Music theory: Bach chorales

Course Dates: 18/09/24 - 27/11/24
Time: 18:30 - 20:00
Location: Online
Learn to name chords, cadences and recognise basic chord progressions in Bach’s 4-part chorale textures. Break week 30th October 2024.
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
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Full fee £199.00 Senior fee £199.00 Concession £139.00

Music theory: Bach chorales
  • Course Code: MG446A
  • Dates: 18/09/24 - 27/11/24
  • Time: 18:30 - 20:00
  • Taught: Wed, Evening
  • Duration: 10 sessions (over 11 weeks)
  • Location: Online
  • Tutor: Oliver Chandler

Course Code: MG446A

Wed, eve, 18 Sep - 27 Nov '24

Duration: 10 sessions (over 11 weeks)

Any questions?
or call 020 4582 0412

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Centre for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

Learning to write a 4-part chordal texture in the style of Bach’s chorales is a key compositional technique. In this course we will begin with the basics of chord nomenclature by labelling examples of Bach’s work. We will then progress to recognising other features, filling in missing details and learning the basic principles of voice-leading (which notes to assign to each voice bass to create a smooth texture). You must have studied music theory: grade 5 to take this course.

This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
- Earphones/headphones/speakers.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.

What will we cover?

- basic chord nomenclature in roman numerals and figured bass
- cadences: perfect, plagal, imperfect, interrupted
- basic chord sequences including passing 6-4
- choosing appropriate chords to fill in a gap
- principles of voice leading.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- Identify and correctly label the chords in a Bach chorale
- Identify and correctly label the cadences in a Bach chorale
- Harmonise a chorale melody in the style of Bach.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

This course in intended to for a bridge between music theory: grade5 and music theory: grade 6. It will consolidate the basic figured bass, harmonic progressions and cadences learned at grade 5 level by identifying them in Bach’s chorales.
Suitable for anyone with knowledge of music theory at Grade 5 standard or higher. You will need to be able to read music fluently (treble and bass clef) and have confidence with the structure of major and minor scales and chords (e.g. do you know what is meant by chord I and chord V in G major?).

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

This is an online course:
Sessions will be held via video-conference (zoom) and comprise combinations of lecture, discussion, quizzes, guided listening, video and score study. Course materials (handouts, scores, links to online videos) will be shared via google classroom.
You will be encouraged to do extra reading and homework tasks outside class.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

You will need the scores provided by the tutor, and some manuscript paper.
Many scores will be sourced from and links will be posted on google classroom. So you may annotate pdfs on your own laptop/tablet if you prefer.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

This course is an excellent introduction to score reading for anyone studying music theory at higher levels (Grade 6 and above. For more details about musicianship and music theory please visit our blog: Musicianship and music theory at City lit which lists our full sequence of musicianship and music theory classes.
To find out more about music history classes Music history courses in London and online which lists our full programme of classes ordered by term, and by day of the week. You may then click on each title to read the full course outline.

Oliver Chandler

Oliver is a music analyst and guitarist. As well as teaching at CityLit, he is College Lecturer in Music at Keble College, University of Oxford, and a Visiting Lecturer at Royal Holloway, University of London; he has previously worked at Anglia Ruskin, Goldsmiths, and King's College London. His published work has focussed on Elgar's late chamber music and early British serialism; it has appeared in journals such as _Music Theory Online_ and _Music & Letters_. He is currently finishing a monograph on the twelve-tone guitar music commissioned by, or dedicated to, Julian Bream; he is also co-authoring a further two books, on the music theories of Hugo Riemann and the music of Stephen Dodgson, respectively.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.