Music Theory and Composition 2

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Authored by Suzanne Clark, Kari Juusela


Course Code: OCOMP-111

Next semester starts September 23

12 Weeks

Level 2

Level 2

3-Credit Tuition


Non-Credit Tuition


In this course, you will build upon the essential elements of music theory and composition learned in Music Theory and Composition 1, allowing you to further your own musical language. You will expand your knowledge of major and minor key harmony and melody, in addition to scales, chords and drum grooves. This advancement in music theory will support you in all of your musical endeavors, making the application of advanced techniques easier to use within your own compositions.

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After completing a strong review of Music Theory and Composition 1 topics, including major key, minor key, blues, an intro to modal interchange, rhythmic grooves. and traditional harmony concepts, the course will move into non-diatonic structures such as secondary dominants, a wider vocabulary of modal interchange chords, and a thorough look at composite minor in both contemporary and traditional settings. Compound meter will be explored and also applied to bass and drum grooves, along with higher-level rhythmic concepts such as odd meter and African polyrhythms. Music Theory and Composition 2 will give you the tools to develop melody writing, presented through contemporary and traditional views and Indian ragas, as well as the importance of song form, harmonic function, and phrasing as compositional techniques.

This music composition course will continue blending and exploring both traditional and contemporary harmony in order to give you a historical understanding of current topics.

On a weekly basis, you will be asked to engage with your classmates and instructor as you work your way through each lesson. To help you thoroughly experience and understand the material, you will be given activities and exercises to complete for each topic. There will also be weekly compositional assignments, giving you the opportunity to practice writing.

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

  • Interpret and notate basic notational concepts of passing tones and upper/lower neighbor tones, melodic tension and release, escape tone, appoggiatura, and suspension
  • Identify and write melodic elements such as intervallic variation, interval expansion, interval contraction, permutation, rhythmic variation, augmentation, and diminution
  • Identify and use secondary dominants with modifying a major key progression and in different rhythmic positions within a harmonic phrase
  • Identify and voice-lead secondary dominants with tensions along with the use of related II chords
  • Identify and voice-lead secondary dominants and Neapolitan chord in traditional four-part SATB style
  • Construct and use deceptive resolution as applied to primary and secondary dominants and modal interchange chords
  • Identify and apply techniques in the minor key in contemporary and classical writing styles which include the use of composite minor, minor key chord scales, and minor key line clichés
  • Notate and create rhythms and melodies based on compound and other meters
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Overview Syllabus Requirements Instructors
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Lesson 1: Introductions and Level 1 Review

  • Major Key Tonality
  • Minor Key Tonality
  • Modal Interchange and Blues
  • Bass and Drums

Lesson 2: Secondary Dominants and Chromatic Alterations

  • Melodic Chromaticism
  • Secondary Dominants
  • Harmonic Rhythm
  • Melody and Harmony Relationship
  • Melody Corner

Lesson 3: Secondary Dominant Continued

  • Secondary Dominant Chord Scales
  • Voice-leading Secondary Dominants with Tensions
  • Related II Chords
  • Traditional Voice-leading of Secondary Dominants
  • Melody Corner

Lesson 4: Deceptive Resolution – Primary and Secondary Dominants

  • Harmonic Function and Expectation
  • Standard Deceptive Resolution of V7
  • Deceptive Resolution of Secondary Dominants
  • Deceptive Resolution of Secondary Dominants in Classical Music
  • Melody Corner

Lesson 5: Minor Key 2

  • Composite Minor
  • Secondary Dominants in Minor Key
  • Minor Key Chord Scales
  • Minor Key Line Cliches
  • Melody Corner

Lesson 6: Minor Key in Classical Music

  • Composite Minor in a Bach Chorale
  • Minor Line Cliches in Classical Music
  • Advanced Figured Bass
  • Binary and Rounded Binary Form in Classical Music
  • Melody Corner

Lesson 7: Modal Interchange Expanded

  • More Modal Interchange
  • Chord Scales for Modal Interchange Chords
  • Standard Deceptive Resolution of V7 to MI Chords
  • Neapolitan Chord
  • Melody Corner

Lesson 8: Compound and Other Meter

  • 6/8 and 9/8
  • 12/8 and Triplets in 4/4
  • Odd Meters
  • Meter Changes
  • Melody Corner

Lesson 9: Bass and Drum Grooves in Compound and Other Meters

  • Compound Bass and Drum Grooves
  • Odd Metered Bass and Drum Grooves
  • Meter Changes Applied to Bass and Drum Grooves
  • African Polyrhythms and Indian Tablas
  • Melody Corner

Lesson 10: Modulation

  • Modulation
  • Relative Major and Minor Modulation
  • Pivot Modulation using Secondary Dominants
  • Pivot Modulation and Model Interchange
  • Melody Corner

Lesson 11: Musical Composition Applied

  • Musical Directions
  • Hybrid Chords
  • Guide Tone Lines
  • Song and Short Instrumental Form Review and Further Exploration
  • Melody Corner

Lesson 12: Blues

  • Minor Blues
  • Minor Blues Progressions
  • Minor Blues Chord Scales
  • Dominant Pedal
  • Melody Corner


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. In addition:

  • Ability to read notated music 
  • Ability to record MIDI in a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)
  • Ability to sync your compositions with various short video clips and export as MP4 file


  • No textbooks required



  • Printer
  • Scanner or digital camera to convert handwritten notation into PDF format
  • Recommended: MIDI keyboard controller
  • Recommended: One (or both) of the following studio monitoring options:
    • Studio monitors (pair), such as JBL 305Ps or better, as well as an audio interface and necessary cables
    • Over-ear studio headphones, such as Sennheiser HD 600, Sony MDR-7506, Philips SHP9500, Audio-Technica ATH-M50x, etc.


  • Manuscript paper with 8 or 9 staves per page (printable template provided in the course)

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 Classes. 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


Suzanne Clark


Suzanne M. Clark is an Associate Professor in the Harmony Department at Berklee College of Music and also teaches in the Songwriting Department and courses for Performance Health.

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In 2010, Suzanne was the recipient of the Don Wilkins Curriculum Award, having authored five courses, including The Music of the Beatles, The Solo Careers of the Beatles, The Creative Flame, Integral Tai Chi, and Playing in the Key of Chi: Qigong for Musicians. She also teaches the Music of John Lennon. In 2014, Suzanne was featured in USA Today and on New England Cable News for the 50th Anniversary of the Beatles' appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. She also guest lectured on John Lennon for a Harvard University program.

Suzanne is a bassist, and throughout the years has played and recorded in a variety of genres including jazz, musical theater, world and contemporary music. She has performed and given clinics in New England, Pennsylvania, New York, and the Caribbean and Sweden. She was a guest lecturer at Northwood University's Creativity Conference where she focused on musical creativity. Currently, Suzanne also teaches an online graduate course, Seminar in Creativity, which focuses on creative blocks of creative artists and is based on research and studies related to her MA in Critical and Creative Thinking. Read Less

Kari Juusela


Kari Henrik Juusela is a Finnish-American composer, performer, and educator who presently serves as dean of the Professional Writing and Music Technology Division at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. In addition to writing music in styles ranging from pop to contemporary classical, he enjoys playing and recording the cello, bass, guitar, piano, table, and the Finnish Kantele. 

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His compositions have won numerous awards from such organizations as the Vienna State Opera, the International Trumpet Guild, the London Chamber Music Society, the Composer’s Guild, GASTA, and ASCAP. He has also won the International Red Stick Composition Competition, the American Songwriting Awards Contest, the San Francisco Art Song Competition, and the Aliénor Harpsichord Composition Contest. His works have been performed at many important venues including Carnegie and Tchaikovsky Hall by internationally acclaimed ensembles and performers, as well as by numerous rock, pop, and jazz groups. He is the author of over 20 college-level courses and is the author of the Berklee Contemporary Dictionary of Music.

Dr. Juusela holds degrees from the University of Maryland, Georgia State University, and Berklee College of Music. His music is published by ISG Publications, MuusJuus Music, and Yelton Rhodes Music, and is recorded on ERM, Beauport Classical, Lakeside Records, Capstone Records, and MuusJuus Music. Read Less

Utar Artun


Utar Artun, a native of Ankara, and a Turkish-American composer, stands as a remarkable figure in the world of music. His journey began with a degree in Percussion from Hacettepe Conservatory, followed by an exceptional academic career in Piano and Composition at Berklee College of Music and New England Conservatory, where he graduated summa cum laude and Academic Honors amassing numerous international awards and accolades. A versatile artist, Artun has shared stages and studios with musical luminaries such as Bobby McFerrin, Dave Weckl, Eddie Gomez, Grace Kelly, Antonio Sanchez, and many others, leaving an indelible mark on the international music landscape.

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Artun's musical odyssey encompasses a wide range of experiences, from symphonic orchestras and prestigious jazz festivals to international studio recordings and Hollywood film projects. His compositions and arrangements have earned him esteemed recognition, including performances in world-renowned festivals, contests, and competitions. Utar Artun's international presence is felt through his piano performances at prestigious festivals and venues around the world, from Los Angeles to China.  Currently, Artun imparts his wisdom as a faculty member at Berklee College of Music and the New England Conservatory Prep School, nurturing the talents of the next generation. With a catalog of over 160 compositions 300 arrangements for symphony orchestras and large ensembles, and a myriad of collaborations, Utar Artun continues to elevate the global music scene with his extraordinary talent and unwavering dedication, cementing his place as a musical luminary. Read Less

Steven Kirby


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

Joseph Mulholland


Joe Mulholland is a professor in the Harmony department at Berklee College of Music. He teaches all the core Harmony classes, as well as the electives Harmony of Brazilian Song, Advanced Harmonic Concepts, Advanced Modal Harmony, and Reharmonization Techniques. He created and teaches the Jazz Composition course and the Music Foundations course for Berklee Online, and gives private Skype lessons in jazz songwriting to students around the world.

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In his capacity as chair of the Harmony department (2005-2015) at Berklee, Joe extensively revised the Harmony 2 and 3 workbooks and wrote the Music Application and Theory workbook for first-year students, as well as editing and contributing substantially to the Study Supplement for that course. With his colleague Tom Hojnacki, Joe wrote The Berklee Book of Jazz Harmony (Berklee Press), the new Harmony 2 workbook, and the Harmony 2 Study Supplement.

An accomplished pianist, recording artist, composer, and teacher, Joe has released five albums of original music and has composed electronic scores for Boston-area dance companies, including a Tango Suite commissioned by the Northeast Youth Ballet that received performances in Boston and New Jersey. Joe also performs as a vocal accompanist. In his role as music director for the Windhover Center for the Performing Arts, he composed and recorded sound design and songs for original productions of Peer Gynt and Dogtown Common. He also wrote 11 songs and three dance numbers for the original musical The Battle for Pigeon Cove Harbor, which received a three-week run in theaters on the North Shore of Boston.

Before coming to Berklee, Joe taught piano and ensemble at Brown University and Boston-area music schools, as well as serving as music director for Didi Stewart and Friends, an award-winning ensemble devoted to presenting full-length tributes to composers and performers in the American Songbook and classic R&B styles. Read Less


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