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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 8: Expanding the harmonic world: Journeys beyond the tonic horizon


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Expanding the harmonic world: Journeys beyond the tonic horizon

Initial harmonic movement: To the subdominant (I–IV)

Having established the sign for the Tonic such that participants should be able to respond by singing a three-part chord, it is now possible to begin the process that gives Harmony Signing its purpose: movement from one chord to another with appropriate voice leading.

Explanation of the signs used

In demonstrating in movement the first example of Harmony Signing so that it can be recalled clearly by participants both in terms of their response as singers and as a preparation for their own ability to sign, it may help to illustrate the overall movement of the arm in terms of how this reflects three positions along its length. When moving the arm from horizontal to vertical with the fingers pointing upwards, the elbow does not move. This can be seen to represent the function of the note which is common to both the Tonic and Subdominant chords: note 1 (Doh) itself. Such an unchanging pitch can be thought of as anchoring the relationship between two chords. Meanwhile, a point half-way up the arm could represent a small change in pitch: the semitone between 3 (Me) and 4 (Fa); while the tips of the fingers represent the largest change, the whole tone between ← 177 | 178 → 5 (Soh) and 6 (La). The entire system of voice leading on which Harmony...

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