[Smt-talk] Written record of Boulanger pedagogy?

Victor grauer victorag at verizon.net
Sun Dec 19 06:52:22 PST 2010

Concerning the Vidal basses, it's easy for an experienced musician to 
forget that learning the rules of traditional harmonic practice (both 
chord progressions and voice leading) is, for most students, 
extremely difficult.  For this reason, my own inclination is to begin 
with the teaching of modal counterpoint, which, as I see it, is much 
easier, much more creative, and an excellent preparation for the 
study of harmonic voice leading, not to mention melody writing and 
scoring. I would assume Vidal's basses (and others like them, of the 
sort I toiled over as a student) are deliberately designed so the 
student can focus on voice leading only, with no regard for the much 
more difficult matters of chord progression, phrasing, cadential 
preparation, etc.

It's probably best to think of them as analogous to physical 
exercises, such as pushups and weight lifting (or scales and 
solfeggio, for that matter), designed to strengthen the mental and 
musical "muscles" of the student, which can only be done through 
tedious repetition. Once the student gets to the point that he can do 
such exercises without making the usual sort of errors, he should be 
able to "see" tonal relationships much more clearly, making it easier 
for him to move on to exercises that are more challenging and 
meaningful, such as the study of Bach chorales, Mozart minuets and, 
ultimately, Schubert, Brahms, Wagner, Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Stockhausen, etc.

Victor Grauer
Pittsburgh, PA,

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