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Practical Harmony On-line

Level 1 (CQFW Level 4), 10 Credits.

Available Dates:

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This online course aims to give a practical understanding of harmony through online exercises and projects. The course links with the Composition and Arrangement online courses and also (if you’ve taken them in the past) the Learning Music Theory classes. Exercises and group discussions cover chord identification, key changes, part-writing and other ‘tricks of the trade’.

Exercises and group discussions will cover the following areas:

•Chords I, IV, V
•Chords ii, vi, vii, iii
•How to change key (including pivot chords, related keys)
•Secondary chords
•Specialist chords such as diminished 7th, Neapolitan 6th, augmented 6th
•Using suspensions
•Part writing

Who is this course for?

The course aims to give students a practical understanding of Western harmony in such a way that it may be used in compositions and arrangements, as well as to improve their analytical skills. Students who already have some level of music theory understanding should find that this module allows them to apply their theoretical knowledge to music that they encounter, aiding their understanding of how the music has been composed. Students who are keen composers or arrangers should find that they are able to use Western harmonic techniques with understanding rather than (as is sometimes the case) through instinct or trial-and-error. Although many present-day composers create music that falls outside the boundaries of Western tonalism, many such composers embark on such tonal experimentation from the basis of a thorough grounding in harmonic techniques.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning are undertaken by means of a number of factors:

1. Provision of explanatory resources online through the university’s BlackBoard virtual learning environment. Students are provided with material in written notation as well as in MIDI format (for those using sequencers), and in audio format to aid aural perception.

2. Setting of short harmonic exercises to allow students to demonstrate their understanding of the content covered. These can be completed in written form, or through use of a MIDI sequencer or in the form of a recording (though a recording would need to be accompanied by explanatory notes).

3. Individual feedback supplied online, as well as ongoing class discussion carried out over the duration of the course through the BlackBoard discussion board function. Students will be encouraged to continuously compare work, discuss harmonic ideas and problems and offer their own perspectives on the material covered, with the discussion continuously moderated and stimulated by the course tutor.

Coursework and Assessment

To award credits we need to have evidence of the knowledge and skills you have gained or improved. Some of this has to be in a form that can be shown to external examiners so that we can be absolutely sure that standards are met across all courses and subjects.

You will not have a formal examination. Formative assessment is provided through the above-mentioned continuous online feedback supplied by the course tutor in relation to submitted exercises, as well as throughout the continuing discussions taking place between the course tutor and the students on the discussion board. The harmonic exercises would carry some credit towards the module.

Summative assessment is by means of a more open project-based piece of work undertaken by the student to be submitted at the end of the course. Intended to allow students to show their understanding of the concepts covered in the course, it would also be sufficiently flexible to allow students to create a musical outcome within their own chosen genre and medium. This final project would carry the largest single amount of credit of any assessed item in the course, but less than 50% of the whole course credit.

The most important element of assessment is that it should enhance your learning. Our methods are designed to increase your confidence and we try very hard to devise ways of assessing you that are enjoyable and suitable for adults with busy lives.

Reading suggestions

The tutor will recommend titles, as appropriate to the individual student, but the following textbook is recommended:

Taylor, Eric Robert: The AB guide to music theory part 1, London: Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, 1989

Library and Computing Facilities

As a student on this course you are entitled to join and use the University library and computing facilities. You can find out more about these facilities on our website under Student Information, or by ringing the Centre on

(029) 2087 0000.

Accessibility of Courses

Our aim is access for all. We aim to provide a confidential advice and support service for any student with a long term medical condition, disability or specific learning difficulty. We are able to offer one-to-one advice about disability, pre-enrolment visits, liaison with tutors and co-ordinating lecturers, material in alternative formats, arrangements for accessible courses, assessment arrangements, loan equipment and Dyslexia screening. Please contact the Centre on (029) 2087 0000 for an information leaflet.

Further Information

A range of further information can be found on our web site or in Choices.  This includes the times and dates of courses and an explanation of accreditation and credit levels.