Fleshing Out an Argument

Fleshing Out an Argument

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For Week 6 of Problems, Theories, and Literature, our goal was to flesh out the skeleton of our Research Problem from Week 5. I feel like I both did and did not make a lot of progress this week. While I think I successfully fleshed out my Research Problem, I don’t feel like I read enough, nor do I feel good about my last annotation (which I’ll discuss more below). I also made the choice to substitute teach more this past week, putting me in the classroom every day but Friday. I need to find a healthier balance of subbing and doctoral work, but I also need to find better ways to read when I am not at home.

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Constructing a Research Problem; Writing an Argument

Constructing a Research Problem; Writing an Argument

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Week 5 marks a major transition in our Problems, Theories, and Literature course. While we are still consuming mass quantities of scholarly literature, we are beginning to use that scholarly literature to craft a research problem. This process builds on the process we started in Introduction to Music Education Research. We discussed it at great length in our Live Classroom on Tuesday, and began constructing a skeleton of a research problem in our blog post for this week. In that blog post (below), I shared some of the issues I am having with the process in general. Finally, we also had to complete another annotation of an article we read this week.

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Scholarly Reading and Writing

Scholarly Reading and Writing

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Week 4 for Problems, Theories, and Literature course was quite similar to the first three weeks: a primary focus on continuing to read scholarly literature about our topic of interest. Instead of a Live Classroom this week, we each had a one-on-one meeting with our assigned professor to discuss how our reading is going. Like previous weeks, we also had to complete a blog post and annotation. My parents came to visit at the end of the week, so while I feel significantly better about reading and my process (see below), the end of the week felt rushed to complete the blog post, responses, and annotations. I also got to meet a classmate for lunch who happened to be in Charlottesville for a wedding. After my readings this week and meetings with my professor and classmate, I feel much better about my progress and track for this course.

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Narrowing Down a Topic

Narrowing Down a Topic

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I realized as I went to create the post for Week 4, that I had not finished my post for Week 3! Week 3 for the Problems, Theories, and Literature course ran from Tuesday, September 17–Monday, September 23 and functioned similarly to the previous two weeks. Our primary goal was to continue reading scholarly literature about our research interest(s) while participating in a Live Classroom, completing and responding to blog posts, revising our annotation from Week 2, and completing a new annotation. The study guide is below. This week was harder for me because I subbed Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday for band at the upper elementary and middle schools. I felt behind on my reading all week.

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Epistemologies, Theoretical Perspectives, and Frameworks

Epistemologies, Theoretical Perspectives, and Frameworks

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Week 2 of Problems, Theories, and Literature: Making a Contribution to the Field asked us to look deeper at Crotty’s concept of the four elements of social research: epistemology, theoretical perspective, methodology, and methods. Our blog posts from Week 1 discussed epistemologies with which we identified, but I struggled with differentiating my epistemology and theoretical perspective. This week provided much more clarity from our discussions and kicked off the reading a great deal of scholarly literature related to our phenomena of interest.

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Scholarly Reading & Research Problems

Scholarly Reading & Research Problems

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Last night kicked off Week 1 of Problems, Theories, and Literature: Making a Contribution to the Field. It began with a Live Classroom with all four of our professors: Karin Hendricks, Tawnya Smith, Ron Kos, and Gareth Dylan Smith. While most first Live Classrooms are a meet-and-greet, after our professors introduced themselves, we got right down to business with a lecture on scholarly reading and another on techniques for reading. For this first week, we are doing a little bit of assigned reading and gathering scholarly work related to our research interest.

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Problems, Theories, and Literature: Making a Contribution to the Field

Problems, Theories, and Literature: Making a Contribution to the Field

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The next course I am taking in Boston University’s Online Doctoral of Musical Arts in Music Education program is Problems, Theories, and Literature: Making a Contribution to the Field. Unlike the other 4-credit courses that make up this degree program, PTL is a 15-week course instead of 7. The course is taught by Dr. Karin Hendricks (newly appointed chair of music education), Dr. Tawnya Smith, and Dr. Ron Kos (professor of the Psychology & Sociology course). To summarize the scope of the course, we are building the habits of scholars to prepare for our dissertations. I’ll highlight some excerpts from the syllabus.

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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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