MusB Music / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Tonality: Form and Harmony

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


This is an analytical course principally concerned with the fundamental elements of tonal music and 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 including William Caplin, James Hepokoski and Warren Darcy. 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 equip students with basic skills in musical literacy and aural comprehension.
  • To establish a firm understanding of the musical language, harmony, structure and expressive content of common-practice era music.

Teaching and learning methods

  • Lectures and workshops
  • Seminars in three streams (A, B, C)
  • Online aural skills training

Knowledge and understanding

  • Understand core concepts in tonal theory and apply these to common-practice era music.
  • Demonstrate an enhanced knowledge of classical repertoire.

Intellectual skills

  • Identify aspects of harmonic, thematic and formal structure in specific pieces of music through listening and score reading.
  • Comprehend theoretical nomenclature, assess its relevance and apply it to a specific musical extract.
  • Evaluate a composer’s sketches in relation to their finished compositions

Practical skills

  • Annotate musical scores with relevant analytical symbols and terminology.
  • Describe features of tonal harmony and form in prose.
  • Create tables and other diagrams to communicate an analytical reading of musical form.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Demonstrate enhanced analytical and listening 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

Assessment Task

Formative or Summative







Feedback methods

Written feedback on examination

Online feedback from interactive aural skills exercises

Verbal feedback in workshops and seminars

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
Practical classes & workshops 5
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 168

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Barry Cooper Unit coordinator
David Onac Unit coordinator

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