# Roman Numeral Analysis and Class Game

Students practice and review the fundamental skills of Roman numeral analysis through a competitive question/answer game.

Goal/s:

For students to become comfortable with the fundamental skills of Roman numeral analysis: chord rotation, building chords on scale degrees, functionality within a key and a few voice-leading techniques.

Class: Mus 51a: Tonal Harmony I

Introduction/Background:

Teaching Fellow, Olivia Lucas, designed a game for students to learn and review the fundamental skills of Roman numeral analysis. Roman numeral analysis forms the backbone of much of what is taught in the undergraduate music theory curriculum, and thus, familiarity and agility with its tools and techniques will serve the students well not only in the class, but also in future semesters.

Prior to the activity, students will have learned the fundamentals of a Roman numeral analysis, a technique for analyzing music. This analytical technique relates chords to the scale degree on which they are based, and uses additional symbols to express inversion and applied functionality. They will already understand how to a) generate a chord when given a roman numeral and key b) identify the correct roman numeral to label a chord in a piece of music, though they will have not necessarily had much practice applying these skills yet.

In this activity, students are put into teams of three and have to work together to answer questions on Roman Numeral Analysis posed by the instructor.

Procedure:

1. For the first half of the section, the class reviews the relevant terms and techniques that were just covered in lecture.
2. Then, the instructor breaks the students into two teams, of 3 students each.
3. These three students must take turns being the team's "scribe" - the person who writes the answer to the problem on the board. The scribe is not allowed to write anything on the board until her/his teammates say what to write. (This ensures that if one student is significantly quicker at solving the problems than the others, there will be turns when s/he must stay quiet and let the others think through the problem.)
4. The instructor, then, reads out a problem for the teams to solve. The problems will start simple, for example, "what is IV in F major?" When instructed by their teammates, the scribe must write the correct key signature, and the correct chord.
5. The first team to have the correct answer gets a point. A tally can be kept on the board.
6. The game proceeds with the scribes rotating and the questions getting more complex, asking them to not only use what they've learned, but put more and more pieces of it together. Later questions would include asking them to write inverted chords, correctly voice-led cadences, or short chord progressions, all from the starting point of the roman numerals. The competitive aspect encourages them to work quickly without losing accuracy, which will in turn help them in completing their assignments and taking quizzes, which are timed.
7. The game continues for about twenty minutes, and the team with the most points could get a small prize, but this is optional. At the end, five minutes are left for questions. Students can ask questions about anything that came up during the game, or about the upcoming assignment and quiz on the material. The class also reflects, briefly, as a group on the value of using this kind of abstract analysis to examine pieces of tonal music.