And now for something completely different…

How about a bit of music on your iPod? UC San Diego’s spring 2009 course podcast roster has two potentially interesting music offerings.

Introduction to Western Music (feed), Colin McAllister
In the first lecture Professor Colin McAllister plays the guitar to illustrate a quick tour of musical terms (note, pitch, octave etc.). In lecture 2 he launches into the history of Western music beginning with ancient Greece and then fast forwarding to the medieval period. He plays recordings of an ancient Greek song and a medieval chant, although sadly the podcast microphone doesn’t make for a high quality listening experience. Still, the general idea comes through. The catalogue promises that the course will bring us from “the Middle Ages to the present.”

Jazz Since 1946: Freedom and Form (feed), Anthony Davis
According to the catalogue, this course will “examine the evolution of Jazz from 1943 to the present. The course will survey the contrasting and competing styles in Jazz from BEBOP to COOL to the avant garde and fusion.” So far, there isn’t much to report about this course. Only the first lecture is available and it consists mainly of a long dissonant (and low fidelity) jazz concert. The second lecture (as is too often the case with UCSD) failed to be recorded. But jazz fans may want to get started and see how this course develops.

A caveat: UCSD courses are recorded automatically and there are often technical glitches. Often you will find long stretches of empty air at the beginning of the podcast, and sometimes the microphone picks up so much static and noise that the podcast is unlistenable. Sometimes low volume is also a problem, but if you use iTunes, you can boost the volume somewhat by right-clicking on the podcast title and then choosing “get info.” Then click on the “options” tab, and you will see a control entitled “volume adjustment.”

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