Harmony Courses

HR-511

3 credit(s)
Course Chair: Casey Driessen (Valencia), Marco Pignataro (Boston)
Semesters Offered: Spring, Summer
Required of: None; elective course in all graduate programs
Electable by: All graduate students
Prerequisites: Written approval of program director
Department Code: HARM
Location: Valencia (Spain) Campus

This course is a study of the pervasive harmonic language and techniques of popular American song. The goal of this course is to foster an understanding of the harmonic ideas that have carried American music through the latter half of the last century, and to discover harmonic alternatives to the traditional tonal systems that pervade American popular music of this time. Students come to understand the contextual relationship between melody and harmony through observation of different song forms from different styles of popular music, including show tunes, jazz standards, blues, rock/pop/R&B, and through-composed works in the jazz idiom. Harmonic options, both diatonic and otherwise, will be observed through study of the scale(s) that relate to the chord/tonality of the moment.

HR-P365

2 credit(s)
Course Chair: George Russell Jr.
Semesters Offered: Fall, Spring
Required of: None
Electable by: All
Prerequisites: HR-211 and ET-112
Department Code: HARM
Location: Boston Campus

The Music of Stevie Wonder is a harmony-driven course that builds on the Berklee core music curriculum foundation by examining the evolution of Wonder's music at a granular level. Topics covered include Wonder's harmonic language, melodic principles and use of melisma, lyrical approaches, and the ways in which these elements support the narrative structure of his compositions. Additional topics considered include recording and production techniques, use of technology, business-related issues, and biographical details.

MLAN-251

2 credit(s)
Course Chair: George Russell Jr.
Semesters Offered: Fall, Spring
Required of: None
Electable by: All
Prerequisites: HR-211
Department Code: HARM
Location: Boston Campus

A study of the evolution of the blues, combined with compositional application of various blues styles. Historical study focusing on the blues as a complete and complex form as well as the basic foundation for other styles. Analysis includes examination of harmonic movement, rhythmic and melodic construction, and lyric content.

PW-111

4 credit(s)
Course Chair: George Russell Jr.
Semesters Offered: Fall, Spring, Summer
Required of: All
Electable by: All
Prerequisites: None
Department Code: HARM
Location: Boston Campus, Valencia (Spain) Campus

This course is a study of popular music. This study begins with the aural analysis of contemporary songs, including bass motion, chord function, and aspects of the rhythm section. It leads to understanding the bass line, harmony, and rhythmic structure of these songs and creation of original pieces in major key and Aeolian mode (natural minor). Keyboard exercises, written homework assignments, and laptop computer drills provide extensive practice in musical and notational elements. Students learn to read and write major and natural minor scales in all keys and learn triads and seventh chords diatonic to those scales. The course provides exposure to chromatic variations on major key harmony: the principles of secondary dominants and modal interchange are studied in limited situations to add color and variety to diatonic harmony. These activities will decode the melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic language of most of contemporary popular music and set the stage for a detailed study of more complex and chromatic music in Harmony 2, 3, and 4.

 

PW-165

2 credit(s)
Course Chair: George Russell Jr.
Semesters Offered: Fall, Spring
Required of: None
Electable by: All
Prerequisites: AR-111, ET-112, and HR-112
Department Code: HARM
Location: Boston Campus

This course looks at proven methods that help individuals chisel out their own system in order to ignite their creative flame and sustain their creativity. It examines some of the commonalities, both good and bad, that occur for artists while they are engaged in their creative process. Through experimentation with various creative approaches and tools, as well as reflective practice, students will learn to apply these methods to musical composition and performance. As the course is process-oriented, the experiences and knowledge gained can be transferred into other classroom settings, as well as other aspects of students' lives.

PW-461

2 credit(s)
Course Chair: George Russell Jr.
Semesters Offered: Fall, Spring
Required of: None
Electable by: All
Prerequisites: SW-345
Department Code: HARM
Location: Boston Campus

The course allows students to study the screenplays and songwriting of a variety of film musicals from the beginning of the genre to the present. In addition to focusing on the writing of the musical film, the manner in which song assists in telling the story will be of particular interest. Working in groups, screenwriting students from Emerson will complete an outline and first act of an original screenplay, and composer/lyricist students from Berklee will write the songs that will help tell that story. The semester will culminate in a staged reading—with music—performed by acting/musical theater students from both Berklee and Emerson.

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