Dissertation Diary 2016-04-07

whew! Last week after I went signature hunting, I got the paperwork turned in and approved for my Public Lecture. This week I had a productive meeting with a committee member, tightened up the reorganization of Chapters 3 and 4,  chased down three new sources, and requested two more via ILL, so that I can tie up some loose ends or at least mention significant publications in footnotes. I feel like I wrote a lot of footnotes today.

The major accomplishment of this week is that I felt solid enough on the first 4 chapter to compile them into one Word file – which my advisor read and commented positively on! I worked a bit on Chapter 5: Conclusion today, but I’m still not super happy with it. With some cuts to Chapter 1, the first four chapters stand at 137 pages, and 35,678 words. This afternoon I’m going to start futzing with the gradschool templates so I can begin to add the front matter.


Here’s where chapter 5 stands at the moment:


In this dissertation, I have followed the history of functional ideas and their pedagogy, illuminated with many examples the implementation of my updated system of Functional Analysis, and discussed the pedagogical implications that this updated system implies. While I have not added to the theoretical discussion of the specifics of how function works, I never intended to.

The goal was always to update a system of labeling to be as pedagogically friendly as possible, in order to assist students and teachers of harmony to more easily and enjoyably learn, teach, and engage with common practice era tonal harmonic practice. To that end, I included examples of syllabi and assignments, classroom demonstrations or long projects, and carefully discussed each aspect of the labeling as I presented it.

By surveying the history we find that desire to analyze for function is not a new idea, and has been a goal of many theorists and harmony teachers for centuries. However, the current methods for instructing in function still leave students confused or baffled, as they struggle to match functional concepts to labels that don’t exemplify their analysis goals, and methods that insist on starting from tiny detail instead of coming from a more complete musical perspective.

The elaboration of each detail of my Functional Analysis system shows how each part of Functional Analysis has been designed to help make harmonic analysis quicker, easier, more intuitive, and more personalized. The greater pedagogical implications on a larger scale involving courses and curriculums has also been covered, informed by my experience both as a teacher of today’s standard system and from teaching Functional Analysis in the classroom.

These greater curricular concerns lead us to wonder what we should do with music that isn’t perfectly common-practice-period tonal. A few suggestions for extensions and adaptations are provided at the end of Chapters 3 and 4 – by no means a complete look at modern pop music or complex chromaticism, but certainly providing a starting place for further study.

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