Music Theory



T231 focuses on basic chromaticism and modulation to closely related keys. Additionally, T231 builds on the sonorities learned in T132 by adding seventh chords and their inversions. Included are the major-minor (“dominant”) seventh, minor-minor seventh, half-diminished seventh, diminished seventh, and major-major seventh in most of their inversions. Melodic, two-part, and harmonic dictations are all designed to test these essential harmonic concepts. Students sing and dictate melodies and chord progressions involving secondary dominants, secondary diminished-seventh chords, and chromatic non-chord tones.

The rhythmic content of the course includes increasing complexity in simple and compound meters, eventually including various subdivisions of the beat (duplets, triplets, quintuplets, etc.). Rhythms are emphasized through rhythm singing and rhythmic dictation.

The course also includes a keyboard component in which students play all of the above harmonic elements at the keyboard. Students play given chord progressions in four parts, and compose their own progressions. Short three-chord progressions involving secondary dominants and diminished-sevenths are expanded and combined into longer tonal progressions, and eventually modulating progressions. On the validation/exemption exam students are asked to perform a modulating chord progression in four parts from a given Roman-numeral progression.

As the course emphasizes in equal parts the hearing and singing of these tonal materials, the validation/exemption exam includes both a dictation portion and a hearing that tests sight-singing and keyboard skills. Students who earn higher than 72.5% on the dictation portion are eligible for the hearing. To prepare for the hearing, students may find it helpful to practice exercises from chapters 6–10 of Rhythm Reading by Daniel Kazez and chapters 11–14 of Music for Sight Singing (7th ed.) by Robert Ottman and Nancy Rogers. The written and hearing grades are averaged, and a minimum grade of 72.5% is required to validate T231.