Every Child a Composer

Music Education in an Evolutionary Perspective

by Nicholas Bannan (Author)
©2019 Monographs 636 Pages


This book breaks new ground in drawing on evolutionary psychology in support of advocacy for music education, and the presentation of innovative musical pedagogy. The book adopts the perspective that musical experience is the birthright of all human beings through the decisive role it played in the evolution of our species, the traces of which we carry in our genes. The author draws on scientific developments in acoustics, neuroscience, linguistics, archaeology and anthropology to examine theories that have emerged powerfully during the last twenty years and which argue for the significance of the practice of music as foundational to human culture. This position is examined in parallel with research into how children learn musically, and the role that creative decision making plays in this. A series of strategies is presented that explores collective creativity which draws on vocalisation, the use of gesture, and instinctive responses to harmony to develop musical imagination.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • List of Photographs
  • List of Figures
  • Introduction and acknowledgements
  • Glossary of terms
  • Part I Evolutionary musicology and music education
  • Chapter 1: Music, evolution and self-expression
  • Chapter 2: The vocal basis of human musicality as an evolved phenomenon
  • Chapter 3: Music education and creativity
  • Part II Musical learning through collective creativity
  • Chapter 4: Pedagogy for collective creativity: Introducing Harmony Signing
  • Chapter 5: Harmony Signing: Commencing with monophonic work
  • Chapter 6: The evolution of polyphony
  • Chapter 7: The basis of Harmony Signing: Three-part voice-leading
  • Chapter 8: Expanding the harmonic world: Journeys beyond the tonic horizon
  • Chapter 9: A notation system for sketching Harmony Signing operations
  • Chapter 10: Composing with the Primary Triads
  • Chapter 11: Introducing inversions
  • Chapter 12: Further exercises to develop security of location
  • Chapter 13: Expanding the universe via modulation: Excursions to replacement keys
  • Chapter 14: New chords within the Tonic: The Secondary Triads of the major scale
  • Chapter 15: Free(r) composition: Moving beyond homophony
  • Chapter 16: Minor mode signing
  • Chapter 17: New short-cuts to modulation, and new destinations
  • Chapter 18: The Pandora’s box of chromaticism: The diminished triads and other ‘portkeys’; modal variants and 12-note music
  • Chapter 19: More on 7ths and their implications, 9th chords, and enharmonic relationships
  • Chapter 20: Harmony Signing in four (or more) parts
  • Chapter 21: Creative Harmony Signing in group composition and improvisation
  • Chapter 22: The limits of Harmony Signing: What students suggest, and some further directions to explore
  • Part III Teaching Composition at Secondary School
  • Chapter 23: Creative pedagogy in practice
  • Chapter 24: Developing compositional strategies
  • Chapter 25: ‘What if?’ analysis: Creative engagement with existing music
  • Chapter 26: Developing an integrated music curriculum that fully embraces creativity
  • Appendices
  • Permissions listing
  • Bibliography
  • Index

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List of Photographs

Photograph 1 Mirror-pair singing.

Photograph 2 The 12 Kodály hand-signs employed in Harmony Signing.

Photograph 3 Replacement of one hand-sign with another (sequence of three).

Photograph 4 The Tonicising Sign.

Photograph 5 The sign for conveying the Tonic.

Photograph 6 Movement from Tonic to Subdominant.

Photograph 7 The move from Subdominant to Dominant.

Photograph 8 The sign for adding a minor 7th to a chord.

Photograph 9 The sign for the major triad on note 2 of the scale.

Photograph 10 Both hands employed to modulate to the relative minor.

Photograph 11 The sign for directing changes of inversion.

Photograph 12 The cut-and-paste sign.

Photograph 13 The sign for chord vi.

Photograph 14 These six positions in sequence.

Photograph 15 The sign for the tonic minor.

Photograph 16 Each of these three signs for: (a) chord I7; (b) chord II#; (c) the two-handed pivot chord for modulation to the relative minor

Photograph 17 All three versions of the sign for the diminished triad.

| xiii →


Figure 1. Three critical adaptations for song (in which phylogeny is recapitulated in ontogeny).

Figure 2. Aspects of contrasting pedagogical assumption.

Figure 3. Notation of the Hymn to John the Baptist.

Figure 4. A spiral model of the acquisition of vocal learning.

Figure 5. Romet’s presentation of Sundanese infant and childhood experience.

Figure 6. Musical example of the 4/4 alternating rhythm.

Figure 7. Brain Gym 1.

Figure 8. Brain Gym 2.

Figure 9. Brain Gym 3.

Figure 10. Musical notation of the divisive rhythm canon.

Figure 11. Musical notation of the Canterbury Curfew: orchestrated version.

Figure 12. Musical example of Llamas love many zoos.

Figure 13. Musical example of Thirty thousand feathers on a thirsty thrush’s throat.

Figure 14. The main vowels in English.

Figure 15. The Harmonic Series.

Figure 16. A graphic score based on phonetic notation.

Figure 17. Scales at different speeds.

Figure 18. Music notation of canonic treatment of Frère Jacques.

Figure 19. Diagram of the adapted Kodály hand-signs.

Figure 20. These melodic components set out in sequence.

Figure 21. Music notation of this simple melody.

Figure 22. Music notation of this replacement exercise.

Figure 23. Transferable features of an implicit theory of harmony. ← xiii | xiv →

Figure 24. Music notation version of singing over a drone.

Figure 25. Music notation version of the diatonic Alap.

Figure 26. Music notation version of the chromatic Alap.

Figure 27. Music notation of drone with sol-fa melody.

Figure 28. Music notation of three two-part exercises including ‘movable drones’.

Figure 29. Music notation of a scale sung in canon.

Figure 30. Music notation of a descending scale in two parts.

Figure 31. Music notation of chain of suspensions in which (a) the lower part moves first and the upper resolves and (b) the other way round.

Figure 32. Music notation of building the triad.

Figure 33. Music notation of an exercise that achieves the exchange of parts.

Figure 34. Music notation of this excerpt from The Blue Danube.

Figure 35. Musical examples from Monteverdi and Britten (‘Sanctus’, from the War Requiem).

Figure 36. Music notation of the move from Tonic to Subdominant.

Figure 37. Music notation of the move from Tonic to Dominant.

Figure 38. Music notation of the move from Subdominant to Dominant.

Figure 39. Music notation of the Blues progression.

Figure 40. Music notation of this Mariachi progression.

Figure 41. Music notation of these changes in inversion.

Figure 42. Music notation of this modulating progression.

Figure 43. Music notation of modulation to the relative minor.

Figure 44. Music notation of moving to the inversions of the Tonic.

Figure 45. Music notation of this progression.

Figure 46. Music notation: Referencing the opening of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus. ← xiv | xv →

Figure 47. Music notation of this progression involving change of inversion.

Figure 48. Music notation of the continuation of this pattern.

Figure 49. Music notation of this entire sequence.

Figure 50. Notation of Xhosa chord pattern.

Figure 51. Music notation of the daisy-chain game.

Figure 52. Musical notation of this variant of the daisy-chain.

Figure 53. Musical notation of cutting-and-pasting to modulate to the subdominant.

Figure 54. Musical notation of cutting-and-pasting to modulate beyond the subdominant.

Figure 55. Musical notation of cutting-and-pasting to modulate to the Dominant.

Figure 56. Cycle-of-fifths diagram.

Figure 57. Music notation of this ‘nested’ progression.

Figure 58a. Music notation for these relationships.

Figure 58b. A progression involving all six chords.

Figure 59. Musical example of this as the familiar piano duet.

Figure 60. Musical notation of this progression introducing chord ii.

Figure 61. Musical example of the Nutcracker theme.

Figure 62. Notation of the Pachelbel Canon.

Figure 63. Music notation of this two-part progression.

Figure 64a. Notation of these voice-leading strategies (1).

Figure 64b. Notation of these voice-leading strategies (2).

Figure 65. Notation of two-part polyphony incorporating these strategies.

Figure 66. An exercise involving adding a new voice to an existing one.

Figure 67. A two-part exercise in three-time.

Figure 68. Musical example of the incorporation of leaps.

Figure 69. A further example of melodic practice.

Figure 70. Two-part counterpoint incorporating leaps. ← xv | xvi →

Figure 71. An example for students to work through adding a second part.

Figure 72. Music notation of examples of the use of suspension.

Figure 73. Music notation of unaccented passing notes.

Figure 74. Musical examples of appoggiaturas.

Figure 75. Musical example of anticipation.

Figure 76. Two-part example that incorporates this range of dissonant strategies.

Figure 77. A two-part example of polyphony incorporating dissonance in three-time.

Figures 78a–78b. Examples of exercises for completion that incorporate these new features.

Figure 79. Bach, cadence, final chorus of the St Matthew Passion.

Figure 80. Purcell, passage from Dido’s lament.

Figure 81. Mussorgsky, passage from Gnomus, Pictures at an Exhibition.

Figure 82. Passage from Tchaikovsky, Romeo and Juliet.

Figure 83. Passage from Tchaikovsky, Adagio from The Nutcracker.

Figure 84. Wham! Careless whisper (opening saxophone solo).

Figure 85. Musical examples of rhythmic augmentation and diminution.

Figure 86. A two-part passage for modelling and performance in class.

Figure 87. An example with a missing part for completion in class.

Figure 88. A musical example of the incorporation of this dactylic rhythm.

Figure 89. Examples incorporating four consecutive crotchets.

Figure 90. Examples of melodic use of leaps of a 4th in a single voice. ← xvi | xvii →

Figure 91. A passage of two-part polyphony incorporating leaps of a 4th.

Figure 92. Musical example with leaps of a 4th for solution in class.

Figure 93. Five musical examples for rehearsal introducing a variety of leaps.

Figure 94. An example of music for class tracking in 3/2 metre.

Figure 95. Music notation of this mixed-gesture approach.

Figure 96. Music notation of this with chromatic alteration of Soh to Si.

Figure 97. Musical example of two-part exploration of intervals in sequence.

Figure 98. Music notation of Chromatic exercises (both up and down).

Figure 99. A personalised interval chart.

Figure 100. Musical example of the harmonised chromatic scale, rising and falling.

Figure 101. Exercise (a) for signed performance.

Figure 102. Exercise (b) for signed performance.

Figure 103. Exercise (c) for signed performance.

Figure 104. Exercise (d) for signed performance.

Figure 105. Exercise (e) for signed performance.

Figure 106. Major-minor alternation in Schubert Gute Nacht.

Figure 107. Major-minor alternation in Dvořák, Slavonic Dance No. 8.

Figure 108. Major-minor alternation in Brahms, Symphony No. 3.

Figure 109. Major-minor alternation in Richard Strauss, Also Sprach Zarathustra.

Figure 110. Notation of the natural minor over a drone.

Figure 111. Notation of the melodic minor ascending over a drone.

Figure 112. Notation of the melodic minor descending over a drone. ← xvii | xviii →

Figure 113. Notation of the harmonic minor ascending and descending over a drone.

Figure 114. Notation of the melodic minor harmonised ascending and descending.

Figure 115. Notation of the harmonic minor harmonised, ascending and descending.

Figure 116. A musical example that explores these minor-key relationships.

Figure 117. Notation of these minor relationships including chord VII.

Figure 118. Notation of this move to chord III of the minor.

Figure 119. Notation of this modulation to the subdominant.

Figure 120. Notation of this modulation terminating on the subdominant minor chord.

Figure 121. Notation of this modulation from the minor to the subdominant minor.

Figure 122. Notation of the modulation to the Dominant.

Figure 123. Cyclic modulation, moving to the Dominant and returning to the tonic.

Figure 124. Modulation to the relative minor.

Figure 125. Introducing cycle-of-fifths modulation in the subdominant direction.

Figure 126. Notation of the harmonisations by (a) Vulpius and (b) Ley.

Figure 127. Notation of moving to the flattened submediant.

Figure 128. Moving to the flattened supertonic.

Figure 129. The Neapolitan relationship: moving to the flattened supertonic and back.

Figure 130. A more fluent Neapolitan relationship.

Figure 131. Moving to the flattened to mediant.

Figure 132. This new short-cut to the flattened mediant.

Figure 133. The tritone at the end of the Compline prayer.

Figure 134. The accompaniment to Chopsticks. ← xviii | xix →

Figure 135. The ‘other’ Chopsticks with a tritone in the accompaniment.

Figure 136. Musical example of how the interval f-b in C major is identical to e#-b, with consequences for how they resolve.

Figure 137. Notation of the Beethoven: (a) the original; and (b) a ‘what if?’ analysis.

Figure 138. Notation of the Rimsky-Korsakov: (a) the original; (b) a ‘what if?’ analysis.

Figure 139. Notation of the diminished triad and its conventional resolution.

Figure 140. Notation of the three diminished triads and their relation to the tonic.

Figure 141. Example from Don Giovanni.

Figure 142. Example from Insanae et vanae curae.

Figure 143. Example from Der Freischütz.

Figure 144. Example from Dance Macabre.

Figure 145. Example from Night on a bare mountain.

Figure 146. Example from Prélude à l’Après-Midi d’un Faune.

Figure 147. Examples (a) and (b) from Firebird.

Figure 148. Example from Petrushka.

Figure 149. The diminished triad as a surrogate dominant in the minor.

Figure 150. The diminished triad as a pivot introducing modulation to the submediant.


ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2019 (June)
Evolution Musicality Creativity
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, New York, Wien, 2019. XLIII, 636 pp., 260 fig. b/w

Biographical notes

Nicholas Bannan (Author)

Nicholas Bannan was a chorister at Canterbury Cathedral before studying at Cambridge University, focusing on composition. He has taught Music in several schools including Eton College, Desborough School in Maidenhead and the Yehudi Menuhin School; and in higher education at the London College of Music, Oxford Brookes University and the University of Reading, where he also completed his PhD on the evolutionary origins of the human singing voice. He won the Fribourg Festival Prize for Sacred Music in 1986, and his works have received performances from the Choir of St Paul’s Cathedral, La Chapelle Royale de Paris, the Guildhall String Ensemble, and the Allegri and Grieg string quartets. Since 2006, he has lectured in Music at the University of Western Australia, where he leads courses in music education and aural, directs The Winthrop Singers, and supervises masters and doctoral research.


Title: Every Child a Composer