Theory and Composition Faculty

Classical Theory and Composition Faculty
Larry Thomas Bell, Chair
Howard Frazin
Martin F. Gardiner
Rodney Lister
Elena Lucas
Margaret McAllister 
Stephen Savage

Jazz Theory and History Faculty
Eyran Katsenelenbogen
Rick McLaughlin
Joel Yennior

Click here for Jazz Theory and History course listings.

Certificate Programs

A Certificate of Merit and a Professional Studies Certificate are available in music theory and composition. Check out our Certificates page for more information.

Private Instruction

Students wishing to broaden their musical training whether general or expert can do so through private instruction. Private classical and jazz instruction is offered by highly qualified and experienced faculty. Lessons range from 30, 45, or 60 minutes. Theoretical studies include sight-singing, ear training, form and analysis, 16th-and 18th-century counterpoint, tonal composition, 20th-century idioms, orchestration, and jazz theory and arranging. Lessons are open to everyone and you can enroll at anytime. Placement is made by the department chair, Larry Thomas Bell.

Theory Program

The theory program is designed to provide the highly motivated adult student with instruction in the areas of rhythmic and melodic sight-singing, keyboard skills, and basic theoretical concepts. Ear-training is emphasized at all levels. Class presentations also provide historical context through musical examples and videos.

Classes

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Introduction to Composition I


Register for CE Non-Credit buttonStephen Savage, Instructor
Thur 6:00-7:00 pm

1 credit: $650 per semester
Non-credit: $435 per semester
OFFERED FALL SEMESTER

Beginning composition students are encouraged to realize their musical conceptions.  Basic concepts introduced include pitch and scale organization, meter, rhythm, interval, chord, tone color, motive, phrase, melody and texture. Rudiments of counterpoint, harmony, instrumentation and standard forms are considered, with emphasis on the balance between repetition and contrast.  Specific exercises are given, but students are also encouraged to write freely and to develop a style of their own.

Compositions are performed in class when possible.  Prerequisite: some basic knowledge of standard music notation and a desire to compose.

 

 Introduction to Composition II

 

 

Stephen Savage, Instructor
Thur 6:00-7:00 pm

1 credit: $650 per semester
Non-credit: $435 per semester
OFFERED SPRING SEMESTER
Begins 1/30

Intermediate composition students are encouraged to realize their musical conceptions.  Topics from Introduction To Composition semester 1 are reviewed, and in addition chromatic and non-triadic harmony, contrapuntal techniques such as double and triple invertibility, larger forms, and various 20th century developments are explored.  Specific exercises are given, but students are also encouraged to write freely and to develop a style of their own.  Compositions are performed in class when possible.

Prerequisite: Completion of Introduction To Composition 1, or permission of the instructor.

 

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Foundations of Music Theory I


Register for CE Non-Credit buttonMargaret McAllister, Instructor
Mon 6:30 - 8:30 pm
2 credits: $1300
Non-credit: $870
FALL SEMESTER ONLY

Rhythmic and melodic reading in simple and compound meters at the levels of beat, division, and subdivision; mixed meters; dotted rhythms and syncopations; diatonic intervals and diatonic triads of major and minor keys; triads in four voices; chords in open and close position; cadences: authentic, plagal, and full; playing and writing chord progressions based upon primary triads; seventh chords; and an introduction to the analysis of melody, harmony, and smaller musical forms. Students will also engage in solfege, ear training and rhythmic exercises throughout the semester. Examples studied will include simple chorales, short piano pieces, and selected movements of symphonic works. Semester concludes with an individualized evaluation sequence.

 

 Foundations of Music Theory II

 

 

 

Margaret McAllister, Instructor
Mon 6:30 - 8:30 pm
2 credits: $1300
Non-credit: $870
SPRING SEMESTER ONLY
Begins 1/27

Fundamentals of Music Theory II is centered on learning more advanced practical musical skills.  We expand and build on all areas that were begun in Fundamentals of Music Theory I.  In the study of harmony, students will learn how to compose for voices in four parts using triads and seventh chords in all inversions. Learning to play simple progressions on the keyboard will reinforce and complement exercises in voice leading. Through extensive harmonic analysis students begin to see and hear all the concepts they have been learning come to life in real music and are able to start applying this knowledge to the repertoire they are studying as performers. Students begin to understand form and through compositional exercises they begin to explore their own creativity with the melodic, rhythmic and harmonic materials they have been studying.

 

 

Intro to Music Theory

THIS NON-CREDIT CLASS IS ONLY OFFERED AT OUR ACTON LOCATION

77 Arts Academy Acton

Tom Scahill, Instructor
Tuesdays 6:30-7:30pm

Non-credit: $435
OFFERED BOTH SPRING AND FALL SEMESTER
Begins 9/3


This will be a basic musicianship course, introducing fundamental principles of music theory. We will cover clefs and the grand staff, scales, intervals, key signatures, rhythm and meter, and basic chord functions and cadences. Additional topics may include, but are not limited to: counterpoint, musical phrase structures, musical form, and a more advanced study of harmony.
In addition to helping you develop basic musicianship skills necessary for reading and writing western musical notation, it will also focus on training your ears to recognize intervals, chord progressions, cadences, and phrase structure. This will ultimately enable you to engage with music more closely and critically as a listener, and will foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of music.

 

 

Intro to Composition

THIS NON-CREDIT CLASS IS ONLY OFFERED AT OUR ACTON LOCATION

77 Arts Academy Acton

Stephen Savage, Instructor
Mon 6:00-7:00 pm

Non-credit: $435
OFFERED BOTH SPRING AND FALL SEMESTER
Begins 9/3

Beginning composition students are encouraged to realize their musical conceptions.  Basic concepts introduced include pitch and scale organization, meter, rhythm, interval, chord, tone color, motive, phrase, melody and texture. Rudiments of counterpoint, harmony, instrumentation and standard forms are considered, with emphasis on the balance between repetition and contrast.  Specific exercises are given, but students are also encouraged to write freely and to develop a style of their own.

Compositions are performed in class when possible.  Prerequisite: some basic knowledge of standard music notation and a desire to compose.

 

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Advanced Music Theory I


Register for CE Non-Credit buttonElena Lucas, Instructor
Mon 6:30-8:30 pm
2 credits: $1300
Non-credit: $870
FALL SEMESTER ONLY

Required of all Certificate students. The practice of harmonic and melodic intervals; rhythmic performance and dictation in simple and compound meters; reading of treble and bass clefs using fixed-do solfège and oneline melodic dictation; the study of triads and inversions, introduction to voice leading, with an emphasis on the harmonic style of music from the 18th century.

Prerequisite is Fundamentals of Music Theory 1 (or its equivalent) or permission of the instructor.

 

Advanced Music Theory II

 

 

 

Elena Lucas, Instructor
Mon 6:30-8:30 pm
2 credits: $1300
Non-credit: $870
SPRING SEMESTER ONLY
Begins 1/27

Required of all Certificate students. A sequential continuation of Advanced Theory I, the emphasis will be placed on a study of voice leading; harmonic analysis; the harmonization of bass lines and soprano melodies, employing a variety of diatonic triads, seventh chords and non-chord tones; recognition and labeling of periodic phrase structures, with an emphasis on the harmonic style of music from the 18th and early 19th centuries. Prerequisite is Advanced Theory I.

 

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Advanced Music Theory III


Register for CE Non-Credit buttonElena Lucas, Instructor
Wed 6:30-8:30 pm
2 credits: $1300
Non-credit: $870
FALL SEMESTER ONLY

Required of all Certificate students. A sequential continuation of Advanced Theory II. It will continue from the topics related to the cadential seventh chord and its role in the musical form of the classical period to the expansion of tonality through chromaticism in the romantic period. This course incorporates the study of harmonic tonal procedures, musical analysis of selected pieces and the acquisition of the practical and theoretical skills needed to comprehend, perform and write short compositions using the idioms of the 18th and early 19th century. The study of modulation, altered chords and forms will be reinforced with dictation using seventh chords and sight reading using treble, alto and bass clefs. Prerequisite is Advanced Theory II.

 

Advanced Music Theory IV

 

 

 

Elena Lucas, Instructor
Wed 6:30-8:30 pm
2 credits: $1300
Non-credit: $870
SPRING SEMESTER ONLY
Begins 1/29

Required of all Certificate students. A sequential continuation of Advanced Theory III. This semester will conclude with an introduction to 20th century harmony and the acquisition of the practical and theoretical skills needed to comprehend and perform that music. It will start from the topics of enharmonic modulation through augmented sixth and diminished seventh chords and its role in the further expansion of tonality in the music of late romanticism. The study will be reinforced with dictation using rhythms with changing time signatures and complex subdivisions, and sightreading using soprano, alto, and tenor clefs. Prerequisite is Advanced Theory III.

 

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Modal Counterpoint


Offered as private instruction. Private lesson rates apply.
Begins Week of 1/27

Non-credit:

60-minute lessons: $107.00/lesson
45-minute lessons: $80.25/lesson
30-minute lessons: $53.50/lesson

School of Continuing Education Credit:

4 CE credits: $2600 for 15 hours of instruction
3 CE credits: $1950 for 11.25 hours of instruction
2 CE credits: $1300 for 7.5 hours of instruction

A study of 16th-century species counterpoint in two voices and an introduction to 18th-century counterpoint and canon and fugue in three voices. Representative musical examples by Palestrina and Bach will be studied; the last class is a one-hour exam. Text: Johann Fux, Gradus ad Parnassum. Prerequisite: Theory I or permission of the instructor.

 

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Eighteenth-Century Tonal Counterpoint


 

Offered as private instruction. Private lesson rates apply.
Begins Week of 9/3

Non-credit:

60-minute lessons: $107.00/lesson
45-minute lessons: $80.25/lesson
30-minute lessons: $53.50/lesson

School of Continuing Education Credit:

4 CE credits: $2600 for 15 hours of instruction
3 CE credits: $1950 for 11.25 hours of instruction
2 CE credits: $1300 for 7.5 hours of instruction

A study of the basic elements of canon and fugue and the tonal harmony that gives direction and articulation to these types of polyphony. Representative examples will be drawn from J.S. Bach’s Musical Offering, Goldberg Variations, and The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

 

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Composition Seminar I


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Howard Frazin, Instructor
Mon 8:30 - 10:00 pm
1.5 Credit: $975
Non-credit: $655
Offered Fall Semester

Required of all Composition Certificate students.This course involves itself with creating intensive collaborations between composers and conservatory performers. The coursework is project based.  Projects are focused on composing for specific instrumental combinations, differing from semester to semester.  Studies in orchestration and score study of repertory pieces will help composers develop their craft for writing for the selected performer combination.  The class will predominantly be run like a group composition lesson where students present ongoing work for the chosen ensemble to each other. At various times throughout the semester meetings will be held with performers who will workshop works-in-progress.  The course will culminate in a final performance and recording of finished work. This course fulfills the ensemble requirement for certificate composition students.

 

Composition Seminar II

 

 

Howard Frazin, Instructor
Mon 8:30 - 10:00 pm
1.5 Credit: $975
Non-credit: $655
Offered Spring Semester
Begins 1/27

Required of all Composition Certificate students. A sequential continuation of Composition Seminar 1. This course involves itself with creating intensive collaborations between composers and conservatory performers. The coursework is project based.  Projects are focussed on composing for specific instrumental combinations, differing from semester to semester.  Studies in orchestration and score study of repertory pieces will help composers develop their craft for writing for the selected performer combination.  The class will predominantly be run like a group composition lesson where students present ongoing work for the chosen ensemble to each other. At various times throughout the semester meetings will be held with performers who will workshop works-in-progress.  The course will culminate in a final performance and recording of finished work. This course fulfills the ensemble requirement for certificate composition students.

2014-08-18


WHY DO I LIKE THESE THINGS? ARE MY EARS ON WRONG? CHARLES IVES