Getting Inside Harmony 2


Authored by Michael Rendish


Course Code: OHARM-211

Next Term Starts April 8

Level 2

Level 2

3-Credit Tuition


Non-Credit Tuition


A firm harmonic foundation and the ability to aurally recognize chord progressions is indispensable to writers and arrangers, and a necessity for musicians interested in understanding the art of improvisation. Getting Inside Harmony 2 takes you to the next step in your harmonic development: you'll move beyond the standard chord patterns and harmonic progressions typically found in popular music, and gain a solid footing in more advanced principles including melodic and harmonic tension, chord substitution, and chromatically altered chords. You'll examine secondary dominants, diminished seventh chords (and their substitutes), standard chord patterns and their variations, minor key harmony, and modulation. You'll study the inner workings of each progression to be sure it gets into the "inner ear," and equip yourself with the most appropriate chord scale for each chord. Through keyboard chord voicings and voice-leading exercises, you'll gain an understanding of the musical tools that go beyond the demands of a particular musical style, and develop a greater sense of control in your writing - by the end of the course you'll find you're in a position to actually contribute your personal touch to the development of any number of musical styles!

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By the end of the course, you will:

  • Identify all standard chord progression patterns 
  • Be able to suggest a vast number of musical re-harmonization possibilities for each of these patterns
  • Apply appropriate chord substitution to a song's progression
  • Use a wide range of non-diatonic, chromatically altered chords 
  • Derive their appropriate chord scales
  • Work within all forms of minor key tonality
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Lesson 1: Melodic and Harmonic Tensions

  • Introduction
  • Melodic and Harmonic Tensions
  • Some Terminology Shorthand: Mode Names
  • Available Tensions
  • Recap

Lesson 2: Using Tensions to Enhance Keyboard Voicings

  • Introduction
  • Chord Progression Transcription
  • Enhanced Keyboard Voicings
  • Recap

Lesson 3: Tonic vs. Non-Tonic Chord Functions

  • Introduction
  • Diatonic Chord Function
  • Recap

Lesson 4: Basic Diatonic Substitution

  • Introduction
  • Principles of Diatonic Substitution
  • Non-Tonic Chords
  • Recap

Lesson 5: Modal Chord Progression (1): Major Modes

  • Introduction
  • Modal Chord Progression
  • What's Tonal, What's Modal?
  • Recap

Lesson 6: How Modes are Used (1)

  • Introduction
  • How are Modes Used?
  • Modal Interchange
  • Recap

Lesson 7: Modal Chord Progression (2): Minor Modes; How Modes are Used (2)

  • Introduction
  • Distinguishing Among Aeolian, Phrygian, and Dorian Modalities
  • Cadence Chords for the Minor Modes
  • Modal Progressions
  • Recap

Lesson 8: Patterns in Progression (1)

  • Introduction
  • II-7 V7 Progression in All Keys
  • II-V Progressions
  • Recap

Lesson 9: Patterns in Progression (2)

  • Introduction
  • How Does Harmonic Rhythm Figure In?
  • How to Do It?
  • Recap

Lesson 10: Modal Interchange

  • Introduction
  • Substitution or Reharmonization?
  • Taking stock...Secondary Dominants
  • Consecutive Secondary Dominants
  • Recap

Lesson 11: Minor Key Harmony (1): Harmonic Minor

  • Introduction
  • Chord Pattern Variations
  • Harmonic Minor Scale
  • Recap

Lesson 12: Minor Key Harmony (2): Melodic Minor

  • Introduction
  • Harmonic minor form of I VI II V
  • Key Changes in Minor
  • Inversions
  • Melodic Minor
  • Melodic Minor Form of "I VI II V"
  • Dominant 7th Substitution by Common Tritone
  • Recap



Completion of the Berklee Online course Getting Inside Harmony 1 or equivalent knowledge and experience.

No Required Textbook

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 or GarageBand.

Mac Users:  Finale NotePad is currently not compatible with macOS 10.12 Sierra.  It is highly recommended to not upgrade to this version if you plan on using NotePad.  If you have already upgraded to macOS Sierra, we recommend downloading MuseScore or purchasing the full Finale version at a deep discount through the Student Deals page upon enrolling in the course.  To check your OS version, click on the Apple icon in the upper-left corner of your screen and select About This Mac

Mac Users

  • OS X 10.9 Mavericks or higher (click here for system requirements)
  • Latest version of Google Chrome

Windows Users

  • Windows 7 or higher (click here for system requirements)
  • Latest version of Google Chrome

Hardware Requirements

  • Any piano keyboard
  • A built-in microphone or an external microphone plugged directly into your computer (via built in ports or an external audio interface)
  • 2 GB RAM (4 GB recommended)
  • 500 MB hard drive space
  • Speakers or headphones
  • Webcam
  • Internet connection with at least 4 Mbps download speed ( to verify or download the Speedtest by Ookla app from your mobile app store)



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."


Contact our Academic Advisors by phone at 1-866-BERKLEE (U.S.), 1-617-747-2146 (INT'L), or by email at

We can also answer basic questions in the comments below. Please note that all comments are public.