Coronavirus information for applicants and offer-holders

We understand that prospective students and offer holders may have concerns about the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. The University is following the advice from Universities UK, Public Health England and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Read our latest coronavirus information

Holding an offer for 2020 entry? Visit our dedicated offer-holders page to find out if Manchester's right for you.

Information for offer-holders

BA Music and Drama / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Classical Harmony

Unit code MUSC21031
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by School of Arts, Languages and Cultures
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Students will study tonal harmony from the Classical period with specific reference to string-quartet movements, mainly minuets by Haydn and Mozart. The course builds on the Level 1 course Techniques of Tonal Harmony, deepening understanding of the similarities and differences between Baroque and Classical harmony, while developing ability to write idiomatically for string quartet. Teaching is through an initial lecture followed by small-group tutorials, with weekly formative exercises in harmonising and composing quartet movements. In addition there is a workshop at which the Quatuor Danel or other ensemble performs newly composed Classical-style minuets.


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


  • To develop familiarity with, and understanding of, principles of harmony during the Classical period, and in general
  • To develop familiarity with, and understanding of, principles of writing for string quartet
  • To gain fluency and rigour in manipulating notes within a given style
  • To develop the ear
  • To reinforce good practice in musical notation and calligraphy
  • To widen and deepen acquaintance with masterpieces from the Classical period.


See Course Outline

Teaching and learning methods

After an initial lecture, teaching is in small groups as in MUSC 10112 and 20112, with weekly exercises presented by the student and corrected by the tutor. Some of these exercises are harmonising a given melody; in others students create their own minuets for string quartet, with advice from the tutor. Some of the minuets are then tried out in one or more performance workshops (not more than one minuet per student).

Knowledge and understanding

  • understand better the concepts of consonance and dissonance
  • differentiate between Baroque and Classical harmony
  • understand the principles of good part-writing for strings
  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding of how string quartets might have been written in the Classical period

Intellectual skills

  • analyse a string quartet or similar work and appreciate the harmonic/melodic reason for each note
  • work out how to harmonise a given melody
  • read the viola clef fluently
  • appreciate the different roles of each of the instruments in a string quartet
  • evaluate critically the relationships between theory and practice

Practical skills

  • write idiomatically for string quartet
  • harmonise a melody in a given style
  • create a satisfactory melodic line and musical structure
  • demonstrate enhanced ability to relate notation to sound
  • prepare instrumental parts for performance

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Produce high-quality work independently
  • exhibit enhanced skills at solving problems creatively
  • demonstrate enhanced interpersonal skills
  • work efficiently to meet tight deadlines
  • demonstrate attention to detail through preparing and editing performance material to professional standards
  • Think more clearly and logically, especially in relation to any concepts involving numerical competence
  • Challenge received wisdom more effectively

Employability skills

Make more informed interpretative decisions when performing Apply general principles from this course (where applicable) to composition Write about music in a more informed way. 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

Coursework: creation of a minuet (50%)

2 hour Exam: harmonising given melody (50%)

Feedback methods

One-to-one feedback, written and oral, on exercises submitted during tutorials; the written feedback will consist mostly of annotations to the exercises, rather than sentences.

Recommended reading

Joseph Haydn, 83 String Quartets, ed. Wilhelm Altmann (London, n.d.).


Wolfgang Mozart, Complete String Quartets (available online at the Mozarteum, Salzburg: (type in the K (KV) number for the quartet required).


Ludwig van Beethoven, String Quartets Op. 18, ed. Jonathan Del Mar (Kassel, 2007).


Recordings of string quartets by Haydn and Mozart (available through Naxos Music Library and elsewhere)

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 2
Practical classes & workshops 3
Tutorials 8
Independent study hours
Independent study 87

Return to course details