Dissertation Diary 2015-03-31

I am definitely glad I took a hefty spring break. This quarter it works out that I don’t have to teach or have meetings at all on Tuesdays, so I will be doing the bulk of my writing then.

I planned out my quarter so I can finish chapter 3 (Implementation+Pedagogy) by June, as well as stay abreast of my readings so that the History section goes smoothly next fall. Today, I drafted 3 syllabi to provide as examples in the Pedagogy section, one a translation course based on the class originally associated with this blog, one a year long freshman intro to Functions, and the third as a Grad Review course. Next week I’ll write the prose that accompanies these syllabi, and then I’ll draft assignments that might go with them.

I’m including below the year schedule, because that’s what I spent the most time on today. (sorry the formatting is a little screwy.)



Week 1: Open/closed cadences, basic phrase concepts, TPD

We begin with the intertwined concepts of cadence and phrase in order to define the basic functions, Tonic, Predominant, and Dominant.

Week 2: Notation reading review, clefs, rhythm

Some students may be more familiar with note reading than others. This is a chance to identify your strengths and work on your weaknesses.

Week 3: Solfège

While you will you solfège more in your Aural Skills classes, we will use moveable do to refer to functions of individual pitches in theory as well.

Week 4: Major and minor triads, identifying tonics

This week covers spelling and identifying major and minor triads out of context, as   well as determining what the tonic of a piece is and what parameters to use for that determination. (hint, cadences)

Week 5: Major and minor key signatures, scales: up to 4#/bs,

Fluency and immediacy of key signatures is very important. To help with memorization, we will continue working with the basic TPD functions and individual pitch solfège functions.

Week 6: Cadences – IAC vs PAC

Quiz: first Key signatures in bass and treble clefs

We began with a very rough idea of a cadence, now we start to add details.

Week 7: All major and minor key signatures and scales

Continuing practice with more keys.

Week 8: Identifying dominants, seventh chords

Now that we have practiced identifying tonics, we move on to identifying Dominants. Since dominants are often seventh chords, an intro to seventh chord qualities will be included.

Week 9: Cadences – HC, Phrygian HC

Quiz: all key signatures bass and treble clefs

Continuing with the dominant theme, this week focuses on half cadences and their uses.

Week 10: Basic predominants, plagal cadence

As we mastered Tonic and Dominants, now we identify and spell Predominants.

Week 11: Intro to modulation

While modulation is a second year topic, you all play and listen to music that changes keys. You will not be asked the specifics of how the key changed, but this is an extension of identifying Tonics: if you have found a new Tonic, you have a new key!

Week 12: Basic Forms [no assignment]

Quiz: Spell and Identify basic functions, major and minor triads

As you begin to focus on writing your papers, a discussion of small forms is necessary.

Week 13: Basic Prolongations (levels), [no assignment]

We’ve often been talking about music from a zoomed out perspective, now we start to talk about the details of how to zoom in. We will also have a day to workshop papers and get feedback from classmates.

Week 14: Secondary Functions, deceptive cadence

So far we’ve been dealing primarily with only 3 chords in a key, here we begin to expand our vocabulary.

Week 15: Inversions [no assignment]

Quiz: Identify cadences visually and aurally, but out of musical context

You will continue to focus on your projects, but inversions will probably help you with your analysis.


Week 1: Review inversions, Secondary functions

Dust off the cobwebs after eating all the tasty holiday sweets! Review the previous semester and solidify any concepts still in question.

Week 2: Harmonic Voice leading T D, T P, P D

Now we start writing music in earnest. First we look at the harmonic, vertical dimension in a controlled environment, with just a few functions.

Week 3: Writing melody and intro to motives

To complement the harmonic concepts of last week, now we look at what makes a melody easily singable and some basic motivic operations.

Week 4: Added tones

Building on the review of inversions and seventh chords (among other topics), this   week is primarily analyzing chords that may be changed from the prototypical major or minor triads. This includes non-Dominant seventh chords and add-6 chords.

Week 5: slash D-9

One common variation to dominant is to have notes missing! We explore how the dominant functions without its root.

Week 6: Cadential 6/4s

Quiz: spell/ID secondary functions and inversions

The cadential 6/4 is a common sonority that has an interesting pedagogical history.

Week 7: Identifying chords that embellish other chords

This week concentrates on finding inversions in context and exploring different levels of musical structure.

Week 8: NonChordTones I

For a melody focused week, we introduce NCTs, particularly the unaccented and stepwise types. (P, N, sus, ret, ant)

Week 9: NCTs II

Quiz: Spell and identify types of seventh chords and their functions

We further explore into NCTs, including the accented and not stepwise types. (IN, AP/N, DN, pedal)

Week 10: VL/melodic writing with all diatonic chords [no assignment]

Combining the preceding concepts, we revisit harmonic voice leading and melodic writing. Start thinking about your papers!

Week 11: VL/melodic writing with inversions and added tones

Continuing from the previous week, we will work on writing small melodies and forms.

Week 12: Sequences

This topic is an interesting interaction between vertical and horizontal forces.

Week 13: Double Dominants [no assignment]

Quiz: obvious NCTs (no ambiguous examples)

As we near the end of the year, we will start learning about the mechanics of chromaticism with the dominant of the dominant.

Week 14: Applied dominants to other chords

Our final concept extends the previous week to other chords.

Week 15: Intro to RNs [no assignment]

Quiz: Identify applied dominants

Methods of describing music are constantly changing. Many people you encounter will use different vocabulary to transmit the same concepts. Roman numerals are still a common chord analysis tool, and awareness of them is important to communicate with other musicians.

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