I really do intend to update as regularly as possible this summer, but studying for comps has challenged my time-management skills and I haven’t gotten to do as much as I’ve wanted.
I may also publish things that seem repetitive as I work thru issues and find new sources that subtly change things I’ve already written. For example, here is a rewritten version of what may someday be an introduction to an article or proposal:
Tonal analysis is the basic building block for multiple more advanced theories and types of analysis. However, many students never achieve these more advanced levels as they struggle with basic analysis and become frustrated with Music Theory in general. As noted by Michael Rogers, these “students can be recognized easily at exam time as their pencil tips touch each note one at a time laboriously building up vertical and horizontal fragments…” (Teaching Approaches in Music Theory, 39). These students will likely never meet the joy and excitement of musical analysis.
In my experience, one of the principal stumbling blocks in mastering basic tonal analysis is Roman numerals. This approach to harmonic analysis takes a circuitous route to arrive at tonal functional concepts. Tonality has frustratingly many definitions, but I will refer to it as generally Common Practice Period music that has functional harmony, with tonic stability and dominant urges (citation need – also reword). To better access this large body of music, I propose a revised system of functional labeling for a more intuitive approach to harmonic analysis as an alternative to Roman numerals.
This new system (henceforth Functional Analysis or FA) has the potential to decrease confusion and facilitate easy use. I will provide a brief historical perspective on Roman numerals, tonal analysis, and Functional Analysis before identifying specific shortcomings of current Roman numeral practices. Then I present my revised system and demonstrate its advantages. Finally, I enumerate a pedagogical view and address the role Functional Analysis could play in the undergraduate core curriculum by supplying example from a class taught with this method.
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