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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 15: Free(r) composition: Moving beyond homophony


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Free(r) composition: Moving beyond homophony

Up to this point, our experience of Harmony Signing has largely focused on building a vocabulary of chords and their treatment, including inversion. The following section illustrates how the chords we have explored can form the basis for more complex and free signed composition, especially through combining Left Hand harmony with Right Hand signing of melodic material. In preparation for this, we will first consider some options that represent polyphony through single-line signing, building further our experience of voice-leading through strategies adapted from the Species counterpoint (Fux 1725) of Johann Fux (1660–1741).1 We will then illustrate a series of steps that will give both leaders and participants experience of some characteristic functions of merging melody with harmony, in preparation for their creative combination up to the limits of what we can currently achieve. Signers and participants who become fluent at this level will be ready to commence transferring the medium of performance from voices to instrumental ensembles, and from this point onwards continuing their work employing Harmony Signing both vocally and instrumentally.

‘Species’ counterpoint and the signing of two-part polyphony

While we have focused in much of our work so far on the creation and employment of chords, the development of music around the world appears to have come about through the exploration of polyphony – the ← 241 | 242 → combination of independent melodies – rather than being rooted in chordal progressions....

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