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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 17: New short-cuts to modulation, and new destinations


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New short-cuts to modulation, and new destinations

We have already introduced the principle of replacing the central Tonic position with different chords through employing the cut-and-paste technique. Modulation brings a new power to this process: the means by which a chord can usurp the Tonic position is achieved with greater inevitability, and the certainty that it fully qualifies to do so, if temporarily. When a new chord takes over the role of Tonic, we are instantly aware of the functions of the ‘new’ chords IV and V that are its immediate satellites. This is equally true of modulations to and from the minor that imply the array i/iv/V. Confirming these assumptions in practice is one of the first exercises that it is useful to master when exploring modulation.

So, modulation acts as a kind of tonal revolution: the salient introduction of a note outside the prevailing key undermines the certainties by which we locate the tonic function, a process to which we have to respond unless the composer/leader is merely flirting with the tonal implications of this pitch-choice as a form of inflection or colouration. In another sense, the circle-of-fifths ‘revolves’ in the gestural space the signs occupy (see Figure 56).

The three commonest modulations that we will deal with first are: to the Subdominant; to the Dominant; and to the relative minor. Modulation to the Subdominant is the easiest to achieve because it goes with the...

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