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Contemporary Popular Theory I

Course Code: MUSC 2312
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 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.

course prerequisites

MUSC 1210 or special 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.