Harmony 2

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Authored by Steven Kirby, George W Russell Jr.


Course Code: OHARM-212

Next semester starts January 8, 2024

Level 2

Level 2

3-Credit Tuition


Non-Credit Tuition


Are you prepared to enroll in Harmony 2?

Take the self-assessment quiz to check your readiness for this material.

If you want a harmony/theory learning experience which is closely modeled on the Berklee campus curriculum and teaching techniques, this is the course for you! Course authors, Harmony Department Chair George Russell Jr. and Assistant Professor Steven Kirby both have 16 + years of experience teaching the contemporary Harmony and Theory curriculum at Berklee’s Boston campus and are current members of the faculty and administration there.

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Harmony 2 involves an in-depth exploration of both major and minor key contemporary harmony. The course reinforces diatonic harmony study but goes much further by introducing topics which extend beyond the diatonic, including secondary and extended dominants, modal interchange (borrowing chords from a parallel scale or key), and blues melody and harmony. Harmony 2 also expands on the study of melodic construction and motivic development and builds on the principles of linear harmonic continuity (voice leading) while introducing the concept of guide tones. The modal interchange portion of the curriculum puts particular emphasis on major key borrowing from parallel minor and use of tonic minor (TM) and subdominant minor (SDM) functions in major keys with additional mention of other minor key functions.

You’ll explore melodic rhythm, harmonic rhythm, form, melody/harmony relationships, blues theory, and concepts which promote the creation of effective chord progressions and complete compositions in both major and minor keys.

Through the use of notated music, aural examples, books, discussion, performance, and regular class assignments, you will be able to identify, notate, analyze, and implement the musical elements outlined in the course topic list. You will demonstrate these abilities by way of quizzes, midterms and final exams, weekly projects and regular class assignments.

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Analyze, compose, and arrange music using primary course concepts and skills including harmonic function, secondary dominants and related II chords, minor key harmony, modal interchange, and approach notes
  • Perform on keyboard in steady tempo the given keyboard assignments which apply primary course concepts including guide tones, shell voicings, three-way close, four-way close, tensions and tension substitution, secondary dominants, related II chords, minor key harmony, modal interchange and blues form, and harmony
  • Aural recognition of primary course concepts including harmonic function, diatonic chords in major and minor keys, secondary dominants, and common modal interchange chords
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Overview Syllabus Requirements Instructors
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Lesson 1: Review of Music Application and Theory Class Material

  • Intervals and Key Signatures
  • Diatonic Chords and Analysis
  • Harmonic Function
  • Voice Leading
  • Keyboard Corner: Introduction
  • Assignment 1.1: Analyze and Play “My Girl”
  • Assignment 1.2: Diagnostic Test

Lesson 2: Harmonic Function and Secondary Dominants

  • Tone Tendencies
  • Melody Corner: Open and Closed Phrases
  • Harmonic Function Continued
  • Harmonic Rhythm
  • Keyboard Corner: A and E Major and all Seven Diatonic 7th Chords
  • Assignment 2: Using Harmonic Function to Achieve Richer Harmony

Lesson 3: Secondary Dominants and Guide Tones

  • Review: Harmonic Function, Tone Tendencies, Keyboard Basics
  • Harmonic Cadences
  • Continued Exploration of Secondary Dominant Chords
  • Guide Tones
  • Motifs and Phrase
  • Keyboard Corner: Sound and Role of 3rds and 7ths
  • Assignment 3: Analyzing Secondary Dominants

Lesson 4: Related II’s, Tensions and Secondary Dominants

  • Review: Secondary Dominants, Guide Tones, Harmonic Cadences
  • Tensions
  • Related II’s
  • Melody Corner: Repetition and Diatonic Sequence
  • Keyboard Corner: Playing Major 7th, Dominant 7ths, and Minor 7ths
  • Assignment 4: Composing with Secondary Dominants

Lesson 5: Extended Dominants, Deceptive Resolutions and Tensions

  • Review: Tensions, Related II’s, Secondary Dominants, Diatonic Sequence
  • Extended Dominants
  • Deceptive Resolutions
  • Melody Corner: Exact Sequence
  • Keyboard Corner: Playing Major 7th, Dominant 7ths, and Minor 7ths
  • Assignment 5: Adding Secondary Dominants

Lesson 6: Minor Key Harmony (Part 1)

  • Review: Extended Dominants, Deceptive Resolutions, Diatonic vs. Exact Sequences
  • Minor Key Harmony Introduction
  • Composite Minor
  • Harmonic Functions in Minor
  • Keyboard Corner: Continuation of Playing Major 7th, Dominant 7ths, and Minor 7ths
  • Melody Corner: Diatonic Inversion
  • Assignment 6: Analyzing a Minor Key Song

Lesson 7: Minor Key Harmony (Part 2)

  • Review: Composite Minor Scales and Harmonic Functions in Minor Key
  • Minor Key Harmony (Part 2)
  • Line Cliché
  • Melody Corner: Retrograde
  • Keyboard Corner: Continuation of Playing Major 7th, Dominant 7ths, and Minor 7th
  • Assignment 7: Compose a Minor Key Melody

Lesson 8: Modal Interchange and Additional Voicing Techniques

  • Review: Minor Key Harmony, Functions, and Line Cliché
  • Modal Interchange
  • Four-Way Close Voicing
  • Melody Corner: Retrograde Inversion
  • Keyboard Corner: Replace the 5th with Tension 13 
  • Assignment 8: Applying Modal Interchange to a Chord Progression and Melody

Lesson 9: Melody and Approach Notes

  • Review: Modal Interchange Chords, Four-Way Voice Leading
  • How Melody Works
  • Approach Notes
  • Melody Corner: Interval Expansion/Contraction, Augmentation/Diminution, and Elision/Truncation
  • Keyboard Corner: Common Progressions with Four-way Close Voicings
  • Assignment 9: Write, Analyze, and Record a Melody

Lesson 10: Blues

  • Review: Approach Notes and Three Melody Tools
  • Review of Basic Blues
  • Variations of Commonly used Blues Progressions
  • Melody Corner: Blues Melody
  • Keyboard Corner: 12-Bar Blues Progression Voice Leading
  • Assignment 10: 12-Bar Blues Composition

Lesson 11: Review and Prepare for Final Project

  • Review of Diatonic Harmony, Tensions, and Guide Tones
  • Review of Secondary Dominants and Related II’s
  • Review of Melody Concepts and Approach Tones
  • Overview of Final Exam
  • Three Stave Score
  • Assignment 11: Practice Version of Final Exam

Lesson 12: Review and Prepare for Final Project

  • Review of Minor Key Harmony
  • Review of Modal Interchange
  • Review of Cadence
  • Overview of Final Keyboard Exam
  • Assignment 12.1: Final Written Exam
  • Assignment 12.2: Final Keyboard Exam
  • Assignment 12.3: Final Project


Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

Prerequisite Courses, Knowledge, and/or Skills
Completion of Music Theory and Composition 1 or equivalent knowledge and experience is required.


  • Harmony 2 Textbook for HR-112, 3rd Edition by Joe Mulholland & Tom Hojnacki. More info about purchasing this textbook (~$25) will be available after enrolling.
  • Study Supplement for Harmony 2, 3rd Edition by Joe Mulholland & Tom Hojnacki. More info about purchasing this textbook (~$25) will be available after enrolling.


  • Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) or multi-track audio editor/recorder. Free options, such as GarageBand (Mac), Cakewalk by BandLab (PC), or Audacity, are acceptable.
  • Notation software, such as Finale, Sibelius, Dorico, MuseScore (free), etc.


  • A piano or keyboard instrument


  • Scanner or digital camera to convert handwritten notation into PDF format

Student Deals
After enrolling, be sure to check out our Student Deals page for various offers on software, hardware, and more. Please contact support@online.berklee.edu 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


Steven Kirby

Author & Instructor

Guitarist, composer, educator Steven Kirby (“a guitarist of rippling technique and a poetic mind”- Downbeat) has built a reputation for performing exciting, melodic, lyrical and expressive jazz as well as being active as a performer in other contemporary styles. He has appeared on over 20 released recordings including three as a leader “Point Of Balance” and “North Light” (both on Challenge Records)—and “Illuminations” (on WCS records). “Illuminations” received Downbeat Magazine’s “Editors Pick” award. He has performed and/or recorded with many of today’ most respected contemporary musicians including Chris Potter, Mike Manieri (Steps Ahead), Joe Lovano, Steve Hunt, Allan Holdsworth, Matt Malley (of Counting Crows) and others. He has toured in the U.S., Canada, Caribbean, Europe, China and Africa.

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Kirby’s music has been played on over 100 radio stations in the US and internationally including features on NPR’s “Here and Now”, “Jazz with Bob Parlocha” and “Eric in the Evening”.

His jazz compositions have won awards in the International Songwriting Competition, the Billboard Song Contest and Downbeat. He is a graduate of Berklee College of Music and has a Masters degree in Jazz Composition and Arranging from University of Massachusetts  (Amherst). He is currently on the music faculty at 3 institutions of higher education: Berklee College of Music, Brandeis University, Wellesley College. Read Less

George W Russell Jr.

Author & Instructor

A native of Pittsburgh, PA, inspirational Jazz Pianist George W. Russell, Jr. is a performer, a composer, and an educator. His performances range from a solo piano, to a groove-oriented jazz trio, to a soulful, fresh-sounding larger ensemble that arouses the listener's intellect and, most importantly, touches their soul. His playing is filled with passion, fire, soul, and most of all, spirit.

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Currently George is the Chair of the Harmony and Jazz Composition Department at the Berklee College of Music. Prior to becoming chair, he served as a professor of Harmony and Piano at Berklee. George has been awarded the Ted Pease Award for Excellence in Teaching, along with the Curriculum Development Award for the Writing Division. George has also been recognized with the highest award that Berklee gives to faculty, the Most Distinguished Faculty Award.

He graduated with his B.S. from Duquesne University and his M.M. from the New England Conservatory of Music. Russell has performed with Stanley Clarke, George Duke, Ernie Isley, Cecil McBee, Semenya McCord, Bob Moses, Tiger Okoshi, Billy Pierce, Richard Smallwood, Stan Strickland, and Lenny White. Read Less


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

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