Getting Inside Harmony 1


Authored by Michael Rendish


Course Code: OHARM-110

Next semester starts January 8, 2024

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 

Prerequisite Courses, Knowledge, and/or Skills
Students should have:

  • the ability to match and hold pitch with their voice
  • the ability to read music in treble and bass clefs
  • understanding of all intervals within two octaves
  • knowledge of all key signatures


  • No textbooks required


  • Students are required to record themselves 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 such as GarageBand (Mac), Audacity (PC), or any DAW.



  • A piano or keyboard instrument

Student Deals
After enrolling, be sure to check out our Student Deals page for various offers on software, hardware, and more. Please contact with 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
  • Webcam
  • Speakers or headphones
  • External or internal microphone
  • Broadband Internet connection


Michael Rendish


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."

Amy Bellamy


Keyboardist Amy Bellamy received her Master’s of Music from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. After relocating to Boston, MA in 2002, Ms. Bellamy joined the Sam Kininger Band (of Soulive and Lettuce) and toured extensively throughout the US, culminating with their critically acclaimed 2010 album release entitled Anthem (BMG Japan.) Ms. Bellamy and her husband, bassist Aaron Bellamy (The A-Beez) have led a well established 16 year Tuesday night residency at Boston’s beloved Wally’s Jazz Café.        

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The A-Beez released their debut album Never Going Back in 2015, and their 2nd album Say Goodbye was released to a sold-out audience in Boston in March of 2018. Both albums by The A-Beez showcase Amy and Aaron’s strengths as songwriters, lyricists, arrangers and producers.

Over the last decade, Ms. Bellamy has performed with Chaka Khan (for President Bill Clinton) Terri Lyne Carrington, G Love and the Juice, The Nth Power, Oleta Adams, Res, Club D’elf, Cody Chesnutt, Martin Luther, Shing02, the Harlem Gospel Choir, Bruce Bartlett, Akrobatik, Mr Lif and many more. She has shared countless bills with major artists such as Parliament Funkadelic, Morris Day and the Time, Bootsy Collins, Chick Corea and many more. As a classical accompanist, Ms. Bellamy has appeared on multiple European tours with notable performances at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France and St Mark’s Basilica in Venice, Italy.

Ms. Bellamy joined the Faculty of Berklee College of Music as an Assistant Professor in the Harmony Department in the summer of 2016. Read Less

Steve Rochinski


Steve Rochinski is an independent jazz musician, educator, recording artist, composer, arranger, and author. He is a professor emeritus of harmony and jazz composition at Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he has taught since 1984. In 2014, Steve received the Berklee Distinguished Faculty Award. He currently resides with his wife, Kathy, and their dog, Jacob, near the edge of the earth in Southeastern Massachusetts.


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