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#1 EdGJ

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Posted 11 April 2017 - 14:07

When you make music, practical skills need to be supported by knowledge and understanding, and craft needs to go hand in hand with study, as ABRSM’s Chief Examiner, John Holmes, explains.

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#2 Cyrilla

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Posted 13 April 2017 - 22:03

Pity Kodály and Dalcroze aren't mentioned..

 

:(


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#3 lingle

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Posted 14 April 2017 - 16:45

What a good article.

ABRSM makes its positive case without misrepresenting or denigrating anyone: how refreshing that there is no straw man.

I appreciate the acknowledgment that the term "music theory" is perhaps unhelpful.

Why not move this to the general section for more traffic?

I wonder if The Guardian would publish this? (Not optimistic).
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#4 elemimele

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Posted 14 April 2017 - 21:48

Oooh, nice article. I even saw the word "history" twice, a topic that I think is generally under-valued.

Just as a modern artist benefits enormously from a working knowledge of his/her forbears, so even the most modern of musicians can benefit from knowing where it all came from, and how it got here. History of art is widely taught and widely read. Normal people expect to know a lot about it; public knowledge goes back millennia (is there anyone who can't instantly picture a cave-painting and compare it with an Egyptian tomb decoration?). Music doesn't fare so well: I'd love to test this, but I'm guessing a lot more people can recognise van Gogh than Beethoven.

 

We take sound and music for granted, being very visual animals. Everyone recognises optical illusions, but a lot of people are completely unaware that auditory illusions even exist.

 

On a practical note:

Pitch: yes, you need to know that accidentals last the rest of the bar, but it wasn't always so. When did this change?

Time: historically, our long notes were short (linguistic derivation of the word "breve"...); older music (pre-Baroque) may be written in notes that appear long, but that doesn't mean it was necessarily played as slowly as it looks (though some probably was).

Tone: the tonal world has changed beyond belief. Surely no one can resist dabbling in the world of the Crumhorn and the Cornett, but at the other end of the volume-scale, the person who doesn't understand why the recorder died, will never appreciate how well it can live.

Time: if you're playing something from France, over several centuries, no one will have written "Swing" on the manuscript, but it will have been assumed, in the right sort of pieces, on the right sorts of notes. If you don't know your history, a lot of this music is going to sound very flat and boring.

Performance: if you don't know about cadential trills (not notated) and when trills started on the upper note, a huge chunk of music is going to lose a lot of its charm. I'm not even going to mention floppy hats and funny clothes for playing Renaissance recorder pieces...

 

History is an essential part of theory. It is the living root of modern music. Human ears haven't changed that much; old music is still vivacious and attractive. History of music isn't just an essential part of theory; its also fun.


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#5 lingle

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Posted 15 April 2017 - 11:03

Super response eminele.

I don't agree with everything in the article but the general quality of public debate is so low (I'm looking at you Guardian) that I really appreciate responsible pieces like this.
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#6 lingle

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Posted 15 April 2017 - 11:06

"Theory" of music makes more sense if we accept that it is a historical artefact (rather than misrepresenting it as a theory which is the one thing it isn't).

I like your comparisons to art a lot eminele.
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