Analytical Techniques – MUSC 524

CG • Section 8WK • 11/08/2019 to 04/16/2020 • Modified 05/17/2022

Course Description

This course is a foundational course for graduate contemporary music theory practices. Systematic and empirical investigations into formal and compositional procedures of selected masterworks from the tonal repertoire. The study includes a thorough investigation of jazz and extended harmonies used in contemporary popular music. Students continue to learn and apply analytical technique to various music styles. Melodic concepts and music form are explored in the literature from historical music periods and compared to present popular music literature and practice. Lectures lead to individual analytical projects. Principles of harmonic function are taught and applied to representative historical and popular music forms.

For information regarding prerequisites for this course, please refer to the Academic Course Catalog.


Music theory courses are often devoted to the study of traditional, classical theory, and aural skills. This course builds upon the traditional, common-practice approach but provides a much broader, practical, and immediate application of the skill. This practical approach presents material corresponding directly with current worship practices and industry-based concepts. This involves the study of popular genres including, but not limited to: rock, jazz, gospel, country, praise and worship, gospel song, and traditional hymn tunes. In addition, concepts of melodic construction are evaluated in classical, traditional, and popular music examples.

Course Assignment

Textbook readings and lecture presentations/notes

Course Requirements Checklist

After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in Module 1: Week 1.

Discussions (3)

Discussions are collaborative learning experiences. Therefore, the student is required to create a thread in response to the provided prompt. Each thread must be 350–400 words and demonstrate course-related knowledge. In addition to the thread, the student is required to reply to 2 other classmates’ threads. Each reply must be 150–200 words. (CLO: B, C, E)

Music Assignments (12)

The student will complete 12 unique Music Assignments that focus on the skills of music analysis and writing. From the first assignment, the student will begin identifying chords and harmonic functions through rudimentary analysis. With each successive assignment, a more developed understanding of harmony will be applied to the student’s analysis of music form. In several assignments, the student will exercise his/her knowledge of contemporary music styles in rhythm chart writing and arranging. (CLO: A, B, C, D, E)

Rhythm Chart Project Assignment

The student will write an original song incorporating certain harmonic, formal, and stylistic elements discussed in the course. The song must also include some harmonic extensions beyond the seventh. The student will create a rhythm chart, will create a melody part in Finale, and will include praise team vocals. Harmonic originality is a key focus of this assignment utilizing the extended chordal vocabulary discussed during the course. (CLO: B, D, E)