John S. Cotner


Courses in graduate theory review vary considerably due to the diverse goals of music departments at national and regional institutions, degree programs, requisite knowledge and skill of students, as well as training and experience of instructors, among other reasons. The scope of theory review can be viewed along a continuum. At one extreme we might focus solely on basic tonal grammar through short drills in writing and conventional harmonic analysis, with little if any full score analysis. At the other extreme, student skill sets and engagement might open the way to more accelerated learning. Among upper-tier schools, this kind of course is often required of incoming students who fail an entrance exam in music theory. On the other hand, at lower-tier schools all incoming students might be required to complete theory review as a prerequisite to further studies in their discipline. Into such an imbalanced educational milieu, Graduate Review of Tonal Theory: A Recasting of Common-Practice Harmony, Form, and Counterpoint by Steven G. Laitz and Christopher Bartlette emerges as a rare commodity: A textbook specifically designed for graduate-level review of tonal materials, structures, and forms of European common practice (ca. 1600 - 1900). Given the academic diversity of graduate programs across the country, instructors charged with teaching graduate theory review will have unique concerns about the effectiveness and practicability of GRTT in their classes.