MusB Music / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Tonality: Theory and Analysis

Course unit fact file
Unit code MUSC10022
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This is an analytical course principally concerned with late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century chamber and vocal music. It examines aspects of form, harmony, motivic working and text-setting with a view to developing students' abilities to understand and write about complex musical works. The course also aims to expand the student’s understanding of theoretical approaches to tonality in Western art music of this period.

In this way, it builds on the foundations laid in ‘Tonality, Form and Harmony’ in the first semester and aims to increase the student’s understanding of the language, structure, and expressive content of late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century tonal music, and so to enhance their response to it as a listener, analyst and as a performer.


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Tonality: Form and Harmony MUSC10011 Pre-Requisite Compulsory

Free choice (UG), but please note the pre-requisite of MUSC10011


This unit aims:

  • To increase students’ understanding of the harmonic and formal structure and the expressive content of late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century tonal music;
    To improve students’ music-analytical skills;
  • To give students the fundamental tools to undertake their own analysis;
  • To familiarise students with analytical techniques for analysing Western tonal music;
  • To prepare students for undertaking level 2 and 3 analytical courses.

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures, workshops, consultation hours, eLearning.

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Understand the harmonic, thematic, and formal structure of tonal music;
  • Demonstrate knowledge of various music-analytical methods appropriate for tonal repertoire of both instrumental and vocal genres;
  • Show how stylistically sensitive analytical and interpretative techniques and strategies can be applied to selected compositions.

Intellectual skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate increased knowledge of a range of late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century repertoires;
  • Analyse a range of Western score-based music using accepted models;
  • Comprehend theoretical nomenclature and assess its relevance;
  • Apply theoretical approaches to a specific musical composition or extract;
  • Construct analyses of short tonal works.

Practical skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Annotate a musical score with relevant analytical symbols;
  • Understand and create a variety of analytical tables and figures;
  • Demonstrate their ability to employ specialist terminology and musical notation to analyse a given work;
  • Write a piece of analytical prose.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate enhanced analytical skills;
  • Demonstrate aesthetic awareness;
  • Employ technical vocabulary for analytic and descriptive purposes;
  • Exhibit attention to detail.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Analysing repertoire, texts and other materials
Group/team working
Collaborating with peers in workshops;
Project management
Preparing for exam throughout the semester;
Oral communication
Seminar discussion;
Problem solving
Fulfilling set task with set resources for the workshops;
Interpersonal skills: working productively with other students, tutors, and lecturers

Assessment methods

Assessment Task

Formative or Summative






Feedback methods

Oral feedback on tasks given in workshops;

Peer feedback in workshops;

Additional one-to-one feedback (during consultation hour or by making an appointment).

Peer-marked formative assessment.

Recommended reading

Cohn, Richard L., ‘“As Wonderful as Star Clusters”: Instruments for Gazing at Tonality in Schubert’,

              19th-Century Music, 22/iii (1999), pp. 213–32.

Hepokoski, James, and Warren Darcy, Elements of Sonata Theory: Norms, Types, and Deformations  

             in the Late-Eighteenth-Century Sonata (New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006).

Hyland, Anne M., ‘Rhetorical Closure in the First Movement of Schubert’s String Quartet in C major,

              D46: a Dialogue with Deformation’, Music Analysis, 28/i (2009), 111–142.

Kinderman, William, and Harald Krebs, eds., The Second Practice of Nineteenth-Century Tonality

               (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1996).

Kopp, David, Chromatic Transformations in Nineteenth-century Music (Cambridge: Cambridge

               University Press, 2002).

Krebs, Harald, ‘Alternatives to Monotonality in Early Nineteenth-Century Music’, Journal of Music

               Theory, 25/i (1981), 1-16.

Rosen, Charles, The Romantic Generation (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1995).

Schmidt-Beste, Thomas, The Sonata. Cambridge Introductions to Music (Cambridge: Cambridge

                University Press, 2011).

Stein, Deborah, and Robert Spillman, Poetry into Song: Performance and Analysis of Lieder (Oxford:

                Oxford University Press, 1996).

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 11
Practical classes & workshops 5
Independent study hours
Independent study 84

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Sarah Moynihan Unit coordinator

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