Unisa Music Theory Changes, common student errors etc

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SASMT CONFERENCE 2014
Unisa Music Theory: Changes, common
student errors and approaches to teaching
Music Theory
Sean Adams
Subject Specialist, Directorate Music, Unisa
Food for thought….
Tell me, and I may forget
Show me and I may remember.
Involve me and I will learn.
(Anonymous pedagogue)
Music History
●
Joseph Kerman (1985: 42) argued against what he referred to as
the positivist approach to teaching music history. By this he meant
‘the presentation of the texts of early music and of facts and
figures about it, not their interpretation’.
●
Kerman (1985: 43) accused historians of ‘arranging the events of
music history, considered as an autonomous phenomenon, into
simplistic evolutionary patterns…. Much less attention was paid to
the interaction of music history with the political, social and
intellectual history. And less attention was paid to the interaction of
music history as an aspect of and in relation to culture at large’.
●
interdisciplinary approach – the study of the music in the context
which it originated, the role it served within the society in which it
originated and its role in society today
Beethoven’s Ninth
●
politicized use of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (‘Ode to Joy’) in Nazi
Germany and Rhodesia
●
use at the opening ceremony of the 1936 Berlin Olympic games
●
use of the music of the Ode to Joy for the national anthem of
Rhodesia
●
Estefan Buch’s Beethoven’s Ninth: A Political History (2004)
Women in Music
●
Nicholas Cook (2000: 100) stated in his book Music: A Very Short
Introduction that ‘the history of music, as it is generally told, is
conspicuous by the absence of women’.
●
Other female composers such as Clara Schumann, Fanny Hensel,
Cecile Chaminade, Amy Beach, Ruth Crawford Seeger, and Nancy
van der Vate.
●
investigate the instruments that women were allowed to play and the
reasons for these limited choices, and the impact of the Second World
War on the emancipation of women as musicians and composers.
●
Marcia Citron’s Women and Music: A History, and her book Gender
and the Musical Canon; Aelwyn Pugh’s Women in Music and Ruth
Solie’s Musicology and Difference: Gender and Sexuality in Music
Scholarship
African, South African and Popular Music Styles
●
inclusion of indigenous music – music and migrancy, Shembe hymns
●
music from other African countries such as Zimbabwean mbira music
and the polyrhythmic ensembles of Ghana
●
South African music styles such as maskanda, bubblegum, kwaito,
house music, ghoemaliedjies, the music of the Cape minstrels, SA Jazz,
Afrikaans pop music
●
hip-hop, funk, rock
●
music and society, music and meaning
Useful Music History Resources
Books:
●
●
Coplan, D. B. 1985. In Township Tonight. New York: Longman Inc.
Ballantine, C. 2012. Marabi Nights: Jazz, ‘Race’ and Society in Early Apartheid South
Africa. Scottsville, South Africa: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press.
●
Lucia, C. (ed). 2005. The World of South African Music: A Reader. Newcastle:
Cambridge Scholars Press.
●
Martins, D. C. 2013. Sounding the Cape: Music, Identity and Politics in South African
Minds.
●
Muller, C. A. 2004. South African Music: A Century of Traditions in Transformation.
Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-Clio.
●
Muller, C. A. 2008. Focus: Music of South Africa. New York: Routledge.
South African Music Journals:
●
Musicus: A South African Journal for Music teaching
●
Muziki: Journal of Music Research in Africa
●
Journal of the Musical Arts in Africa
South African Music website:
www.music.org.za
Jazz Theory
●
●
●
●
●
will commence at grade 6 level.
Both Jazz Theory and Western Art Music candidates will use the
same curriculum and enter for the same Theory exams (WAM) for
Pregrade 1 – Grade 5 as they need to acquire the same music
competencies.
Separate stream for grades 6 – 8
where jazz theory students will focus more intensely on topics specific
to the genre which will include Jazz Harmony, Jazz Improvisation,
Jazz History and Jazz Arranging Techniques.
Resources:
Mark Levine’s The Jazz Theory Book (Sher); Mark Gridley’s Jazz
Styles: History and Analysis (11th edition – Pearson); Shelton Berg’s
Alfred’s Essentials of Jazz Theory (Books 1, 2 and 3)
Music theory
●
‘Music is the art of sound’ - Alfred Blatter (2007)
●
teach the Music in Theory
●
musical rather than a technical approach to teaching Music Theory
●
intervals: semitone method……??
For an interval to be major or perfect the top note must appear in
the major scale of the bottom note
●
Roman chord figuring: 5/3; 6/3; 6/4 rather than a, b, c
●
tension and relaxation
●
assessment as pedagogical tool
Music theory continued
Example: Assessment schedule for a Grade VI harmony exercise:

Chord choice/chord progression
7/9

Voice-leading
4/6

Grammar
3/6

Modulation
3/5

Dominant seventh quartads
2/3

Secondary dominant sevenths
2/3

Non-harmonic notes
2/3

TOTAL
23/35
Music Theory continued
Example: An assessment schedule for a Grade VI melody writing exercise:

Motivic development
3/5

Melodic contour
2/3

Modulation
3/4

Rhythm
2/2

Phrasing
2/2

Dynamics
1/2

TOTAL:
13/18
Changes to Music Theory
Grade 2:
●
Note values:
add the dotted quaver and semiquaver
●
Time signatures: add 6/8; 9/8
Grade 3:
●
Time signatures: add 2/2; 3/2; 4/2
Grade 6:
●
Counterpoint: Replace the two-part writing exercise with the analysis
of two-part inventions Nos 1 - 8 of JS Bach.
●
Harmonic analysis of ANY given music excerpt containing the elements that
have been studied at this level
Changes to Music Theory continued
●
Schubert: The characteristics of the lied, the relationship between the
song text and the music, and the relationship between the voice and
piano accompaniment.
●
Form Analysis: Replace Beethoven’s Sonata in B flat major, Op 22
(first movement) with Mozart’s Piano Sonata in C, K. 309 (first
movement)
Grade 7 and 8:
Women in Music, African Music/World Music, SA Music styles, SA Jazz –
interdisciplinary approach; alignment with current trends in Music Scholarship
Common Student Exam Errors
Pregrade 1:
●
Grouping – 4 quavers beamed as 2 groups of 2 quavers
Grade 1:
●
Beaming quavers in 2/4 and 3/4 time in groups of pairs
●
Neglecting to add a time signature to the tonic solfa transcription
Grade 2:
●
The rhythm of the solfa poses a problem
●
not raising the leading note in the dominant triad
●
transposing the passage two octaves lower instead of one.
Grade 3:
●
With the figuring of triads attention needs to be given to the correct figuring in
order to distinguish between the different types of triads.
Common Student Exam Errors cont.
Grade 4
●
correct figuring of chord in order to distinguish between the
different chord types (major, minor, augmented diminished). The
figuring should also be used as a guide to determining the keys.
●
the leading note is often not raised in four-part chords in minor keys.
●
Students mistakenly often view the bass note as the root of the
chord and do not take inversions into account.
Grade 5
●
the structure of melodies and the use of meaningful articulation and
dynamics.
●
many candidates ignore the instructions and leave notes
unharmonised due to a lack of understanding of chord progression
Common Student Exam Errors cont.
Grade 6.1
Melody writing
●
modulate to the correct keys and at the correct places
●
have good melodic contour and line shape;
Four-part with modulation
●
identifying the key(s) correctly; knowing which keys to modulate to and
using the correct modulation procedures
●
the use of the necessary accidental(s) once a modulation has taken place
●
distinguishing between harmonic and non-harmonic notes
●
singing the given melody to ascertain where the cadences are and
including proper cadences at those points
●
generally a very poor understanding of harmonic rhythm
●
correct resolution of the dominant and dominant seventh chords and
secondary dominant seventh chords
Common Student Exam Errors cont.
Analysis:
●
Figure the chords correctly in order to distinguish between the
different types (major, minor, augmented, diminished)
●
indicate the inversions of chords; attention needs to be given to the
identification of non-harmonic notes
Grade 6, 7 and 8 (Paper 2)
●
in many instances questions are answered rather superficially, lack
academic substance and lack of sufficient engagement with the s
ubject matter.
●
need to acquire a much greater aural awareness of the pieces to be
analysed through repeated listening – while doing the analysis the
candidates should be able to hear the composition(s) in their heads
Common Student Exam Errors cont.
Grade 7 (Paper 1)
●
candidates do not think in terms of sound rather of applying "rules"
on paper.
●
are not comfortably familiar with chromatic harmonic language
●
Canons: present quite big problems harmonically. Poor knowledge of
the imitative technique should be evident - should also make some
harmonic sense.
Grade 8 (Paper 1)
●
use of a piano allowed
●
musical style and taste
Closing thought….
‘Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is
impossible to be silent’
Victor Hugo
‘I believe in God, Mozart and Beethoven’
Richard Wagner
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