[Smt-talk] Expanded Music Theory

Yuri Broze yuribroze at gmail.com
Wed Feb 22 20:05:10 PST 2012

To wax utilitarian, it would seem reasonable to steer the curriculum in a
direction that would result in the most benefit to the most students.
Although I don't have access to empirical data concerning undergraduate
career choices following a music degree, my hunch would be that the
majority of undergraduates who indeed pursue a career related to music
are doing so in the capacity of a primary or secondary school teacher,
or private music instructor.

One possible explanation for the prevalence and continued success of
having "music theory" as its own undergraduate series of courses would
be that harmony, counterpoint and musical form are ancillary to the
primary career goal of our students: to get hired.  Whether or not
such a subdivision of curriculum would sculpt a better overall "musician,"
the fact remains that those skills might not be of particular interest to a
high school's hiring committee.

Harmony, counterpoint, and musical form are certainly important topics for
an aspiring composer. They are also of tremendous interest and value to
any musician who wants to gain insight as a listener, critic, performer, or
educator.  We must always strive to help musicians to form intimate
ships with these things we love so dearly.  To expand the harmony, form, and
counterpoint curricula, it would be necessary to first increase the demand
these skills.

Yuri Broze
103-1/2 King Ave
Columbus, OH 43201

2012/2/22 Nicolas Meeùs <nicolas.meeus at paris-sorbonne.fr>

> Le 21/02/2012 22:28, Ninov, Dimitar N a écrit :
>> [...]
>> In contrast to the above situation, in many European conservatories the
>> theoretical disciplines are studied separately. In addition, the curriculum
>> is different for different majors. For example, students who major in
>> theory, composition, conducting and musicology usually study harmony and
>> counterpoint each for six semesters and musical analysis for two semesters.
>> Students who major in instrumental performance, voice, and music pedagogy
>> study harmony for four semesters, counterpoint for two semesters, and
>> analysis for one semester. You can imagine the level of mastery that one
>> can achieve by studying separately theoretical disciplines for a long
>> period of time.
> In the European countries that I know, there are so to say no counterpoint
> classes any more: counterpoint here is a disappearing discipline. As to
> musical analysis ... Conservatoires teach some sort of musical description,
> the kind of "conducted tours" of which Leopold Mannes wrote 60 years ago. I
> do not think that students here attain a level of "mastery" higher than
> that of their American colleagues.
> Nicolas Meeùs
> Université Paris-Sorbonne
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