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Music Theory 201: Harmony and Function

Author: Paul Schmeling | Course Code: OHARM-201

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Continuing on from the concepts presented in Music Theory 101, this course will further develop your background in music theory and provide you with the foundational knowledge you'll need to be a more effective writer and player. You'll master the fundamental concepts of rhythm and harmony - and learn more complex chords, progressions, and rhythms that will open up your understanding of the elements that together contribute to put the groove in jazz, pop, blues, and rock. You'll study topics including rhythmic anticipations and related notation issues; articulation markings; diatonic triads and seventh chords in both major and harmonic minor; harmonic function; the II V I chord progression; some additional chord types; melodic and harmonic tension; and the blues form and style. You'll understand why chords move from one to another the way they do; and learn to better analyze and write harmonic progressions and different rhythmic styles. Through ear training exercises, musical examples, and personalized feedback from your instructor, you'll be able to analyze, read, write, and listen more effectively ­ as well as understand the fundamental knowledge essential to the beginning studies of harmony.

By the end of this course, you will:

Understand rhythmic anticipation and articulationsUnderstand diatonic triads and seventh chords in major and harmonic minorUnderstand the II V I chord progressionUnderstand the melodic and harmonic use of tensionsUnderstand the blues form and style

Lesson 1: The Imaginary Bar Line

The Imaginary Bar LineNote Values Smaller than the Half NoteRest Values and the Imaginary Bar Line

Lesson 2: Diatonic Triads and Seventh Chords in Major

The Construction of Diatonic TriadsDiatonic Seventh Chords

Lesson 3: The Harmonic Function of Diatonic Chords

The Terms Tonic, Subdominant, and DominantHarmonic CadencesThe IImin7 V7 IMaj7 Progression

Lesson 4: Additional Chord Types

Two Additional Dominant 7 ChordsTwo Additional Major ChordsTwo Additional Minor Chords

Lesson 5: Harmonic Function and Voice Leading of Additional Chord Types

The Major and Minor 6th ChordsThe Minor and Augmented Major 7th ChordsThe Augmented 7th and Dominant 7(sus4)

Lesson 6: Diatonic Chords in Harmonic Minor

Diatonic Chords in Harmonic MinorDiatonic Function in Harmonic MinorThe II V7 I Progression in Minor

Lesson 7: The Upper Structures of Harmony/Tensions

The Theory of TensionsAltered TensionsThe Melodic Use of Tensions

Lesson 8: The Harmonic Use of Tensions

Substituting the 9th for the RootSubstituting the 13th for the 5thUsing Altered TensionsUsing the 11th

Lesson 9: The Rhythmic Anticipation and Articulations

The Rhythmic AnticipationShort Durational Value AnticipationsArticulation Markings

Lesson 10: Simple Binary Song Form

Examples of Simple Binary FormOther Types of Variation and Contrast

Lesson 11: The Blues Form and Style

The Blues FormThe Blues Style and Its Effect on HarmonyThe Blues Style and Its Effect on Melody

Lesson 12: A Closer Look at the Dominant Seventh Chord

Voice Leading Dominant Seventh Chords with TensionsStripping the Dominant Seventh Chord down to the BasicsAdding a Third Voice to the Dominant Seventh Chord

Paul Schmeling

Author & Instructor

Paul Schmeling is a master pianist, interpreter, improviser and arranger who has inspired countless students since he began teaching at Berklee in 1961. He has performed or recorded with jazz greats such as Clark Terry, Rebecca Parris, George Coleman, Carol Sloane, Frank Foster, Art Farmer, Herb Pomeroy, Phil Wilson, Dick Johnson and Slide Hampton. In the 1990s, the Paul Schmeling Trio released two inventive and critically acclaimed albums, interpreting the music of Hoagy Carmichael and songs associated with Frank Sinatra. Recently retired as chair of the piano department, he is co-author of the Berklee Practice Method: Keyboard (2001) and Instant Keyboard (2002) and the author of Berklee Music Theory: Book 1.

Alizon Lissance


An assistant professor in Berklee's Harmony department since 1997, Alizon Lissance is a well-rounded musician with decades of experience as a multi-keyboard player, vocalist, songwriter, and arranger. She has earned regional and national accolades, ranging from critical acclaim in Musician Magazine to receiving a Boston Music Award as "Outstanding Keyboardist" in 1991.

In 2005 Lissance released the CD So What About You, an eclectic collection of original material. She is a founding member of The Love Dogs, an established jump/swing rhythm & blues band that has released four CDs and has been touring in North America and Europe since 1994. She also keeps busy with freelance recording and performing engagements.

As an alumnus and faculty member of the Berklee College of Music, Lissance is thrilled to be a part of the extension school providing the "Berklee Experience" to people who might not otherwise have that opportunity.

To learn more about Lissance, including her performance schedule, visit www.alizonmusic.com

Russell Hoffmann


Russell Hoffmann is Assistant Professor of Piano at Berklee College of Music and is a pianist, recording artist, composer and arranger in many styles of contemporary music, including jazz, Latin, and pop styles. He has served as musical director for Concord recording artist Marlena Shaw and the University of Minnesota's "Twelve Moods for Jazz" Langston Hughes project. He has performed with many jazz luminaries, including Jack McDuff, James Moody, Billy Hart, Donald Harrison, Bobbie McFerrin, Peter Lietch, and many of Boston's finest jazz artists. As a clinician, Russ has appeared in Berklee's Italy summer program, Umbria Jazz Festival, Perugia, Italy; Berklee in Taipei; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Heineken Jazz Fest, San Juan, Puerto Rico; and the Berklee Annual Jazz Festival. He is the author of workbooks on keyboard comping, ensemble performance, and co-author of the Berklee Practice Method: Keyboard.

Completion of the Berklee Online course Music Theory 101 or equivalent knowledge and experience.

Do you have the pre-requisite knowledge required for this course?

Take our self-assessment quiz to find out!

None required.

PC Web Browser: Firefox (Recommended), Chrome, Internet Explorer 10 or higherMac Web Browser: Firefox (Recommended), Chrome, SafariFlash Player: current versionQuickTime: current versionAdobe Reader: current versionNoteflight Crescendo. Upon enrolling in the course, you will be offered an academic discount on this online notation tool.
OS X 10.5 or higherIntel Mac1 GB RAM500 MB hard drive space recommendedSpeakers or headphones for your computer800X600 minimum monitor resolutionInternet connection or CD-ROM drive (for installation)
Windows Vista SP2 or higherIntel Pentium 4 or higher1 GB RAM500 MB hard drive space recommendedSound cardSpeakers or headphones for your computer800X600 minimum monitor resolutionInternet connection or CD-ROM drive (for installation)
  • Level
  • Duration
    12 weeks
  • 3-Credit Tuition
  • or
  • Non-Credit Tuition Add 6 CEUs
    $1,200 + $25

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Enroll by December 1 to save up to $200 on select Music Production, Songwriting, Music Business, and Performance courses.