CFA MU 777 OL Music Education I: Philosophy and History of Music Education Vicky Boucher Serious vs Popular.

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  • Serious vs Popular CFA MU 777 OLMusic Education I: Philosophy and History of Music EducationVicky Boucher

  • Serious vs PopularDefinitions and connotationsHistory and validityImpact on music educationRecommendations

  • Serious Music

  • Serious MusicArt music Classical musicFolk music

    Romantic, Folk, Popular, Modern ContemporaryClassical + Romantic +=Serious music

  • PopularPopular Music

  • Popular MusicMass-disseminated music of recent centuries. The 18th and 19th centuries saw the development, chiefly in Europe and America, of a genre distinct from both folk and classical or art music. It differed from the form in being composed and notated and in developing a musical style not distinctive of a certain region or ethnic group. Though many early pieces of popular music shared general features with classical music of the day, they were briefer and simpler, making fewer demands on both performer and listener. The New Harvard Dictionary of MusicMass audienceShort life spansSimple forms and structure

  • Serious vs PopularConnotations their music elitist upper class older people thenrequiring subsidyour music populistlower classyounger peoplenowcommercial

  • Opera

  • Whats Opera, Doc?

  • Apocalypse Now

  • Jazz and beyondRagtime Blues

  • Music lies on a spectrumSerious music is used in pop culturePopular music has the potential to be serious musicThe lines that are drawn between styles are generally arbitrary and self-serving

  • Serious vs PopularConnotations their music

    elitist upper class older people then

    requiring subsidyour music

    populistlower classyounger peoplenow


  • Music EducationStudent disconnectTeacher bias

  • RecommendationsStart with what they knowMix relevance with historyUse popular music and serious music interchangeably to teach conceptsEliminate the global use of the term classical music

  • References

    Blacking, John. 1981. Making artistic popular music: The goal of true folk. Popular Music 1: 9-14.Booth, Gregory D. and Terry Lee Kuhn. 1990. Economic and transmission factors as essential elements in the definition of folk, art, and pop music. The Musical Quarterly 74, no. 3: 411-438.Elliott, David J. 1995. Music matters: A new philosophy of music education: Oxford University Press.Gorbman, Claudia. 1987. Unheard melodies: Narrative film music. Bloomington, Indiana: University Press.Griffiths, Dai. 1999. The high analysis of low music. Music Analysis 18, no. 3: 389-435.Hamm, Charles. 1986. Popular music. In The new harvard dictionary of music, ed. Don Michael Randel:646-649. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.Lowe, Melanie. 2002. Claiming amadeus: Classical feedback in american media. American Music 20, no. 1: 102-119.MacCluskey, Thomas. 1979. Peaceful coexistence between pop and the classics. Music Educators Journal 65, no. 8: 54-57.Parakilas, James. 1984. Classical music as popular music. The Journal of Musicology 3, no. 1: 1-18.Rieger, Jon H. 1973. Overcoming the phoniness/stuffiness/jeweled-dowager syndrome with young people. Music Educators Journal 59, no. 9: 29-32.Ross, Alex. 2003. Rock 101: Academia tunes in. The New Yorker.________. 2006. 2006 school of music convocation address. Northwestern University.Sweeney-Turner, Steve. 1994. Trivial pursuits? Pop music: Is it serious to be silly? Asks steve sweeney turner. The Musical Times 135, no. 1814: 216-219.Witkin, Mitzi. 1994. A defense of using pop media in the middle-school classroom. The English Journal 83, no. 1: 30-33.

    My name is Vicky Boucher and my final project is entitled Serious vs. Popular. This is an overview of the concepts of these terms and their application to current music education.The following questions will be addressed:What do these terms mean and how are they perceived?What is the history of our associations, which will give us a perspective of their validity?How do these categories impact music education?Where do we go from here?The term Serious Music is often used synonymously with Classical music or Art Music.We will begin with the term art music. Blacking said Art music was supposed to be that which displayed exceptional skill in creation and was generally written down, as distinct from folk music, which was of popular origin.(and orally transmitted) Classical music was a branch of art music, the term initially used to distinguish it from romantic, folk, modern, or popular music; but as modern music became contemporary music, so it became linked with romantic and classical music, and labeled as serious music (Blacking 1981).Popular music, on the other hand, is very much a product of the almight dollarPopular music generally refers to the products of that part of the music industry which sells to the largest audience. (Parakilas 1984) It is by this definition a transient phenomenon. Music within this category could possibly go on to become a classic or fade into obscurity. The crucial element regarding this fate is time. According to the New Harvard Dictionary of Music, popular music is (read it)Despite definitions, however sincere the attempt to be objective, perception tends to be reality, and so the connotations we hold are also germaine.To put the dichotomy into perspective, their music is contrasted to our music, Depending upon who is speaking, the words in this column could easily be reversed. There is an elitist sense about serious music as opposed to the music of the people. Socio-economic lines are drawn. The generation gap concept is invoked as well as current relevance. The fact that one requires direct subsidy for financial viability and the other is a commercial enterprise draws equal amounts of criticism from the other side.There is an inherent separation in these statements, and even a sense of critical judgment.Another counterintuitive reality is that serious music is everywhere in popular culture. For example, Ride of the Valkyries by Wagner. Those on the left-hand column of the previous slide associate it with opera. But those in the other column might recognize is from other sources. These are called cinematic cues. The use of cinematic cues is as old as Silent Movies. We have been conditioned in many associations which serve to place serious music outside of the concert hall. Through movies, television, video and even commercials, serious music is made at least familiar to the masses.

    For example, Ride of the Valkyries is linked to Bugs Bunny, with its Kill the Wabbit context.or, Apocalypse Now, the movie about the Vietnam War.Or even most recently, a popular game show.On the other hand, can popular music become serious music? An example of this transmutation is American jazz. It began with various forms of music, such as blues and ragtime that would definitely be considered to be in the popular category. As popular music moved on in other directions, these early forms of jazz continued to evolve into new jazz styles that attracted a smaller, but more sophisticated audience. Jazz became more complex in form and in harmonic structure. Some purists might disagree that jazz is serious music, based upon its origins, but it could be argued that no genre can withstand too much ancestral scrutiny. (my words)Perhaps we cannot see clearly from our cultural perspective. Imagine, if you will, the possibility of a totally objective observer with no preconceived notions, criteria or standards of judgment. This observer might find thatMusic lies on a spectrum continuum of style and complexitySerious music is used in pop culture and popular music has the potential to be seriousThe lines that are drawn between styles are generally arbitrary, self-serving, and are subject to change.

    Mozart, for example, once wrote a letter to his father in which he seemed to be describing a divided music culture very much like the one we have now. He wrote, "The golden mean of truth in all things is no longer either known or appreciated. In order to win applause one must either write stuff which is so inane that a coachman could sing it, or so unintelligible that it pleases precisely because no sensible man can understand it." If we recall our list of divisive connotations, it is a simple matter of perspective and semantics to bridge this gap.The 2 opposing forces that this topic brings to light are student disconnect and teacher bias. Whether teachers like it or not, popular media exert the most compelling influence on adolescents today. One teacher justified using popular media in the middle school classroom in order to motivate, to stimulate, and to elucidate (Witkin 1994). Students who feel that their classwork is relevant are much more likely to engage in learning.In order to use different musics seamlessly, the teacher must be familiar with a greater variety of genres and styles. Cultural and intellectual biases must be overcome, perhaps even moreso on the part of the teacher than that of the students. And until this chasm is closed, music education will suffer.How can music educators expedite this process:Start with what they know. Use the cinematic codes as a springboard for studying serious music. Let students bring in their own music to supplement with popular music. This is also a good way for the teacher to become more familiar with recent trends.Mix relevance with history. For example, traditional harmony, which solidified in the Baroque period is still the basis of the harmonic structure of most popular music today. By using an example from both music styles, a connection is made. Use both popular music and serious music as examples or to teach concepts. In this application, categorizing is not even necessary. This example is by Franz Schubert. This example is by Duke Ellington. This example is by David Matthews.Eliminate the use of classical music as a term, except for that which was written between the Baroque and Romantic periods. Avoid using the term serious music as that, too communicates judgment. It is not necessary to divide music into categories that insinuate good and bad. Elliott said, no musical practice or music culture is innately better than any other. (Elliott 1995) and Ross said, To understand music only as art and not as entertainment, as classical scholars tend to do, is to dehumanize the past. (Ross 2003)Our students need more connections, not more categories. Critical thinking skills involve making connections, not remembering labels. We can use these connections and they can understand, as we already know, that Bach is cool.


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