Dissertation significance

Awhile back I wrote this: https://functionalanalysis.wordpress.com/2014/04/14/dissertation-goals/ which details the overall scope of what I’d like to do with my dissertation. The next bullet on my dissertation proposal outline is “Project Significance,” so I’m going to write a bit about that today.


This system has significant pedagogical implications and motivations. In my experience as a teacher, I have seen the need for analysis tools that are easy to use and remember. I have designed Functional Analysis to facilitate easy use. Additionally, to meet that goal of ease, I have designed Functional Analysis from an aural basis – what your hear is what you label – and with performers in mind. Functional Analysis is also adaptable for personalized analysis, acknowledging that different people hear the same music in different ways. One of the principal performer directed aspects is the flexibility of levels; different levels/depths of analysis may be appropriate for different levels of performer (or amount of time till performance). Levels are also useful as a pedagogical tool for Theorists who wish to continue on to Schenkerian Analysis.

While on the surface Functional Analysis does not look all that different from current harmonic analysis, I have found it leads to new or different understandings harmony. Tonic and Dominant functions are already fairly widely used, but secondary functions are more challenging to talk about with current labels. Predominants are currently acknowledged to be the most flexible and flavorful category in harmonic analysis; Functional Analysis draws connections between different flavors of predominant and helps both show their similarities and remember their differences.

Finally, for both students and performers, the aural grounding, the simplicity, and the flexibility with and emphasis on levels leads to much faster analysis. Students can learn to be fast with current methods; with Functional Analysis speed is much more inherent, with a directive to learn larger chord chunks by understanding harmonic rhythm and phrase motion before dithering over details.

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