Pitch. Rhythm. Scales. Intervals. Chords. Harmony. If you're serious about music, these are fundamental concepts you need to understand and master. Music Theory 101 will set you on your way. After more than 40 years at Berklee, Professor Emeritus Paul Schmeling has helped countless students build a solid base of musical knowledge. And he'll do the same for you, supported by class discussions, interactive tools, and personalized feedback that will help you put these theories into practice every day. Join our community of beginning learners for an engaging, hands-on music theory course where you'll read, write, and truly hear the elements of music like never before. Enroll today!
By the end of this course, you will:
- Read and write musical notation
- Play notes on a piano keyboard
- Use scales, intervals, and chords
- Write a melody
Lesson 1: Rhythm Part I
- Rhythmic Notation Activities
Lesson 2: Rhythm Part II
- Eighth Notes
- Beaming, Dots, and Ties
- Rhythmic Notation Tips
- Rhythmic Dictation Activity
- Rhythmic Notation Activity
Lesson 3: Pitch Notation
- ABCs of Pitch Notation
- Treble Clef Notes
- Bass Clef Notes
- Grand Staff
- Accidentals: Sharps, Flats, and Naturals
Lesson 4: Major Scales
- Half Steps and Whole Steps
- Chromatic Scales
- Whole Tone Scales
- Major Scales
- Other Major Scales
- Key Signatures
- Scales and Key Signatures
Lesson 5: Minor Scales
- The Minor Scale Sound
- The Relative Major/Minor Relationship
- Parallel Minor
- Harmonic Minor
- Melodic Minor
- The Descending Melodic Minor Scale
- The Real Melodic Minor Scale
- Minor Scale Key Signatures
Lesson 6: Intervals
- Interval Number Names
- Interval Sound
- Perfect and Major Intervals
- Major vs. Minor Intervals
- Perfect/Major vs. Diminished
- Perfect/Major vs. Augmented
- Compound Intervals
Lesson 7: Chords I: Triads
- Major Triads
- Minor Triads
- Diminished and Augmented Triads
- Chord Symbols
Lesson 8: Triad Inversions
- Triad Inversions
- Bass/Chord Theory
- Voice Leading
- Parallel and Contrary Motion
Lesson 9: Chords II: Basic Seventh Chords
- The Major Seventh Chord
- The Dominant Seventh Chord
- The Minor Seventh Chord
- The Minor 7
- The Diminished Seventh Chord
- Chord Symbols and Review
Lesson 10: Inversions and Voice: Leading of Seventh Chords
- Inversions of Basic Seventh Chords
- Positions of Basic Seventh Chords
- Voice Leading Seventh Chords
- Voice Leading: Two Ways
Lesson 11: Using the Lead Sheet
- Harmonizing the Melody
- Creating Harmonic Accompaniments
- Voice Doublings
- Increasing Activity in the Bass
Lesson 12: Melody Writing
- Making Melodic Connections
- Repeating Phrases
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.
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.
Roberta Radley is Assistant Chair in the Ear Training Department at Berklee College of Music. A Berklee graduate with a degree in composition, she joined the faculty in 1976. Since then, Radley has taught a wide range of ear training classes, using innovative methods to help students hear music more analytically, and earning recognition for Outstanding Achievement in Music Education from Berklee College of Music. Co-author of the Department Core Curriculum Ear Training 1-4 books as well as author of the Harmonic Ear Training DVD on Berklee Press, Roberta has traveled widely on behalf of Berklee, holding scholarship auditions, working with affiliated schools, and presenting seminars across the U.S. and internationally. Additionally, Roberta is an active performer as a pianist and vocalist and is an experienced private piano and voice instructor.
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.
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) (www.jardis.de).
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).
Dave Limina is an Assistant Professor in the Piano Department at Berklee College of Music, where he received the Most Valuable Contribution to the Performance Curriculum Award in 2001 for his work in developing the Hammond organ program. An experienced session keyboardist, composer, and arranger, Dave has performed with Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters, Lori McKenna, Duke Robillard, Paula Cole, Mark Murphy, Robert Lee Castleman, and the first national touring company of the Broadway musical Rent. He received Boston Music award nominations for his work with Courage Brothers, Ronnie Earl, and Mighty Sam McClain. He played keyboards on Michelle Willson's Wake Up Call, which was a Boston Music Awards winner in 2001. Dave does extensive session work in Boston and New York featuring his piano, Hammond organ, and vintage keyboard playing. He is the author of Hammond Organ Complete (Berklee Press) and the instructional video/DVD Accelerate Your Keyboard Playing. He is a monthly contributor to Keyboard magazine of Japan.
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
Michael Moyes has been working at Berklee since 2008. He studied Piano Performance and Business and has a Master Certificate in Arranging and Orchestration. Michael has performed piano as a soloist, in combos, and accompanied by full orchestra. He specializes in composers from the Romantic era and but is also is an avid pop, rock, and jazz player and enthusiast.
In addition to Piano, and Music Theory, Michael teaches 5 string banjo and actively plays in the Boston area.
Melissa Howe is the former chair of the String Department. Her mission is to guide each student toward self-discovery and technical mastery. She is also actively engaged in the many faces of Berklee’s contemporary music scene, having recorded viola for a food opera, presented Berklee’s first Video Game String Quartet concert, and played concerts as diverse as the Beatles, White Album, a Harry Belafonte tribute, and the Brahms Clarinet Quintet. Howe trained at Oberlin Conservatory and Boston University. Beyond her role at the college, she performs with ensembles such as the Boston Ballet, the Boston Pops, and the Boston Landmarks Orchestra, as well as with contemporary artists such as Björk, Aerosmith, Ben Folds, Amanda Palmer, and Rascal Flatts.
Non-degree students: to determine whether you should take Theory 101 or 201, take this Music Theory 201 quiz.
Berklee Music Theory: Book 1 by Paul Schmeling, Berklee Press/Hal Leonard
Berklee Music Theory: Book 2 by Paul Schmeling, Berklee Press/Hal Leonard
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- 500 MB hard drive space
- Sound card
- Speakers or headphones
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- Intel Pentium 4 or higher
- 1 GB RAM
- 500 MB hard
- Sound card
- Speakers or headphones