Music Theory



T231 continues to develop skills with diatonic pitch materials and expands upon them by introducing chromaticism in the context of applied chords and modulation to closely related keys. The validation/exemption exam covers all of the content studied in this course as described below.

T231 builds on the sonorities learned in T132 by adding new types of seventh chords and their inversions: minor-minor and major-major seventh chords are added to the previously covered major-minor ("dominant"), half-diminished, and fully-diminished seventh chords. All seventh chords are studied in various inversions. Melodic, two-part, and harmonic dictations are designed to test familiarity with 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 increasingly complex rhythms in simple and compound meters, eventually including various regular and irregular subdivisions of the beat (duplets, triplets, quintuplets, etc.). Rhythm is emphasized through singing, performance, and rhythmic dictation exercises.

The course also includes a keyboard component, in which students reinforce their knowledge of the above materials by learning to play them at the keyboard. Students play given chord progressions in four voices, in addition to composing their own progressions. Short three-chord progressions involving secondary dominants and diminished-sevenths are expanded and combined into longer tonal progressions, eventually including simple modulations. In the V/E exam hearing, students are given modulating progressions written out in Roman numerals, which they are to realize in four parts at the keyboard.

As the course emphasizes in equal parts the hearing and singing of these tonal materials, the V/E exam includes both a dictation portion and an individual hearing that tests sight-singing and keyboard skills. The dictation portion includes melodic, two-part, harmonic, and rhythmic dictations testing the skills mentioned above. Students who earn at least 72.5% on the dictation portion are eligible for the hearing, which includes performance at sight of course-appropriate melodies, rhythms, and keyboard progressions. 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 11–16 of Music for Sight Singing (9th ed.) by Nancy Rogers and Robert Ottman. The dictation and hearing grades are averaged, and a minimum grade of 72.5% is required to validate T231.