Music Theory 201: Harmony and Function


Authored by Paul Schmeling


Course Code: OHARM-201

Next semester
starts June 24

12 Weeks

Level 2

Level 2

3-Credit Tuition


Non-Credit Tuition


Continuing on from the concepts presented in Music Theory 101, this music theory course will further develop your background in music theory and provide you with the foundational knowledge you'll need to be a more effective writer and player. 

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You'll master the fundamental concepts of rhythm and harmony—and learn more complex chords, progressions, and rhythms that will open up your understanding of the elements that together contribute to put the groove in jazz, pop, blues, and rock. You'll study topics including rhythmic anticipations and related notation issues; articulation markings; diatonic triads and seventh chords in both major and harmonic minor; harmonic function; the II V I chord progression; some additional chord types; melodic and harmonic tension; and the blues form and style. You'll understand why chords move from one to another the way they do; and learn to better analyze and write harmonic progressions and different rhythmic styles. Through ear training exercises, musical examples, and personalized feedback from your instructor, you'll be able to analyze, read, write, and listen more effectively ­ as well as understand the fundamental knowledge essential to the beginning studies of harmony.

By the end of this course, you will:

  • Understand rhythmic anticipation and articulations
  • Understand diatonic triads and seventh chords in major and harmonic minor
  • Understand the II V I chord progression
  • Understand the melodic and harmonic use of tensions
  • Understand the blues form and style
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Lesson 1: The Imaginary Bar Line

  • The Imaginary Bar Line
  • Note Values Smaller than the Half Note
  • Rest Values and the Imaginary Bar Line

Lesson 2: Diatonic Triads and Seventh Chords in Major

  • The Construction of Diatonic Triads
  • Diatonic Seventh Chords

Lesson 3: The Harmonic Function of Diatonic Chords

  • The Terms Tonic, Subdominant, and Dominant
  • Harmonic Cadences
  • The IImin7 V7 IMaj7 Progression

Lesson 4: Additional Chord Types

  • Two Additional Dominant 7 Chords
  • Two Additional Major Chords
  • Two Additional Minor Chords

Lesson 5: Harmonic Function and Voice Leading of Additional Chord Types

  • The Major and Minor 6th Chords
  • The Minor and Augmented Major 7th Chords
  • The Augmented 7th and Dominant 7(sus4)

Lesson 6: Diatonic Chords in Harmonic Minor

  • Diatonic Chords in Harmonic Minor
  • Diatonic Function in Harmonic Minor
  • The II V7 I Progression in Minor

Lesson 7: The Upper Structures of Harmony/Tensions

  • The Theory of Tensions
  • Altered Tensions
  • The Melodic Use of Tensions

Lesson 8: The Harmonic Use of Tensions

  • Substituting the 9th for the Root
  • Substituting the 13th for the 5th
  • Using Altered Tensions
  • Using the 11th

Lesson 9: The Rhythmic Anticipation and Articulations

  • The Rhythmic Anticipation
  • Short Durational Value Anticipations
  • Articulation Markings

Lesson 10: Simple Binary Song Form

  • Examples of Simple Binary Form
  • Other Types of Variation and Contrast

Lesson 11: The Blues Form and Style

  • The Blues Form
  • The Blues Style and Its Effect on Harmony
  • The Blues Style and Its Effect on Melody

Lesson 12: A Closer Look at the Dominant Seventh Chord

  • Voice Leading Dominant Seventh Chords with Tensions
  • Stripping the Dominant Seventh Chord down to the Basics
  • Adding a Third Voice to the Dominant Seventh Chord


Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

Prerequisite Courses, Knowledge, and/or Skills


  • No textbooks required


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


Paul Schmeling


Paul Schmeling (1938-2024) was a master pianist, interpreter, improviser and arranger who 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. He was chair of the piano department for 40 years, and he co-authored the Berklee Practice Method: Keyboard (2001) and Instant Keyboard (2002) and on his own he wrote Berklee Music Theory: Book 1.

Alizon Lissance


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.

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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. Read Less

Bruno Råberg


Bruno Raberg is an internationally renowned bass player and composer. Since coming to the US from his native Sweden in 1981, he has made six recordings as a leader, about 30 as a sideman, and has performed with numerous world-class artists. Some of the distinguished musicians Råberg has performed/recorded with include Jerry Bergonzi, George Garzone, Sam Rivers, Billy Pierce, Donny McCaslin, Billy Hart, Bob Moses, Mick Goodrick, Ben Monder, Bruce Barth, Jim Black, Matt Wilson, Ted Poor, Bob Mintzer, and John Medeski. Tours have taken Råberg throughout Europe, Scandinavia, USA, Japan, India, Africa, and Central America, and to jazz festivals such as Pori, Umbria, Monterey, Nancy, Bologna, Graz, Stockholm, Boston, and Cape Town. Råberg is currently leading several constellations of his own: the Lifelines Quartet with Chris Cheek, Ben Monder, and Ted Poor.

Russell Hoffmann


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.

Mark Zaleski


Internationally touring musician, Mark Zaleski, has distinguished himself as a uniquely dynamic soloist, multi-instrumentalist, and band leader.He has performed with a diverse group of notable artists including Dave Brubeck, Christian McBride, Ian Anderson, Connie Francis, Mahmoud Ahmed, Rakalam Bob Moses, the Either/Orchestra, Jason Palmer, and Matt Savage.  At the young age of 33, he has established faculty positions at Berklee College of Music, New England Conservatory of Music, and Longy School of Music at Bard College.

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In 2017, Zaleski released his second record, “Days, Months, Years”, a record where Zaleski performs on alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, and double bass; one of the first of its kind in the jazz genre.

Additionally, Zaleski is active in many musical projects including the Omar Thomas Large Ensemble, The Brighton Beat, the Either/Orchestra, Nyota Road, a duo project with Glenn Zaleski, Chris Hersch and the Moonraiders, The Ayn Inserto Jazz Orchestra, Mehmet Sanlikol and WhatsNext, and plays bass in a popular Boston-area soul band he founded called Planet Radio. Read Less


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