Harmony Core

The harmony core, in combination with arranging, ear trainingconductingtonal harmony and counterpoint, and music technology courses, will provide you with a broad-based musical vocabulary, important skills for your major studies, and a well-rounded musical background. Every entering student is placed into harmony courses based on the proficiencies, skills, and knowledge demonstrated on the harmony section of the Entering Student Proficiency Assessment.

For more harmony information, also see the Glossary of Terms Used and Recommended Reading List.

The Harmony and Jazz Composition Department also offers a minor and several elective courses. See a full list of department course offerings.


Entrance Requirements

All students are required to take harmony courses, but entering students are placed into one of the four harmony courses based on the proficiencies, skills, and knowledge they demonstrate on the Entering Student Proficiency Assessment (ESPA).  

You may earn advance placement beyond the first course—PW-111 Music Theory and Application—by achieving a satisfactory score on the Harmony and Arranging portions of the ESPA. 

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this program, students will:

  1. Develop literacy in the fundamentals of contemporary music theory (note identification, intervals, chord spelling to the 13th, scale construction including (diatonic scales, modes, non-diatonic scales);
  2. Recognize the basic chord progressions of contemporary popular music (major diatonic with chromatic embellishments, minor diatonic with chromatic embellishments, modal with chromatic embellishments) in written form;
  3. Analyze the chord progressions of popular songs in a variety of styles by employing Roman numeral and graphical analysis;
  4. Express harmonic functions as chord scales and notate them correctly;
  5. Reduce a written musical arrangement to a lead sheet using standard chord symbols;
  6. Realize harmony represented by standard chord symbols in written form through a variety of voice leading techniques (i.e. 4-way close, guide tone lines, spread voicings, hybrids, etc.);
  7. Analyze the harmonic implications of a given melody;
  8. Harmonize a given melody in a variety of popular styles; and
  9. Compose an original melody and accompanying chord progressions in a variety of popular styles.
Curriculum and Courses

Every student must complete at least one harmony course and complete the curriculum through Harmony 4.

First-semester students with advanced placement through the ESPA are given credit for the preceding level(s) once they have successfully completed the level in which they are first enrolled. For example, a student with advanced placement in HR-112 Harmony 2 is given credit for that course and PW-111 Music Application and Theory upon successful completion of HR-112 Harmony 2.

Besides the required four semesters of basic harmony, the department offers electives for those interested in furthering their studies:

  • HR-325 Reharmonization Techniques
  • HR-261 The Music of the Beatles
  • HR-351 The Solo Careers of the Beatles
  • HR-335 Advanced Harmonic Concepts
  • HR-345 Advanced Modal Harmony
  • HR-241 Harmony in Brazilian Song
  • MLAN-251 The Blues: Analysis and Application
  • HR-355 The Music of the Yellowjackets
  • HR-361 World Music Elements for the Contemporary Musician
  • PW-165 The Creative Flame