Thursday, April 30, 2015

Statement of Teaching

by Xenia Sandstrom-McGuire
-We live in a global community, it is our duty to reach out and understand one another.-

In Today's work environment which encourages employees to think "outside the box," many institutions of higher learning have done their students a disservice by abandoning the core value of a Liberal Arts education. For these schools, the meaning of College has come to signify specific training in a particular field which had until the recent decades had been more appropriately developed through apprenticeship and on the job training.. As a result, their almuni/ae enter the work force with an incomplete education ill-equipped with the intellectual curiosity required for the sciences, ill-suited for the innovative entrepreneurial spirit of business and ill-prepared to adapt to the diversity of an ever changing global society.

The Liberal Arts degree is still respected as meaning: the ready ability to draw upon a broad variety of disciplines, to know how to learn independently, to apply knowledge, to critically analyze problems, and understand how to work with individuals and groups of diverse cultures and worldview.

In teaching Music as one of the traditional Seven Liberal Arts, I help students overcome the peril of "functional fixedness" through active and peer learning strategies. Rather than focusing solely on the memorization of facts and terms, my students (whether in class, ensemble or private study) use their senses to experience music--applying those terms to their subjective tastes as well as objective critical analysis in order to arrive at a well-considered conclusion. Students also develop the necessary skill of collaboration by discussing their diversity of perspectives and providing mature constructive feedback. In music improvisation, I expose students to diverse modes of improv traditions as practiced by many cultures around the world and encourage them through exercises (and an attitude of fearlessness) to experiment based upon what they have learned.

As an electric bassist, my primary concern is ensuring that students learn a sound ergonomic technique which reduces risk of injury. For this I have developed a method focused on the unique requirements of the electric bass with exercises designed to facilitate fingering while maintaining good posture. Rather than launching into "flashy technical riffs" my students learn early on the traditional musical leadership role of the bass -- it provides the foundation of Harmony, Beat and Rhythm--it is the singular focal point upon which all musicians rely. In this sense the bassist is the conductor who is always aware of the music and will assert direction when things go awry.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Music in a Classical Education part 1

When Dorothy Sayers advocated for a return to the traditional methods of Medieval Education in her public speech "The Lost Tools of Learning." (1943) , she was referring to a tradition steeped in the works of the 6th century Scholar and Roman Statesman Anicius Manlius Seuerinus Boethius.

Boethius is the most significant figure in the transmission of the Classical Learning into the Latin West.  For over a 1,000 year span, his works were the most widely disseminated and utilized as authoritative texts in Classical Education.  This is in large part due to the efforts of the 10th century scholar Gerbert d'Aurillac (Pope Sylvester II), who organized the familiar classical curriculum on Boethius works, Fundamentals of Arithmetic, Fundamentals of Music, Psuedo-Boethius Geometry, as well as the Calcidius Commentary on Plato's Timaeus.  While this history is intimately known by Classics scholars, it is often missed entirely by many schools who desire to provide a Classical Education. 

Take a moment to read Boethius best known work, The Consolation of Philosophy for it is the essential handbook for Classical Education.[* here is a great introduction to Boethius 101]  It is a guide for how to think about issues, how to think clearly and deeply with a heart and mind toward understanding Nature and our role in it,  how those forces impact and influence our decisions and the strategies we employ to overcome faulty reasoning from our emotional likes and dislikes.  It is understanding that harmony between our individual Rights and our Obligations to our community and nature. Education after all is primarily a Philosophical quest.  It is perpetual questioning to arrive at understanding.

Music's Classical Pedigree

Classics scholars know from surviving epigraphical and paleographical evidence as well as contemporary written accounts, such as those written by Boethius, that the ancient epics and plays (Iliad, Odyssey, Aeneid, Beowulf, Sophocles, Euripides, Ovid, Mesmodes) were sung and accompanied by instrumental music. 

In Boethius, Music is the primary voice of Lady Philosophy.  This is because in the Classical tradition, music is known to influence human behavior AND it can be measured and manipulated.  It is the conduit to understanding the Cosmos (The "Good Order").  The Western tradition of classical education holds that those without Music lack true understanding and are doomed to be passive reactors to the whims of its power.  In the Holy orders of the Catholic Church and in the theology of MartinLuther,  it is the voice of prayers because in their traditions God is the creator of the Cosmos. The 12th Century German Saint and Doctor of the Church, Hildegard von Bingen takes this tradition further in her morality play, Ordo Uirtutem in which all of the parts, from the "Soul" to the "Virtues" are singing roles.  The ONLY voice without song is the Devil - who bellows and shouts without true understanding trying to sway the weary soul to the false goods of wealth, power, and prestige.
In his treatise De Musica, the influential classical scholar, Saint Augustine of Hippo writes that anything dealing with sound is the study of Music.  On its basic level we have all experienced the power of music on our emotions from the rhythm of a dripping faucet, taking cues as to when to shift gears in our manual transmissions, judging emotion or meaning (satire or serious) by tone of voice.  These are all extremely basic musical elements, but they provide the starting point in the Classical Study of Music.

Pythagoras demonstrating Ratio in Sound via the Tectratys 
While I cannot use this time to provide a basic understanding of leitmotiv technique and how music influences the meaning of a text, emotions, philosophical concepts et al.  (which it so often does by referring our minds in one direction as the text moves in another) it has always been understood as an essential component of Classical Education.  The active engaged practice of music exercises the mind to understand these nuances.

Think about it another way.  If Music did not have power and importance, why do movies, tv shows, commercials, and especially political ads routinely exploit its power?  Would the meaning of a political ad change if the timbre of the speakers voice were different, if the music sounded "happy" during a negative attack ad?  I do not want any of our students to grow up ignorant of this and to have their minds swayed by "shiny objects" without substance.

It is for this reason the mind requires active participation in instrumental and vocal music.  The exercise of which tunes the mind into these nuances, these complex and layered cues of timbre, pitch, rhythm, harmony, dynamics, contours, expression complex textures.  Just as the weight lifter cannot hope to gain muscle through reading about weight lifting, so too is it true with the musician athlete.

There exists extensive and readily available historical evidence as well as peer reviewed scholarship and vetted cognitive research which supports the findings of these 2,500 year old assertions as to the value and power of music. (refer here for a brief list of sources )
Rather than being reduced to the status of extra-curricular to academic study or as some mere market driven commodity for entertainment (possessing no more value than soda, junk food or video games?)  Modern cognitive research in Music confirms the underlying concept of Harmonia which was always so central to the Ancient understanding of Life and Education. 

Music is the Core of Classical Education

Understanding Music, how it is produced, its effects upon human motivations, and how this power is utilized has been the greatest source for the development of the Physical and Behavioral Sciences.  Since Pythagoras first applied ratio to sounds, understanding Music is the clearest window into knowing the Whole of Nature. It is the voice of Philosophia of which scholars in the Ancient Greek traditions stressed its importance.  It is why the ancient epics, plays, and prayers were sung and accompanied by instruments.  Its influence and effect on humans is now confirmed by modern research in Cognitive Science. All of the STEM fields are indebted to this tradition of Understanding Music.

We know music in many ways: singing, instruments, theory.  It can motivate us, inspire us, annoy us, compel us to buy, or vote for a certain candidate.  The Language Arts are indebted to the Understanding of Music.   For whatever is conveyed in the best Rhetoric can be supported or undermined through its learned application.

For the classical mind: Rhetoric and Music only lead to Virtue when they are in accord with the Cosmos. Or In the words of Lady Philosophy
...I call to my aid the sweet persuasiveness of Rhetoric, who then only walketh in the right way when she forsakes not my instructions, and Music, my handmaid, I bid to join with her singing, now in lighter, now in graver strain. Consolation of Philosophy Book II.

Related Articles:
Science Appreciation and the Study of Music:
For a brief description on the Pythagorean origins of music, here is bassist and vocalist, Esperanza Spalding

Baroque Listening Practicum

Listening Practicum for MUS130-Q (KCMcGuire)
NAME:______________________________________________ DATE:____________

I: Baroque Concerto Identification

Example 1: Violin Concerto in A Minor RV356, 1st movement

Listen to the first 30 seconds of this work, then provide the timing (minute:sec) where each of the following sections begin:
1) Ritornello Theme
            a: _0:00        / b: ____:05____ / c: ____:13 or :21 (for cadence)_____

2) 1st Solo Episode: ______:21_______ 
3) What is the meter? (duple / triple / quadruple)

Example 2: Antonio Vivaldi - Concerto in D minor (RV 454)

Listen to the first 45 seconds of this work. Provide the timing (minute:sec) where each of the following sections begin:
1) Ritornello Theme
            a: _0:00        / b: ___:15_____ / c: ___:25______

2) 1st Solo Episode: _____:34________ 

3) Aside from the violins, violas, celli, and bass name 2 other instruments in this work. Which one is the solo instrument? _______oboe______________, ___harpsichord_____

Example 3: Vivaldi - Concerto for Mandolin in C Major RV425
Listen to the first 3 minutes of this work. Provide the timing (minute:sec) where each of the following sections begin:
1) Ritornello Theme
            a: _0:00        / b: ___:10_____ / c: ___:20____

2) 1st Solo Episode: ______:24_______ 
3) FINAL Ritornello (aka Recap or “A”) of the first movement: ______2:08_________
4) Where does the second movement of this concerto begin? _______2:39_________. Is it faster or slower than the first movement.

Example 1: Bach, Contrapunctus 9, Art of Fugue (Kunst der Fuge)
Provide the timing (minute:sec) for the entrances of the thematic subject begin:
Subject (in Alto voice): __0:12__ / Subject(answer) (in Soprano): __:21______ / Subject (in Bass): __:29_____ / Subject (answer) (in Tenor): ____:38____

EXAMPLE 2: J.S. Bach Fuga in C-minor, BWV 537
Listen to the first 35 seconds of this exposition then provide the timing (minute:sec) for the entrances of the thematic subject begin:
Subject (in Tenor): __0:00__ / Subject(answer in Alto): ____:06____ / Subject (in Bass): ___:15___ / Subject (answer in Soprano): ___:21_____

Listen to the first 35 seconds of this exposition then provide the timing (minute:sec) for the entrances of the thematic subject begin:
Provide the timing (minute:sec) for the entrances of the thematic subject begin:
Subject (in soprano): __0:06__ / Subject(answer) (in alto): ____:11____ / Subject (in tenor): ___:16____ / Subject (answer) (in bass): ___:21_____

EXAMPLE 1: J. S. Bach Cantata BWV 61 Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland Eng: Now come, the gentiles' Savior.
This is an example on how the “gapped chorale” technique (where the chorale melody, “Nun Komm der Heiden Heiland” is broken up) is applied to the form of the French Overture [form ABA’] and used for the first movement of this six movement cantata. Listen this entire movement and answer the follow questions.
1) Provide the timing (minute:sec) where each of the following sections begin:
            A:__0:09___   B:___2:08_________  A’:____3:15_________
2) What is the tempo of the A sections? (slow / moderate / fast)
3) What is the tempo of the B section? (slow / moderate / fast)
4) What is the meter of the A sections? (duple / triple / quadruple)
5) What is the meter of the B sections? (duple / triple / quadruple)

EXAMPLE 1: “Crucifixus” from B-minor Mass by JS Bach.
In this movement from his B-minor Mass, Bach supports the orchestration / choir and variations over and descending ostinato bass (i.e. ground bass technique).  Listen to the bass line for the first 1:30, and
1) Count how many times it is repeated within that span.(*note it is given with only flute/recorder accompaniment from 0:00-:0:12)  _____7___________

2) How would you describe (or diagram) the evolution of the vocal texture within that span? 

Guidelines for Understanding and Discussing Music

General Guidelines for Understanding and Discussing Music Analytically
[*a quick and super-basic rundown  to help non-musicians hear music.]

Often I find students try really hard to “fit” music to neatly compiled terms, but in the process get frustrated because what they perceive doesn't seem to fit the term or “definition.”
Please do not worry about this just yet.  More often than not, your ears are giving you the correct information, but because there are many musical events occurring at the same time (and there is no guarantee that two people will focus on the same event at that time), the terminology can become a hindrance to your learning and understanding.

Nothing occurs in isolation but understanding the concepts helps discuss the music objectively.
Certain concepts such as Polyphony and Homophony are often difficult to distinguish,
It becomes even more troublesome because often compositions employ more than one texture at a time (e.g. stacking an essential polyphonic layer over a homophonic base)
When I use the term “voice” when referring to a “melodic line,” it can refer to ANY instrument (it does not have to be a human voice).  Similarily, “choir” refers to a group of like “instruments” as in Brass choir, string choir, woodwind choir, vocal choir.

Listen for: Patterns, repeats, ostinato / vs. free form un patterned (Strophic vs. Through-Composed)

FORM – (What is the composer’s intent)
OR What do we Perceive to be the intent?
Listen for changes in musical “events” elements.
The quickest way to break down anything is through the time honored system of dichotomy.  Begin with two opposing concepts (then fill in the grey area).

Because music occurs in time, I like to start with rhythm. We measure and discuss these events as they occur “through time.”

The two most basic distinctions, “Long” and “Short”
Not all “longs” or “shorts” are of equal duration.
Some “longs” are longer than others, but are still comparatively “long” enough to be considered a “long”

For the sake of ease write “-“ for a long value and “.” For a short value.  In this case, “.” 1 pulse and “-“ equals 2 pulses.
Example: -.-- -.-- --..

How do rhythm, harmony and melody work together to help identify form?

What do our ears perceive
Static or “in motion”/transitional.

Consonance – stable
Dissonance – unstable

Wide intervals vs. narrow (intense, focused, or smooth)
Leaps (chaotic, jumpy)

Dry or Wet (Reverberation)

Ambitus (the high and low pitch range of music).
motif - musical "words"
Leitmotiv - musical "nouns"

TEXTURE: Changes in Texture (greek root: ) are another
Most of the music two which we are accustomed is considered “Homophonic”
That is there is one distinct melody with supporting harmony.  A related term for this is Monody.
Soprano/Bass Polarity

Textures with 1 Melodic line of Interest: Monophony, Heterophony, Homophony

Texture with 2 or more Melodic Lines of Interest: Polyphony
Polyphony can be imitative (as in Canons/Rounds)
or Non-Imitative.
Counterpoint and Contrapuntal (contra: against / punctus: point) are terms often used synonymously with Polyphony

Class Expectations

For the Students of Xenia Sandstrom-McGuire
(MUS-130, MUS-160, MUP-116, MUP-316)
Class Approach:  Class sessions consist primarily of discussion over the materials students have studied outside of class (readings, audio examples, videos, interactive online exercises etc.).  The Instructor will freely call upon students and/or groups to answer questions and spur on dialog.  

Student Expectations: Come to class having studied the materials.  As with all college courses, students should expect to spend on average a minimum of 2-3 hours prep work outside of class sessions for every 1 hour in class. Approximately 60-75% of that time will be devoted to studying the listening examples.   

Submit notes taken over each chapter to the corresponding assignment module on the Moodle Site.  The easiest strategy is to begin by outlining each chapter on your own and make notes on the bold terms in the text.

LISTENING: One of the best things to help you learn the music is to play it constantly.  For the assigned works, follow along with the timing vignettes in the text and replay each short section numerous times. THEN sing along with the various parts making notes of the salient features listed in the text.  Actively sing the excerpt at least 5 times until its unique features are internalized and committed to memory.  This does you more good than passive listening.  I have created a number of mix links on the Moodle and YouTube websites plus you can discover new works on your own; Create your own random mixes by putting course materials in with your own favorite tunes.

Studying the readings does NOT mean “read it once,” nor does it entail simply highlighting or underlining sections.  Make the effort to write / type out the important concepts and commit them to memory.  A typical college strategy is that for each chapter, read the concluding section first then go back and read the text three (3) times, taking notes on the third time through (In case you are wondering, the real world requires even more effort and no sympathy for excuses.)
Do not merely copy definitions verbatim.  Work for understanding by putting the concepts into your own words.  If after the 3rd time reading through the text you are still having difficulty, Make a list of the top 3 (or more) difficult things and post them on the Moodle “Student Announcement” forum for class discussion.  I have provided many extra links to help clarify materials.

MEMORIZE as much as possible.  Memorization is the key to innovation and entrepreneurship.  The more you memorize the less time you waste looking up information.   It becomes easier to contextualize and apply knowledge as well as discover relationships and differences between all sources.  It will make your future observations more meaningful and essays easier to  focus, conceive and write.  You will also discover that the more you memorize the easier memorizing new things become.

All assessments (exams, quizzes, daily assignments) are traditional in that they require the student to articulate in writing (complete sentences, paragraphs, essay) the concepts learned. You will never be graded by Limited (aka Multiple) Choice or True/False questions as they are bogus means of assessing understanding.  In case you are wondering what might be on any given test or exam, everything I assign is fair game, though it is typically fairly obvious through class discussions what the majority of the questions will be.

When in doubt, Do More than expected. That is, Be active and take control of your education! Do not take a passive role; Do not give up; and Do not wait to be told what to do.  You are not learning for the sake of school itself but for your own education.  A Liberal Arts degree entails that you know how to learn on your own, critically evaluate sources and Apply knowledge.  There is no such thing as a “blow-off” course as every course your take is intended to build these transferable skills.

Finally, Instructors are for your brain what weight-lifting coaches are for muscles: We can show you proper technique but you won’t build muscle unless you lift the weight yourself.

MLC 2008-2009 Study Guide

Minnesota High School Music Listening Contest 2004-05 (rev*2008-09)

Authored by Xenia Sandstrom-McGuire

Hosted by Steve Seel, MPR

Click on the chapter heading to view the PDF of the subjects within the chapter. Click on the commentary or track title to listen to the audio.
For instance: To view the text regarding Magister Leoninus click on "Medieval and Renaissance Music" and scroll to his entry. To hear his music, Click on "Viderunt Omnes"

Concepts in Music and Introduction

Medieval and Renaissance Music

Magister Leoninus, Viderunt Omnes
Perotin, Viderunt Omnes
The Carmina Buruna, Olim Sudor Herculis
Philippe de Vitry, Tribumque/Quoniam secta/Merito hec patimur
Tomas Luis de Victoria, O Magnum Mysterium
Tomas Luis de Victoria, Missa O Magnum Mysterium

Baroque Period (1600-1750)

Girolamo Frescobaldi - Toccata No. 3
Girolamo Frescobaldi – Canzona
Girolamo Frescobaldi – Passacaglia
Jean-Baptiste Lully – Overture from Armide
Francois Couperin, Les Moissonneurs (The Field Workers)
Francois Couperin Les Langueurs-Tendres (The Languishers)
Francois Couperin La Bersan

Classical Period (1750-1820)

Beethoven - Symphony No. 1
Mozart - Piano Concerto in Eb K.482
Mozart – Terzetto No. 7 from The Marriage of Figaro
Haydn - Symphony No. 101 in D major (‘The Clock’) Hob. I/10

19th Century

Hector Berlioz - Symphony Fantastique
Mendelssohn - Symphony No. 4
Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov – Scheherazade

20th Century

Example of Eastern European folk music
Bela Bartok - 4th String Quartet
Igor Stravinksy - Concerto for Piano and Winds
Aaron Jay Kernis - Musica Celestes from String Quartet no. 1

Featured Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1751)

Cantata - Nun Komm Der Heiden Heiland, BWV 61 (1714)

  • Chorus
  • Recitative and Arioso
  • Aria
  • Recitative
  • Aria
  • Chorus

  • Brandenberg Concerto 4 BWV 1049 (1720)

  • 1st movement
  • 2nd movement
  • 3rd movement

  • Partita No. 2 in D Minor for Violin Solo, BWV 1004 (1720)

  • Allemande (Ger.) - 4/4 Moderate
  • Courante (Fr.)- 3/2 Moderate
  • Sarabande (South American)- 3/4 Slow, accented 2nd beat
  • Gigue (Irish/Anglo)- 6/8 Lively, wide skips
  • Chaconne - 3/4 Slow, continuous variation

  • B Minor Mass BWV 232 (1733)

    Musical Offering BWV 1079 (1747)

  • Ricercar a 6
  • Canon a 2
  • Trio Sonata

  • Featured Genre: Fugues and Canons

    J.S. Bach - Fugue No. 2 in C minor from WTC
    Beethoven - Grosse Fuge, Op. 133
    Charles Ives – 3rd Movement from the 4th Symphony
    Arnold Schoenberg - Der Mondfleck from Pierrot lunaire
    Darius Milhaud - La Creation du Monde
    Paul Hindemith – Fuga in C from Ludus Tonalis

    Featured Influence: The Blues and its Heirs

    Work Song - Rosie
    B.B. King – It’s My Own Fault Baby
    George Gershwin - "It Ain’t Necessarily So", from Porgy and Bess
    Charles Mingus -

  • The Work Song
  • Theme for Lester Young (a.k.a. Goodbye Porkpie Hat)

  • The Beatles - I Want You (She’s So Heavy)
    Jimi Hendrix - Manic Depression
    The Who - My Generation