You’ll know from my other blogs on music education that I’m of the opinion that a lot of what is being examined in our young musicians (and mature ones, taking the dreaded graded exam journey) is outdated and irrelevent. The system has remained much the same for over 80 years, and shows no signs of changing anytime soon. Most exam systems we know have been changed several times of the years, so why have music exams (and I’m looking at you ABRSM) staunchly remained the same all of this time?
I’ve not written a blog for a while now, so I figured that with these few days off work, becasue of the snow and whatnot, I’d knock off a quick one about a couple of my favourite musical bugbears that I hear people bandying about willy-nilly.
And here they are:
1. Music that I don’t like is ‘just a noise’.
2. Music is a ‘universal language’.
So, a while back, I was teaching a bit of compositional theory (as you do) and I asked the students a seemingly outrageous question: “What is the purpose of the harmonic minor scale? Why is there a raised 7th in there?”
But I was not deterred and thought I’d push them even further… “OK, what about the melodic minor scale? A raised 7th AND a raised 6th.”
We’re all Michael Brecker fans here, aren’t we? I mean, what’s not to like?
The man was regarded as one of the greatest saxophonists of his generation, and has a back catalogue of albums, both as leader and sideman, that is largely unchallenged both in its diversity and musical accomplishments.
Those of you out there who know their stuff will no doubt be familiar with the topic of today’s blog: the paradigm analysis. And those of you with a bit of knowledge of linguistics, and what-not, will recognise the name Ferdinand de Saussure, the French structuralist and semiologist. If you do, you’re probably more prepared than the average blogger for what is about to come and can skip over a few paragraphs below. If not, read on, grasshopper…