The Harmony Core Curriculum and Proficiency Assessment

Harmony classes, in combination with arranging, ear training, 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. The harmony courses are cumulative: the practice and application of topics learned early on are carried forth in each subsequent course. Every student is required to complete the curriculum through Harmony 4, and every student must complete at least one harmony (and one arranging) course. Each entering student is placed into one of the four harmony courses based on the proficiencies, skills, and knowledge demonstrated on the harmony section of the Entering Student Proficiency Assessment:

In addition to the four required core courses, the Harmony Department offers several electives, including Advanced Modal Harmony, the Music of the Yellowjackets, Harmony in Brazilian Song, Blues: Analysis and Application, Reharmonization Techniques, Advanced Harmonic Concepts, and Harmonic Analysis of Rock Music. In these electives, using the analysis skills gained in your core harmony courses to examine specific, harmonic, melodic, rhythmic, and/or voicing techniques, you would add to your own compositional "tool chest" and/or learn to compose in a particular style.

For more information about Harmony terms, see the Glossary of Terms Used in Harmony and Recommended Reading List.

Music Application and Theory

Music Application and Theory includes scale and mode construction, clefs (treble, bass, alto, tenor), key signatures, interval recognition, an introduction to melody, triads and seventh chord construction, available tensions, and the principles of diatonic progressions and analysis.


  • Music Application and Theory Workbook by Joe Mulholland and Tom Hojnacki
  • Study Supplement for Music Application and Theory by The Harmony Department

Harmony 2

Harmony 2 continues to explore major key harmony, adding the study of secondary dominants and extended dominants, linear harmonic continuity, and guide tone line construction. Minor key harmony is begun with the presentation of the diatonic chords in the natural, harmonic, and melodic minor scales. Modal interchange and blues harmony are introduced. The study of melody, form, and melody/harmony relationship is also continued.


  • Harmony 2 Workbook by Barrie Nettles
  • Study Supplement for Harmony 1 and 2 by Barbara London

Harmony 3

In Harmony 3, chord scales and their application is a major topic. In addition to continued elaboration on major and minor key harmony and modal interchange, substitute dominants, diminished chords, and modulation are introduced.


  • Harmony 3 Workbook by Barrie Nettles
  • Study Supplement for Harmony 3 and 4 by Barbara London

Harmony 4

Harmony 4 explores modal harmony and continues the application of modal interchange. Deceptive resolutions of dominant seventh chords, nondominant functioning dominant chords, compound chord construction (hybrids, inversions, and polychords), and constant structure progressions are studied.


  • Harmony 4 Workbook by Steve Rochinski
  • Study Supplement for Harmony 3 and 4 by Barbara London