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by Anna Butterworth, 1999 ABRSM, Grades 6-8                                                                               

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Author: Anna Butterworth

First published: 1999

Publisher: ABRSM

ISBN: 978185472833

Level: Grades 6-8

Pages: 268

Our Rating: starstarstarstarstar


  • Triads and Chords
  • Simple Progressions
  • Extended Progressions
  • Modulation
  • Melodic and Harmonic Decoration


 This is a book I heartily recommend to all my students. It provides a step-by-step approach to learning how chords work together to create harmony, in the most traditional sense.

Harmony in Practice is useful for anyone studying harmony, whether for an ABRSM exam or not. It’s not focused on the exam ABRSM syllabus at all, despite being one of their own publications. Instead, it gives you a sound overview of harmony which can be applied in any situation. The downside for ABRSM exam students though, is that the material covers aspects that are tested between grade 6 and 8, without mentioning any grade. This means that a grade 6 student can unwittingly get bogged down struggling to understand something which isn’t required until grade 8.

Butteworth clearly explains how triads and chords are formed and how they are placed together to create smooth progressions. All the main “rules of harmony” are covered – which notes you can double in a chord, which you can leave out and so on. Butterworth uses well-chosen simple language for her explanations, and plenty of musical examples, both from real music and invented for ease of illustration. In addition, there are lots of practice exercises for you to try your hand at. No answers are provided in this book however, so you will need to purchase the model answers book as well, if you are checking without a teacher.

It’s worth knowing that the book doesn’t include any help regarding figured bass, and it only covers the most traditional aspects of harmony (let’s say up to around late Beethoven’s time). However, as a text book for getting to grips with the foundations of harmony, Harmony in Practice is a useful, effective and user-friendly book which is excellent value for its content.