Stephen Jablonsky jablonsky at optimum.net
Sun Apr 29 05:01:27 PDT 2012

Dear All,

Thanks to all who shared their thoughts on textbooks. It struck me that there may be a pattern here. It seems that the composers (Schoenberg, Hindemith, Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Goldman) write smaller books than the theorists. As we all know there is often a significant difference between the way theory is taught by composers and theorists and that may be reflected in the type of book they prefer. Just for the fun of it I spent two hours yesterday putting down on one page everything a student in Theory 1 needs to know in an attempt to write the first page of the world's smallest textbook. ^ _ ^

One last note thought. For my taste too many books are just harmony books and deal only with chords. When I used to teach Theory 1 and Theory 2 I used to cover the elements of rhythm and melody as well. I wanted my Theory 1 students to be able to write folk songs and my Theory 2 students to be able to write in the style of the American Songbook over a given chord progression from Kern, Porter, or Gershwin. I dare say, most theory books teach almost nothing about the construction and composition of melody. Call me crazy, but I think melody is more important than harmony and should be taught early in the theory sequence. I think all students are potential composers and should be treated as such.

Prof. Stephen Jablonsky, Ph.D.
Music Department Chair
The City College of New York
160 Convent Avenue S-72
New York NY 10031
(212) 650-7663

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