• Introduction to Functional Harmony Course
  • Introduction to Functional Harmony roadmap

Introduction to Functional Harmony Course


In the Introduction to Functional Harmony course, learn about harmony, chord progressions, and emotional expression in music

Join the 235 students already learning at Girl in Blue Music!

Introduction to Functional Harmony Course

Harmony, Chord Progressions, and Emotional Expression

The Introduction to Functional Harmony Course will give you the ability to:

  • Write your own, solid chord progressions
  • Recreate emotional expression formed from harmony in your favorite songs
  • Add spice to or jazz up any chord progression you’re given
  • Create key changes
  • Harmonize any melody
  • Better understand the deep connection you feel with your favorite music

What People are Saying About Girl in Blue Music

Join 235 students already learning at Girl in Blue Music!

What is functional harmony?



  • What are chord progressions?
  • How do you make chord progressions?
  • How do different chords or progressions make you feel?
  • How do you jazz up a chord progression?
  • What are musical phrases?
  • How do you change keys in a song?
  • Do you always have to use chords and notes that are only in the key you’re in?

The study of functional harmony is a way of thinking about tonality as a relationship between three types of chords.

Stufentheorie, or the “theory of degrees,” comes from a collection of theorists in the German tradition including, Arnold Schoenberg, Heinrich Schenker, and Simon Sechter. In this theory, you can organize the chords built off of every scale degree into one of three roles or functions that relate to each other. Dominant chords lead toward tonic chords, and pre-dominant chords lead toward dominant chords to create a cycle of progressions.

This theory evolved to what is commonly taught in undergraduate core music theory classrooms today. Stufentheorie is a helpful tool to notice and recreate patterns in harmony that happen across centuries of music from Mozart to now.

Here’s What Functional Harmony Can Look Like


@girlinbluemusic @girlinbluemusic @girlinbluemusic @girlinbluemusic You can link videos together now, amazing! #musictheorytips #musictheorytiktok #musictheory #music #harmonytips #chordprogressions #musiciansoftiktok #musictok

♬ Cheers – New Rules

There’s your brief lesson on building chord progressions! @girlinbluemusic @girlinbluemusic @girlinbluemusic @girlinbluemusic #musictheorytips #musictheorytok #musiciansoftiktok #musictok #chordprogressions #musictok

♬ Doo Doo Doo (Unplugged) – LLUNR

What You’ll Learn in Introduction to Functional Harmony Course

The minimum outcome is that you appreciate all the music you hear much more than beforehand. But more likely, when you complete this course, you’ll be able to:

  • Write your own, solid chord progressions
  • Recreate emotional expression formed from harmony in your favorite songs
  • Add spice to or jazz up any chord progression you’re given
  • Create key changes
  • Harmonize any melody
  • Better understand the deep connection you feel with your favorite music

Knowledge of functional harmony also gives you the ability to notice large-scale patterns in music that help you “chunk” music in your mind. This is one of the three tenets of exceptional memory theory (Chase and Ericsson 1968), so a basic understanding of functional harmony will make your memorization process faster and easier.

The Introduction to Functional Harmony Road Map

Introduction to Functional Harmony roadmap

Unit 1

You’ll start this course with a brief review of chord building: basic triads, seventh chords, and inversions.

From there, you’ll spend Unit 1 learning about cadences, the punctuation of harmony in music. You’ll understand what types of cadences create a sense of finality versus ones that convey a sense of moving forward.

Unit 2

Unit 2 is all about chord progressions. Now that you have a solid foundation in chord relationships and cadences, you’ll start creating full phrases and examining their relationships with corresponding melodies. This is where you really get to learn how to harmonize any melody. You’ll also learn about non-chord tones, when the melody has notes that don’t line up with any chord members.

Unit 3

In Unit 3, you’ll learn about chromatic harmony. This is where you’ll learn many ways to change keys, spice up chord progressions with chords from other keys, and how all of these express different qualia. This is the unit that most impresses people across the internet, so definitely keep pushing through to get to this point!

Course Content

Foundations and Cadences
Chord Functions and the Basic Phrase
Chromatic Harmony

Features of the Introduction to Functional Harmony Course

  • 40+ Video Lessons
  • 40+ Accompanying Exercises
  • Community forum – Ask questions, share music, discuss!
  • One-on-one feedback from an experienced instructor
  • Gamification – Earn points, badges, and prizes for participating
  • Certificate of Completion

Expectations and Prerequisites

Functional harmony is not for the faint of heart. This course is intended for people who are insatiably curious and have a need to learn more about music.

You must have a basic knowledge of chord and scale building. If you haven’t learned these yet, you’re not ready for this course yet.

Take How to Build Chords first:

Expect to work hard and get rewarding feedback in return. While there are no due dates for any of the assignments, if you start as I’m putting lessons out, you’ll get 2 or so lessons a week.

The Price

This course, Introduction to Functional Harmony, covers the equivalent study of harmony gained from at least 2 semesters of core music theory at most universities and even exceeds some university curriculum.

Most universities charge between $1200 and $2000 for a single course, even ones available to the public.

This one costs about $1200 for less content than you’ll get in Introduction to Functional Harmony.

So why is Introduction to Functional Harmony only $250?

You still get the same high-level of education with attention to detail, but you get to support and be a part of Girl in Blue Music’s mission to make music education more accessible to all demographics.

If I could make a living putting courses out for free, I would, but rent exists, so I do have to charge something. $250 is much more affordable for most people and still allows me to make a living providing educational content for those who can’t attend a university course.

Part of this is why I prefer a topical structure to my courses instead of an overarching Music Theory I, Music Theory II, etc. It means you can afford to follow your interests instead of getting stuck in musical traditions that you don’t have time to study or paying for a massive course that you won’t use half of.

Additionally, if $250 all at once is too much for you, Paypal offers some pay over time options, so just under the price on this page, it should have some offer for you that’s much more affordable.

Money-Back Guarantee

My job is to make sure you learn what you came here to learn. That means, if you feel that if this course isn’t helping you with functional harmony, you’re welcome to request a refund within 30 days of purchase. Just send me an email.

This Course is Perfect for You If

  • You want to write your own music
  • You want to write your own harmonies to melodies you’ve already written
  • You have insatiable curiosity for how music works
  • You want to see common patterns between vastly different kinds of repertoire
  • You want to jazz up a cover of an already existing song

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the prerequisites?

Come in being comfortable reading sheet music and building chords. If you need to, you can take How to Build Chords first. Also be comfortable with scales. If you’re rusty, don’t worry. We’ll do a quick review at the beginning!

How much work will I have to do?

Introduction to Functional Harmony is an involved course. There are reasonable assignments to ensure you understand the material before you move onto the next topic, but because this is an asychronous course, you can take as long as you need for each. That said, this course is around 10 weeks long if you spend a few hours on it a week.

When will lessons be published?

Introduction to Functional Harmony course officially starts the week of December 20, 2021, and lessons will come out twice a week and be archived from that point on. Starting sooner will help you out more, as you’ll get emails every time a new lesson becomes available to you. It’s a good way to keep up with the material and be involved with any adjustments I make to the course as we go.

What if I get stuck?

Functional harmony is not easy, and you might get stuck. That’s why I’ll be here every step of the way to answer any questions and provide feedback. That’s why there’s also a community of all your classmates here, so you can ask each other too!

Is there a refund policy?

Yes! I want to ensure you’re happy with the course, so if you feel the course and community aren’t teaching you functional harmony, you have 30 days to let me know for a refund.

What if I’m not sure if this course is a good fit for me?

Send me an email at [email protected]! I’m a teacher, so I’m here to make sure you’re in the courses that best fit your needs.

What are you waiting for? Enroll Now!

About the Author

Amy King is a music theory and piano instructor currently residing in the Chicago area.

She holds a Master of Music in Music Theory and Cognition from Northwestern University (June 2020) and a Bachelor of Arts in Piano Performance and English Literature from High Point University (May 2016), where she received the Outstanding Senior Music Major Award, which is awarded to one single graduating music student per year.

Amy has been teaching private piano lessons for 12+ years, taught classroom music theory for 5 years, directed choirs spanning ages 4–25, led and arranged for a university a capella group, and composed and arranged music for various soloists and ensembles.


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