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Unit information: Technical Studies I: Harmony and Harmonic Analysis in 2020/21

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Unit name Technical Studies I: Harmony and Harmonic Analysis
Unit code MUSI10047
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Scott
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Music
Faculty Faculty of Arts


The purpose of this unit is to ensure that all students have the opportunity to develop a basic grasp of the subject that will enable them to deal confidently with the various composition and analysis courses that are offered in subsequent semesters. Key compositional techniques and a wide range of chords will be explored in the music of the classical and early romantic periods. In the second TB, students will study the harmonic and contrapuntal procedures of the baroque period with reference primarily to the work of Corelli and Bach. The emphasis will be on 2-part writing, beginning with the composition of simple dance movements for violin and continuo in the manner of Corelli and gradually progressing towards the 2-part invention style of Bach. At various stages, the developing harmonic language of the period will be explored with reference to Bach’s chorale harmonisations. Students will also be given an opportunity to develop further their fluency and confidence in the application and practice of figured bass.


This unit aims to introduce the principal techniques of tonal harmonic composition, including a thorough investigation of the basic building-blocks of Western tonal music (including melody, consonance/dissonance, simple voice-leading patterns, phrase and cadence schemes, rhythm, motive, chord grammar, key, modulation, etc.), and reductive analysis techniques in relation to music of the 18th century, providing a foundation for the understanding of baroque compositional styles to be investigated in Technical Studies II.

Intended learning outcomes

Successful completion of this unit will enable students:

  1. to harmonise melodies of this period and compose short movements effectively by applying techniques learned in class
  2. to explore techniques of figured bass realisation
  3. to gain an understanding of the main structural principles of tonal music from this period
  4. to compose simple dance movements for violin and keyboard in the baroque style
  5. to compose 2-part counterpoint for keyboard in the style of J. S. Bach
  6. to harmonise chorales fluently.
  7. to identify and discriminate between the various stylistic characteristics of baroque instrumental repertoires, and to apply these characteristics in appropriate ways

Teaching details

Weekly lectures across 22 teaching weeks plus supporting backup class.

Assessment Details

TB1: a technical assignment in pastiche style (50%) Learning outcomes 2, 3 and 4 are demonstrated in the assignment 1

2) TB2: Two coursework assignments (10%+10%) and an extended final assignment (30%) Successful attainment of assignment 2 will enable students to demonstrate outcomes 5, 6 and 7.

Reading and References

Prescribed scores to be identified during the unit, but including simple dance movements for keyboard mainly from the middle years of the 18th century.