Theory I Course Outline






Theory I







Note:   This is an organic document!  It will change. 

You are responsible for what is on this page, not a copy you made at the beginning of the semester.


The dates given in the right column are the due dates, not the day we will work on assignments in class.

If there is ever a problem with an assignment (technology problem, don't understand it, can't find it, etc.) do not wait until the due date (or time) to explain your problem.



  1. I will not accept assignments done in ink.  Why use pencil?

  2. Be prepared to write in your ear-training book.  This book is not meant to be resold.  Write your name in your books.

  3. If something is not clear to you, ASK ME.  My schedule is on my door (122) or email me at

  4. Please read this.

Download links Flash


Finale Notepad



Note:  The academic price for Finale is $350 (retail is $600); have seen it elsewhere for $250


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Week 1   

(beginning January 13)


  1. About me Prezi

  2. Syllabus

  3. Theory placement exam

  4. Explanation of clickers

  5. Reasons for absences and not turning in homework

  6. A little advice from your friends


Overtone series

Overtone series and tuning


Leonard Bernstein explains!


Tuning: beat frequency

More than you want to know about tuning

Harmonic series overview

Definitions:  pitch note music score



Notation history

Musical notation can be understood as a set of instructions indicating to the performer how the composer wishes the music to sound.


How it all began

Origin of Music Notation


Staff, clefs


Medieval example


Here is a very modern example of the same thing!


Clefs Combined to Illustrate Spatial Relationship





Octave identification

We use the Acoustical Society of America Octave Designation System





Notation basics

stem direction and length

beams according to beat

adjacent notes

dot placement

Notation Basics

Print this for your reference



Names of scale degrees

Scale degrees


Exercise:  Board work - clefs, notes, accidentals, etc.


Auralia instructions before working with the program



Who has not taken the theory placement exam?



Assignments Due:




Put this webpage link on your desktop

On the top of this page, File - Send - Shortcut to desktop


Clicker class key 

Theory I 9am:  F74234J247 

Theory I 10am:  H74235F334

Clicker registration

Bring a credit or debit card to class!



Print Notation Basics

Read it and be familiar with guidelines for notation


Note:  Every time I ask you to bring something to class, I will hold you accountable and it will affect your grade.

Missing class

Learn to articulate

Get the "like" out





Timbre:  why different instruments playing the same note sound different


Week 2   

(beginning January 20)


No class on Monday


Note:  No class on Monday (Labor Day)




Major scales and keys


Major scales



Minor scales and keys


Minor scales


Key Signature Practice 





Circle of 5ths


Practice on Wednesday - quiz on Friday


Blank Circle of Fifths



Parallel and relative minor



Key Trainer


Note name and Key signature proficiency drill on Wednesday in piano lab; set up for Aurelia


Note name game

Key Signature Game




Assignments Due:


MonRoll will be checked with clickers!




Scale degrees

Octave designation




Assignment #1

Print 1 copies of this Blank Circle of Fifths

Bring them to class on Friday for an explanation of your assignment.



from A Musical Grammar (1679) by Nikolay Diletsky


Week 3   

(beginning January 27)



More scales



Scales that aren't major or minor



  1. Pitch inventory and scale identification



          Modes  print this!

Intro to modes




Modes: Explanation and audio examples

Modes Review



with Scorch files

Modes Made Easy

"I Don't Particularly Like Modes A Lot"


  1. board work:  construct modes on given pitches


Scale Trainer


Practice sheets:

Major scales

Minor scales



Assignments Due:




Quiz #2

Modes (names and color tones)




Bring your levels!

Note name game

Key Signature Game


  1. Play each game to your best score and level.  You can play multiple times to improve your score.

  2. While on the final score screen, press the Print Screen key on your keyboard (PrtScn)

  3. Open a blank Word document

  4. Right click (or press Ctrl V) and paste the image onto the Word Doc

  5. Bring the document to turn in at the beginning of class



Week 4   

(beginning February 3)






Interval Basics





Diatonic interval speed drill

Major scale method of interval identification


Intervals calculated by half steps

Avoiding enharmonic mistakes


Interval drill

Interval inversions



Exercise: Interval ID

Interval Trainer

Dim and Aug Interval Drill


Music Memory Devices


Interval Worksheets:  Generate a new one every time!

Assignments Due:




Assignment 2:

Major scales

Minor scales





Assignment #3

Interval Construction 1

Interval Construction 2


FriIBring your level!

Interval game


  1. Play the game to your best score and level.  You can play multiple times to improve your score.

  2. While on the final score screen, press the Print Screen key on your keyboard (PrtScn)

  3. Open a blank Word document

  4. Right click (or press Ctrl V) and paste the image onto the Word Doc

  5. Bring the document to turn in at the beginning of class


Check Note name and Key signature Proficiency for your name!

Check grade book for computer lab grades.

Are you doing your computer labs??

Week 5   

(beginning February 10)


TMEA Feb 12-15:  no class on Thurs or Fri


Theory tutor available on Wednesday nights at 7pm!






Counting Music

Simple and Compound Meter

Simple and Compound Meter Flash


Metric Examples


Exercise:  Group work - Score excerpts for meter ID


All You Need Is Love barline exercise

Board work:  Meter drills




Four quarter notes worth of music fit into each measure


Conducting basics


Duple/Triple/Simple/Compound Meters Listening Examples



 Meter and Beaming


Earth Angel


Mr. Bojangles

Scotch and Soda





Conducting practice

Meters in 3:

Nickel Creek Sweet Afton

PeeWee King  Tennessee Waltz

Richard Rodgers  Oh What a Beautiful Morning

Assignments Due:




Assignment #4

Meter Identification Worksheet 1

Meter Identification Worksheet 2





Also on p. 22 of Hall Studying Rhythm book illustrates when to use ties. (in General Theory folder)

Week 6   

(beginning February 17)




Count in 3rds - practice naming letters in triad form


How to build a chord

Triad Trainer


Diatonic triads


Triad inversions

Voicing chords 


Practice building chords at the board

Excercise:  Triad identification


Spell It In Thirds Worksheet


Lead sheet symbols


7th Chord Inversions

Roman Numeral analysis

4 Types of Triads/Inversions/Figured Bass


Figured bass on YouTube



Assignments Due:



Triad and 7th chord inversion figured bass symbols



Assignment #5

Triad Construction 1

Triad Construction 2




Week 7   

(beginning February 24)


Review for MidTerm Exam with Practice Test (Monday)

MidTerm Exam Thursday

Midterm Evaluation





Exercise:  using 'Spell it in Thirds' worksheet, random student name the chord and type (work for speed)


Exercise:  practice I, IV, V chord progressions (in lab if necessary)


Nonharmonic tones

flash demo

Nonharmonic tones

listed in a table according to movement


Quick Facts Sheet

Copy this for your reference

Notice that definition for IAC is incorrect



Group work:  demonstrate nonharmonic tones using human characters



Assignments Due:



Practice Test

If you make a 95 or above on the practice test, you do not have to take the mid-term



MidTerm Exam

Bring a page of staff paper with a keyboard on it




Assignment #6

Spell It in Thirds Worksheet







Week 8   

(beginning March 3)



Go over MidTerm Exam

No theory tutoring session this Wednesday!


Demonstration of non-harmonic tones (charades)


Melodic Organization

Benward p. 119 (doc cam)

  1. Motive

  2. Sequence

  3. Phrase

  4. Period

The Period:  Two Phrases Become One Structure


Try writing a consequent phrase to one of the following antecedents from this link


Phrases and cadences

Phrases and cadences II

Authentic and Deceptive Cadences



Plagal - "Let It Be" (Beatles)


Assignments Due:



Groups demonstrate nonharmonic tones



Send me a melody

Choose a song that contains an excellent melody (not 'lyric-driven')

Attach the mp3 to an email and send to by 8:30am



Quiz #4:  Nonharmonic tones and cadences

Nonharmonic tones





Week 9   

(beginning March 17)



Melodies:  Song List


Aspects of Melody


Melody Overview


Melodic Principles

Scroll halfway for example of good and bad


Principles of Voice-leading


How to Write a Bad Melody





Introduction to Finale (in 118)

Go through Finale in lab (self-paced)


QuickStart Videos:

     Simple Note Entry


Finale Page


Monday:  links above plus Finale demo

Tuesday:  in computer lab

Wednesday:  review Composition requirements and Finale page

Friday:  critique of melody compositions

Assignments Due:



Note:  Quiz #4 and "Send me a melody" are due today, since we did not have class on Friday!




Composition first draft

Bring to class a first draft of your melody, written on staff paper ready to transcribe to Finale.  Melodies must be complete.  You will receive a grade for this.


NEW:  You must be able to sing your melody to me! Use solfege.


NOTE:  Please  refer to the Compositions page for requirments and how the assignment will be graded!




Interval Review


Week 10 

(beginning March 24)


Mon/Wed continue melody composition critiques




Harmonic progressions

Circle progressions


Harmonic Analysis


Analysis #1


Harmonic Analysis Practice sheet

copy for Assignment #7



Extra credit if you wear a costume on Halloween.

Take a picture (you must be in the FA building).

Post on Facebook and tag me


Assignments Due:




Before class, watch the Simple Note Entry video under QuickStart Videos

The more of these videos you watch, the better prepared you will be to use Finale in the lab



Composition #1

Please follow the instructions for this assignment that are listed on this Composition link





Week 11 

(beginning March 31)




Bach Chorale Chord Progressions


Another way to look at it

Textbook p. 214 - 219


Accompaniment patterns




How to harmonize a soprano line



Accompaniment patterns

More patterns


Thur:  Work on Composition #2 in computer lab


Workbook p. 77 analysis exercises

Fri:  Go over Assignment #8 (Due Monday)


Piano Man

example of descending bass line


Harmonic Progression

Sweet Home Chicago

Mr. Postman


Assignments Due:



Assignment #7

Turn in completed Harmonic Analysis Practice Sheet

Download here

Include both lead sheet symbols (above) and Roman numeral analysis (below).








Composition Assignments

Week 12 

(beginning April 7)



Exercise:  Workbook p. 42 on doc cam, non-harmonic tones, then cadences with clickers




Monday:  Harmonic Analysis example with partner

Wednesday:  Workbook p. 42 on doc cam; nonharmonic tones at board

Friday: Go over Composition Assignment requirements

 Go over Assignment 9



Assignments Due:



Assignment #8

Harmonic Rhythm

  1. Determine harmonic rhythm

  2. Place lead sheet symbols above

  3. Place harmonic analysis below

When you hear hooves, think horses, not zebras!

In other words, don't pick a strange chord just because it will fit.  Use a traditional harmonization for these traditional songs.



Assignment #9

Workbook p. 33, 38, 39




Week 13 

(beginning April 14)




Composition #2 critique



Note and Key Signature proficiency requirement


Assignments Due:



Composition #2

Composition Assignments




For those of you who doubt the importance of establishing tonality in your compositions, here's a Christmas funny

Week 14 

(beginning April 21)



Exercise:  Construct at the board

  1. nonharmonic tones at board

  2. cadences

  3. sequence  Example:  The Ash Grove

Course Reflection Discussion


No class on Thursday or Friday:  Thanksgiving holiday



Assignments Due:



Composition #3

Composition Assignments








Week 15 

(beginning April 28)


Review for Final Exam


Last day of class is Wednesday, April 30

Theory tutoring Wed at 7:00!

Final Exam:


9:00 class:

10:00 class:




Study Guide


Circle of Fifths template for practice


Use this grade calculator to estimate your final grade


ET & SS Makeup Exams


It really is!






Still need to complete Note Proficiency




Still need to complete Key Signature Proficiency:




Proficiency Links

Key Signature Drill #1

Key Trainer

Note Trainer

Bass Clef speed drill

Note reading Drill

Note speed reading Drill

  3Note Game    



Staff Paper    Staff Paper with Keyboard

Solfege Daily Routine    Solfege Chromatic Syllables    Arpeggios     Problem Intervals



Song List

Staff Paper  

 Staff Paper/Keyboard

Sizable Staff Paper/Keyboard

Blank Circle of Fifths

Notation Basics

Stems, Ties, Beams, Accidentals








Created and maintained by Vicky V. Johnson

The job of teachers is "arranging the conditions of learning" (Chickering 2000, 25)

Neurons that fire together, wire together.