WMUS 524 Analytical Techniques for the Worship Leader

This course is a foundational course for graduate contemporary music theory practices. The study includes a thorough investigation of jazz and extended harmonies used in contemporary worship music. Worship 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 worship music literature and practice. Principles of harmonic function are taught and applied to representative worship literature forms.

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

Course Guide

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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.


Textbook readings and lecture presentations/notes

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Course Requirements Checklist

After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in the Course Overview.

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.

The student will apply his/her understanding of chord construction, chord identification, and the evaluation of chords related to the harmonic context by investigating the harmony of a Bach chorale. The student will also apply the Nashville number system as a tool for musical analysis.

The student will apply his/her understanding of harmonic status and function, proper chord progression, and second-inversion paradigms. The students will employ various types of analysis, including Roman numerals, Nashville numbers, TSDT function, and figured bass. 

The student will practice labeling and translating various chromatic chords to and from Roman Numerals and Nashville numbers, as well as chord spelling. These chromatic chords include secondary leading-tone chords, borrowed chords, and augmented-sixth chords.

The student will examine an excerpt of a piece of music and apply his/her understanding of harmony to label the harmonic aspects of the music. The student will use Roman numerals as well as Nashville numbers to describe the harmonic dimension of the piece.

The student will combine his/her understanding of part-writing procedure with proper spelling of various chromatic chords. The student will also compose in power ballad style and translate harmonies using Roman numerals and Nashville numbers.

The student will compose his/her own melody and accompaniment piece according to a given set of harmonies. The student will determine correct harmony by interpreting Roman numerals, and will also convert that information to Nashville number symbols.

The student will apply his/her understanding of extensions in two ways. First, the student will realize music for two different textures from given chord symbols. Second, the student will analyze a brief excerpt of music using appropriate chord symbols showing extended harmony.

The student will apply his/her understanding of extended harmonies. The student will realize extended harmony from chord symbols in two different textures for the same piece of music. 

The student will create a rhythm chart using a provided lead sheet and recording. The student must give appropriate band instructions based on the recording, and must provide correct Nashville number labels based on the chord symbols given in the example lead sheet. 

The student will create charts for the common rhythm band and vocalist format that is common in contemporary worship music. The student will create two different types of charts that are similar but require slightly different processes to notate the same ideas.

The student will investigate the intersection of melodic line and harmonic progression in Chopin’s Prelude No. 4 in E Minor. The student will begin learning how to use context and principles of linearity to distinguish whether a piece should focus on the harmonic progression or melodic development, or both.

The student will analyze phrase structures and cadences in excerpts from various musical styles. The student will use harmonic and melodic analysis to synthesize understanding of larger musical structure.

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.

Final Project Assignment

The student will complete a 2-part Final Project. For Part 1, the student will complete an analysis of the score provided, and will provide a foreground and background graph of the movement. For Part 2, the student will complete an analysis, as well as a foreground and background graph of the provided worship song. 


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