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Applied Popular Theory I

Course Code: MUSC 1176
Faculty: Language, Literature & Performing Arts
Department: Music
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15 Weeks
Learning Format: Lecture
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

This course will introduce the student to a variety of concepts and practices, theoretical and applied, commonly found in many styles of popular music. The course will focus on popular music up to the mid-1960s. Exercises and assignments will include composing in a variety of styles and formats.

Course Content

  1. Foundations:
    • Rhythm
    • Meter
    • Intervals, scales, keys
      • Major-minor system
      • Modes
      • Other scales
    • Chords
      • Triads
      • Sevenths
      • Extended chords
      • Other chords
    • Chord Symbols
      • Jazz / pop
      • Roman numeral
      • Other - Nashville, etc.
  2. Harmonic Practices:
    • Folk traditions (diatonic)
    • Pop traditions (diatonic / chromatic)
  3. Form:
    • Phrase constructions
    • Refrain forms
    • Sectional forms
  4. Written and aural analysis of selected repertoire from the following song styles:
    • 12-bar Blues
    • 16-bar folk songs
    • Popular American 32-bar forms
  5. Other topics:
    • Writing charts for a small ensemble
    • Basic instrumentation 

Methods of Instruction

Lecture and practical demonstration

Means of Assessment

Quizzes (minimum of 4)

Assignments (minimum of 2) 30%
Midterm exam 20%
Final exam 20%
In-class work (presentations, demonstrations, participation) 10%
Total 100%

Learning Outcomes

At the end of the course, the successful student will be able to:

  1. Understand and apply the core theoretical concepts used to create the characteristic sounds in popular music.
  2. Compose short examples within various idioms.
  3. Create simple charts, scores and parts.
  4. Gain valuable insight into the idiomatic practices of popular music.

course prerequisites

Music Technology Diploma program entrance or permission of instructor



curriculum 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 schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.