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Elements of Music

Fourth Edition

Joseph N. Straus

Publication Date - March 2021

ISBN: 9780197541937

496 pages
8 1/2 x 11 inches

In Stock

An interactive, flexible, and musical program for today's fundamentals courses.


Elements of Music, Fourth Edition, is an introduction to music fundamentals for music majors and non-majors. Organized into brief, digestible, self-contained lessons, each of which is followed by exercises and in-class activities, the text offers instructors flexibility in how they teach music fundamentals. Unmatched concision and clarity make learning fundamentals simple. Throughout the text, a core repertoire introduces students to fundamental concepts, helping students connect fundamentals to music they enjoy. And with the new Oxford fourth edition, the text offers more resources than ever for students to complete fundamentals work online.

New to this Edition

  • Updates to the core repertoire to include more popular music, as well as more music by women and composers of color
  • A simpler discussion of basic harmonic progressions
  • More analytical and compositional projects focusing on songwriting skills, along with a brief introduction to musical form.
  • Available separately, rich digital package powered by Oxford Insight, which delivers the text content, streaming recordings, and online fundamentals exercises within powerful, data-driven courseware designed to optimize student success. Contact your Oxford University Press representative or visit to learn more.


  • Flexible organization-consisting of self-contained lessons-allows instructors to create a syllabus that aligns with their students' needs.
  • The most clear and concise introduction to music fundamentals, in a course where texts can often be dense and confusing.
  • A repertoire of core works keeps students engaged as the learn music fundamentals. Students revisit works throughout the text, deepening their understanding each time a composition returns.

About the Author(s)

Joseph N. Straus is a Distinguished Professor of Music Theory at the City of New York Graduate Center.

Table of Contents


    Chapter 1 Pitch
    Lesson 1: Staff
    The five-line staff, pitches and notes, noteheads, ascending and descending motion,
    steps and leaps, ledger lines

    Lesson 2: Keyboard
    Piano keyboard, black and white keys, letter names for notes, steps and leaps, octaves, piano fingering
    Lesson 3: Treble clef
    Treble clef, accidentals (sharp, flat, and natural), semitones, enharmonic equivalence
    Lesson 4: Bass clef
    Bass clef, accidentals (sharp, flat, natural), semitones
    Lesson 5: Great staff
    Great staff
    Chapter 1: Supplementary Lesson
    Alto clef, tenor clef, octave signs (8va and 8vb), octave designations, double flats, and double sharps
    Chapter 1: Self-Test

    Chapter 2 Rhythm and Meter
    Lesson 6: Quarter notes, half notes, and whole notes in 4/4 meter
    Quarter notes, half notes, whole notes, stems, beats, measures (bars) and barlines, meter ("common time"), upbeat, downbeat, accent, conducting patterns, tempo
    Lesson 7: Eighth notes and sixteenth notes
    Eighth notes and sixteenth notes, flags, beams
    Lesson 8: Dots and ties
    Augmentation dot, dotted rhythms, ties, anacrusis
    Lesson 9: Rests
    Lesson 10: Duple meter
    2/4 and 2/2 meter, upbeat, downbeat, conducting patterns
    Lesson 11: Triple meter
    3/4 meter and its conducting pattern
    Lesson 12: Compound meter
    Compound meter, 6/8 meter, and its conducting pattern
    Lesson 13: Syncopation
    Syncopation, accent marks, ties, and subdivision
    Chapter 2: Supplementary Lesson
    Stem direction, anacrusis, rhythmic values smaller than a sixteenth note, triplets, other duple, triple, and quadruple meters
    Chapter 2: Self-Test

    Chapter 3 Major and Minor Scales
    Lesson 14: Major scale (C major)
    Major scale, arrangement of semitones and whole tones, scale-degree numbers, scale-degree names, solfège syllables
    Lesson 15: Major scales other than C major
    Transposition, major scales with sharps, major scales with flats, circle of fifths
    Lesson 16: Major keys and key signatures
    Major keys and key signatures
    Lesson 17: Minor scale (A minor)
    Minor scale, arrangement of semitones and whole tones, scale-degree numbers, scale-degree names, solfège syllables, and raising scale-degrees
    Lesson 18: Minor scales other than A minor
    Transposition, minor scales with sharps, minor scales with flats, circle of fifths
    Lesson 19: Minor keys and key signatures
    Minor keys, minor key signatures, relative keys, parallel keys
    Lesson 20: Harmonic and melodic minor
    Harmonic minor and melodic minor scales
    Chapter 3: Supplementary Lesson
    Modes and the pentatonic scale
    Chapter 3: Self-Test

    Chapter 4 Intervals
    Lesson 21: Interval size
    Intervals, melodic and harmonic intervals, interval size, compound intervals
    Lesson 22: Seconds and thirds
    Interval quality, natural intervals, major and minor intervals, diminished and augmented intervals, enharmonically equivalent intervals
    Lesson 23: Sixths and Sevenths
    Sixths and sevenths, enharmonically equivalent intervals, interval inversion
    Lesson 24: Fourths and fifths, unisons and octaves
    Perfect intervals, fourths and fifths, unisons and octaves, interval inversion, enharmonically equivalent intervals
    Lesson 25: Intervals in a major key
    Intervals in a major key, intervals and scale degrees, consonance and dissonance
    Lesson 26: Intervals in a minor key
    Intervals in a minor key, intervals and scale degrees
    Chapter 4: Supplementary Lesson
    All intervals, doubly diminished and doubly augmented intervals, intervals in harmonic and melodic minor
    Chapter 4: Self-Test

    Chapter 5 Triads and Seventh Chords
    Lesson 27: Triads
    Triads (root, third, and fifth), triad qualities (major, minor, diminished, augmented), natural triads, chord symbols
    Lesson 28: Triads in inversion
    Soprano and bass, inversion of triads (root position, first inversion, second inversion), figured bass ( , , )
    Lesson 29: Triads in major keys
    Triad names, Roman numerals, triad qualities in major keys
    Lesson 30: Triads in minor keys
    Triad names, Roman numerals, triad qualities in minor keys, and the effect of raising the leading tone
    Lesson 31: Seventh chords
    Seventh chords, major-minor (dominant) seventh chords, inversions of seventh chords, dominant seventh chords in major and minor keys, figured bass symbols, chord names
    Chapter 5: Supplementary Lesson
    Qualities of seventh chords, natural seventh chords, inversions of seventh chords, and seventh chords in major and minor keys
    Chapter 5: Self-Test

    Chapter 6 Harmony and Form
    Lesson 32: Tonic and dominant
    Harmonic progression, tonic harmony, dominant and dominant seventh harmonies, harmonizing a melody
    Lesson 33: Extending a harmonic progression
    Dominant preparation chords (ii and IV), preceding a dominant preparation chord (vi), and moving directly from IV to I
    Lesson 34: Phrase and cadence
    Phrase, authentic cadence, half cadence, and plagal cadence
    Lesson 35: Form
    Combining four-measure phrases into longer groupings (eight-, twelve-, and sixteen-measure periods) and song forms (A-B-A and A-A-B-A)
    Chapter 6: Supplementary Lesson
    Nonharmonic tones, doubling, tendency tones, voice-leading smoothness, and parallel fifths and octaves


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