Getting Inside Harmony 1


Authored by Michael Rendish


Course Code: OHARM-110

Next Semester Starts January 11, 2021

Level 1

Level 1

3-Credit Tuition


Non-Credit Tuition


You've been in music for years. You know how to play, but you're ready for more. Getting Inside Harmony 1 will help you with the next step: learning harmony so that you hear and recognize chord progressions and use them creatively in your playing and writing. Through a combination of activities—listening, thinking, visualizing, vocalizing, writing, and playing—you'll open your ears and deepen your understanding of the inner workings of harmony in a broad range of contemporary styles. You'll find that you learn songs more easily and can transpose them on sight. And you'll be able to equip yourself with the best chord scale choices for arranging and improvising. Mastering the mechanics of harmony's chord progression patterns is an indispensable tool for both players and writers, and will help improvisers, composers, and arrangers deepen their understanding of the inner workings of a broad range of contemporary styles including standard tunes, popular music and jazz.

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By the end of this course, you will:

  • Recognize different chord types and standard chord progression patterns
  • Find the notes that work best (as melody and as harmony) with each chord in the progression
  • Create keyboard accompaniment voicings that will allow you to learn and experiment with any chord progression.
  • Improvise effectively from chord to chord
  • Spot and repair faulty or incomplete chord progressions often found on many lead sheets
  • Modify the chord progression in a way that will enhance the character of the music and reflect your own musical expression
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Overview Syllabus Requirements Instructors
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Lesson 1: Foundation 1: Building Major Scales

  • Introduction
  • The Major Scale
  • Intervals
  • Constructing the Major Scale by Scale Formula
  • Assignment 1: Build the Major Scales
  • Discussion
  • Recap

Lesson 2: Foundation 2: Exploring the Scale Neighborhood

  • Introduction
  • Exploring the Scale Neighborhood
  • Workshop: Experiencing Scale Degree Personalities
  • Find Your Personal Range
  • Assignment 2: Scale Visualization
  • Recap

Lesson 3: Diatonic Triads

  • Introduction
  • Standard Chord Symbols
  • Interval Formulas for Triads
  • Workshop: Identifying the Triads
  • Building Triads on Random Roots
  • Assignment 3: Building Diatonic Triads in Seven KeysDiscussion
  • Recap

Lesson 4: Triads: Open vs. Closed

  • Introduction
  • Recognizing Triads in Various Positions
  • Workshop: Visually Identify Triads in Various Positions
  • Roman Numeral Nomenclature
  • Workshop: Identify Chord Key--RN With One Unknown
  • Assignment 4: Triads
  • Recap

Lesson 5: Building Seventh Chords

  • Introduction
  • Seventh Chords
  • Workshop: Seventh Chord Identification on All Scale Degrees
  • Build Seventh Chords on Random Roots
  • Assignment 5: Build Diatonic Sevenths on All Scale Degrees in Keys to 3b and 3#
  • Discussion
  • Recap

Lesson 6: Seventh Chords: Open vs. Closed

  • Introduction
  • Recognizing Sevenths in Various Positions
  • Workshop: Visually Identify Seventh Chords in Various Positions
  • Roman Numeral Nomenclature
  • Workshop: Identify Chord Key--RN With One Unknown
  • Assignment 6: Sevenths
  • Discussion
  • Recap

Lesson 7: Building Altered Chords

  • Introduction
  • Chord Construction Using the Major Scale
  • Workshop: Chord Spelling Using Alteration Formulas
  • Standard Chord Symbol Chart
  • Workshop: Chord Spelling on Non-Major Scale Roots
  • Assignment: Chord Spelling
  • Recap

Lesson 8: Working from the Ribs: Building Diatonic Chord Scales

  • Introduction
  • Note Tendencies in Diatonic Chord Scales
  • Workshop: Experiencing Fa ->Mi
  • Workshop: Experiencing Ti -> Do
  • Note Tendencies Involving Major Seconds and Minor Seconds
  • Assignment: Note Tendencies
  • Recap

Lesson 9: Exploring Relative Do, Part 1

  • Introduction
  • Relative Do
  • Lead Sheet Analysis Procedure
  • Assignment: Analyze Two Given Lead Sheets
  • Recap

Lesson 10: Exploring Relative Do, Part 2

  • Introduction
  • Relative Do
  • Assignment: Find Relative Do in Examples
  • Assignment: Find Relative Do in Audio
  • Assignment: Transcribe a Favorite song
  • Recap

Lesson 11: Recognizing Diatonic Chords

  • Introduction
  • Aural Recognition of Diatonic Chords
  • Workshop: Analysis
  • Melody/Harmony Relationship
  • Assignment: Recognize Diatonic Chords
  • Recap

Lesson 12: Keyboard Voicing and Voice Leading

  • Introduction
  • Keyboard Voicing (Basic)
  • Workshop: Analyze Form KBD Voicings
  • Voice Leading: Guide Tone Lines
  • Assignment: Voicing
  • Recap


Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

This course does not have any prerequisites.

Required Textbook(s)

  •  None required

Software Requirements

  • Finale NotePad, Finale (full version), or MuseScore
  • A basic audio recording tool that will allow you to record yourself and save the recording in MP3 format. You will have a tool to use for this purpose inside the learning environment. Alternatively, you can use software like Audacity (PC) or GarageBand (Mac)

Hardware Requirements

  • A piano keyboard
  • A built-in microphone or an external microphone plugged directly into your computer (via built in ports or an external audio interface)

After enrolling, please check the Getting Started section of your course for potential deals on required materials. Our Student Deals page also features several discounts you can take advantage of as a current student. Please contact for any questions.

General Course Requirements

Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in live chats. Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course. 

Mac Users

PC Users

All Users

  • Latest version of  Google Chrome
  • Zoom meeting software (available in the course when joining your first chat)
  • Webcam
  • Speakers or headphones
  • External or internal Microphone
  • Broadband Internet connection



Author & Instructor

Michael Rendish is the former Assistant Chair of Berklee College of Music's Film Scoring Department. A gifted performer and award-winning writer, he has composed, orchestrated, and conducted some thirty film scores, including Faces of Freedom, A Place of Dreams, and Yorktown, and the five-part PBS series America by Design. He was the composer for Academy Award nominee, The Klan: A Legacy of Hate in America, and arranger and guest conductor of the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra of the 50th Jubilee Concert in honor of the King of Thailand. In his more than thirty-five years at Berklee, he has been continually active in developing much of the world's finest talent in contemporary popular music. He was the founding chair of Berklee's Harmony Department, and has authored and taught courses at all levels of traditional, contemporary, and jazz arranging/composition. He was also the founding chair of the electronic music program, the major that introduced music synthesis to Berklee. Michael's passion for harmony in contemporary music is the driving force behind the course "Getting Inside Harmony."



Steve Rochinski is a Professor in the Harmony Department at Berklee College of Music. An accomplished guitarist, recording artist, and internationally known performer and clinician, Steve has received numerous grants and awards including a 1993 Jazz Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts for private study with Tal Farlow.

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Before coming to Berklee, Steve toured for many years, and in his travels has worked with the Candoli Brothers, Tal Farlow, Attila Zoller, Jimmy Raney, Tim Hagans, Pat Harbison, Gary Foster, Hank Marr, Brad Goode, Scott Lee, Joe Hunt, Chuck Redd, Richard Evans, and Tony Tillman. In 1995, Steve released his critically acclaimed debut CD Until Further Notice (LineOut Music/North Country Dist.). He currently records for Jardis Records, Germany's leading jazz guitar label. His releases include A Bird in the Hand (JRCD9922) and Otherwise (JRCD20033).

He is the author of the award-winning The Jazz Style of Tal Farlow: The Elements of Bebop Guitar and The Motivic Basis for Jazz Guitar Improvisation (Hal Leonard Corp.). In November 2001, Steve's life and career was featured in the 7th anniversary issue of the internationally renowned magazine for jazz guitar fans, Just Jazz Guitar (No. 29, November 2001). Steve will be profiled in the next edition of the book The Jazz Guitar: Its Evolution, Players, and Personalities Since 1900 by Maurice Summerfield (Ashley Mark Publishing) and the 2005 Edition of Who's Who in America (Marquis Publishing). Read Less


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