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 arranging courses based on the proficiencies, skills, and knowledge demonstrated on the ear training section of the Entering Student Proficiency Assessment.

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

The Harmony Department also offers a minor and several elective courses. See a full list of Harmony 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. 

What the Program Gives You

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.
Required 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-231: Harmonic Analysis of Rock Music

  • HR-261: The Music of the Beatles

  • HR-P351: John, Paul, George, and Ringo: The Solo Years

  • HR-335: Advanced Harmonic Concepts

  • HR-345: Advanced Modal Harmony

  • HR-241: Harmony in Brazilian Song

  • HR-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