I like “boring” things.

I sometimes forget that there are people who think of music theory as “boring”. Are you one of them?

Think about a child first learning to sound out words, not able to string together a sentence. That’s what I hear when a person just starts learning to sing or play some notes without understanding how one might relate to another.

Read more…

A Macro-harmonic Key to Keys

The idea of music being “in a key” can be troublesome. One of the biggest hurdles I see students of music come up against is the presence of “different keys” in a piece “in a key”. Frankly, I can see their point!

It might be better to think in terms of what Dmitri Tymoczko calls “macro-harmonies” in A Geometry of Music.

Read more…

Much Ado About Performance Anxiety

There were a lot of inspiring talks given at the Mississippi College Piano Performance and Pedagogy Conference this weekend, but I was particularly struck by Jonathan Henriques’ “Addressing Performance Anxiety in Piano Class” perhaps for no other reason than that this is a not-all-too-often-discussed topic that affects nearly every musician. His take posed the problem as reactive coping in place of what should be proactive pedagogy. He had a lot of great comments on this that got me thinking, but I also became interested in the question of why we put ourselves through such anxiety-producing activities in the first place. Is it all necessary?

Read more…

Vox Pop Music

What is it that makes “pop” music popular? Why does the vox populi “man on the street” find Classical music “boring”? How is it that the popular music of one century could become the “impenetrably stuffy” music of the next?

Pretend music is books.

Read more…

Listening: Extracting Musical Data Points

“Instead of mindlessly extracting—data points for statistical analysis, Clio intelligently adapts its attention to key aspects… —just like you and I do.”

If this is truly “just like you and I do,” then the study of music should at some level be a honing of “intelligently adapting [oneself] to focus on the aspects most critical to the mood.” Perhaps I could make this more explicit in my own teaching. (June 11, 2011)

These were my initial thoughts in response to first reading about Clio from a blog post about how a computer might model the way we listen to music.

Read more…