Tutor profile: Kristine B.
Subject: Music Theory
Why do most music theory and history books only discuss music by white, European males? Are there significant women composers and who might be included in a more comprehensive, inclusive book?
The major role that women have played, and continue to play, in music is indisputable. Although this role has been described in several books and many journal articles, to date no Western Art Music textbook adequately covers the subject. There is a certain amount of research in speciﬁc genres (e.g., classical, jazz, rock, etc.); however, these areas are very often segregated. This course represents a major effort to describe the role of women in music in Europe, North and South America from the Middle Ages to the present, with special interest in contemporary music in the United States. The study of women in music provides an historical framework of contexts and perspectives; thus we will examine the achievements of women musicians in the light of societal expectations, impositions, limitations and attitudes. Composers such Hildegard von Bingen, Clara Schumann, Ruth Crawford Seeger, and Pauline Oliveros have all contributed to the body of music studied in a comprehensive conservatory environment. While this is just a short list, once students and professors begin to explore the list of women composers, the names will grow and they will begin to see a broader spectrum of the contributions of women in the field of music.
Describe how the development of various thought processes and technology influenced music technology and composition over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Beginning with Thaddeus Cahill in 1906, technological developments, specifically computers, influenced musical styles, new instruments, and new processes. Cahill's Dynamophone--a machine that produced music by an alternating current running dynamos—is considered by many to be the first synthesizer. Also called the Telharmonium, this instrument weighed over 200 tons and was used to transmit music over telephone wires but wires. Although it was not a complete success, the design influenced musical instrument developers over the course of century. Inventors such as Lev Theremin (Russia), Maurice Martenot (France), and Friedrick Trautwein (Germany) all influenced early electronic instrument development in their countries. Very quickly Laurens Hammond picked up on these developments and created the Hammond Organ in the US in 1929. Early microphone developments and recording techniques helped bring new sounds to the cinema, further influencing another style and generation of composer. Louis and Bebe Barron (US) were the first to create an all electronic score with their movie, "Forbidden Planet" in 1953. Between the 1950s and 1980s, American universities began teaching courses in recording, engineering, and computer music programming. These academic developments helped launch the careers of yet another generation composers including Charles Dodge, Morton Subotnick, Pauline Oliveros, and many others. As technology grew at an amazing pace, it also spread throughout our culture through devices such as the CD (1981), surround sound (1982), keyboard synthesizer (1984), and the DVD (1994), etc. These new devices quickly paved the way for new developments and compositional processes in the 21st century.
How is a Montessori classroom environment able to integrate other educational styles without loosing its overall philosophy?
The arts can easily serve as a core in a Montessori classroom.. According to the Harvard Task Force on the Arts, “Throughout history, the arts have had an immeasurable impact on social, political, and cultural spheres and have been deeply intertwined with scientific development.” The arts are integral to every discipline in modern society. Future engineering students often perform in the orchestra; aspiring medical students interested in anatomy take visual art courses; and strong ties between English, Creative Writing, and Theatre have existed for many decades. These interdisciplinary arts partnerships build strong academic bridges across the curriculum and into the community and are necessary in a comprehensive arts school. The arts bring the community to a Montessori school and allow for multigenerational exchange, interdisciplinary collaboration, and a wealth of fruitful relationships. Like a butterfly, we cannot remain in our cocoon; we must reach out to our neighbors and friends to support our educational efforts. Schools must reach out—from retirees to local cultural arts organizations—and seek partnerships throughout the region to enrich the lives of our students through participatory presentations, guest speakers, and funding. Through the support of the community, faculty, staff, students, and administrators, the arts in the 21st-century can fulfill not only fundamental educational needs, but they also enhance the quality of life and provide intellectual outlets for our local populations. The arts make people human by providing outlets of expression, common ground, and even entertainment. I believe we exist because the human spirit is a creative spirit—and this is important now more than ever.
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