Music 214: Music Theory III

I. Course introduction

This course, the third semester in Wheaton’s music theory sequence, is meant to give you space to bring concepts you’ve already learned to bear on creative musical work. Though we will review these concepts, it is assumed that all students enter the class with some familiarity with the rules and norms of Western tonal voice-leading, functional chromaticism (tonicization), non-functional chromaticism (mode mixture), and procedures for modulation.

New concepts we will learn include the blues, chord extensions, rounded binary form, hearing and composing with modes beyond major (ionian) and minor (aeolian), and non-functional (neo-Riemannian) voice-leading. We will also make ample space for considering meta-theoretic questions: what underpins the study of music theory in American higher education? Can we relate our formal and technical knowledge to certain psychological or affective phenomena? How do race, class, and other forms of power come to bear on seemingly neutral musical concepts?

II. Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, students should be able to:
+ Demonstrate deep knowledge of music theoretic concepts from Music 114 + 115 through composition, improvisation, and aural/written analysis
+ Hone musicianship skills through rehearsed performance and improvisation
+ Discuss meta-theoretic and methodological issues in the field of music theory, including intersections with race, gender, and ability

III. Course Materials

There is no official textbook for this course. Readings, scores, and listening materials will be posted to OnCourse. Students are strongly encouraged to have a music theory textbook on hand for reference. I recommend Snodgrass - Contemporary Musicianship (textbook used for Music 114 + 115); Laitz - The Complete Musician; or Clendinning + Marvin - Musician’s Guide to Theory and Analysis.

IV. Coursework

Our “deliverables” for the semester are as follows; due dates will be announced in class:

Composition project 1: Composition for solo monophonic instrument in rounded binary form. Composition must clearly express an underlying tonal chord progression

Composition project 2a: Transcribe song of choice (instructor’s approval required)
Composition project 2b: Arrange song with reharmonization in a different style for a different instrumentation
Composition project 2c: Reflection + presentation on 2a + 2b

Musicianship project 1: Improvise imitative canons at the fifth above (per Peter Schubert) on voice and on an instrument
Musicianship project 2: Perform + record Andriessen - “Worker’s Union” Page 1 to click track on instrument of choice
Musicianship project 3: Clap Brazilian rhythms from memory to recordings
Musicianship project 4: Basic melodic improvisation to unknown chord progression on instrument of choice in key of choice
Musicianship project 5: Compose and/or improvise horn riffs atop chord progressions from project 4, a la the golden era of funk

Meta-theoretic project 1: Guided comment on Iyer + Hisama
Meta-theoretic project 2: Guided comment on Cox + Heidemann
Meta-theoretic project 3: Guided comment on Wallmark + Sun Eidsheim

V. Grading
Composition project 1                20%

Composition project 2                30%

Musicianship projects  and homework    50%

Meta-theoretic projects            30%