Music 109: Harmony & Form I


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MU 109 covers basic tonal harmony, elementary voice leading, and phrase structure. We will approach harmonic syntax in a highly general way that is pertinent to a broad range of music, including much classical, jazz, rock, and pop. MU 109 is a prerequisite for higher-level theory courses and for many 100-level and above music history courses.


UVM policies on distancing, masking, and hygiene will determine minimum safety standards for our class. I may require further precautions, which I will expect everyone to follow for our mutual benefit, and to make a successful continuation of the semester as likely as possible. The number of class meetings per week, length of meetings, and number of students per meeting will be at the maximum that I am comfortable with. This will depend on developing conditions throughout the semester. Consult the home page for up-to-date information on meeting plans.


Students should begin MU 109 with basic knowledge of notation and the elements of music theory (meter, scales, intervals, and simple chord structure) as determined by the department placement exam. (These elements will be reviewed very quickly in the first two weeks of the course.) Students needing more preparation will be referred to MU 009.


Concurrent enrollment in piano class is not a requirement, but it is very helpful. Keyboard skill sufficient to play through examples and assignments is a great asset in learning theory. See MUL 002 and MUL 116-120 in the course catalog. If you are unsure of your placement or the requirements for your music major concentration, feel free to check with me.


All non-MTB music majors enrolled in MU 109 should enroll concurrently in MU 101 (Harmony & Form Lab I). MTB majors and non-majors are encouraged to enroll as well.


There is no textbook. Expect to print a moderate amount of material from the topics pages and (depending on our in-person meeting schedule) from the assignments pages as well.


Written assignments 40%
Tests (two midterms & final, all equally weighted) 40%
Online fluency quizzes 10%
Online discussion (Yellowdig) 10%


There is written work assigned for almost every class meeting. Sometimes I will check off homework (credit/no-credit) so we can review the assignment immediately in class; at other times I will collect and grade it. I will often mark mistakes without correcting them, so as to give you the chance to work out the problem yourself. If you ever want me to give you a correction directly, just ask, in or out of class.

Assignments will be reduced 10% for each class meeting they are late. Once I have returned an assignment, I may or may not accept further submissions.

You may notate in pencil or using computer notation software. In either case you must notate neatly and correctly and on standard approx. letter-size paper—no fragments or tiny sheets!


There will be two in-class tests and a final exam, together worth 40% of your final grade.


There are two sorts of online assignments:

Fluency is essential to meaningful application of the material. Without fluency in fundamentals, you will struggle to understand and follow class discussion of new topics.

Online exercises must be completed by the deadline for that topic to receive credit. This rule is strict: tracking down results for past-due exercises is time-consuming for me.


We will be using Yellowdig, accessed via Blackboard, for our online discussion. You must paricipate a certain amount every week to get full discussion credit for the course. Dtails are on the Discussion link at Blackboard. Online discussion is extra important this semester because in-class discussion, both formal and informal, will be sharply curtailed.


Since our meeting pattern is still up in the air, so is the attendance policy. For now, while we are meeting in small groups, your attendance is espcially important as I will see each of you only once per week. That said, I do not score attendance. If you miss class, I assume you have a good reason, but I will not give any make-ups unless you have an extended valid problem that keeps you from class. If this happens notify me as soon as possible.


I am available to help you outside class via email, phone, and in person. Email me to schedule meeting times outside of my office hours as needed. In addition, the Center for Academic Success runs a free tutoring program: call 802-656-4075 or visit


All work must be your own except on specified collaborative assignments. Plagiarism and copying on tests will result in the loss of all points for all parties involved. Further consequences may result according to the UVM Code of Academic Integrity.


Please submit your religious holiday schedule in writing (email is fine) by the end of the second full week of classes. I will permit make-ups for work missed because of religious observance.


If you have a documented disability and wish to discuss academic accommodations, please contact me as soon as possible, but no later than the third week of the term.