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Norges musikkhøgskole Norwegian Academy of Music Search

His­tory of Music The­ory

  • Year of study: Year 1, over one semester (autumn).
  • Final assessment: Assessment from the course instructor.
  • Prerequisites: Admission to the Master of Music in Music Theory Programme.
  • Language of instruction: Norwegian or English.

Course description

The course covers the history of Western music theory, focusing on key developments from the Middle Ages until the present day. The course is designed to give the student tools and knowledge to be able to work independently on the subject.

Learning objectives

On completion of this course, the student is expected to

  • Be able to discuss and disseminate relevant issues in the development of music theory
  • Be familiar with relevant databases for music theory source analysis and able to use these databases in their work
  • Document their capacity for independent work on issues relating to the history of music theory
  • Be able to reflect on trends in the history of music theory and its significance to music theory in modern-day music education


Problems and methods relating to historical music theory, e.g.

  • the history of musical notation
  • counterpoint, harmony, form, and aural skills in a historical context
  • rhetorical versus organic form
  • use of relevant databases and other search engines


The course runs for the first semester of the programme and primarily involves seminars, student presentations, and literature study. There is normally a core reading list of 300–400 pages related to the seminars. The reading list will be made available at the start of the semester.

Course requirements

1. Abstract

The student should write three abstracts which will serve as draft essays (see item 2 below). Each abstract should be 150–200 words long. The topics of the abstracts will be determined by the course instructor.

Deadline: All three abstracts must be submitted by 15 October.

2.Semester assignment

The student should write an essay on a given topic based on the reading list on the subject. The essay should be based on one of the abstracts described in course requirement 1.

Length: 2,000–3,000 words (parts of the written material may be analyses,
transcriptions etc.).

: The semester assignment must be submitted to the course instructor by 1 December.

3. Oral presentation

The student should give an oral presentation to the group on a given topic. The presentation should be based on the literature on the reading list for the subject. The date and topic of the presentation will be determined by the course instructor.

Duration: 20 minutes.

Final assessment

All course requirements must be met in order for the student to be given a final assessment.

The student will be judged on the basis of the learning objectives for the course. The assessment is expressed in the form of a pass/fail and is determined by the course coordinator on the basis of an overall evaluation of the learning outcomes achieved by the student during the course.


The same rules apply to reassessments as to ordinary assessments.

Study component

Published: Apr 3, 2020 — Last updated: Sep 7, 2022