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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.

CONTENTS: Evolutionary musicology and music education - Music, evolution and self-expression - The vocal basis of human musicality as an evolved phenomenon - Music education and creativity - Musical learning through collective creativity - Pedagogy for collective creativity: Introducing Harmony Signing - Harmony Signing: Commencing with monophonic work - The evolution of polyphony - The basis of Harmony Signing: Three-part voice-leading - Expanding the harmonic world: Journeys beyond the tonic horizon - A notation system for sketching Harmony Signing operations - Composing with the Primary Triads - Introducing inversions - Further exercises to develop security of location - Expanding the universe via modulation: Excursions to replacement keys - New chords within the Tonic: The Secondary Triads of the major scale - Free(r) composition: Moving beyond homophony - Minor mode signing - New short-cuts to modulation, and new destinations - The Pandora’s box of chromaticism: The diminished triads and other «portkeys»; modal variants and 12-note music - More on 7ths and their implications, 9th chords, and enharmonic relationships - Harmony Signing in four (or more) parts - Creative Harmony Signing in group composition and improvisation - The limits of Harmony Signing: What students suggest, and some further directions to explore - Teaching Composition at Secondary School - Creative pedagogy in practice - Developing compositional strategies - «What if ?» analysis: Creative engagement with existing music - Developing an integrated music curriculum that fully embraces creativity.