Like the companion textbook, Fundamentals, Function, and Form: Theory and Analysis of Tonal Western Art Music, this book is organized into four parts. The first of these explores the rudimentary materials of tonal Western art music, starting with rhythm and meter and progressing through pitch, scales, keys, and key relationships. From there, the book turns to matters of polyphony—the simultaneous sounding of multiple independent melodies—as well as functional tonal harmony. The third part of this book is concerned with modulation and chromaticism, the use of pitches that fall outside the scope of a single key. Finally, the book concludes with several chapters on musical form, the shape and structure of a composition and its constituent parts.

Open educational resource

This textbook is an open educational resource (OER). It contributes to the small-but-growing body of openly licensed material available to music students, joining projects such as Open Music Theory in liberating the collectively inherited tradition of music theory. It is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License and is therefore freely available to everyone without discrimination. Readers are welcome to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format as well as remix, transform, and build upon it for non-commercial purposes so long as derivative versions of this work carry a compatible license. Source materials are available by downloading the XML version of the book with additional files at

Like most textbooks, this is a work in progress. Readers are encouraged to send comments, suggestions, ideas, and other feedback to A changelog may be found at the end of the book.

About the cover

The image that appears on the cover of this book reproduces a page of compositional exercises by the composer Sylvia Fine from her time as a student at Brooklyn College in the 1930s:

Sylvia Fine, notebook, p. 11.[1]

Sylvia Fine notebook, p. 11

It shows the same type of SATB partwriting exercises found in this and many other music theory workbooks.

  1. Sylvia Fine, Book of Sylvia Fine's music and homework from Brooklyn College, manuscript,


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Fundamentals, Function, and Form Copyright © 2023 by Ivette Herryman Rodriguez, Andre Mount, and Jerod Sommerfeldt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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