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Teachers – information

This Course is suitable for the questions set by all of the English and Welsh A-level examination boards – AQA, OCR, Pearson/Edexcel, WJEC – as well as for questions set on this topic by other examining bodies, such as The Royal College of Organists.

While it can be adapted to be managed over varying periods of time, the Course ideally works over two years, as outlined below.

Year 1:

The techique of harmonisation which lies at the core of this Course – the FIVE STEPS method – is explored in Part I, which provides plenty of ideas to be assimilated during the first year of study. Each Step of the method should be individually practised using the 40 melodic phrases provided, which present a variety of major and minor keys with Perfect and Imperfect Cadences. Dissonance is introduced at this early stage principally in the form of passing notes. Bach’s own harmonisations of these 40 phrases illustrate the variety that is possible using just these simple musical elements – they, and alternative harmonisations in the same manner, are presented in the accompanying volume of Resources.

Year 2:

Two areas are the principal focus for the second year of this Course: suspensions and modulations. Suspensions are introduced in the context (familiar from Part I) of Perfect Cadences. This forms the content of Part II.

Part III will be the most challenging area for students to explore. Chapter 7 provides understanding through further creative work focusing on the outer voices (Soprano and Bass). Chapter 8 is analytical in approach, and looks at how suspensions work in the inner voices (Alto and Tenor) and then across all voices, concluding with two examples of fully harmonised chorales. Chapter 9 then challenges the student to harmonise four complete chorale melodies in Bach’s fully-fledged style.

In Part IV, the focus shifts from harmonic textures to tonal centres. Beginning with illustrations of various harmonisations of the melody for Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern (‘How brightly shines the morning-star’), the three Chapters explore modulations to and from the Dominant and Relative Major keys, concluding with modulation involving more than one alternative key.