Form and Analysis

John Morrison, instructor


Instructor:  Dr. John H. Morrison
Office:  none
Cell Phone:  617 223 1689
Submit essays to:
Class Website:
Office Hours:  by appointment
Credit Hours:  2
Meeting Times:  Tuesday, Thursday 12:30 – 1:55
Location:  Room 10

Texts: Form in Tonal Music by Douglass M. Green
Anthology for Musical Analysis by Charles Burkhart (6th edition preferred)

Reserve texts:
A Practical Approach to the Study of Form in Music by  Peter Spencer  and Peter Temko
Form in Music by Wallace Berry


The study of musical form is critical to the development of a trained musician.  The methods of discovering the forms and uncovering the deeper contents of those forms, a process we generally know as analysis, must be learned and practiced just as scales and other rudiments which supply the foundations of the language of western classical music must be practiced.  The aim of this two-semester course is to establish the ability to analyze music and to gain a firm understanding of the common forms and means of organizing music in the western tradition.  The primary focus is to learn the standard forms which crystallized in the classical period of music history, with study extending from the baroque through modern periods.


Class meetings will consist of lectures (to provide grounding in fundamental concepts), review of work done outside of class (to ensure maximum benefit from that analysis), and exploration of music together.  

Regular, punctual attendance is mandatory.  Simply do not miss class.  Roll will be taken every day.  One is allowed three free absences, which include absences for sickness.  Therefore, a doctor’s note is unnecessary to explain an absence.  If one misses more than three classes, one’s semester grade will be lowered by a grade fraction per class missed (i.e. A becomes A-, then B+, then B, and so on with each successive absence.)  It matters a great deal for a musician to be on time, and in this class three late arrivals equals one absence.

Homework will be ample, affording the opportunity to study more than one example of most concepts under examination.  Some of that homework will be written, and turned in for evaluation, while some homework will be evaluated on the spot by judging the accuracy of one’s analysis as well as one’s readiness and ability to respond to questions and support answers with sound reasoning.

At the end of each section of the course, a project will be due.  The projects will vary slightly in the components to be turned in, but in general each will require a photocopy of harmonic analysis, a formal diagram of the passage analyzed, and a typed analytical essay.  For some projects, a specific example will be assigned, while for others, a group of examples will be provided for analysis.  In all cases, homework is due on the day assigned, and each class day an assignment is late deducts a letter grade from the grade which would have been earned.  Specific proportions for components of a particular assignment will be exposed for that assignment.  

A certain amount of effort will be exerted toward developing the ability to articulate verbally one’s insights into music.  Essays are obvious tools for the task, and will be regular components of end-of-section projects. We will utilize writing techniques in class that will prepare the way for writing these essays.   Another tool will be the requirement that a case be made to support one’s answers during class discussions.

A mid-term will be administered during the semester which will require that one demonstrate command of the terminology by writing definitions or completing statements with terms.  One will also be asked to draw typical formal diagrams for the type of material covered in the exam.  The exam will be designed to be a half-hour duration, with a normal class preceding the exam.

The final exam will be of exactly the same type, requiring students to complete statements with appropriate terms, write out definitions, and diagram formal types.  The expectation is that one learn definitions thoroughly, and that the mid-term exam will have provided feedback that will help each person improve the grasp of concepts as expressed in definitions.  The exam will be designed to take about an hour to complete, with a larger number of items to complete.

A final version of the paper for Project 1 will be due a week after the exam.  The stated expectations for the paper will remain exactly as previously described.  One will be required to have turned in at least one previous rewrite of the paper after the version submitted for Project 1, so that the version turned in at semester’s send is the second rewrite.  One may turn in as many rewrites as we can manage; all effort will be exerted to return rewrites within a week of their receipt, but that will not always be possible.  The deadline for receiving the first revision is October 20, and the final version is to be submitted on or by December 19.

For success in Form and Analysis, students are advised to:

1) own the textbooks.
2) complete all assignments, both reading and analysis, on time.
3) devote significant effort to understanding and applying the concepts covered.
4) listen repeatedly to the works studied.
5) participate in class discussions and in-class writing exercises.


It is expected that all work submitted for evaluation is one's own.  Any instances of cheating or plagiarism will be dealt with as a serious issue.  If collaboration is allowable or desired on a given project, it will be clearly stated as such, and of course not punished.  On most projects, students will be asked to write a statement which makes explicit that the work is original and that no outside help was received.  The text may be used for some projects.  If this is the case, it will be stated as such in the project guidelines.


The final grade will be determined as below:

Average of project grades: 60%
Average of homework grades: 10%
Mid-term grade: 10%
Final exam grade: 20%


Numerals in parentheses indicate value assigned to letter grades when computing averages.

A 94-100 (97) C 73-76 (75)
A- 90-93 (92) C- 70-72 (71)
B+ 87-89 (88) D+ 65-69 (67)
B 83-86 (85) D 60-64 (62)
B- 80-82 (81) F 0-59 (55)
C+ 77-79 (78)


Assignments and Projects are due on the day indicated.  Homework may be made up at no loss of grade, projects are subject to the policies stated in each description.  It is important to realize that the lowest a Project grade can go, if submitted, is F, which goes into the grade book as 55.  If a Project is never submitted, it goes into the grade book as 0 (zero).  Mid-term and final exams may be made up with no loss of grade, but only due to a verifiable sickness or personal crisis.  Regarding incompletes, our catalog states that “an incomplete may not be given primarily to allow a student to raise his or her grade to a passing grade for the course, ensemble, or lessons in question.”  Incompletes are only used in the case of unexpected occurrences which prevent a student from completing the coursework, not in cases where students simply let unfinished work accumulate beyond the point of no return in a semester.


Longy provides theory and solfege tutoring for students who want or need extra help.  Tutors’ names and schedules will be emailed to every student and posted on the theory department bulletin board.  It is always a good idea to contact a tutor before attending their tutoring session.
Longy faculty can require students to attend tutoring if it will aid in the successful completion of the course.  If you receive a mid-semester warning, you will also be required to attend tutoring once a week.  


While all effort will be applied to maintain the schedule outlined below, it is always possible to fall behind or realize it is not necessary to go as slowly as planned.  Project due dates could change as a result of changing the pace of content coverage.

dates --- topics --- text study

Sept. 5 - 14 Basic concepts and explorations Green Ch. 1, Spencer/Temko Ch. 1 - 3
Sept. 19 Project 1 due

Sept. 19 - 28 Motive Green pp. 31 - 40, Berry pp. 2 - 7
Oct. 5 Project 2 due

Oct. 3 - 24 Phrases and phrase relationships Green Ch. 2 - 5, Berry Ch. 1

Oct. 17 deadline for first revision of final paper

Oct. 26 Project 3 due
review day for terminology and diagrams

Oct. 31 Mid-term Exam (terms and diagrams; half-hour duration)

Oct. 31 - Nov.  16 Small forms Green Ch. 6, Berry Ch. 2 - 3

Nov. 16
Project 4 due

Nov. 21 - Dec. 5 Theme & variation Green Ch. 7, Berry Ch. 9-10

Dec. 7 exam review day

Dec. 12 Final Exam (terms and diagrams; 1 hour duration)
Dec. 19 Final Paper due (second revision of Project 1 paper)


The information which follows contains all the assignments which will be due through the semester, in the order they will come due.  The list includes both homework and projects, but not reading.  Reading for each topic group is listed above, and is understood to be read across the span of coverage for the topic.  It is imperative that everyone follow instructions exactly, and submit work as described below.

Submitting assignments:  Homework and projects may be submitted as a hard copy or as electronic copy.  

If submitted as hard copy, please do so in person, during class.  If you leave an assignment in my faculty mailbox, you must alert me immediately via email as to the date and time at which you left the hard copy in my box.  It is far preferable to submit Projects which involve submission of analyzed musical scores as hard copy.
When submitting essays (such as Project 1 and its re-writes), please share the document as a Google Doc with me at  This is by far the best means of facilitating feedback on your writing.  You may wish to do your work in a word processor and then paste into (or convert into) a Google Doc before sharing.

If you need to submit a project electronically, please generate good pdfs, either directly from your software or by using a good-quality scanner (please, no pictures made by cell phones!) and email to me at either of the addresses at the top of the syllabus, or to

Homework 1: due Tuesday 9/12/17

Using the guidelines for analysis for assistance, analyze Debussy Prélude, Book I, #10.  The goal of your analysis will be to define the sections into which the music is organized.  Make a table of sections which includes measure numbers and identifies the characteristics which distinguish each section.  Be sure to base your analysis on repeated listening and to consider all possible musical parameters as influencing the shape of the piece.

Project 1: large-scale encounter due Tuesday 9/19/17

Write an analytical essay which accounts for the form of Debussy’s Prélude X, Book I (La cathédrale engloutie).  The essay should state what you deem to be the most important musical parameter in shaping the piece, and follow the influence of operations that parameter undergoes through the whole.  References to sections by measure numbers must be clear.  Avoid excessive description unabated by analytical points made.  Remember that analysis is the examination of constituent parts and the interaction of those parts to create the whole.  Interpretation of impact or affect may find a place when fully supported by analysis, but must never on its own be the foundation of such an essay.

The essay must be typed, double-spaced, and in the range of two to five pages. Late papers will lose credit at the rate of a letter grade per class day.  The final grade will be awarded after the required rewrites have been accomplished.  The first draft gains 20% of the final grade simply by being submitted.  When creating and submitting rewrites, please make a duplicate of the first paper, name it clearly as a revision (e.g., paper.rewrite1) so that you and I can see clearly what has been altered.  Rewrites are due on October 17 and December 19.  Submit (share with me) as a Google Doc.

Homework 2: motive 1 due Thursday 9/21/17

In the Bach Invention 13 in a minor (p. 110, Burkhart, 6th ed.), identify the principal motive and then trace its development through the entire piece.  Keep track of the lineage of development with abbreviations such as aug., inv., and so forth, as well as possibly identifying important categories of change with letters or superscripts.  The decisions made in categorizing change will help you understand the formal sections of the piece.  Try to account for virtually every pitch in the piece as coming from the same motive.

N.B.: It is advisable to make a copy of the score before beginning to mark it up, reserving your original copy for clean, new copies as needed.

Homework 3: motive 2 due Tuesday 9/26/17
1) Identify and trace the development of motive(s) in Mozart K. 333 I, mm. 1-10.  Photocopy your analysis to turn in.

  • 2) Think about how the motivic changes contribute to forward musical flow.

Homework 4: motive 3 due Thursday 9/28/17

1) Compose a melody which uses a single motive as the foundation of all notes in the melody.

2) Compose 3 different accompaniments of different character to any familiar tune, using a different accompanimental motive in each.

Project 2: motives due Thursday 10/5/17

Write an analytical essay which traces the development of motive in Bach Invention 1 in C Major, in a manner similar to the things we discussed regarding Invention 13. That tracing must deal with 1) identifying the primary motive(s), which would include a rationale for choosing the motive the way you have, 2) the relationship between that motive and all related motives which derive from it, 3) the ways in which changes in motives help define sections, and 4) the way in which the two voices relate to each other, particularly in terms of energy management.  Please note that, while the inventions are demonstrations of the potentials of counterpoint, it is not expected that you provide any detail on imitation per se, but rather simply to observe how the interplay operates, especially on the level of balancing levels of activity.  Clear labelling of motive variants in the score will help both your analysis and your essay.  You may also benefit from attempting a creative diagram of what you find, and that may be turned in with the assignment but is not required.

The essay should be typed, double-spaced, and in the range of two to four pages.  Please also turn in a copy of the score you analyzed.  No harmonic analysis is required for this project.  Late projects lose credit at the rate of a letter grade per class day late.

Paper Rewrite 1: due Thursday 10/17/17
A revised version of your first project is due, taking into account comments made on the first.  When creating and submitting rewrites, please make a duplicate of the first paper, name it clearly as a revision, and share the new version with me.  The new version will be evaluated as pass-fail, with 20% of the final paper grade accomplished by turning it in (or lost by not turning it in).  The essay should be typed, double-spaced, and in the range of two to five pages.  Please also turn in a copy of the score you analyzed.  

Homework 5: due Tuesday 10/19/17
For Mozart Piano Sonata, K. 333, i (“i” indicates first movement), mm. 1-38:
  • Do a complete harmonic and phrase analysis.
  • Make a diagram showing phrases, cadences, tonal movement
  • Bring a copy of your diagram to class, and be ready to turn it in if asked.

Project 3: phrase relationships due Thursday 10/26/17

A set of musical examples will be provided for your analysis.  Follow these regulations carefully.  Everything must be accomplished, and everything that is lacking will lose credit from the grade.

  • Number measures if not already done.
  • Analyze and clearly label the harmony, cadences, and melodic content in the music.  
  • Make a diagram in the manner of the guide already distributed which provides all the information shown there:
    • cadences,
    • melodic content,
    • phrase relationships,
    • measure numbers.

Submit the analyzed music and its accompanying diagram on the same piece of paper, one example per page.  Your project must be accompanied by a statement which verifies that you have received no outside help on the project.  (Use of the text, getting clarification on definitions is acceptable.  Discussing the project with anyone else is not.)

Late submissions lose a letter grade per class day late.

Project 4: small forms due Thursday 11/16/17

A set of musical examples will be provided for your analysis.  All steps below are required:  

  • Number the measures and complete a full harmonic analysis.  
  • Label all cadences and phrases.  
  • Make a diagram like those we have completed in class, one which:
    • shows harmonic movement (i.e. tonicization/modulation, change of key)
    • shows/labels phrases and cadences
    • identifies phrase relationships (period, etc.).  
    • labels parts (i.e. Part I, Part II, Part III)
    • and names clearly the small form of the example as a whole.

The analysis and diagrams must be thorough enough that I will immediately be able to determine the accuracy of your analysis.  

Submit the analyzed music and its accompanying diagram together.  Your project must be accompanied by a statement which verifies that you have received no outside help on the project.  (Use of the text, getting clarification on definitions is acceptable.  Discussing the project with anyone else is not.)

Late submissions lose a letter grade per class day late.

Homework 6: due 11/21/17

Complete the theme-and-variation analysis of Mozart K. 285, as begun in class.

Paper Rewrite 2: due Tuesday 12/19/17
A second revision of your first project is due, taking into account comments made on the first and second drafts.  When creating and submitting rewrites, please make a duplicate of the first paper, name it clearly as a revision, and share the new version with me.  This revision gains the final 60% of the grade.  (It is at this point that the letter grade is assigned, and the percentage grades as outlined above will determine the number of points out of 60 that the paper gains.  See the example below.)  The essay should be typed, double-spaced, and in the range of two to five pages.  You may also turn in a copy of the score you analyzed, if it provides insight not accessible from the essay alone.




paper draftpercent of gradegrade typeexample 1example 1 pointsexample 2 example 2
first draft20.00%pass-failpass20pass20
first revision20.00%pass-failfail0pass20
second revision60.00%letter gradeA97x.6= 58.2A58.2
resulting grade100.00%numeric grade
78.2 (C+)
98.2 (A)