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String Music Appreciation

Chung yuan Christian University via FutureLearn


Discover the fascinating stories behind stringed instruments

From Haydn and Bach in the West to Chen Gang in China, string instruments have inspired some of the world’s most powerful music and gifted composers.

On this course, you’ll examine the history of string instruments. You’ll go on to explore famous composers, and the most-celebrated Chinese classical string composition of all: the Butterfly Lovers Concerto.

Discover how violins and other instruments are made.

Learning via videos and articles, you’ll delve into individual string instruments – including their origin, history and development. You’ll explore the structure of the instrument and the impact that its shape has on the sound created.

You’ll discover the story behind Chinese instruments such as the Guzheng, Pipa, and Erhu, and learn about the history of the violin, and how it’s made.

Study the history of classical music and famous string composers

You’ll get a comprehensive introduction to the history of classical string music, and learn about legendary string composers, including Haydn, Bach, Dvořák, Vivaldi, and Kabalevsky.

You’ll be able to define the string and chamber music repertoire, including the string trio, quartet, and quintet, as well as learning about string music virtuosos.

Explore the beloved Butterfly Lovers Concerto

The Butterfly Lovers Concerto is perhaps the most well-known and influential piece of Chinese classical string music. You’ll undertake a case study on the Concerto, exploring its history and discovering what makes it so popular.

Finally, you’ll examine plucked string instruments, including the guitar, the bass, and electric string instruments, giving you a rounded and comprehensive overview of string music, advancing your critical faculties and your appreciation of these spellbinding instruments.

This course would appeal to anyone about to take up a string instrument or early in their journey of learning one, as well as people studying music theory or global music. It would also appeal to learners interested in history and music in general.


  • History and Construction of the Violin
    • Welcome to String Music Appreciation
    • The History of Violin
    • The Construction of Violin
    • The Violin's Bow
    • Violin’s Technique
  • Bowed String Instruments
    • The Viola
    • The Cello
    • Violin Family and Viol Family
    • The Double Bass
  • Special Topic: The Butterfly Lovers’ Violin Concerto
    • Butterfly Lovers’ Violin Concerto - Introduction
    • Butterfly Lovers’ Violin Concerto - I. Falling in Love
    • Butterfly Lovers’ Violin Concerto - II. Refusing to Marry
    • Butterfly Lovers’ Violin Concerto - III. Transformation to Butterfly
  • Plucked String Instruments
    • The Classical Guitar
    • The Electric Guitar
    • The Electric Bass
    • Other Plucked String Instruments: Lute Family

Taught by

Shan-Ken Chien


4.7 rating at FutureLearn based on 30 ratings

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