I’m a fan of the Teaching Company, which offers various introductory-level audio and video lectures in the sciences and humanities, taught by often stellar professors. Even the weaker TC courses tend to be clear and well-organized, a virtue attributable not only to the caliber of the carefully screened profs but also to the Company’s oversight. So the Teaching Company’s courses are often worth buying, especially at the frequent steep discounts, even when an university-sponsored online course on the same subject is available for free. I’ve got a few Teaching Company courses on VHS tapes, but for the last several years have been downloading audio files for my MP3 player.
I recently discovered a free set of lectures that I would have paid a TC price for: Yale’s course on appreciating music taught by Craig Wright, “Listening to Music.” I’ve listened to only a bit so far, but Wright does a great job. The principles discussed are liberally illustrated with musical samples. I’ve also read an excerpt from the textbook by Wright meant to accompany the course. It is a lucid exposition of the nature of music that includes many short exercises to help students apply the concepts being learned (to mostly classical works but also some pop).