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Every Child a Composer

Music Education in an Evolutionary Perspective

Nicholas Bannan

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.

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Chapter 7: The basis of Harmony Signing: Three-part voice-leading

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| 167 →

CHAPTER 7

The basis of Harmony Signing: Three-part voice-leading

Building the triad: Extrapolation from the Harmonic Series

This is the point at which Harmony Signing proper takes over. The musical ingredients of the practice can best be presented as emerging from the canonic singing of scales covered in previous sections:

Figure 32. Music notation of building the triad.

Once this three-note chord has been brought into existence, it can be accessed by the sign for the Tonic chord, in which the left arm is held horizontally in front of the chest with the fingers extended in a manner which recalls the sign for Kodály Me. ← 167 | 168 →

Photograph 5. The sign for conveying the Tonic.

Just as in figured bass a root position chord can be represented by a 3 under the bass note, this starting-position for Harmony Signing conveys that it is the (major) third which gives character to the sonority. But more significantly, this is a comfortable sign to make and an easy one to read, allowing a variety of further movements to be introduced from this ‘home’ position which will define the means by which Harmony Signing conveys a hierarchy of related and accessible chords and functions.

Relating the triad to the melodic intervals of which it is composed

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