Music Theory Fundamentals


Authored by Amy Bellamy


Course Code: OHARM-104

Next semester
starts June 24

12 Weeks

Level 1

Level 1

3-Credit Tuition


Non-Credit Tuition


Music Theory Fundamentals is a course designed for students who have little or no background reading music. In this course, you will learn the rudiments of music, including scales, intervals, triads, rhythmic notation, Roman numeral analysis, aural analysis of contemporary songs, song form, lead sheet construction, and voice leading. You will also study the basics of writing for a rhythm section, including the bass guitar and drum set, as well as the elements of groove.

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Through weekly singing, keyboard playing, and written exercises, you will have substantial practice reading and notating scales and triads in the keys of C major and A minor, G major and E minor, and F major and D minor. Rhythmic notation will include 4/4 meter, whole, half, quarter, and eighth notes and their corresponding rests.

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

  • Notate music in 4/4 time using whole, half, quarter, and eighth notes and equivalent rests
  • Demonstrate basic literacy reading treble, bass and percussion clefs
  • Identify and write intervals: major, minor, diminished, augmented and perfect intervals in the keys of C, G and F major.
  • Sing solfège, note names, and scale degrees while playing major and minor scales (including pentatonic scales) diatonic to C/Amin, G/Emin, F/Dmin
  • Identify, write, play, and sing diatonic triads in the keys of C/Amin, G/Emin, F/Dmin
  • Analyze and aurally identify basic chord progressions in contemporary music
  • Write and play bass lines and basic drum grooves in 4/4 time (introductory level)
  • Create form charts and recognize and identify various sections of select songs
  • Voice-lead triads with diatonic chord progressions
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Overview Syllabus Requirements Instructors
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Lesson 1: Introduction to Notational Rudiments

  • The Staff
  • Identifying Pitches
  • The Bass Clef
  • Percussion Clefs
  • The Grand Staff
  • Noteheads
  • Note Stems
  • Accidentals
  • Enharmonic Notes
  • The Natural Sign
  • The Piano Keyboard
  • Assignment 1: Notation Fundamentals and Scales

Lesson 2: Introduction to Rhythm

  • Beat
  • Pulse and Stress in Language
  • Meter and Time Signatures
  • Tempo
  • Rhythmic Duration
  • Whole Notes and Rests
  • Half Notes and Rests
  • Quarter Notes and Rests
  • Eighth Notes and Rests
  • Slash Notation and Rhythm Noteheads
  • Assignment 2: Rhythm

Lesson 3: The Major Scale

  • The Major Scale
  • Minor 2nds
  • Major 2nds
  • Constructing Major Scales
  • Major Scale Solfège and Scale Degrees in C
  • Major Scale Solfège and Scale Degrees in G
  • Major Scale Solfège and Scale Degrees in F
  • The Major Pentatonic Scale
  • The C Major Pentatonic Scale
  • The G Major Pentatonic Scale
  • The F Major Pentatonic Scale
  • Major Pentatonic Scale Uses
  • Comprehensive Review
  • Assignment 3: Scales

Lesson 4: Intervals

  • Review of Major and Minor 2nds
  • Introducing 3rds
  • Major and Minor 3rds
  • Perfect and Imperfect Intervals
  • Diatonic Intervals Ascending through the C Major Scale
  • Diatonic Intervals Ascending through the G Major Scale
  • Diatonic Intervals Ascending through the F Major Scale
  • Diatonic Intervals Descending Through the C Major Scale
  • Diatonic Intervals Descending Through the G Major Scale
  • Diatonic Intervals Descending Through the F Major Scale
  • Intervals in the Context of Melody
  • Assignment 4: Intervals

Lesson 5: Intervals Continued

  • Diatonic 4ths and 5ths
  • Diatonic 4ths and 5ths in the Key C
  • Augmented and Diminished
  • Diatonic 4ths and 5ths in the Keys G and F
  • 4ths, 5ths, and Octaves
  • Intervallic Manipulation
  • Assignment 5: More Intervals

Lesson 6: Triads

  • Building Triads
  • Major Triads
  • Minor Triads
  • Diminished Triads
  • Augmented Triads
  • Diatonic Triads
  • Roman Numerals
  • Diatonic Chord Progressions in Contemporary Music
  • Assignment 6: Triads

Lesson 7: The Natural Minor Scale

  • The Natural Minor Scale
  • Natural Minor Scale Degrees and Solfège
  • The Minor Pentatonic Scale
  • Assignment 7: Natural Minor

Lesson 8: Minor Key Triads

  • Natural Minor Diatonic Triads
  • Natural Minor Roman Numerals
  • Diatonic Chord progressions in Natural Minor
  • Assignment 8: Diatonic Chords in Minor

Lesson 9: The Rhythm Section

  • The Bass Guitar
  • The Drum Set and Drum Set Notation
  • The Rhythm Section (Drums and Bass)
  • Creating a Groove
  • Assignment 9: Rhythm

Lesson 10: Song Form, Charts, and Lead Sheets

  • Song Form
  • Creating a Form Chart
  • Adding Chord Symbols to a Lead Sheet
  • Review of Musical Components
  • Assignment 10: Create a Lead Sheet

Lesson 11: Voice Leading and Chord Inversions

  • Root Position Triad Review
  • Chord Inversions
  • Voice Leading
  • Voice Leading in Major and minor key
  • Assignment 11: Triad Inversions and Voice Leading

Lesson 12: Exam Review

  • Review of Major and Minor Scales
  • Review of Intervals
  • Review of Diatonic Triads, Chord Inversions and Voice Leading
  • Review of Writing for Rhythm Section and Song Form
  • Assignment 12: Final Exam


Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

Prerequisite Courses, Knowledge, and/or Skills
This course does not have any prerequisites.


  • Recommended: Study Supplement for Music Fundamentals PW-110 by Amy Bellamy. More info about purchasing this textbook will be available in the first week of the course.


  • Students are required to record video for their assignments. Options for recording video include:
    • Smartphone
    • Digital camera
    • Webcam (using either video recording software, or the video recording tool that is built into the learning environment)



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


  • Metronome (hardware or software/app)

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


Amy Bellamy

Author & Instructor

Keyboardist Amy Bellamy received her Master’s of Music from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. After relocating to Boston, MA in 2002, Ms. Bellamy joined the Sam Kininger Band (of Soulive and Lettuce) and toured extensively throughout the US, culminating with their critically acclaimed 2010 album release entitled Anthem (BMG Japan.) Ms. Bellamy and her husband, bassist Aaron Bellamy (The A-Beez) have led a well established 16 year Tuesday night residency at Boston’s beloved Wally’s Jazz Café.        

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The A-Beez released their debut album Never Going Back in 2015, and their 2nd album Say Goodbye was released to a sold-out audience in Boston in March of 2018. Both albums by The A-Beez showcase Amy and Aaron’s strengths as songwriters, lyricists, arrangers and producers.

Over the last decade, Ms. Bellamy has performed with Chaka Khan (for President Bill Clinton) Terri Lyne Carrington, G Love and the Juice, The Nth Power, Oleta Adams, Res, Club D’elf, Cody Chesnutt, Martin Luther, Shing02, the Harlem Gospel Choir, Bruce Bartlett, Akrobatik, Mr Lif and many more. She has shared countless bills with major artists such as Parliament Funkadelic, Morris Day and the Time, Bootsy Collins, Chick Corea and many more. As a classical accompanist, Ms. Bellamy has appeared on multiple European tours with notable performances at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France and St Mark’s Basilica in Venice, Italy.

Ms. Bellamy joined the Faculty of Berklee College of Music as an Assistant Professor in the Harmony Department in the summer of 2016. Read Less


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

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