YC230 Lecture 7: Lessons 7-12 Notes

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Youth & Children's Studies
Annette Chretien

Lesson 7: Thinking about Structure In this chapter, the author begins to problematize issues around musical structure by pointing out that thinking about musical structures as things is different than thinking about musical structuring as a process. One example of these two ways of structuring music can be found in the terms improvisation and composition. The author argues that the boundary between these two activities is not so clearly defined, and that the two are more closely related than the misconceptions surrounding them acknowledge. What I mean is that there is misconception that an improvisation is free of preexisting musical elements, and that compositions are fixed things, or pieces. The author suggests there is far more musical flexibility in these two terms and their practice. With the idea that musical structure can be a process as well as a thing, and that improvisation can be composition and vice versa, the following definition of improvisation is offered: Improvisation is the result of a musician exercising relatively great flexibility with given material during a performance. The given material might be a tune, a chord progression, or a rhythm (twelvebar blues or a drumming pattern), for example. Musical structure is determined by a number of different factors, some are fixed, some are more contingent on context. In your textbook, the author offers a number of different examples drawn from various musical traditions. For example, Western European musical compositions can be framed by relatively strict forms such sonata form or strophic songs. Songs can be organized with recurring refrains or choruses. Alternately, musical structure can be determined by the context , and the demands of the performance whether it be audienceperformer interaction, or intraensemble interaction. In some social contexts, the reactions of the audience directly influence the resulting structure of the performance. The same can be said of many traditions that connect music and dance in a symbiotic way. Regardless of the context, musical structure in these cases depends on the why, and the purpose of the music. One of the most important ways of defining musical structure is by its endings (cadences in Western European terminology). Without endings there is no way of knowing where a phrase, or a section, or even the piece, begins or ends. Again, in contexts where the music is more fluid, endings need to be determined by the why of the music, meaning in response to something else. Lesson 8: ListentoLearn Phases In the textbook, the author identifies three main listentolearn phases of musical development: 1) attentive listening; 2) engaged listening; and 3) enactive listening. These phases are based on the premise that music is best learned through listening. Each phase is thoroughly discussed individually in Chapters Three, Four, and Five, respectively. Begin by reading Chapter Three, Learning Through Attentive Listening. Attentive listening is defined as: directed listening that is focused on musical elements and structures, and that is guided by the use of specified points of focus or diagrams (including notation and maps that lead a listener from one musical event to the next. (Campbell 55). This first phase of listentolearn is tied to the previous work we did in
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