MUSIC 203a, Fall ’08

Prof. Curt Cacioppo

Principles of Tonal Harmony I

TTH 10-11:30 MacCrate

Union 221
610 896 1286

review of intervals, scales, circle of fifths, relative & parallel keys, triadic construction and quality, positions & inversions; meter & notation; continuation on to sevenths and non-harmonic tones; development of visual recognition and analytical skills; aural and applied skills (lab work) -- solfege, rhythmic training, keyboard and score reading, clefs & transposition, dictation, improvisation

melodic profile, content and character
leaps and fills, angles and contours
relation of line to chords and harmonic goals
the concept of harmonic rhythm
deriving a bass line & inner part(s)
contrary, parallel and oblique motion
patterns of resolution

principal and subordinate triads and the V7
grammar of progression
non-dominant sevenths
colorations from the minor modes; the archaic modes
goal directedness
the five cadence formulae
antecedent/consequent phrases, periodic and double-periodic structure
texture & disposition of supporting parts (“the accompaniment”)
secondary dominants
the vii7 and V9
altered and “borrowed” chords
Neapolitan & augmented sixths

simple instrumental dance form: minuet & trio
binary/bi-partite, rounded binary, ternary/tri-partite structure

compositional devices: motive, descant, complementary rhythm,  sequence, modulation, phrase extension, interval expansion/contraction, imitation, doubling, ornamentation, relationships of tension and release, continuity and contrast, inventiveness and decoration, imagination and formula, fixed material and free material, creativity and technique

principles of four part voice-leading in chorale style: harmonizing from the top down -- soprano given, open style; and from the bottom up -- realization of figured bass in keyboard style looking toward larger forms: minuet with variations, canon, scherzo, sonata-allegro

discussion of orchestral and choral works being performed by the college ensembles:
Symphony No. 6 (Le Matin) by Haydn & Brahms “Tragic Overture”; selections from Alexander’s Feast by Handel

Scope & Purpose

The course looks for its compositional and analytical models first to the classics -- Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, et al -- but may look back to Purcell or even to Monteverdi, or ahead to Chopin and Rachmaninoff.  Examples may be brought in from repertories of musical theater, jazz, or non-Western traditions.  For instance, discussion has included music of Cole Porter, Leonard Bernstein, George Gershwin, Vernon Duke, Charles Mingus, Duke Ellington, Bill Evans, Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, Los Calchakis, melodies of the Hopi and Sioux Indian tribes and Afro-Caribbean rhythmic structures (yes this is a harmony course, but harmonic behavior cannot be fully understood without considering the interaction with all of the other parameters of music, such as melody and rhythm!).  The principles of tonal harmony apply to a very broad range of musical idioms, and are as much accessible and alive today as ever.  With study and exercise, they continue to offer an unusually gratifying means of self-expression.  That is the real goal of the course – to give each student the experience of creating something of her/his own that can be performed and that can communicate to an audience.  Both at mid-semester time and at the end of the semester, a concert of pieces composed in class will be given, and you are encouraged to invite friends, family, fellow students and professors to each event.


written exercises (25% of grade); analysis (15%); skills lab (15%); creative projects (40%); concert attendance (5% -- attend and review 3 events sponsored by the Music Department: the two tie-in concerts, and one event of your choice, selected from those on the departmental events web page); attendance and participation in class, lab and the two tie-in concerts is mandatory -- you are allowed 2 excused absences, after which each absence will drop your final grade one-tenth of a point.  Lateness in submitting assignments, lack of preparation, and unresponsiveness will weigh negatively into the final grade.  Office hours will be scheduled as needed.

Tie-in concerts

HC-BMC Chorale Concert
December 7, 3 PM 
Marshall Auditorium

Bi-Co Orchestra Concert
November 21, 8 PM
Marshall Auditorium


staff paper, preferably 12 stave, loose leaf, with dark lines and of a non-flimsy bond (work written on fringed paper torn from a spiral book will not be accepted) – Passantino #10256* is a good example; No. 2 soft lead pencil (Ticonderoga is recommended); texts* --

            J.S. Bach, 371 four part Chorales, Riemenschneider ed.
            R. Schumann, Album for the Young, Op. 68, Sauer ed.            
Haydn minuet collection                                       
*available through Music Dept.

Useful links

Print out your own staff paper for free by going to

For musical reference questions consult

Music retailer

A good source for music materials printed and otherwise:
Burt & Company Discount Music Supply
Post Office Box 1145, Marlton NJ 08053  USA
Phones 1-800-548-2878(US & Canada) or 1-856-983-6004
Fax 1-888-830-2525(US & Canada) or 1-856-983-6157
Office hours: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon-Fri  New York time

Library materials

(Music Library – scores & recordings, select reference material, periodicals, a/v room - located in the basement of Union Bldg; books about music, reference materials, periodical collections and complete editions are in Magill Library,
4th tier; Michelle Oswell, Music Librarian) A variety of reference materials are on reserve in the Music Library in Union basement, including the latest edition of Harmony by Walter Piston, a standard text at many schools.  A Blackboard collection of audio examples corresponding to the contents of our Haydn minuet anthology and the Album for the Young is on-line.  More examples will be added to as the semester unfolds.

Practice rooms

Practice pianos are located in the basement of Union and Marshall Auditorium.  Electronic keyboards can be found in the Music Library Listening Room and ACC installation in Roberts. There is also a  Clavinova accessible in room 313 of the campus center, and a Yamaha upright in the GIAC multipurpose room. Further sites around campus where pianos could be situated are being explored.  Acquiring your own small electronic keyboard is encouraged.  Medley Music in Bryn Mawr is a nearby retailer for such purchases. Consult Helene Studdy in the BMC Arts Office for details about pianos at Bryn Mawr.