To study them in the same detail as we have the progressions of Baroque, Classical, and Romantic music would require more time than could be allotted without sacrificing other curricular elements or would require a rebalancing of content in the undergraduate core—which likely will happen gradually. For now, we can teach the popular music examples we choose to engage in a nuanced and detailed way.
Fourth, teachers need to be trained to teach popular music. We cannot assume they can work with their knowledge of Common Practice music and make the transfer from there. Teaching harmonic practices specific to a broad range of popular music honestly and on its own terms means it cannot be easily subsumed under the Common Practice umbrella, as has been illustrated through examples considered in this chapter.
Acknowledging up front that there is a difference between the use of harmonic materials in post popular repertoires and their use in typical Common Practice contexts is an essential start; the next step is addressing the differences and encouraging students to listen and analyze recent popular music with an open mind—without expecting the progressions to necessarily follow earlier norms. Fortunately, students with a basic level of music literacy will not have substantial difficulties engaging in analytical investigations of pieces such as those we have heard if they are introduced to repertoire-specific terminology and expectations, use both their aural skills and available scores to engage the music, and are shown how to get started on an analysis.
If we feel that popular music analysis should be taught, the first step is for those who are knowledgeable about the repertoire and who care about this music to begin teaching it. To quote Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu c.
The research under way toward understanding and analyzing specific repertoires is a starting point, and conferences where information is gathered and disseminated are steps in the right direction. It is incumbent on teachers to be aware of the pitfalls in incorporating popular music into the music theory core curriculum and to have a plan to avoid them.
They should choose teaching examples carefully, treat the music fairly, and delve as deeply into this music as any other repertoire they teach.
Popular music deserves to be taught on its own terms, as a significant content area of the core music theory courses. Paradigm shifts take time and effort, and repertoire that is new to a teacher takes time to master—but this problem will ease as rising generations routinely study recent popular music as a part of their degree coursework. We have to start somewhere, and it is time to do it! The call for radical revision has come most notably from a task force organized in by ethnomusicologist and College Music Society CMS president Patricia Shehan Campbell. We can gain a little by efficiencies—such as textbooks or lesson plans that use the time available for student learning as efficiently as possible by excellent organization of content and inclusion of all needed scores, recordings, worksheets, instructional videos, and other materials to maximize instructional time on task—but not enough to add new content without removing topics that were previously included.
There are vast differences in harmonic practices between early and later repertoires, among various genres of pieces, and in the particular uses of composers in specific locations and time periods. These are reflected quite clearly in my teaching, as represented in my textbooks. New York: W. London: Oxford University Press, The Laitz textbook is more typical in that it focuses on Common Practice repertoire.
Norton, All these books engage a more diverse selection of music than the serialism and sets of earlier textbooks on twentieth-century music and also include some works by American composers and by women. Norton, , —11, ; they were developed by this author in conjunction with this chapter prior to inclusion in the textbook. Louis, MO, October 30, I am personally familiar with its employment in accompaniments for Cape Breton—style minor-mode Aeolian or Dorian fiddle tunes from performing and studying repertoire in this style.
Walter Everett New York: Garland, , n This topic is introduced on pp. He introduces this topic on p. Mark Spicer New York: Routledge, Walter Everett New York: Routledge, See pp.
Skip to main content Skip to quick search Skip to global navigation. Maize Books Michigan Publishing. Home Search Browse. Table of Contents. Teaching Popular Music in the Music Theory Core: Focus on Harmony and Musical Form Jane Piper Clendinning Florida State University Introduction Where, when, and how to incorporate popular music in the undergraduate music theory curriculum has been the subject of intense discussion in recent years, especially as research regarding popular music theory and analysis has become increasingly prolific and prominent in the music theory profession.
Current Treatment of Popular Music in the Context of Traditional Core Theory Courses For at least the last half century, the traditional objective of core music theory courses for undergraduate music majors has been to prepare students to analyze music from established eighteenth- through early twentieth-century canonic Western concert music repertoires: recognizing typical and atypical harmonic, melodic, and formal practices; labeling and interpreting rhythmic and metrical features; and identifying style and genre. Example 2.
Example 4. Example 5. Some Guidelines For Teaching Popular Music Examples In teaching a popular music example, it is essential to encourage students to evaluate harmony in the song on its own terms by asking questions such as the following: What key s are expressed in this song? What chords are used? What is their relationship to the key or mode?
What is the relationship of the harmonies to the melody of the song? How are the harmonies connected? What progressions are present? Are there harmonic loops? The Blues began to emerge as a distinct genre of music in the late 19th and early 20th century. It evolved out of the field holler and work songs of African slaves in the South of the US.
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Now, around this time the guitar became widely available for the first time in the rural South of America. As a portable instrument, it was embraced by many African American musicians at the time. Think of musicians like Robert Johnson or Lead Belly. Slavery was officially abolished in the US in , so needless to say most of these black musicians were not formally educated in the intricacies of Western Harmony and music theory or proper technique.
This meant their music was quite simple, repetitive, rough and primitive but also emotional, straight from the heart and raw.
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These musicians used tuned their guitars in unusual ways and played them by pressing knives and bottlenecks against the strings. They also song emotively without worrying about playing the Major Scale in equal temperament. So blue notes, originally, actually referred to out of tune notes, or microtones, or notes located between the 12 notes of western music. Over time the Blues was picked up by professional musicians and formalised. As this happened musicians had to fit these out of tune microtones into the pre-existing Common Practice western musical system.
Though, of course, guitarist and singers can and do still hit these microtones by bending their notes.
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Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Written as a music theory text that not only addresses the important fundamental syntax of music in the classical sense but also relates this syntax to current practices and styles, this book should be particularly well-suited to musicians focusing on aspects of the music business and of popular culture. Get A Copy. Kindle Edition , pages. More Details Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.