online graduate music theory course
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eTheory: Graduate Music Theory Review


SKU: etheory-grad

If you’re entering graduate school, this music theory review course is the perfect tool to prepare for entrance exams. eTheory: Graduate Music Theory Review serves as an aid to review undergraduate theory in preparation for graduate level placement exams and classes.

This course allows you to work at your own pace, with most students finishing sometime between three and six weeks. Skills, exercises, and drills appear in order of relevance in the Western musical canon, and course materials range from basic music theory fundamentals and species counterpoint to 20th century topics.

Eastman’s course is fully integrated, and includes:

  • conceptual presentations and demonstrations,
  • written and analytical exercises drawn from the literature, and
  • skill development through singing, listening, and playing

eTheory: Graduate Music Theory Review, you will need access to a computer (PC or Mac), a printer, headphones, a piano keyboard, and a pencil.

For more information on Dr. Laitz and the Eastman School of Music, please click HERE.

Table of Contents

Module 1: Fundamentals


Clefs, diatonic scales, intervals, melody, triads, figured bass, Roman numerals, seventh chords

Meter and Rhythm

Ties, dots, beams


Sight singing, conducting, keyboard, dictation

Learning Outcomes

This condensed review of crucial components including concepts, nomenclature, and skill building should be completed in just a few days given the elementary nature of the contents. Conceptual, compositional and aural fluency in scale, interval, triad, and seventh chord construction and identification is mandatory, for without internalization, the rest of the program will be difficult and time consuming. The basic skills of sight singing while conducting, demonstration of concepts at the keyboard, and memorizing, singing, then notating pitch and rhythmic structures is assumed.

Module 2: 16th century (Renaissance) Counterpoint: First through Fifth Species in Two Voices


First through fifth species counterpoint
One and two voice writing and dictation

Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to write, sing, play, and comprehend aurally and notate two-voice counterpoint in the traditional species style. Beginning with note-against-note (first species), students will learn to handle pure consonance. Second species requires two notes for every note that is given. At this point, students will understand the concept of the dissonant passing tone, the elemental source of dissonance in tonal music. Students will navigate four of the five common species; play, sing, and dictate note-against-note counterpoint, two-notes against one note, and four-notes against one note.

Module 3: The Common Practice: Harmonic Implications of Two-Voice Counterpoint


Diatonic harmonic models
Three strong root motions
Introduction to part writing
Root position triads

Learning Outcomes

Students will write in four voices, extrapolating implied harmonies from one or two given lines. They will also be able to segment music, finding the underlying phrase model. This crucial ordered series of harmonic functions defines the phrase and later will provide the basis for larger structures, including periods, sections, and larger forms, from binary to sonata. Students will master the distinction between chord motions that are weak, and serve to elaborate a stronger, underlying harmony and chords that are important in moving the phrase through the basic tonal plan of tonic, pre-dominant, dominant and tonic.

Module 4: Bass as Melody


Contrapuntal expansions of harmonic functions

Learning Outcomes

Students will discover that the bass is not only a harmonic generator, but is important as a melodic entity. The connection between the two voices in Module 2 is made explicit in Module 4. Students will master the idioms that composers use in every tonal work.

Module 5: Seventh Chords


Functions of seventh chords
Writing seventh chords
V7, Viio7, non-dominant sevenths, and their inversions
Review of period, sentence, and double period

Learning Outcomes

Students will master working with seventh chords, applying their knowledge of dissonance treatment from the counterpoint module to the new chordal member: the seventh. Students will also master the use of these sonorities and their inversions in the ever-increasing two- and three-chord idioms that combine to create the phrase model. Finally, students will be able to identify, label, and compose larger units of music and the period.

Module 6: Embellishing and Combining the Phrase Model


Melodic embellishment (unaccented and accented: PT, NT, S, ANT, APP)
Harmonic sequences

Learning Outcomes

Students will be introduced to and master the remaining melodic embellishment, including both unaccented and accented embellishments. They will also work with harmonic sequences to understand their functions, identify them quickly, write them, and embellish them with the newly-learned melodic decorations.

Module 7: Tonicizing Chromaticism


Small forms: binary form

Learning Outcomes

Students will be prepared to deal with functional leading tone chromaticism. Beginning with basic applied chords and extending their use to sequences—all within a very local context—students will understand how applied chords can be developed and elaborated by extended tonicization (modulations.) Students will be able to identify and compose these structures. Finally, students will be able to deal with harmony, form, melody, motive, in the first and arguably most-important complete form that we will encounter: binary. We will see in subsequent modules that the binary structure generates all larger forms, from ternary to sonata.

Module 8: Another Texture: 18th-Century (Baroque) Counterpoint


Melody as harmony
Two voices: Implied harmonies and compound melody
Invertible counterpoint and imitation at the octave
Imitation at the fifth: real and tonal answer

Learning Outcomes

Students are exposed to the world of 18th century contrapuntal techniques. They will learn that a simple Baroque melody is filled with harmonic implications, and that these implied harmonies are often cast in such a way that two or more voices emerge, which clarify the harmony. Students will also be able to instantly recognize implied harmonies in two voices write florid logical counterpoint in Bach style. Students will also master two essential techniques that will provide entry into the world of true counterpoint: swapping the placement of two voices (invertible counterpoint) and imitation. Both of these will be limited to the octave. Students will be able to identify and write both invertible counterpoint imitation at the octave. Beginning with short passages that work with a basic melody, called a subject, the end point will be the composition of an entire Baroque piece of music, the invention. It is here that we apply all of the concepts learned in previous modules. Finally, we take up the issue of fugue, in which three or more voices work together, a type of work considered to be the pinnacle of contrapuntal prowess. Students will be able to identify and compose real and tonal answers and able to analyze a complete fugue.

Module 9: Toward the 19th Century: Coloring Chromaticism


Modal mixture
Chromatic modulation
The Neapolitan
Augmented sixth chord
Enharmonic modulation
Common-tone harmonies

Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to distinguish between applied-chord chromaticism and chromaticism involved in modal mixture. Students will be able to analyze, compose phrases and realize figured basses that incorporate a variety of modal mixture harmonies. Students will identify and work with complete works that contain various types of chromatic modulations (motions above and below tonic by chromatic third). Students will also be fluent with the two signature chromatic harmonies used in the 19th century and their various and various functions: the Neapolitan and augmented sixth chords. Finally, students will identify chromatic common-tone harmonies.

Module 10: Large Tonal Forms



Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to compare and contrast, easily identify, and learn the terminology of the traditional large forms found in tonal music.



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