Rock Band Performance & Pedagogy

Rock Band Performance & Pedagogy

From July 22–27, I partook in a graduate class at Boston University entitled Rock Band Performance & Pedagogy. The primary function of the course was to experience a “modern band” class as a student would: choosing songs, playing new instruments, rehearsing with different groups, and performing at the conclusion. Interspersed throughout the week were small lectures, master classes, and discussions related to the work. Our instructors were Dr. Jay Dorfman, currently Associate Professor and Coordinator of Music Education at Kent State University and former BU faculty, and Kevin Coyne, music teacher at McDevitt Middle School in Waltham, Massachusetts and a DMA candidate through Boston University.

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Jazz & Popular Arranging: Final Project

Jazz & Popular Arranging: Final Project

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For Weeks 6 and 7 of Jazz & Popular Arranging, we are working on our final arrangement that was selected from our preferred list in Week 3. My facilitator elected for me to arrange “How Long Has This Been Going On?” by George & Ira Gershwin from the musical, Rosalie. There were no lecture materials or discussion board requirements for either week, just a first draft at the end of Week 6 and a final product at the end of Week 7.

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Writing Four Part Harmony

Writing Four Part Harmony

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Week 5 is our last “new skill” week in the Jazz & Popular Arranging course. The lecture material focused on registration (in what register is each horn playing) and voicing (distance between voices and what line each voice is playing). Our discussion looked at how a vocal arrangement applied similar principles from the course. Our assignment used a variety of voicing techniques to write a four part harmony to “Blue Room.”

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Writing for Piano/Guitar, Drums & Two-Part Harmony

Writing for Piano/Guitar, Drums & Two-Part Harmony

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Back to our regularly scheduled programming, Week 4 of Jazz & Popular Arranging focused on two skills: 1) writing for piano/guitar and drums, and 2) two-part harmony. The lecture material described different levels of complexity for writing for the rhythm section and focused our harmonization to the use of thirds and sixths. Our discussion revolved around the Doobie Brothers’ “What a Fool Believes” and Al Jarreau’s “We’re in This Love Together.” Our assignment was to write an arrangement of “Have You Met Miss Jones’” for trumpet, tenor sax, piano/guitar, bass, and drums.

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Writing for the Rhythm Section: Bass

Writing for the Rhythm Section: Bass

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In Week 3 of Jazz & Popular Arranging, we added the Rhythm Section to our writing, specifically the bass. Much of the lecture material on bass line construction was similar to the content in Mike Steinel’s Developing the Successful Jazz Ensemble MECA at VanderCook. We continued on the path of unison/octave writing for horns while composing simple bass lines.

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Writing for Horns

Writing for Horns

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For Week 2 of Jazz & Popular Arranging, we began looking at how to write for horns. This week is focused on transposition, where Weeks 4 and 5 will look at two- and four-part writing, respectively. The lecture material dealt mostly with instrument transpositions, ranges, and idiomatic issues. The Discussion revolved around popular bands that use horns effectively in their writing. For the Assignment, we were asked to write an arrangement of Dancing on the Ceiling for alto sax, trumpet, and trombone.

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Rhythmic Concepts in Line Writing

Rhythmic Concepts in Line Writing

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For Week 1 of our Jazz and Popular Arranging course, we are looking at how to notate rhythms in a swing style. The lecture material briefly discussed how to use anticipations and delays to create a more “swinging feel” as opposed to the more “society feel” that is typically notated in fake books. Additional readings, discussed below, came out of Boras’ Jazz Composition and Arranging. Each week requires an initial discussion board post by Friday and a response to a classmate’s post by Sunday. Our assignment involves an arrangement of some standard from Sher’s The Standards Real Book. I’ll go into more detail of each below.

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Jazz and Popular Arranging

Jazz and Popular Arranging

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bThe next course I am taking in Boston University’s Online Doctoral of Musical Arts in Music Education program is MT781: Jazz and Popular Arranging for the Summer I term. The program asks us to take four electives, two of which must be in Music Theory or Musicology. The recommended sequence for our cohort had us taking electives in Spring II and Summer I and MT600: Analytical Techniques I for this term. I was more interested in taking this arranging course than the other options in Spring II—Advocacy & Policy or Community Music. The other options available for Summer I are Intro to Music Technology and American Music History.

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Analytic Techniques: Final Project

Analytic Techniques: Final Project

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For the last week of Analytic Techniques, we spent the entire time writing a paper analysis of Schumann’s Novelette, Op. 21, No. 1 in F major. The goal of the paper was to use all of the different techniques from the previous weeks (harmony, form/structure, melody, phrase structure & meter, ambiguity, and context) in our analysis.

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Context

Context

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Week 6 of Analytic Techniques adds the final “layer” of analysis to our tool belt: context. From the lecture material, context can mean musicological, historical, sociological, psychological, or many other “isms.” The lecture material discussed Brahms’ Fantasien, Op. 116, No. 6 as representative of his style and that of the mid-to-late-nineteenth century piano character piece. The reading in Engaging Music applied historical context to Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, and we were asked to use the methods of applying historical context on a piece of our choosing for the discussion. The Application asked us to trace how Schubert developed an idea throughout his art song, "Der Doppelgänger," from Schwanengesang, D.957. Similarly, the Assignment asked us to analyze Schubert’s Daß sie hier gewesen! (That they were here!) in the vein of Carl Schachter's analysis of the first half of the song in Engaging Music.

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Ambiguity

Ambiguity

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Week 5 of Analytic Techniques added the layer of ambiguity to our analysis. In this case, ambiguity refers to when an analysis of a selection of music is unclear. For example, tonal ambiguity occurs when the harmony does not imply a tonal center. The lecture material discussed tonal ambiguity in Bach’s Es ist genug from Cantata No. 60, the second movement of Mozart’s Sonata for Violin and Piano in Bb, K. 454, and Schumann’s Novelletten, Op. 21, No. 5. After reading an article on different types of musical ambiguity, the Discussion asked us to find a piece from the Classical or Romantic Eras in the Burkhart Anthology that contained a type of musical ambiguity. The Application analyzed the Prelude to Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde for tonal ambiguity, and the Assignment asked us to do the same with the first movement of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 28 in A major, Op. 101.

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Phrase Structure and Meter

Phrase Structure and Meter

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Week 4’s new layer of analysis for Analytic Techniques looked at phrase structure and meter. To borrow from the introductory lecture:

The phrase structure is an interesting concept because it's articulated primarily through harmonic action in the background. But it does have a surface-level layer to it. We often see in a piece of music where the composer puts phrase markings, which may or may not line up with what is going on underneath. It's where there's a dichotomy between those two that's interesting.

We're talking about meter on a structural scale. The concept of Vierhäbichkeit (habit of fours), where we have normal groupings of four in a lot of music, where it's two measures plus two measures equals four measures, and those four measures plus another two-plus-two equals eight, and those form 16, etc. Where composers deviate from that concept and where they extend it or pull back… creates an interesting background layer of how meter works in a piece of music.

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Melody

Melody

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For Week 3 of Analytical Techniques, we added the layer of melody to our analysis. The lecture modules described this layer as the reverse of the process we did in Week 2 with Form and Structure—concentrating on the surface level rather than reducing it. We began by looking at the melody Bach used in the fourth movement of his Partita No. 1 in Bb (BWV 825). The Application looked at the fifth movement of Bach’s Cello Suite No.1 In G major, BWV 1007. For the discussion, we read an article analyzing the Presto from Bach’s Sonata No. 1 in G minor, BWV 1001. The Assignment was to analyze and compose a bass line for the Sarabande from Bach’s Partita in A minor for Solo Flute, BWV 1013.

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Form and Structure

Form and Structure

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Week 2 of Analytical Techniques, Boston’s first graduate music theory course, uses Schenkerian analysis to look at the layers of form and structure of a piece of music. The lecture modules discussed surface design and how to look for changes within the design using musical character, texture, form, and other subtle clues. Examples from the lecture included Mozart’s Fantasia in C minor, K. 475, an excerpt from Hildegard von Bingen's Ordo Virtutum, Bach’s Prelude in C major from The Well-Tempered Clavier, the Presto from Mozart’s Violin Sonata, K. 526, and Beethoven’s Bagatelle, Op. 126, No. 1. Our discussion board post asked us specific questions about Felix Salzer’s analysis of Mozart’s Fantasia in C minor, K. 475. The Application assignment looked at the construction of Hugo Wolf’s Das verlassene Mägdlein. Finally, our assignment was to analyze the first movement of Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13, "Pathétique" for structure and some Roman numeral analysis.

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Harmony

Harmony

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For Week 1 of Analytical Techniques, we reviewed analysis of harmony. Concepts covered included: types of chords occurring in tonal music, functions of chords, non-harmonic tones, expressive corrections, the Neapolitan 6th chord, augmented 6th chords, common-tone diminished 7th chords, and chromatic third relationships. On Thursday (March 21) night, we had our first optional Live Classroom in which the instructor walked us through our first application. By Friday, we had to submit a discussion board post. On Saturday, we had our second weekly optional Live Classroom answering questions about our assignment which was due Monday, March 25.

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Analytical Techniques I — Graduate Music Theory at Boston University

Analytical Techniques I — Graduate Music Theory at Boston University

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For the Spring II 2019 term of my doctoral program, I am taking MT600: Analytical Techniques, the required graduate music theory course. Prior to taking this course, students either have to (a) pass a Music Theory Proficiency Exam, or (b) take MT400: Graduate Theory Review, a remedial theory course that does not count towards the 48 required credits. The rest of this post will detail the Proficiency Exam and MT400 but mostly focus on the structure of the MT600 course.

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Applications of Psychological and Sociological Research

Applications of Psychological and Sociological Research

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For the final week of our Psychology & Sociology class, we were mostly given the time to write our final paper. There were no assigned readings, just a Live Lecture on the topics covered this term and a Live Classroom to discuss the applications in our classroom of the prompt for our paper. The main thrust of the paper is discussing one or more of the psychological/sociological concepts from the course and how it might reconceptualize our pedagogy. The first concept that came to my mind was self-determination theory from Week 4: Identity, Community, and Music Making, but I also thought about digging more into constructionism, the theoretical framework I used in my research proposal for our Introduction to Research class. I ended up settling on constructionism, but I plan on reading more into self-determination theory during my “Spring Break” next week.

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Critical Theory and Critical Pedagogy

Critical Theory and Critical Pedagogy

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For Week 6 of our Psychology and Sociology class, we discussed the topics of Critical Theory and Critical Pedagogy. Critical Theory “is the reflective assessment and critique of society and culture by applying knowledge from the social sciences and the humanities” (Wikipedia). It draws on the works of Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, and the Frankfurt School of social theory. Critical Pedagogy applies critical theory to education, and began with Paulo Freire’s book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. For this week, we had to choose between reading Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed or Michael Apple’s Official Knowledge: Democratic Education in a Conservative Age. We were also assigned a few journal articles, a reading response, and a paper.

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Race, Ethnicity, and Gender

Race, Ethnicity, and Gender

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Week 5 of my Psychology and Sociology in Music Education class focused on issues of race, ethnicity, and gender in music education. Similar to my thoughts on motivation and identity limiting participation in music in secondary schools from last week, there are issues related to race, ethnicity, and gender that prevent students from participating in music. Our readings were divided into two groups: race & ethnicity and gender. We also had a Live Classroom in addition to our weekly Reading Response.

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Identity, Community, and Music Making

Identity, Community, and Music Making

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This post started out much differently than it looks now. I began writing something that would look more like Week 1, Week 2, or Week 3 of my Psychology and Sociology in Music Education class, but as I kept reading and writing, I wanted to be able to tell you more about what I was thinking and less within the confines of the reading response and the paper. I’ll leave you with some of that first, traditional draft, but then transition to something that better fits what I wanted to write.

Week 4 began looking at education and music education through a sociological lens. This week we specifically looked at identity, community, and music making. We dove into another of our main texts, Sociology for Music Teachers: Practical Applications. then looked at Identity, Music, Schools, and Community. We also had a reading response and a paper due this week.

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