BA Music and Drama

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Tonality: Form and Function

Course unit fact file
Unit code MUSC10011
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Music
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This is an analytical course principally concerned with the musical language of the Viennese classics (Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven). The course is divided into three broad areas: harmonic analysis, thematic analysis and analysis of form. It principally draws on the theories of Arnold Schoenberg, with supporting material by more recent scholars. It also explores Beethoven’s own approach to these three areas, by studying his musical sketches and how he set about composing.



This course unit is available as free choice, but please note pre-requisite of A Level Music or Grade VIII Theory or equivalent.


  • To increase the student’s understanding of the musical language, structure and expressive content of tonal music, and so to enhance his/her response to it as a listener and performer.

Learning outcomes

  • Make sense of a composer’s sketches in relation to finished compositions.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Understand the harmonic, thematic and formal structure of tonal music.
  • Understand the basic methods of composition of tonal music.

Intellectual skills

  • Comprehend theoretical nomenclature, assess its relevance and apply to a specific musical extract.

Practical skills

  • Annotate a musical score with relevant analytical symbols and terminology and describe in prose.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Demonstrate enhanced analytical skills
  • Demonstrate aesthetic awareness
  • Use technical vocabulary for descriptive purposes
  • Exhibit an attention to detail

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Analysing repertoire, texts and other materials
Project management
Time management skills (preparing for exam throughout the semester)
Problem solving
Creative problem solving
Attention to detail; Assimilation of information

Assessment methods

Exam 100%


Feedback methods

  • written feedback on examination
  • additional one-to-one feedback (during the consultation hour or by making an appointment)

Recommended reading

  • Beethoven, Ludwig van, The 35 Piano Sonatas, ed. Barry Cooper, vol. I (London: ABRSM, 2007).
  • Caplin, William, Classical Form: A Theory of Formal Functions for the Instrumental Music of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven (New York: OUP, 1990).
  • Cooper, Barry, The Creation of Beethoven’s 35 Piano Sonatas (Abingdon, 2017).
  • Rosen, Charles, The Classical Style: Haydn, Beethoven, Mozart (London: Faber, 1971); Sonata Forms (New York: Norton, 1980).
  • Schoenberg, Arnold, Fundamentals of Musical Composition, ed. Gerald Strang and Leonard Stein (London: Faber, 1961); Structural Foundations of Harmony, ed. Leonard Stein (London: Norgate, 1954).

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 11
Supervised time in studio/wksp 4
Independent study hours
Independent study 185

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Camden Reeves Unit coordinator
Barry Cooper Unit coordinator

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