Introduction to Instruments and Musical Genres

This lecture provides an introduction to basic classical music terminology, orchestral instruments, and acoustics. Professor Wright begins with a brief discussion of the distinctions between such broad terms as “song” and “piece,” briefly mentioning more specific terms for musical genres, such as “symphony” and “opera.” He then moves on to describe the differences between a “motive” and a “theme,” demonstrating the distinction between the two with the use of music by Beethoven and Tchaikovsky. Following this, he calls upon three guest instrumentalists on French horn, bassoon, and viola to give a brief performance-introduction to each instrument. He concludes the session with a discussion of acoustics, focusing on the concept of partials, and then brings the lecture to a close with commentary on Richard Strauss’s tone-poem, Death and Transfiguration.