Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Music



Major Professor

Brendan McConville

Committee Members

Barbara Murphy, David Northington


This thesis will build upon the foundation set by Engebretsen and Broman in Transformational Theory in the Undergraduate Curriculum: A Case for Teaching the Neo-Riemannian Approach (Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy 21) and Roig-Francoli’s Harmony in Context (McGraw-Hill) by justifying the inclusion of neo-Riemannian Theory (NRT) in the undergraduate music theory curricula. This thesis also serves as a text for use by undergraduates to supplement a typical theory curriculum. While Engebretsen and Broman introduce the notion of NRT inclusion, and Roig-Francolí dedicates several pages in Harmony to its discussion, NRT remains uncommon in an undergraduate curriculum. NRT, an emerging and relevant analytical system, lends itself to bridging the transition from the chromatic harmony of the nineteenth century to the varied techniques of the twentieth century. NRT’s flexibility assists comprehension of passages from various genres of music, old and new. In an effort to communicate the concepts of NRT to as many undergraduate perspectives as possible, examples and assignments feature musical works of the Common Practice Period, such as those of Beethoven and Liszt, as well as those drawn from the Rock-Pop Era from artists such as Ozzy Osbourne and The Beatles. This thesis addresses the application of NRT through various written, aural, and keyboard assignments that can be easily utilized in most undergraduate curricula. Through the use of written assignments, including examples for analysis as well as composition-exercises, students will achieve an understanding of NRT at the Analytical and Synthesis levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.

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Music Theory Commons