The Appreciation of Music
SYMPOSIUM: Music Appreciation
What do we really mean by "Music Appreciation"? Can it be taught? If so, what are some of the ways in which successful college music teachers have handled this subject?
SYMPOSIUM has invited four distinguished teachers of "Music Appreciation"from different types of schools in different parts of the countryto write about ideas they have and ways in which they have taught this very important collegiate course.
As always, the editor of SYMPOSIUM welcomes comments from readers concerning this subject.
In addition to Jeanne Bamberger, the other participants in the Symposium were Robert K. Beckwith (Bowdoin College), Henry Leland Clarke (University of Washington), and Philip Friedheim (Hunter College). Their articles also appear in College Music Symposium, Volume 8.
"An impression which simply flows in at the pupil's eyes or ears, and in no way modifies his active life, is an impression gone to waste . . . The most durable impressions are those on account of which we speak or act, or else are inwardly convulsed."
WILLIAM JAMES, 18921
"The low quality of auditory perception results, moreover, in the expedient of substituting concepts which the student can grasp more readily for inherently musical concepts. The symbols and concepts that dominate music appreciation are in general only marginally musical."
AUSTIN CLARKSON, 19662
A glance at the growing number of appropriate texts on publishers' lists is evidence enough that during the next academic year thousands of students will again be required to take a course in "the appreciation of music." The usefulness of such courses has often been open to question but the criticism eventually revolves around such fundamental issues that the discussion gets lost in itself while the courses go on—getting bigger all the time. The two statements quoted above, summarize, it seems to me, each from a different vantage point, the essence of the problem. In an attempt, then, to face the issues raised, I have derived a working model which will serve as the basis for the discussion that follows:
1. Listening to music is a skill, a craft, to be learned; it is not a by-product of accumulated historical, aesthetic, theoretical, or psychological data.
2. The student's own listening is the basis for his most effective learning, thus the teaching of this skill should, as much as possible, be aural, not verbal.
3. The goal of the course should be an increase in the individual student's active involvement with each piece of music; this is directly related to an increase in his ability to perceive the significant musical events in that piece.
Militating against this model are admittedly strong forces: large classes, college-age students, too little time. Students of college age have become accustomed to verbal learning and largely verbal performance; so, what would, at an earlier age, be an immediate, sensory process, often becomes on the college level, an indirect, difficult experience involving the awkward translation of verbal concepts into sounds, heard. Given this, together with classes of sometimes a thousand students, it may seem impossible to create a situation in which each student can individually—over a sufficient period of time, develop a working skill—a kind of laboratory where he can learn his craft, with the teacher acting as guide and mentor. But the difficulties need not lead to capitulation with its painful results, painful for both students and instructor, and destructive of the espoused goals. Indeed, it is essentially to such capitulation that Clarkson is pointing in the above quote.
I would like, then, with this working model, to suggest an approach and some specific means which we have found effective.3 I am assuming, now, that the students in this class have had little or no experience with "serious" music; thus, their first task is simply to make contact!
The process we followed in creating this initial contact, established the fundamental procedures for the whole course—procedures growing directly out of our working model: (1) We began with rather diffuse but immediately accessible, directly sensory, aspects of music, refining perception, moving inwards (analyzing) towards precision and specificity;4 (2) We asked the students to start always from their own listening experience, later moving on to whatever descriptive means they might find useful in ordering or clarifying what they heard.
To facilitate these procedures we recorded excerpts from a wide range of music (historically and stylistically) on a series of tapes. These tapes became the core of the course. The students listened to them on their own using the workbook which we prepared more as a guide to their own discoveries than as a source of terminology or definition, or even fact.
The examples on the first tapes were chosen to demonstrate a variety of possibilities for combining and interrelating "sounds." Through the examples, themselves, the students were able to explore, for instance, varying degrees of textural density, the role of instruments or voices in relation to one another (dominance of one part in contrast to equality of parts, minimal accompaniment to more and more intrusive accompaniment), degrees of textural activity, the influence of particular instrumental colors on the effect of these other possibilities, etc.
In class, then, we were able to concentrate on the use of these possibilities within particular works as they generated contrast and structural functions. The students focused their attention directly on the music, itself, with minimal interference from theoretical language and its built-in categories of perception. They heard rather subtle changes in sonority and texture, for example, in an excerpt from Stravinsky's Rite of Spring or in the fourth movement of the Beethoven Third Symphony through which they gained an initial awareness of organization and were able to respond, at least in some degree, to musical process. They described what they heard at first in whatever language they found suitable; later we provided them with more traditional terminology.
Out of these first experiences a variety of questions arose, most of them reflecting the students' awareness that other aspects of the works studied also contributed to their response. Most important of these was rhythm. So the examples on the next set of tapes demonstrated differences in effect among such possibilities as presence and absence of pulse, regular meter, conflict in accent, shifting meter, and changes in tempo as opposed to changes in rhythmic motion. Later we considered the phrase as a rhythmic unit—symmetric in contrast to asymmetric phrase structure and both of these in contrast to pieces in which the phrase as a rhythmic unit does not really operate at all—e.g., highly sequential, motivic passages where the motion is more continuous.
Once more in class we considered the functioning of these various possibilities within specific works. For example, a Schubert song and a Mozart aria where a normative phrase length is established and then disrupted (and here many of the students responded quite visibly to the pleasure of unexpected irregularity); a Beethoven Quartet movement noting particularly where the continuous movement of development (motivic, "nonphrased") yields to the clear, regular phrase structure of thematic statement at the recapitulation; a Mozart Quartet movement (K. 387/IV) where slow rhythmic motion (notes of longer duration) but active texture is strikingly juxtaposed with faster rhythmic motion (more notes per beat) but less active texture. With this last example the interrelationships between textural and rhythmic aspects became explicit. But most important the students discovered that there was a direct connection between their more discriminating perception and their level of emotional response—i.e., the variety and degree of feelings that the music evoked was directly related to their ability to hear the musical means (but not necessarily qua means) that generated it.
Our next tapes were concerned with melodic organization but, at first, with relatively gross kinds of contrast—e.g., differences in melodic motion (conjunctdisjunct, wide rangesmall range), the difference in effect between tonic and non-tonic cadences, etc. Then, combining rhythmic and pitch dimensions, we demonstrated the way a melody "breathes"—i.e., phrase structure, caesura, sequence and other kinds of motivic elaboration as they generated sometimes sectional melodies (with clear phrase structure) and sometimes non-periodic, continuous melodies. We juxtaposed, for example, in this last context, a Mozart German Dance and the "Gigue" from the Bach B Minor Partita for unaccompanied violin; we followed this with the Chopin Prelude Op. 28, No. 18 and Schoenberg, Op. 19, No. 4 demonstrating, in this instance, some similarity of melodic structure—continuous motivic growth, and a continuously onward impulse in spite of the clear caesura in both. In class we considered carefully a few relatively simple melodies. Through close analysis the students were able to derive more abstract notions—the diatonic scale from tonal melodies and the varying functions within it, the possibilities of chromaticism, and the means of establishing a sense of tonal center or of obscuring it. The students experimented with melody writing and here their rather primitive "mistakes" proved most useful in making the operational aspects of tonality explicit. Indeed, whenever possible the direct "handling" of music seems to be the most effective means towards greater perception in listening.5
Since the students had, during this phase, been listening on a level of considerable detail, they had developed their listening skill sufficiently so that we could move on to a consideration of larger musical design. After providing them with some exercise (again through recorded examples) in hearing simple but crucial organizing factors—e.g., return as an event occurring in many guises, repetition in the form of motivic sequence, imitation, literal repetition, etc.—we considered harmony as a force in creating structural functions. Our goal here was to develop the student's ability to hear the difference in effect between basically different kinds of harmonic motion: harmonic stasis (Wagner, Rheingold Prelude), harmonic stability (basically I-IV-V harmony), directed tension (dominant pedal), shifting tonality and tonal ambiguity (Liszt, Faust Symphony; a different sense of tension). We did not, in this context, expect the students to hear more specific harmonic relationships—e.g., chord to chord movement, specific key changes, etc. Indeed, it is exactly this kind of precise hearing which is most difficult for students who are not actually making music (performing, composing) since pitch is the dimension of music which is most peculiar to it—e.g., outside of music one has both temporal (rhythmic) and "sound" (sounds of things) experiences but much less experience with pitch in any but the most diffuse sense (roughly, high and low, voice inflection, etc.). I suspect, however, that even detailed pitch perception could be achieved by non-performers given enough time and especially if it were the end of a process of refining perception of diffuse configurations rather than the initial confrontation.
Keeping the goals of our working model in mind, then, we were satisfied when the students were able to respond to these generalized harmonic relationships as they operated within specific works generating contrast and structural functions. After a tape demonstrating the differences between sectional and continuous organization (obviously growing out of our tapes on melodic structure but now including all parameters), we moved to consideration of the process of entire works or movements from works.
While it had been necessary to isolate parameters in order to focus, exercise, and develop the students' listening skills, it was now possible to concentrate on the interrelationships of all facets as they operated uniquely in individual pieces. We made a tape, for example, which included Minuets and Scherzos (starting with a Mozart Dance and proceeding chronologically through Beethoven and Schubert to Mahler and Schoenberg) but the emphasis in our discussion was not on the "form" per se but on the variety of means which generated the functions common to all the pieces. In addition through these examples the students had an initial experience with stylistic change, as such; they discovered, for example, that the later works tended to be less "danced" dances, and rather more dramatic works with their extended areas of instability and elaborate codas. As with our earlier concerns, "form," then, became a particular set of possibilities. The students were involved with differences, with the varieties of realizing a generalized concept, recognizing that each piece was a unique entity, the form, itself, an abstraction.
In the analysis of several large works in class, we moved freely back and forth between means, structural function, and affect (feelings evoked), finally, as dénouement, bringing together and assimilating the listening skills which the students had acquired. In this fashion the students discovered for themselves, with only minimal guidance from their instructor, the series of events common to works in sonata form—deriving the organizing principle from their perception of musical means as they generated varying functions. At the same time it was possible for the students to respond to works in a wide variety of styles since most of them could adjust their response to changes in, for example, textural or rhythmic complexity, changes in the degree of melodic regularity, etc. in a pre-tonal or post-tonal idiom as well as in a tonal idiom. This was possible, I think, because their listening and analysis were never disassociated from a kind of "gut response" nor directed as a goal toward identification or naming of devices, forms or historical period.
Finally, at the end of the year, we put the students' skills and experience to work in the consideration of style. Since they had already become aware obliquely of stylistic contrast through the constant juxtaposition of works from different periods (usually to demonstrate similarities rather than differences), it was now a matter of putting this experience into a specifically historical context. This we did by concentrating intensively on one relatively short, but particularly varied, period, namely, the music composed between 1860 and 1914. The students used their listening ability, for example, to discuss differences in contemporaneous works (Wagner and Moussorgsky; Schoenberg and Stravinsky) and similarities in non-contemporaneous works (Wagner, Mahler, Schoenberg; Moussorgsky, Debussy, Stravinsky) suggesting a common tradition. But even here the students were involved with listening carefully to particular works noting, now, how a consciousness of chronology and tradition provided them with a set of normative expectations that contributed to their ability to respond appropriately—i.e., to respond to a piece in its own terms. Labelling or classifying was a by-product, not a goal.
It is difficult to describe, simply, the effect of these procedures on the students. Most of them learned to hear what we had specifically exposed them to—i.e., a variety of means used to generate musical process and structure. But because we had consistently encouraged associations between means, structure and effect, the learning process was rarely a neutral one.
A remark of E.M. Cioran in his book, The Temptation to Exist, seems fitting here: "One does not withdraw one's confidence from words, nor violate their security, without setting one's foot in the abyss." For a number of students there were abyss-like moments when they wanted to be handed "the word;" their tolerance of intellectual ambiguity and their patience with self-discovery grew weary. For others the problems seemed of an opposite kind, for them the process was too analytical, it was violating their private experience, taking apart something they wanted left alone, inviolable. Some students who did "turn off" came back strangely enough, by becoming directly involved with some piece in order to write a class paper. The task for these papers was hardly structured: "In an essay of appropriate length describe what you hear in the three pieces recorded on the assignment tape." Asking students to write papers was, in a way, our own form of capitulation since, as some of them pointed out to us, we were now asking them to give us "the word." That they had to struggle with words, searching for adequate connection between percept and concept, seemed, though, to make the task more worthwhile—maybe because they had to probe for what was "relevant" rather than arguing against assumptions which they felt were not. A good many of the papers were quite remarkable showing a really subtle insight into musical process, its affect and its means; a number were pedestrian and a few still substituted the word for something heard and with these we were rather severe. Excerpts from several of the better student papers have been included as an appendix to these remarks.
I think we often forget, in teaching such a course, that it is an introduction and hence its most significant effect will only be felt later on. I measured success for the moment by the degree to which learning seemed to be moving towards the goals of our original model. For example, the degree to which a student was able to become involved with a particular work (irresistibly listening to a single movement many times); the degree to which a neutral response to a piece changed to one of curiosity and then as a result of probing and analytic listening, involvement (" . . . now, that piece really turns me on . . . "); or evidence that a student's taste was changing to include works that demanded hearing more detail, hearing more precisely the implications of specific pitch relationships, and following a more rapid rate of events (for example, the Mozart Quintet in g minor). Such evidence is, I think, more telling than what is written on examination papers.
I would like to suggest, finally, that we should not be so much concerned with telling the students all about music (so they can tell us and others what they have learned), but rather with listening to them, sharing with them, and then guiding them towards what they ultimately have to do by themselves, alone. And if we are successful, these individuals are only beginning what they will continue to do better and more intensely long after the end of their year's course in "the appreciation of music."
EXCERPTS FROM STUDENT PAPERS
Each of these papers deals with the same four works:
Bach, Two-Part Invention in d minor
Rameau, "Gigue no. 2" from Suite in E (1724)
Mozart, "Minuet" from Eine Kleine Nachtmusik
Beethoven, "Scherzo" from the Trio, Op. 1, no. 1
The assignment read:
In an essay of appropriate length, describe what you hear in the four pieces recorded on the assignment tape.
Scores of the four works were not available, indeed, the works were not identified; the names of the composers were arrived at in some cases by group speculation. Thus, whatever the students did, they did "by ear."
Paper I was remarkably concise and to the point; from it I have excerpted the student's discussion of the Rameau and the Mozart. From Paper II, I have excerpted one (the initial) paragraph in the discussion of the Bach Invention which then continued for some two more pages, and the entire discussion of the Rameau. Paper III was enormously long and detailed; from it I have excerpted only the conclusions which followed a specific analysis of each work.
These papers were written after five weeks of "in class" discussion but in the middle of the second quarter of the course—the other weeks in class had been spent in discussions of art and literature; outside of class the students had been listening to the prepared tapes and studying the Workbook which accompanied them.
The second piece, [Rameau, "Gigue no. 2" from Suite in E (1724)] also played on a harpsichord, is in contrast balanced and symmetrical structurally. The over-all structure could be diagrammed ABACA, with these larger sections in turn being divided into phrases. The A section begins with a thematic statement, again characterized by imitative polyphony, with the lower part playing a fairly disjunct melody while the upper part plays melodically and rhythmically related motives. The theme is repeated in a lower register, forming an antecedent-consequent relationship, with the antecedent phrase avoiding durational emphasis on the tonic, and with the consequent phrase resolving the dominant octaves at the end with a tonic cadence played as an arpeggio. The entire A section is repeated, but this time the arpeggio following the final tonic note is replaced by chords leading into the B section.
Thus in the B section a change in texture and loudness occurs with the addition of chords to the original two single strands of the texture. The imitative polyphony is replaced by a partly homophonic, partly fragmented texture, which along with rubato and dramatic changes in rhythmic patterns and activity, helps to set off this section structurally from the A section. After a short embellished sequence, the rhythmic pattern changes to triplets, followed by a closing passage with loud chords ending on a dominant cadence. The line then descends the scale until the inevitability of the tonic note prepares us for a return to the original theme of the A section, which is contrasted by softer playing and polyphonic texture. The C section is even more dramatic than the B section. A descending sequence with large jumps and frequent rests is followed by cadenza-like arpeggios starting progressively lower. The section ends on a tonic cadence, with the notes of the tonic triad then played upward, leading to a final return to the A section.
The third piece, [Mozart, "Minuet" from Eine Kleine Nachtmusik] which illustrates classical balanced phrase structure in its simplest form, is homophonic rather than polyphonic. The statement of the theme is played by the strings loudly, with detached notes. The end of the antecedent phrase moves down to the dominant and back to avoid lingering on the tonic note; the consequent phrase, while it repeats the initial melodic motive, ends however on a conclusive tonic cadence which is given durational emphasis. The digression, derived motivically from the space-filler in the theme, is played more softly and legato. Also serving to set off this section structurally is the legato accompaniment and the breaking off of the formerly steady pulse. The piece ends with a return to the concluding phrase of the theme.
[Comments concerning Bach, Two Part Invention in d Minor]
In any piece certain qualities of sound predominate in the mind of the listener. The composer combines the basic aspects of music, e.g., melody, rhythm, harmony, to produce this particular effect. In the first piece, Bach concerns himself most with expressing two qualities which together result in a third. These are (1) dynamism, or constant motion, (2) dissonance and tension between two parts, and (3) anticipation and desire for resolution.
Dynamism is only a term which describes the feeling created by a rapid and intricate movement, which both turns back upon itself and moves forward. The factors which produce this include an unresolved harmony, a winding and complex theme, a rapid pulsating rhythm, and a continuous structure.
In contrast to the continuous and unstable nature of the first piece, the total effect of the second selection [Rameau, "Gigue no. 2" from Suite in E (1724)] emphasizes sectionality. The same elements of composition interact in both pieces, but are used much differently with opposite results. In this piece the elements work together to create contrast between sections, as well as unity in the piece as a whole.
The structure of this selection is divided into five divisions, three repetitions of a theme, separated by two different digressions: ABACA. The factors responsible for the sharp contrasts between statement and digression respectively are (1) contrasting a strong with a non-existent pulse, (2) unrelated thematic material, (3) different harmonic character, (4) conjunct and disjunct melodic material, (5) contrasting textural quality, and (6) abrupt transition between sections. The rhythmical character between parts A and B is unrelated, and even more distant between parts A and C. The reason for this is that the refrain has a very even, accented pulse, which defines a symmetrical phrase structure. A set of two similar eight measure phrases are repeated in each A section. A caesura neatly separates the melodic and rhythmical patterns of each phrase from the following phrase. Both the upper and the lower themes of the refrain have these characteristics. On the other hand the steady pulse is eliminated in B and C. In its place is a very free, irregularly accented, and varied rhythm. The rhythms of the upper and lower parts compliment and contrast each other, thus adding to the irregularity of motion. A long pause also occurs unexpectedly in the middle of the first digression. On the whole, the B section has a more flowing and flexible feeling due to its free rhythm, which is entirely foreign to the formal regularity of the refrain. The C section has a rhythmical form that is even more distant from the refrain than part B. It resembles more a disjunct arrangement of chords and triad progressions interspersed with a few motifs.
The thematic material in the refrain and the two digressions is also entirely different. The refrain is an antecedent consequence repeated twice, / / : A A' : / / . The melody is very precise and carefully composed. The top melody starts, which is then joined by another melody composed of similar motifs in the lower range. The removal of all reference to the melodic statement in part A corresponds to the introduction of a new melody composed of imitation and sequences of a few small motifs in part B. Two different types of sequential and imitative digressions are separated by the caesura in the middle of B. Part C contains other combinations of motifs, along with outstanding chord accents and other wide note progressions based on triads.
But the melodic contrasts are emphasized even more by harmonic contrasts. Part A is harmonically very stable because it emphasizes the tonic and dominant intervals, and establishes a partial cadence at the end of the consequent phrase. But unlike the predominance of tonic and dominant in part A, there are many new and different chords and combinations of chords in B and C, which result in an entirely different harmonic quality.
An additional factor creating contrast is the small interval to which the melody of A is confined compared to the widely expanded range and disjunct character of B and C.
In addition, the textural qualities differ between statement and digression. The simultaneous parts in A create a very definite polyphonic texture, whereby each melody, if played alone, or together, retains its own individual character. But in the two digression sections the upper and lower parts are dependent upon, and work closely with each other, to create the total sound. This produces a strong leaping and disjunct quality that part A does not have.
Last, but not least, another obvious means to create contrast is abrupt division between the sections which are being differentiated. Sharp transition is definitely a significant aspect of this piece.
[excerpted conclusion which followed a specific analysis of each work]
But, despite these structural similarities, the Beethoven has a totally different effect than the Mozart. This is because the sectional structure of the Beethoven is buried under a mass of tonally continuous music, and much longer and more complicated passages. Indeed, the sectional structure of the Beethoven is so clandestine that it is somewhat difficult to observe that the piece is in an AABB pattern, let alone determine the more subtle structural ideas discussed in the preceding paragraph.
In the Mozart this is not the case at all; this piece's sectional pattern is perhaps the most obvious and important element in the whole piece. However Beethoven uses sectionalism only as a slim foundation on which to build his piece, and, except for the partial return near the end of the B section, it has very little effect on the listener's response to the piece. One is impressed much more by the continuousness of the music than by its sectional qualities.
The rondo by Rameau also has this element of continuousness within a sectional framework. This quality is created by the continuous B and C sections having been inserted in a highly sectional structure. But, unlike the Beethoven, the sectional qualities of the piece overshadow its continuous qualities. The main reason for this difference in effect is that the Rameau is built on a purely sectional framework and the Beethoven is constructed upon a basically motivic framework. That is, Rameau develops his piece through the development and reiteration of whole sections, whereas Beethoven bases the development of his piece on a group of melodic and rhythmic motives.
The Mozart and Bach pieces fit into these categories even more precisely than do the Rameau and the Beethoven. The Mozart is based almost entirely on sectional development, and the Bach is based completely on motivic development. It is this use of motivic development and reiteration, in fact, that gives the Beethoven and especially the Bach, their unity and cohesiveness as works of music.
The Rameau approaches this type of motivic organization in its B and C sections. However it never quite achieves it to the same degree as the Bach and Beethoven, because never is a motive repeated over an extended period of time, and never is any motive reiterated in a later section of the piece. Thus a basic difference between the four pieces is that the Mozart and the Rameau are based on repetition of whole sections, whereas the Beethoven and especially the Bach are based more on the repetition of key motives.
There are also harmonic differences among these pieces. All the pieces, except for the Bach, are based very heavily on the movement between the tonic and the dominant. The Bach, however, is much more harmonically varied and puts a great amount of emphasis on the seventh and sixth intervals, thereby adding even more to the lack of stability in the piece. There are parts of the Beethoven and the Rameau which are as harmonically complex as the Bach, but when these two pieces are taken in their entirety, they are basically much simpler. The Bach is also different in its use of the minor mode, which occurs only occasionally in the other pieces.
The texture and instrumentation of these pieces also contribute to their different effects. The Rameau and the Bach, both being pieces for solo harpsichord, tend to have a much greater melodic relationship between the treble and the bass strands of the texture than either the Beethoven or the Mozart. Often in the Rameau, a line starts in one strand and finishes in another, thereby greatly increasing the continuity and unity of the piece. Although this particular device is not used in the Bach, its two parts are also very closely related, mainly through the great amount of repetition by imitation in the piece.
The instruments used in the Mozart piece are all strings and, therefore, all have a similar sound even though they are played in different registers. Throughout the piece, the various instruments play the same roles; the violin and viola always play the melody, and the cello is always picking out a bass part. No where in the piece is there the kind of interchange between the strands of the texture that one finds in the two harpsichord pieces.
The texture of the Beethoven is more complex than in any other piece. The piece is played by a violin, a cello, and a piano, thus being the only piece which uses instruments from more than one family. Unlike the texture of the Mozart, no instrument has a specific role in the Beethoven. The piano and the violin switch roles continually in the treble, and the piano and cello do the same in the base. The frequent use of repetition by imitation further illustrates this idea of not rigidly defining the function of each instrument.
Beethoven also varies the texture to communicate certain effects. Both the A and B sections of the piece begin with a very thin texture which gradually thickens as the section develops. This thickening of the texture adds greatly to the increase of tension in the piece. Rameau also uses this device to create tension in the B and C sections of his piece.
The effects of these pieces are determined by each piece's structural, harmonic, and textural stability. The Bach, which is the least stable in all these respects, creates the feeling of great tension and confusion. The Mozart, however, has quite the opposite effect because it is very rigidly structured and has no unresolved tension in any part of the piece. This feeling of regularity is increased further by the piece's textural simplicity. Both the Rameau and the Beethoven fall somewhere between these two extremes; both pieces contain, in different passages, the orderly feeling of the Mozart and the chaotic feeling of the Bach. Consequently, the listener's emotional response is not as definite as his response to the Mozart and the Bach, but constantly shifts from a feeling of great anticipation, to one of great stability and resolution.
1William James, Talks to Teachers (New York, W.W. Norton, 1958), p. 39.
2Austin Clarkson, "Musical Literacy and the Teaching of Music in School, College and University," Current Musicology, Fall-Winter (1966), pp. 131-32.
3These ideas were initially developed in the context of a year-long course at the University of Chicago called, Introduction to the Humanities—a course in art, music and literature. For their assignments outside of class students were asked to practice listening to music rather than reading about music. For this purpose we developed a series of tapes and an accompanying workbook. These materials, including the recorded material, have now been expanded and incorporated into the author's forthcoming book (with Howard Brofsky) to be published by Harper and Row in the spring of 1969.
4While we may think of discrete elements as simplest (intervals, the attributes of a tone, the structure of a chord) this is not what the "primitive" listener initially perceives—this is not where he makes contact. He hears, rather, more global configurations which form the "elements" of pieces but are not themselves elements as we think of them. The process we followed, then, one of refining perception, is in contrast to the more traditional procedure of building up from those so-called elements which exist in all music but—like the alphabet—only make sense when, as a set of relationships, they become the basis for response in a particular piece of music. Traditional theoretical structure builds up its categories of perception from notions of theoretical simplicity. Learning these categories develops in students the ability to perceive in terms of the theory but not necessarily in terms of relations and musical process or with the affective response one must associate with music.
5In an experimental course, encouraged by the MENC Contemporary Music Project, I worked with a small group of liberal arts students in which from the beginning the students improvised (at first with only non-pitch instruments), "composed" melodies, danced and later made films always using specific existing works of music as models. While the students were also involved in much listening and talking, they all agreed that it was the direct, non-verbal activity that had the greatest effect on what they were able to hear. Unfortunately, large classes make it difficult to follow up this idea except in privileged situations.
Last modified on Wednesday, 14/11/2018