Music History of the Western World 1: Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque


Authored by Dr. Tom Rudolph


Course Code: OLART-233

Next semester
starts June 24

12 Weeks

Level 2

Level 2

3-Credit Tuition


Non-Credit Tuition


Music History of the Western World 1 explores the development of Western European music from its earliest traceable roots during the Antiquity and Middle Ages, through the Renaissance and the Baroque periods. You will experience the music that led to the Classical, Romantic, and Modern eras—music that is, in its own right, sophisticated, diverse, entertaining, solemn, and emotionally rich. 

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Composers studied include Guillaume de Machaut, Josquin des Prez, Claudio Monteverdi, Guillaume Dufay, J.S. Bach, and G.F. Handel. Other relevant information from these periods will be included with a focus on music and its impact on society of the times.

By the end of the course you will be able to:

  • Recognize the major composers of each era studied and a few of their principal works
  • Identify the representative musical forms and genres used during this time period
  • Identify the representative musical forms and genres used during this time period
  • Identify some of the technical aspects of music from each era studied such as melody, harmony, rhythm, musical instruments, and performance techniques
  • Associate the key aspects of culture, society, history, and geography that relate to music in Western Europe during the Antiquity, Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Baroque periods
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Lesson 1: Music in Ancient Greece, Early Middle Ages, and Chant 

  • Music in Greek Society
  • Ancient Greek Instruments
  • Music in Greek Philosophy
  • Greek Music Theory
  • Antiquity to the Middle Ages
  • Chant in the Monastery and Convent

Lesson 2: Late Chant, Troubadours, and Early Polyphony

  • Music Theory in the Monastery
  • Later Medieval Chant
  • Liturgical Drama
  • Troubadours and Trouvéres
  • Medieval Musical Instruments

Lesson 3: The Development of Polyphony in the Middle Ages

  • Early Polyphony
  • Music in Medieval Paris
  • Music in the Cathedral Close and University
  • Carmina Burana
  • Instruments in the Middle to Late Middle Ages

Lesson 4: Music Theory of the Ars Antiqua and Ars Nova

  • Franco of Cologne
  • Music at the Court of the French Kings
  • Symbolic Scores and the Ars Subtilior
  • Fourteenth-Century Music in Reims

Lesson 5: Music in Florence and Music In England

  • Music in Florence
  • Music at the Cathedral of Florence
  • Music in England

Lesson 6: The Early Renaissance

  • Music at the Court of Burgundy
  • Music of the French Royal Court
  • Music of the Low Countries

Lesson 7: Popular Music in Florence, Music in Paris, and Josquin dex Prez

  • Carnival Song and Lauda, Frotolla and early Madrigal
  • Josquin des Prez
  • Music in Renaissance Paris
  • Renaissance Instruments

Lesson 8: Reformation, Counter-Reformation, and Music England

  • The Protestant-Catholic Confrontation
  • Rome and the Music of Counter-Reformation
  • Early Vocal Music in England
  • Instrumental Music in England

Lesson 9: The Early Baroque Music

  • Characteristics of Early Baroque Music
  • The Birth of Opera
  • The Concerted Style

Lesson 10: Baroque Religious and Instrumental Music 

  • Religious Music in Rome
  • Instrumental Music in Italy
  • Instrumental Music in Germany and Austria

Lesson 11: Henry Purcell and G.F. Handel

  • Vocal Music in Paris
  • Instrumental Music in Paris
  • Henry Purcell
  • George Frideric Handel

Lesson 12: Johann Sebastian Bach

  • Bach’s Instrumental Music in Weimar
  • Bach’s Instrumental Music in Cothen
  • Bach’s Vocal Music in Leipzig


Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

Prerequisite Courses, Knowledge, and/or Skills
This course does not have any prerequisites.


Student Deals
After enrolling, be sure to check out our Student Deals page for various offers on software, hardware, and more. Please contact with any questions.

General Course Requirements

Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in Live Chats. Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course. 

Mac Users

PC Users

All Users

  • Latest version of Google Chrome
  • Zoom meeting software
  • Webcam
  • Speakers or headphones
  • External or internal microphone
  • Broadband Internet connection


Dr. Tom Rudolph

Author & Instructor

Dr. Tom Rudolph is an adjunct instructor for Berklee Online, the University of the Arts, Central Connecticut State University, VanderCook MECA, and the Rutgers Mason Gross School of Music. He has authored multiple online courses in music technology and music history. His books include: The Musical iPad, The iPad in the Music Studio, Finale: An Easy Guide to Music Notation (Third Edition), Sibelius: A Comprehensive Guide to Sibelius Music Notation Software (Second Edition), Teaching Music with Technology (Second Edition), Recording in the Digital World, YouTube in Music Education and Finding Funds for Music Technology. He was one of four co-authors of the TIME publication, Technology Strategies for Music Education. Rudolph is the co-author of the Alfred Music Tech Series that includes: Playing Keyboard, Music Production and MIDI Sequencing, and Composing with Notation Software. He has published many articles on music technology that have appeared in the Music Educators Journal, The Instrumentalist, and DownBeat magazine. In addition to his work in music technology, Dr. Rudolph is a trumpet performer in the Philadelphia area and performs with a group called Gaudeamus. His compositions and arrangements have been published by Neil Kjos and Northeastern Music Publications, Inc.

Nathan Link


Nathan Link is Associate Professor and Chair of Music at Centre College. He received his doctorate from Yale University with a dissertation on Handel's operas, and his areas of interest include African music, popular music, and German Romanticism. His student ensemble at Centre has toured nationally and internationally, performing a mix of traditional American folk and modern acoustic music. In 2015, he received the Governor's Award in Arts Education, naming him the top arts-educator in Kentucky.

Benjamin Brand


Benjamin Brand is Senior Director of New Ventures in Digital Strategy and Innovation at the University of North Texas. From 2006 to 2023, he taught music history at UNT’s College of Music, teaching a range of courses from medieval chant and liturgy to nineteenth-century chamber music and publishing widely on medieval and Renaissance music. Brand holds a BA in Music from the University of Chicago and a PhD in Musicology from Yale University. He is an avid choral singer and currently a member of the choir of the Episcopal parish of Trinity Church, Princeton. 


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