BA Music and Drama / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Techniques of Tonal Harmony

Unit code MUSC10112
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by School of Arts, Languages and Cultures
Available as a free choice unit? Yes

Overview

Students will study tonal harmony and counterpoint through exercises in two principal areas:

  • Chorale harmonisation in the style of J. S. Bach stimulates investigation of the structure of basic tonal chords, their relationship to one another in a given key, and their functions with respect to phrasing and cadence. It also introduces the concept of modulation and the relationships between keys in the course of a piece, and highlights some of the demands of four-part vocal writing both in terms of chordal voicing and the shaping of individual lines.
  • Two-part counterpoint in the style of Palestrina focuses on line and counterpoint at an introductory level, giving students a sense of how musical lines are shaped, and how in simple combination they interact to create a harmonically convincing whole. By focussing on the style of Palestrina, students will experience the fundamentals of Sixteenth Century counterpoint, giving additional context for their understanding of J.S. Bach. Students will have the opportunity to hear their work performed in a dedicated workshop towards the end of the semester.

Pre/co-requisites

 

Available as Free Choice (UG) or to other programmes (PG)?

Yes, but note prerequisite of A Level Music or Grade VIII Theory or equivalent.

 

Aims

To provide a foundation for understanding the concepts of consonance and dissonance within the context of early tonal music;

To enable students to develop practical skills in the manipulation of musical materials within the parameters of set styles.

Syllabus

See Course Outline

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures in which principals are presented, and the music of Palestrina / Lassus / Bach is analysed.

Singing of musical examples used within lectures.

Tutorial tasks given out in each lecture, with feedback on this formative work given through tutorial groups

A workshop on Cantus Firmus counterpoints, written in a Sixteenth Century style.

Final exam based on Bach chorale harmonisation, and addition of a contrapuntal line in the Sixteenth Century fugal style.

Knowledge and understanding

Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

the concepts of consonance and dissonance;

the interaction between line and harmony, within defined musical styles (ie, what makes a convincing line; what makes a meaningful harmonic progression).

how composers in the Sixteenth Century, and how J.S. Bach approached harmony and counterpoint.

Intellectual skills

Demonstrate competence in the manipulation of musical line and harmony according to accepted conventions of early tonal music.

Make sophisticated musical judgements according to these principals.

Practical skills

Apply the skills they have acquired to the idiomatic completion of fragmentary musical textures, and to the composition of simple pastiche compositions from scratch

Notate their work to a high standard, so that it can be easily read by performers.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Demonstrate enhanced problem solving — thinking through problems in a logical way in order to determine key issues.

Demonstrate increased creative skills.

Demonstrate a flexibility of approach in application of understanding to defined musical scenarios.

Employability skills

Leadership
¿ Make more informed interpretative decisions when performing
Written communication
¿ Write about music in a more informed way.
Other
¿ Apply general principles from this course (where applicable) to composition ¿ A good knowledge of these skills is valuable for teaching, whether in schools (especially A-level), or teaching instruments / voice and guiding pupils through theory exams.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 100%

Feedback methods

Formative feedback on weekly tasks in tutorials

Formative feedback on Cantus Firmus exercise in workshop

Summative feedback on exam

Recommended reading

•    Bach, J.S., ed. Riemenschneider, Albert, ‘371 Harmonized Chorales and 69 Chorale Melodies with Figured Bass’, London : Chappell, 1941.

      (NB! You are expected to own a copy of this)

•    Boyd, Malcolm, ‘Harmonizing ‘Bach’ chorales’, London: Barrie and Rockcliff, 1967.

      (one-night loan in Lenagan)

•    Boyd, Malcolm, ‘Palestrina’s Style’, Oxford University Press, 1973.

      (one-night loan in Lenagan)

•    Morley, Thomas, ed. Harman, R. Alec, ‘A Plain and Easy Introduction to Practical Music’, London: J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd., 1952.

      (available from library as e-book)

•    Palestrina, G.P. da, ‘The complete works of G.P. da Palestrina’, Kalmus, 1960.

•    Swindale, Owen, ‘Polyphonic Composition’, Oxford University Press, 1962.

            (one-night loan in Lenagan; copies in Main library) 

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 5
Practical classes & workshops 1
Tutorials 6
Independent study hours
Independent study 88

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
RICHARD Whalley Unit coordinator

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