[Smt-talk] Passing and Neighboring 6/4s

Brian Hulse operascore at yahoo.com
Thu Jan 21 17:35:59 PST 2010

Again, I have to raise the pedagogic question. I make it very clear to my students that the "rules" they are learning vaguely correspond in various ways to various repertoires -- but that, at the end of the day, they represent a pseudo musical practice dreamed up by music theorists whose primary importance is pedagogic; that is, to learn to differentiate some basic musical features and gain some control of vertical and horizontal dimensions of music. Sure, it is fun to point out to students that certain "rules" (like the vi-V prohibition Dmitri mentions) make no sense, but the reason I point out things like that is not to impart a more pure (or sterile) "truth," but to discourage students from thinking dogmatically about what they're learning. 
Drawing the line between what you're going to allow and what you're not seems to me to be dependent on what the pedagogic use is going to be, rather than its strict correspondence with a repertoire. I can see it quickly becoming impossibly cumbersome for undergraduate students (even "smart" ones) to have to memorize and master seperate systems for Bach, Mozart, and Brahms, let alone to really get a handle on all the exceptions and intricacies of a single composer's style (and the statistical ordering of chord types can hardly encapsulate a composer's style, let's not kid ourselves). So then you're back to a pseudo-system.
Now, as for the "turn" in music theory towards statistical "number crunching" -- I see this as inevitable as it is unfortunate. Not because there won't be knowledge gained, but because this knowledge will be overvalued. 

* * * * * * * * * 
Brian Hulse

--- On Thu, 1/21/10, Dmitri Tymoczko <dmitri at Princeton.EDU> wrote:

From: Dmitri Tymoczko <dmitri at Princeton.EDU>
Subject: Re: [Smt-talk] Passing and Neighboring 6/4s
To: "smt-talk smt" <smt-talk at societymusictheory.org>
Date: Thursday, January 21, 2010, 9:51 AM

A bunch of people have written in to defend Aldwell and Schachter.  Let me clarify that I'm not trying to single out their book in particular: every major textbook contains similar howlers.  For example, Kostka and Payne provide a map of acceptable progressions which asserts that both vi->V and vi->viio are unacceptable.  Yet in Mozart's piano sonatas, fully 29% of vi chords go to either viio or V.

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