the relationship between the two using examples of Asian music to help us clarify the concepts.
After studying this course, you should be able to:
- discuss different perspectives on the creation of music, in particular, composition and improvisation
- understand the basic principles underlying North Indian art music
- understand the basic principles underlying Sundanese gamelan music.
- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 The creation of music
- 2 A performance of North Indian art music
- 3 A performance of Sundanese gamelan music
- 4 Some final thoughts
- Keep on learning
Study this free course
Enrol to access the full course, get recognition for the skills you learn, track your progress and on completion gain a statement of participation to demonstrate your learning to others. Make your learning visible!
Composition and improvisation in cross-cultural perspective
This course explores two important concepts relating to the creation of music, namely composition and improvisation. The concepts of composition and improvisation are closely linked, and the reason for looking at non-Western music is partly to demonstrate this truth – it should help to clarify these two concepts, and the relationship between them.
We couldn't hope to cover a representative sample of the world's musics in a single course, and I have certainly not tried to do so here. What I have tried to do instead is two things: to introduce two Asian music traditions in enough detail to give you an idea both of what they can sound like and of how they work; and to introduce some general issues to do with the concepts of composition and improvisation, which will be relevant to all music. There is a lot of material to cover in this course, including about an hour of video, which I will be asking you to work through in some detail. Although you will be working closely on the detailed structure of the musics that I introduce in the case studies, you will not need to remember everything in detail. You will need to understand and remember the underlying principles, however.
This OpenLearn course provides a sample of Level 3 study in.
This free course includes adapted extracts from an Open University course which is no longer available to new students. If you found this interesting you could explore more free Music courses or view the range of currently available OU Music courses.
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Friday, 15th January 2016
Last updated on: Friday, 15th January 2016
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements and our FAQs section.
- This site has Copy Reuse Tracking enabled - see our FAQs for more information.
If you enjoyed this, why not follow a feed to find out when we have new things like it? Choose an RSS feed from the list below. (Don't know what to do with RSS feeds?)
Remember, you can also make your own, personal feed by combining tags from around OpenLearn.
All our alternative formats are free for you to download, for more information about the different formats we offer please see our FAQs. The most frequently used are Word (for accessibility), PDF (for print) and ePub and Kindle to download to eReaders*.
- Word (2.7 MB)
- PDF (4.6 MB)
- ePub 3.0 (82 MB)
- ePub 2.0 (2.3 MB)
- Kindle (713 KB)
- RSS (278 KB)
- HTML (81.2 MB)
- SCORM (81.2 MB)
- OUXML Package (32 KB)
- OUXML File (101 KB)
- IMS Common cartridge
- Moodle backup (82 MB)
*Please note you will need an ePub and Mobi reader for these formats.