Music Intensive: Fundamentals of Music Theory

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Spring 2018 quarter

Taught by

music composition, performance

One of the pleasures of understanding the theory behind Western Music, alongside with improving one's "ear," is that it allows for the pleasures of listening to be intensified. Gradually, the smallest turn of a phrase within the music becomes a joke, or a scold, or indifference. Rather than remaining an abstract "art form," a piece of music may become the ambiguous but definite expression of a thought, a story, a begging, a stalwart joyfulness, or the gesture of dutiful resignation.

This program will try to enhance your listening capabilities, and simultaneously, teach about the mechanics that build up the world of harmony and rhythm. No previous experience with theory or analysis is expected. We'll have regular exercises in ear-training, both rhythmic, melodic and harmonic, as well as workshops on harmony, where we'll learn what defines a "chord," how are chords used in "sequences," and we'll practices ways of aurally identifying chords and their sequences. We'll learn about cadences (or "closing statements"), and how they're used to play tricks on our listening. We'll also attend concerts, and see a live opera.

In addition to other readings, we'll be using three books for this class:

  • Theory of Harmony : Arnold Schoenberg
  • Fundamentals of Sight Singing and Ear Training : Arnold Fish and Norman Lloyd
  • The Complete Beatles (Vol. 1) : arranged by Todd Lowry

We'll meet in small groups and work on applying what we study of harmony by analyzing songs, both by the Beatles and composers of jazz: Cole Porter, George Gershwin, and others.

Students will be asked to take weekly instrumental or voice lessons, on the instrument of their choice.  Please contact the faculty if you'd like a list of instrumental and voice teachers in the area.

Program Details

Fields of Study

aesthetics music

Preparatory For

music performance, composition, and analytical study of music.


Spring Open

Location and Schedule

Campus Location


Time Offered


Advertised Schedule

Tuesdays: 10-1, 2-5

Wednesdays: 10-12

Thursdays: 10-1, 2-5

Additional Schedule Details

  • Tuesdays 10-1 : Ear Training Workshop
  • Tuesdays 2-5 : Voice-leading and Harmony Workshop
  • Wednesdays 10-12: Music analysis
  • Thursdays 10-1 : Ear Training Workshop
  • Thursdays 2-5 : Voice-leading and Harmony Workshop

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning

Special Expenses

Costs associated with voice or instrument lessons will vary.


$100 for tickets.