A Structural Examination of Tonality, Vocabulary, Texture,
Sonorities, and Time Organization in Western Art Music



Welcome to Sound Patterns, an online music theory text. The content of these pages are the materials taught at the University of Dayton (Ohio) in the music theory classes. The purpose of locating the book online is to make the entire content of the internet available as references to concepts, names, and terms mentioned in the text.

Another value of this text is that students do not have to wait for a second edition to see corrections and new additions, since it is so easy to update information online. These pages are in constant revision, and I would like to express enormous gratitude to Susan Gardstrom and Simon Goss for their invaluable help in making some of those revisions. I welcome comments, corrections, and suggestions from everyone (email address below).

The full title, Sound Patterns: A Structural Examination of Tonality, Vocabulary, Texture, Sonorities, and Time Organization in Western Art Music, is cumbersome, but it is meant to be honest and upfront about the content. It covers a relatively narrow range of music (the Common Practice Period) of only one world culture (Western art music). The focus is on the five stated topics (tonality, vocabulary, texture, sonorities, and time organization) and always relates to the structure of music, not just a list of terms.

Throughout Sound Patterns, you will find this icon: . Each time it appears you are about to find a link to a series of pages created by Dr. Tobias RUSH which provides MORE information about the topic. They are well worth the time getting a slightly different point of view.

This text is intended to work in tandem with Music for Analysis, edited by Thomas Benjamin, Michael Horvit, and Robert Nelson, published by Oxford University Press [7th edition]. In the last unit (Microcosms), a second anthology is also used: Anthology of Twentieth-Century Music, edited by Robert P. Morgan, published by W. W. Norton & Company. You will need to purchase copies of these books to work with this text.

Below is a time line, intended to humble us all, of the rather narrow scope of music studies. Notice, near the bottom in 1300, the ars nova ("new art") was declared in music, and each 300-year time span following had similar declarations. We can all look forward to the 23rd century for the new era bound to happen by then.

Phillip Magnuson

2000 BCStonehenge being built
1900 BC
1800 BC
1700 BCHammurabi's code of laws
1600 BC
1500 BC
1400 BC
1300 BCTutankhamen reigns
1200 BC
1100 BC
1000 BCKing Solomon reigns
900 BC
800 BC
700 BCRome founded
600 BC
500 BCGolden Age of Greece
400 BC
300 BCAlexander the Great reigns
200 BC
100 BC
-----Birth of Jesus
100 AD
200 AD
300 ADRise of Christianity
400 AD
500 ADFall of Rome
600 AD
700 AD
800 ADCharlemagne reignsMODALITYOrganum begins
900 ADBeginning of music notation
1000 ADStaff invented
1100 ADMagna carta signedPolyphony begins
1200 ADFauxbourdon begins
1300 ADArs novaKeyboards invented
1400 ADRenaissanceFirst printed music
1500 AD SOUND PATTERNS covers this much
1600 ADCommon Practice PeriodNuove musicheTONALITY
1700 AD
1800 AD
2000 ADPresent

Excellent links to music history.

Link to first unit: FUNDAMENTALS

Copyright 2008-2009 by Phillip Magnuson.

Content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons License.