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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 9: A notation system for sketching Harmony Signing operations


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A notation system for sketching Harmony Signing operations

Health warning: The use of written symbols to teach Harmony Signing

The following notation system is provided as a means of aligning the gestural practices we are exploring with music notated conventionally, and of providing as simply as possible a set of symbols that can be employed where necessary in teaching, and in student responses to tasks. Harmony Signing was designed to permit effective musical interaction that does not depend on the reading of conventional notation. For this reason, it seems vital that symbolisation as employed here is not taken as a further music notation system to be taught as a form of theory. All of the intentions behind Harmony Signing would require that we reject this idea. But in expressing in the printed word what Harmony Signing can achieve, the prop of some limited use of symbols became necessary in order to convey at this stage how the relationship between chords in progressions can develop though creative experiment.

The following signs were selected because they are easily available in the Symbols menu of standard word-processing software (and in fonts such as Wingdings). This would permit teachers and students, where necessary, to employ these signs to record or otherwise support their use of Harmony Signing. Pencil-and-paper equivalents can also be derived from these, as has often arisen spontaneously where students have been working with ideas on these lines. Indeed,...

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