Music Language 1: the Diatonic World

Subject MUSI10023 (2011)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2011.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 1 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2011:

Semester 1, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

On campus

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 2 one-hour lectures and 1 one-hour tutorial per week
Total Time Commitment: 120 hours
Prerequisites: Offered as breadth with prerequisites: Musicianship Test, or permission of the coordinator
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements: It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability will impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and the Disability Liaison Unit.


Dr Elliott Gyger


Faculty of the VCA and Music Student Centre
Tel: +61 3 9685 9419
Fax: +61 3 9685 9358
Subject Overview:

An introduction to the elements and processes of voice leading during the period of triadic tonality through the study of species counterpoint and diatonic harmonic processes. Students are expected to attain a sound understanding of the elements and processes of voice leading and diatonic harmonic function within the Western musical tradition, and be able to write and sing fluent three-part contrapuntal textures, and four-part diatonic harmonic textures demonstrating their understanding of voice leading and harmonic processes through regular assignments. Students should also develop an awareness of counterpoint and harmony in composition through a close study of the thematic material of set works from the Western canon.


On completion of this subject, students should be able to:

  • compose a coherent contrapuntal texture in two or three parts and solve common voice leading problems
  • identify contrapuntal principles in a variety of tonal styles
  • harmonise a melody in four parts using all diatonic triads within the basic I-V-I tonal plan and create complex harmonic progressions through the use of seventh chords and applied dominants
  • realise a figured bass
  • identify chord function and analyse harmonic progressions in different musical textures.

Weekly assignments (10) alternating between analytical and compositional tasks (70%); one-hour, in-class listening test held end of semester (10%); one-hour examination held during the examination period (20%).

Students must complete all assessment requirements to pass the subject.

Prescribed Texts: Edward Aldwell and Carl Schachter. Harmony and Voice Leading. Belmont: Thomson Schirmer, 2003.
Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills: Students who have studied this subject should develop and enhance:
  • analytical skills
  • skills in evaluative thinking, and in the application of theoretical criteria to practical outcomes.
Related Course(s): Bachelor of Music
Diploma in Music (Practical)
Graduate Diploma in Music (Practical Music)
Related Breadth Track(s): Studies in music composition and music language

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