BA Music and Drama / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Harmony and Counterpoint

Unit code MUSC20112
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Music
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Students will learn the basic principles of harmony and counterpoint to an advanced level, through writing short fughettas in the late Baroque style, and harmonising songs in the style of Schubert and Schumann, with the aid of both practical observation and study of theoretical principles.


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Techniques of Tonal Harmony MUSC10112 Pre-Requisite Compulsory


- To ensure a familiarity with, and understanding of, some fundamental idioms of Western musical language;
- To gain fluency in manipulating notes within a given style;
- To develop the ear;
- To develop good practice in musical notation and calligraphy.
- To gain in-depth knowledge of some major works and the principles on which they are constructed.


See Course Outline

Teaching and learning methods

Weekly tutorials, at which students have exercises corrected by the tutor and the underlying principles explained to them. Each student receives individual attention each week after the initial lecture.


Knowledge and understanding

- Understand the basic principles of harmony and counterpoint in the common-practice Western tradition, to an advanced level;

- Recognise some songs by Schubert and Schumann and the fugues from Bach’s Das wohltemperirte Clavier, and the principles on which they are constructed.

Intellectual skills

- Manipulate notes on paper, and recognise any faulty harmony and part-writing in the tonal idiom.

- Relate sounds to notation more effectively.

Practical skills

- Harmonise melodies from the core Western Classical tradition;

- Write fluent counterpoint, exhibiting skill in part-writing and imitation.

- Create soundly constructed music within the tonal idiom, combining their knowledge of harmonic and contrapuntal principles.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

- Think more clearly and logically, especially in relation to any concepts involving both numerical and linguistic competence.

- Possess greater skills at problem solving and creative thinking.

- Challenge received wisdom more effectively.

Employability skills

Written communication
- Write about music in a more informed way
- Make more informed interpretative decisions when performing - 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


Portfolio of fughettas

Written examination

Two expositions with codas

2 hours




Feedback methods

Weekly oral and written feedback on their exercises

additional one-to-one feedback if required (during the consultation hour or by making an appointment)

Recommended reading

The following is a list of Indicative Reading for the course-unit:

Bach, Das wohltemperirte Clavier (48 Preludes and Fugues), Book 1.

Schubert, any volume of his Lieder.

Schumann, any volume of his Lieder.

These items are readily accessible on the IMSLP website and can be downloaded and printed off from it.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 2
Tutorials 9
Independent study hours
Independent study 89

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Barry Cooper Unit coordinator

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