Contemporary Popular Theory I

Language, Literature & Performing Arts
Course Code
MUSC 2312
Semester Length
15 Weeks
Max Class Size
Method Of Instruction
Typically Offered
To be determined


Course Description
This course continues the study of harmony and form, with emphasis on the diatonic, chromatic and stylistic practices of popular music from the 20th and 21st centuries.
Course Content

1. Scales:

  • Modes
  • Pentatonic
  • Blues
  • Other

2. Chords:

  • Extended chords (9ths, 11th, 13ths)
  • Altered dominants
  • Other chords
  • Chords of addition/omission
  • Sus chords
  • Chord Symbols
  • Jazz/pop
  • Nashville, etc.

3. Textural elements of pop music:

  • lead(s)
  • rhythm section
  • bass
  • horns, strings, pads
  • ostinati, riffs, grounds

4. Harmonic Practices:

  • Folk (Diatonic, Tonal/Modal)
  • Pop (Diatonic, Tonal/Modal)
  • Blues Tonality

5. Form:

  • Phrase Constructions
  • Named progressions/chord cycles
  • Sectional Forms
  • Refrain Forms
  • Popular/Folk song/32-bar forms
  • Blues Forms

6. Repertoire for listening and analysis will be drawn from a wide range of styles such as:

  • Folk/Country
  • Blues/Gospel
  • Ragtime/Jazz
  • Tin Pan Alley/Broadway
  • Rhythm and Blues/Rock and Roll
  • Pop/Rock
  • Hip Hop/Dance/Electronica
Methods Of Instruction

Concepts and techniques are presented and discussed in the lectures.

Means of Assessment
Assignments (minimum of 5) 25%
Class Participation 10%
Quizzes and Speed Drills (minimum of 10) 20%
Tests (minimum of 2) 20%
Final Exam 25%
TOTAL 100%
Learning Outcomes

At the end of the course, the successful student will be able to:
• identify idiomatic practices in popular music.
• apply core theoretical concepts used to create characteristic sounds in popular music.
• harmonize, arrange and compose excerpts in a popular style with or without a given melody, bass line, or chord progression.
• create simple charts, scores and parts.
• provide written answers to questions on any aspect of the course content.

Textbook Materials

Required texts (current edition) such as the following:

Tagg, Philip. Everyday Tonality II: Towards a Tonal Theory of What Most People Hear. The Mass Media Scholars Press, Inc., New York & Huddersfield.


Snodgrass, Jennifer Sterling. Contemporary Musicianship:Analysis and the Artist. Oxford University Press.



MUSC 1210 or special permission of instructor





Requisite for

This course is not required for any other course.

Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

Institution Transfer Details Effective Dates
Alexander College (ALEX) ALEX HUMN 2XX (3) 2018/09/01 to -
Athabasca University (AU) AU MUSI 3XX (3) 2018/09/01 to -
Camosun College (CAMO) CAMO MUSC 216 (3) 2018/09/01 to -
Emily Carr University of Art & Design (EC) No credit 2018/09/01 to -
Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) KPU MUSI 3550 (3) 2018/09/01 to -
North Island College (NIC) No credit 2018/09/01 to -
Simon Fraser University (SFU) SFU CA 1XX (3) 2018/09/01 to -
Thompson Rivers University (TRU) TRU MUSC 2XXX (3) 2018/09/01 to -
University of British Columbia - Okanagan (UBCO) DOUG MUSC 2312 (3) & DOUG MUSC 2412 (3) = UBCO MUSC 100 (3) & UBCO MUSC 103 (3) 2018/09/01 to -
University of Northern BC (UNBC) UNBC HUMN 2XX (3) 2018/09/01 to -
University of Victoria (UVIC) UVIC MUS 1XX (1.5) 2018/09/01 to -
Vancouver Community College (VCC) VCC MUSC 2303 (3) 2019/05/01 to -
Vancouver Island University (VIU) VIU MUSC 2nd (3) 2018/09/01 to -

Course Offerings

Summer 2021

There aren't any scheduled upcoming offerings for this course.