Who is a concert about? Not what is it about, but who? If it’s a symphony orchestra concert, is it about the conductor? The players? If it’s a rock concert, is it about the lead guitarist? The drummer? The lead singer? To be sure, when we go to a concert we very well may be … Continue reading Improvisation, Virtuosos, and Poignancy Are The Missing Ingredients
With the political winds that have already begun to shift in the United States, one of the changes that we see is a greater concern for the environment, and the political will to do something about it. Concern for the environment is not new; it has a long history. But often, it has been at … Continue reading Songs and the Environment
Many people begin a new year by making a resolution. Usually, it is a stated intent to exchange an undesired behavior for a desired one. We resolve to improve our eating habits, go faithfully to the gym, or embark on some self improvement plan or other. Somehow, the idea of a new year seems to … Continue reading Resolutions
In my article, "We're Back... Now What?" I relied heavily on using improvisation as a vehicle for getting students back into the habit of making music. I chose improvisation because it affords students the most freedom and stress free environment for quickly making music. But it is only free and relaxed if it is not … Continue reading How I Teach Improvisation
It takes little effort to realize that the standard classical music fare one finds in orchestral concert halls and, though to a lesser extent, in the catalogues of recorded music, is and has been markedly deficit in black composers. While there have been notable recordings of music by black composers, more attention to this music … Continue reading Black Classical Music Composers That Matter
When we think of playing with something, usually it is an object or an activity. We play with a toy, or we play tennis. We say we play a piano or a clarinet, but we rarely hear someone say we play with a piano or a clarinet. Even more unlikely is to hear someone say … Continue reading Playing With Sound
I don't believe I've ever seen a music textbook, or observed or even taught a music course that didn't include plenty of instruction on the elements of music. Melody, harmony, pitch, rhythm, beat, and so forth all are rightly considered critical to any course on music. These things are the very raw materials out of … Continue reading The Family of Musical Elements
In music, the term "modulation" is most frequently used to refer to a shift in keyality. One speaks of modulating from the tonic to the dominant, and, at least in traditional harmony, using a pivot chord to achieve the modulation; that is, a chord that assumes a duel role of one function in the current … Continue reading What Is A Metric Modulation?
We have all encountered teachers who began some music course or other by asking "What Is Music?" Leonard Bernstein, paraphrasing this often posed question, I suppose, asked "What Does Music Mean?" Many answers have been proposed to the former question, and Bernstein's answer to the latter, after an interesting lecture, was that music doesn't mean … Continue reading How Does Music Work?
Before I begin discussing chords and voice leading, I would like to make two points about music theory in general. Many have the misconception that music theory involves sets of rules from which composers wrote or write music. This is not the case. Music theory is not sets of rules, but rather sets of observations … Continue reading Music Theory Tutorial: Chords and Voice Leading