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42 Years of Popular Music Analysis Teaching in 21 Minutes [2 years per minute] Philip Tagg Visiting Professor, Universities of Huddersfield and Salford.

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Presentation on theme: "42 Years of Popular Music Analysis Teaching in 21 Minutes [2 years per minute] Philip Tagg Visiting Professor, Universities of Huddersfield and Salford."— Presentation transcript:

1 42 Years of Popular Music Analysis Teaching in 21 Minutes [2 years per minute] Philip Tagg Visiting Professor, Universities of Huddersfield and Salford (UK) or must be accessible A short audit of a few problems in the denotation of musical structure, with suggestions for improvement Presentation at Popular Music Analysis Conference, University of Liverpool, 4 July, 2013 Previous versions ‘The Trouble with Tonal Terminology', ‘Too Important to Fail', etc. presented in Rome, Glasgow, Århus, Göteborg, Durham, Liverpool (2011); Newcastle, Lancaster, Nottingham, Berlin, Granada, London (City), Manchester, Granada, Cáceres, Huddersfield (2012), Cambridge (Anglia), Naples, Trento, Nantes (2013).

2 Overview presentation overview as intended in Liverpool, 4 July 2013 ‘ Time ’ ‘Totality' or ‘form’ Que faire? Background and aim ‘Tonality’


4 Background [potted CV 1] 1957-62 Organ, composition, trad. jazz 1962-65 BA in Music (Cambridge); Scottish country dancing, soul/R&B 1963 -66 Cert. Ed. (Manchester); mainstream blues/jazz, pop demos 1966-71Various gigging combos (Sweden) 1971 Full time employment as music teacher ‘unusually eclectic’

5 Background [potted CV 2] 1968-72 Choir (sing & arr.) 1971-76Agitrock band 1971-78Keyboard harmony, etc. 1971- History and analysis (incl. euroclass., pop, jazz, ‘world’, etc.) 1993- Music & Moving Image courses 1998-2001EPMOW articles 2009Everyday Tonality 2012Music’s Meanings: a musicology for non-musos

6 Visited 2012-05-03

7 Sets and subsets (1) Rain Hail Snow PRECIPITATION ‘MUSIC’ ‘popular’ ‘ethno ’ ‘world’ ‘dance’ ‘contemporary’ ‘medieval ’ ‘jazz’ etc. ‘avant-garde ’ ‘early’ ‘rock’ etc.


9 Sets and subsets (2) Rain Hail Snow TONALITY Euroclassical c. 1730 – 1910 ― ‘functional’ (!?)― —‘tonal’ (!?)— ‘modal’ ‘pretonal’ (!) ‘posttonal’ (!?) ‘contemporary’ ‘medieval ’ ‘jazz’ etc. ‘atonal ’ (!?) ‘primitive’ etc.

10 Tonal Terminology Aspects of musical structure compatible with Western notation: i.e. a system of graphic representation developed to encode mainly monometric music whose pitches conform to the twelve notes of our chromatically divided octave. (a v. small % of all music at any time anywhere)

11 Basic definitions TONE : note with audible fundamental pitch TONAL : consisting or characteristic of tones TONALITY : system of tonal configuration TONIC : central reference tone in relation to which other tones in a piece or extract of music are audibly related One problem : Tonalité/tonalidad/tonalità, etc. = key/Tonart —idiome tonal for ‘tonality’/‘Tonalität’— ?

12 ‘ATONAL’ !?

13 Linguistic derivative pattern 1 — -al -ality NounAdjectiveAbstract noun rootderivativederivative brutebrutalbrutality crimecriminalcriminality formformalformality modemodalmodality TONETONALTONALITY

14 Linguistic derivative pattern 2 -ic -ical (-icality/-icism) NounAdjectiveNounAdjective clericclericalclinicclinical comiccomicalcriticcritical ethic[s]ethical lyric[s]lyrical magicmagicalmusicmusical mysticmysticalphysic[s]physical scepticscepticalrhetoricrhetorical tactic[s]tacticaltopictopical tropic[s]tropical Abstr. n. musicality, physicality, topicality OR criticism, mysticism, scepticism HENCE TONICALITY OR TONICISM TONIC TONICAL

15 Tonality v. Modality ionian (heptatonic/diatonic) phrygian (heptatonic/diatonic) Nawa Athar (heptatonic) نوى أثر doh-pentatonic (anhemitonic) ré-pentatonic (anhemitonic) hirajoshi (pos. 4: hemitonic, pentatonic) Which of these modes are tonal and which are modal? All MODES are by definition TONAL

16 Chordal mystery category QUARTAL ‘triadic’? ‘functional’ ? ‘diatonic’? TERTIAL

17 Tonal terminology conclusions Don’t confuse TONE with TONIC. Tonal music without a tonic is ATONICAL, not ‘atonal’. Don’t confuse TRIADs with THIRDS. If harmony based on stacked fourths is quartal, harmony based on stacked thirds is TERTIAL. Don’t propagate false contradictions like ‘TONAL v. MODAL’. Please conceptualise all modes, including the ionian, as modes. Please also consider all modes as tonal. Don’t use TONAL and TONALITY in a musically, culturally and intellectually restrictive manner. Please consider the MULTIPLICITY of TONALITIES (tonal systems).

18 TIME SORRY. NO TIME FOR TIME THIS TIME except to mention just a few terms

19 Time: a few problem terms —under construction— syncopation polyrhythm polymetricity cross-rhythm extended present — only possible in monometric music with unequivocal downbeats — arises when >1 rhythmic pattern is heard at the same time — more accurate designation of rhythmic traits in many Subsaharan musics — term used by Subsaharan music scholars and practitioners to cover ‘polymetricity’ (a eurocentric term) — neuroscientifically established concept essential to understanding how batches of ‘now sound’ (syncrisis, groove, etc.) work

20 FORM “a shape; an arrangement of parts” (Concise Oxford Dictionary, 1995)

21 Visual “form” (‘composition’, ‘shape’, etc.) Musical “form” (‘composition’?) Exposition | Exposition | Development | Recapitulation Chorus | Chorus | Middle 8/Bridge | Chorus A | A | B | A vessel formed as a coffee pot bush formed as a mushroom

22 Play video or


24 What to do? (1) Ostrich strategy. ‘Nothing is wrong’. Carry on as usual. ‘We may be in the minority but we’re always right.’ Defeatist (‘realist’) strategy. Take note but no action: ‘interesting; some valid points but we have to deal with music theory “as is”. You can’t change >100 years of dubiously ethnocentric labelling. Get used to it!’ Tokenist strategy. ‘We’re broad-minded and modern. We have ethnomusicology and/or popular music studies and/or music technology on the curriculum but we see no need to change the basics of music theory. Laissez-faire (‘anti-authoritarian’) strategy. New terms are as bad as old ones. You’re forcing everyone to think like you. Let things develop organically, man!

25 What to do (2)? Risk alienation from conservative musicology (both ancient and modern) by making life easier for the popular majority of students through: - simple reform of a few basic terms; - recognition of vernacular musical competence; - reintegration of music as a specific form of symbolic production on a par with others.

26 What to do (3) Establish a forum of interested parties in music education, media education, etc. Get together to decide on priorities for a reform of music theory terminology. Involve experts from as many musical territories as possible so as to minimise risks of producing new ethnocentric concepts. Collaborate across cultural, disciplinary and professional boundaries to produce a music theory primer (max. 100 pp.) to take us into the 21 st -century and the age of globalisation.

27 Further edification Music’s Meanings: a modern musicology for non- musos (2013) [710 pp.] Everyday Tonality (2009) [334 pp.] Dominants and Dominance Musical Learning & Epistemic Diffraction Scotch Snaps: the big picture Troubles with Tonal Terminology (2011-13) — [32 pp.] ‘Not the sort of thing you could photocopy’ (2013) A short idea history of notation with suggestions for reform in music education and research [21 pp.] —

28 THE END Philip Tagg — — MMXIII

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