[Smt-talk] open access theory materials (forked from THEORY TEXTBOOKS)

Slottow, Stephen Stephen.Slottow at unt.edu
Thu Apr 26 11:54:01 PDT 2012

My favorite text (A&S) introduces paradigms, explains how they work (and often their background), and illustrates their use with characteristic musical examples. Then the student can, hopefully, learn to use and recognize these paradigms in writing and analysis. I find this an effective way to learn. I routinely have students in graduate classes that never learned, for instance, that vii6 can act as a passing chord between I and I6 (or have never heard of a passing chord at all), a topic covered early in A&S, or of the idiom I-IV6-I6. Once having learned the patterns, one recognizes them. This approach can't be implemented in only a few pages. However, I have also found that I do need to present a one-page outline of essential points. But the reason the outline works is that it summarizes and refers to the more extensive treatment which we've gone over in class and which they will need to know to do the homework. I think that both work together and that both are necessary. And one obvious practical advantage of a good text, such as A&S, is that I can, to a great extent, use their examples and explanations, of course augmenting them with my own. But I don't have come up with every example and every exercise from scratch, which I appreciate.

Stephen Slottow
Associate Professor of Music
College of Music
University of North Texas

From: Kris Shaffer <kshaffer at csuniv.edu<mailto:kshaffer at csuniv.edu>>
Date: Thu, 26 Apr 2012 11:13:46 -0400
To: smt-talk smt <smt-talk at societymusictheory.org<mailto:smt-talk at societymusictheory.org>>
Subject: [Smt-talk] open access theory materials (forked from THEORY TEXTBOOKS)

As I was writing my reply to the very interesting thread on theory textbooks, my mind kept wandering off into issues of open access. Perhaps some of you have seen the recent book Hacking the Academy (http://tuclst.blogspot.com/2011/09/hacking-academy-ebook-volume.html). It both advocates for (in some articles) and exemplifies a publishing model based on crowdsourcing and free, open access. Many of us have generated concise, helpful materials for our students on different topics. I wonder if more of us made those materials available on the open web with a CC-BY license or something like it, and others set about the work of collecting and grouping compatible materials, how course materials might change for the better.

As an example, a small group of theorists who are like-minded about core topics and have complementary materials might pool their resources to make a single combined website/ebook/printed volume that collects their course materials in a more-or-less complete course package and offers that package freely on the web to others who might use it.

Or an individual or group could create an archival website (using Omeka, for instance) to which many of us could submit modular resources, and instructors could link to the specific resources they find most useful on their course syllabus. If that archive also collected submissions of syllabuses, other instructors could use one or more existing syllabuses as starting points for their own.

I'm wondering what others think about this as a possibility. I just get excited about open source, open access, and communal sharing of materials in general. However, I think that the size and cost of current textbooks, their lag behind developments in theory and analysis, and their gradual smoothing out of differences between different schools of thought make a strong case for more open sharing of short, free, quality, locally developed materials.

Kris Shaffer, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Music Theory
Charleston Southern University
twitter: @krisshaffer
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