What is the course about?
Develop your understanding of musical language, style and notation to a high level using the ABRSM Grade 6 syllabus. This course focuses on diatonic harmony and introduces you to music analysis.
NB: we strongly recommend you have practical skills to an approximate grade 5 standard on your main instrument before studying higher music theory grades such as this. Basic keyboard skills are also helpful as they will enable you to play some of the chords and chord-sequences as you learn how to write them.
This course may be used as preparation for an external ABRSM music theory exam. City Lit will not be hosting ABRSM exams during this academic year, 20-21.
- Music theory grades 1-5 are available as online examinations only
- Music theory grade 6 and upwards are available as paper-based exams at ABRSM exam centres (government guidance permitting)
For latest information from ABRSM, including theory exam dates/fees, please click: https://gb.abrsm.org/en/exam-booking/exam-dates-and-fees/ [external website]. All grade exams are available three times per year, and we recommend you sit your exam the term after your course finishes.
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.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
- all diatonic triads, plus dominant 7ths and supertonic 7ths, in all inversions and in all keys
- the four harmonic cadences
- Roman numeral symbols and figured bass to identify harmonies
- writing chords above a bass line in SATB style
- harmonising a diatonic melody using Roman numerals or other chord symbols and a notated bass line
- melody writing, including modulation to closely related keys: dominant, subdominant, relative minor/major
- analysis of short extracts for piano, SATB or small ensemble (e.g. ornaments, phrase structure, style, performance directions, use of voices and instruments).
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- read and write all diatonic triads, dominant 7ths and Supertonic 7ths in all inversions, in all keys
- read, hear and write harmonic cadences
- identify harmonies using Roman numeral symbols and figured bass
- read and write chords above a bass line in SATB style
- harmonise a diatonic melody using chord symbols and a notated bass line
- write a melody, including modulation to a closely related key
- identify and explain musical features in short extracts of music including melodic decoration and transposition
- answer questions on a Grade 6 theory music exam paper.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
You need to have completed Music theory: grade 5 or equivalent, and have good knowledge of rhythm and metre, the 12 key signatures, scales and arpeggios, four main clefs, simple transposition, the cycle of 5ths, harmonisation of a cadence, and basic score-reading and analytical skills including knowledge of melodic decoration and instruments of the orchestra.
We strongly recommend that you attain a confident grade 5 practical level on your main instrument before taking this course. We also recommend that you have basic keyboard skills (if you main instrument is not piano) so that you can play some of the chords and harmonic progressions as you learn how to write them.
You will need to follow written and verbal instructions in English, engage in class discussion and practical exercises, take notes in English and write staff notation.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
This is an online course you will need your own copy of the course text-book (see below) and a computer or tablet with a webcam, microphone and reliable internet connection to take this class. We use GOOGLE CLASSROOM to share messages, documents, audio and video files and for you to submit any homework tasks. We use GOOGLE MEETS or ZOOM for live classes via webcam.
Your tutor will use a variety of techniques:
- tutor explanation and demonstration via webcam / shared screen
- short revision videos and/or audio files (posted in Google Classroom)
- worksheets (posted in Google Classroom)
- group performing and individual demonstration tasks (e.g. clapping rhythms).
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
You will need manuscript paper, pencil and eraser, notebook and pen.
Please buy and bring to class copies of the following workbooks:
- Victoria Williams , Grade Six Music Theory: for ABRSM Candidates: Volume 6 (MyMusicTheory.com Complete Courses)
- Anna Butterworth, Theory Workbook Grade 6 (ABRSM)
You may also wish to consider the following books for reference:
- ABRSM Guide to Music Theory Part II Eric Taylor (covers Grades 6–8)
- Anna Butterworth, Harmony in Practice (OUP - ISBN 978-1854728333). This is a valuable harmony reference book for all musicians working at a high level.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
This course leads to Music theory: grade 7. Again, we recommend that your practical skills in your main instrument are also around grade 7 level if you are taking this music theory course.
You may also be interested in Composition, Songwriting, Musicianship courses, Music analysis, or Keyboard harmony and improvisation, or in one of City Lit’s many music history and appreciation courses.
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.