[Smt-talk] Theory impacting performance

Stephen Jablonsky jablonsky at optimum.net
Thu Jul 5 08:30:33 PDT 2012

One interesting question about the teaching of "theory" is what does that include. As a composer/theorist I always included a component about folk song composition in Theory 1, a component on American Songbook composition in Theory II, and some free composition in Theory 3. I am always amused when when I pick up a distinguished theory tome and it does little or nothing about melody. It's always chords, chords, chords. Hey, nobody likes chords better than I, but if your students cannot construct a simple, decent melodic double period then something critical about the study of music is missing. I need to believe that my students benefitted from practicing the art of composition. In conclusion, I must add that I often look askance at theorists who do not compose or perform. How much credence should we give to theorists who are not musicians?

On Jul 5, 2012, at 9:55 AM, Kris Shaffer wrote:

> I'll refrain from joining the well worn debate over the relative merits of composers and theorists in teaching music theory, which I hope has not been newly ignited by the above comment. The discipline of music theory involves more than teaching voice-leading, harmony, form, and aural skills to undergraduates. And I think that most of the folks on this list would agree that our discipline is all the richer for having a diversity of composers, composer/theorists, performer/theorists, "pure" theorists, etc. teaching theory at various institutions and contributing to the ever growing body of music theoretical knowledge.

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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