Open Music Theory
first Edition

Open Music Theory

by Kris Shaffer, Bryn Hughes, Brian Moseley

Open Music Theory is an open-source, interactive, online “text”book for college-level music theory courses. OMT was built on resources authored by Kris Shaffer, Bryn Hughes, and Brian Moseley. It is edited by Kris Shaffer and Robin Wharton, and is published by Hybrid Pedagogy Publishing.

Major funding and technological support (including the building of the technology behind the interactive music notation modules found in this text) came from the team at Trinket.

The first major edition of OMT was made possible financially by a crowdfunding campaign in the summer of 2014. Many thanks to the donors who supported the project (listed on the about page).

Introduction. Introduction to this “textbook” (for instructors & scholars)
Chapter One. Fundamentals
1.1 - Basic notation.
1.2 - Meter.
1.3 - Protonotation.
1.4 - Rhythmic values.
1.5 - Beams and borrowed divisions.
1.6 - Pitches.
1.7 - Scales and scale degrees.
1.8 - Key signatures.
1.9 - Intervals.
1.10 - Triads and seventh chords.
1.11 - Types of motion.
Chapter Two. Voice-leading and model composition
2.1 - Introduction to strict voice-leading.
2.2 - Strict two-voice composition (species counterpoint)
2.2.1 - Composing a cantus firmus.
2.2.2 - Composing a first-species counterpoint.
2.2.3 - Composing a second-species counterpoint.
2.2.4 - Composing a third-species counterpoint.
2.2.5 - Composing a fourth-species counterpoint.
2.3 - Strict four-voice composition
2.3.1 - Introduction to thoroughbass.
2.3.2 - A brief history of basso continuo.
2.3.3 - Generating Roman numerals from a figured bass line.
2.3.4 - Composing in basso-continuo style.
2.3.5 - Style and tendency.
2.3.6 - Tendency tones and functional harmonic dissonances.
2.3.7 - Realizing a figured bass in strict basso continuo style (video).
2.3.8 - Melodic keyboard style voice-leading.
2.3.9 - Melodic keyboard-style voice-leading schemata.
2.3.10 - Realizing a figured bass line in melodic keyboard style (video).
2.3.11 - Realizing an unfigured bass line (video).
2.3.12 - Embellishing tones.
Chapter Three. Harmony
3.1 - Introduction to musical functions.
3.2 - Harmonic functions.
3.3 - Harmonic syntax - the idealized phrase.
3.4 - Harmonic syntax - prolongation.
3.5 - Performing a harmonic analysis.
3.6 - Classical cadence types.
3.7 - Chromatically altered subdominant chords.
3.8 - Applied chords.
3.9 - Modal mixture.
3.10 - Modulation.
3.11 - Handouts and charts
3.11.1 - Lead-sheet and figured-bass symbols.
3.11.2 - Harmonies (Roman numerals and functional bass) by bass scale degree.
Chapter Four. Form. Thematic Structure in the Classical Style
4.1 - Classical theme types.
4.1.1 - The sentence.
4.1.2 - The period.
4.1.3 - Hybrid themes.
4.1.4 - Compound periods.
4.1.5 - Compound sentences.
4.1.6 - The small ternary.
4.1.7 - The small binary.
4.1.8 - Theme type reference.
4.1.9 - Thematic function reference.
4.2 - Techniques of Phrase Rhythm
4.2.1 - External Expansions.
4.2.2 - Internal Expansions.
4.3 - Sonata Form
4.3.1 - Introduction to Sonata Theory.
4.3.2 - Sonata form: exposition types.
4.3.3 - Structural Points of Arrival.
4.3.4 - Thematic Modules.
4.3.5 - Sonata form: the recapitulation.
4.3.6 - Sonata form: the development.
4.3.7 - Sonata form: framing modules (intro & coda).
4.4 - Rondo Form
4.4.1 - Introduction to Rondo form.
4.4.2 - Thematic Function in Rondo Form.
4.4.3 - Five-Part Rondo.
4.4.4 - Sonata Rondo.
4.5 - Other formal structures in the classical style
4.5.1 - Minuet form.
4.6 - Galant Schemata
4.6.1 - Galant schemata – opens and closes.
4.6.2 - Galant Schemata – continuation patterns.
4.6.3 - Galant schemata – summary.
4.6.4 - Improvising a sentence with galant schemata.
Chapter Five. Post-tonal music
5.1 - Basics
5.1.1 - Pitch (class).
5.1.2 - Interval (class).
5.1.3 - Modular 12 arithmetic.
5.2 - Organizing Forces
5.2.1 - Collections and Scales.
5.2.2 - Symmetry and Centricity.
5.3 - Set Theory
5.3.1 - Pitch-Class Sets.
5.3.2 - Normal Order.
5.3.3 - Tranposition.
5.3.4 - Inversion.
5.3.5 - Set Class and Prime Form (1).
5.3.6 - Set Class and Prime Form (2).
5.3.7 - Complements.
5.3.8 - Common Tones under Transposition.
5.3.9 - Common Tones under Inversion.
5.3.10 - Tranpositional Symmetry.
5.4 - Twelve-Tone Theory
5.4.1 - Basics.
5.4.2 - Operations.
5.4.3 - Intervallic Structure.
5.4.4 - Derivation.
5.4.5 - Invariance.
5.5 - General post-tonal resources
5.5.1 - Analyzing a post-tonal piece from scratch.
5.5.2 - Analyzing atonal music.
5.5.3 - Analyzing 12-tone music.
5.5.4 - Glossary of atonal musical terms.
5.5.5 - Sheet of blank chromatic-scale clock faces.
Chapter Six. Pop/rock music
6.1 - Rhythm
6.1.1 - Syncopation in pop/rock music.
6.2 - Harmony
6.2.1 - Harmony in pop/rock music.
6.2.2 - The “50s doo-wop” progression.
6.2.3 - The “Singer/Songwriter” progression.
6.2.4 - The “Puff” progression.
6.2.5 - The blues progression.
6.2.6 - The lament progression.
6.2.7 - The circle-of-fifths progression (in minor)
6.2.8 - Plagal progressions.
6.3 - Form
6.3.1 - Form in pop/rock music – overview.
6.3.2 - Terminology and basic concepts.
6.3.3 - Formal containers and module structures.
6.3.4 - Formal functions.
6.3.5 - Analytical notation.
Chapter Seven. Text and music
7.1 - Analyzing poetry.
Chapter Eight. Technology
8.1 - Using Trinket (interactive music notation).