Course Outline Advanced Problems in Music Theory & Technology

Instructor: Mr. Spinelli

Maximum class size: 18

Advanced Problems in Music Theory and technology is a three-trimester, twice-weekly course, and is a continuation of AP theory. Advanced Problems... will involve the French, Italian, and German augmented sixth and Neapolitan chords, composition of fugue expositions, continuing studies in counterpoint, including twentieth-century counterpoint. Advanced harmonic analysis will include the late romantic literature and will begin analysis of twentieth-century music (Bartok, Stravinsky, etc.). Prerequisite: successful completion of AP Theory or the equivalent at a private music school or conservatory. Instructor will determine eligibility. conducting, interpretation of music, performance preparation, and ensemble skills. . In addition, students will continue to make use of the MIDI lab in completing their composition assignments, using ear training software, and in using recording studio software ProTools LE to record and edit their work


Due to the near constant hands-on nature of the course, it is highly recommended (though not necessarily mandatory) that students have at least one year of piano studies prior to beginning. It is also recommended that students have taken AP Theory (a conservatory equivalent may be acceptable).

Goals of the Course

To instill in the student a solid foundation of advanced musicianship. Students will be able to compose in four parts, as well as in florid 16th century counterpoint and select Baroque forms (invention and fugue exposition). Students will also compose phrases of various formal structures, analyze compositions written from about 1500 through the early 20th century, i.e., the course addresses both functional and non-function (e.g., atonal) harmonic analysis. This will include roman numeral and 12-tone analysis, phrase relationships, form, and all non-chord tones. Students will continue to develop their skills in sight singing and advanced melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic dictation.

Course Outline

The course is structured around a single textbook: Bruce Benward's "Music in theory and Practice, vol. II" with supplements from his workbook and extracts from the concert repertoire. Units correspond with chapters, covering four to six chapters per trimester. Note: this timetable is an approximation; flexibility is necessary to accommodate the pace of the class and the needs of the students.
Trimester I: 
Wk 1, Ch 1, Late Renaissance Polyphony, p. 3
Wk 2 &3, Ch 2, Two-Voiced 18th c. Counterpoint, p.29 
Wk 4&5, Ch 3, The Fugue, p. 49
Wk 6, Ch 4, Borrowed chords, p. 71
Wk 5&6, Ch 5, N6th chords, p. 85
Wk 6&7, Ch 6, Aug 6th chords, p. 99
Wk 8&9, Ch 7, Variation Technique, p. 119
Trimester II:
Wk 1, Ch 8, Sonata Form, p. 135
Wk 2&3, Ch 9, Rondo Form, p. 165
Wk 4&5, Ch 10, 9th, 11th, 13th chords, p. 179
Wk 6&7, Ch 11, Altered Dominants, p. 193
Wk 8&9, Ch 12, Chromatic Mediants, p. 201
Trimester III:
Wk 1,2,3, Ch 13, The Romantic Period, p. 213
Wk 4, Ch 14, The Post-Romantic Style, p. 233
Wk 5&6, Ch 15, Impressionism, p. 243
Chapter 16 is not covered
Wk 7&8, Ch 17, !2-Tone Technique, p. 309
Wk 9 - Twelve-Tone Composition Performances

Methods of Instruction

The typical Theory class has three main elements. First, the class may practice its aural skills which may include but all or some portions of: sight singing, melodic, harmonic, melodic, rhythmic dictation, and scores analysis. Then follows a review of material assigned in the previous class. This may also include performing (in class) small ensemble compositions. Students are then given individual attention and comments based on their performance. Secondly, the class is given group instruction on new material. The instructor frequently demonstrates concepts and techniques. They are individually checked for understanding and given time to practice the new techniques. Finally, the instructor checks overall comprehension through a series of drills on the new material, and an assignment is given for the next class.

Methods of Evaluation

Quizzes: An average of three quizzes per trimester (content: on anything studied to date). At least one of the quizzes will include ear training or sight singing.
Homework: Students should expect to be assigned homework at the end of each class. Homework is due at the beginning of the next scheduled class day. Any homework submitted after the beginning of class is considered one day late and will receive a penalty of a 10-point drop in the grade. For each additional day late there is a 10-point drop in grade. Late homework is due the next day and not the next scheduled class day (for seniors, Wednesday will not be counted as a class day, so that an assignment due Tuesday and submitted Thursday will be counted as one day late).
Note: the lowest grade in each category - dictation, sight singing, quizzes, homework - will be dropped, except zeroes, that is, work that is not submitted. Work not submitted will receive a zero and that grade will not be dropped.
Dictation (Ear training) : Students will be given some form of ear training exercise almost every class. These will include the ear training exercises cited above.
Class Participation: Students are expected to participate in the numerous in-class drills and discussions. 
Grading: Letter Grades in this class correspond to the number-to-letter grade table in the student handbook. Grade Weights are as follows.

Grade Weights

▪ Homework: 30% 
▪ Quizzes: 30% 
▪ Dictation: 20% 
▪ S. Singing:15% 
▪ Class Participation: 5%

Grading - Scores

A 93-100 points. Always prepared, participated in all activities, full student cooperation.
A- 90-92 points. Generally prepared, participated in class activities, cooperated..
B+ 86-89 points. Some difficulty in areas of preparation, participation or cooperation. 
B 83-85 points. Moderate, persistent levels of difficulty in the above
B- 80-82 points. Persistent but only moderate levels of difficulty in the above despite parent conferences and repeated warnings.
C+ 76-79 points. . Persistent levels of difficulty in the above despite parent conferences and repeated warnings

C 73-75 points. Chronic issues with cooperation, effort, and displays a lack of ability in singing as well
C- 70-72 points.
D 65-69 points.
F 0-64 points.
Students who begin to show signs of earning a grade lower than a B- will have a conference with teacher. Additionally, the instructor will have a teleconference with the parents. 
Instructional Material 
Theory in Concept and Practice vol. II (8th ed.) by Bruce Benward