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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The role of harmony in expressed meter : a historical review and its placement in current pedagogy McDonald, Kari Jacinda

Abstract

Current curricula for beginning courses in undergraduate tonal-music theory are mainly oriented towards composition. However, most undergraduate students are performers, and this pedagogical orientation provides little basis for them to improve their performances through music analysis. They especially lack the ability to locate and project metrical shifts and changes, often resulting in stilted performances that rigidly adhere to the notated meter. Instruction in how to analyze such "expressed" meter should enable students to locate accentual shifts themselves, and provide them with a better understanding of the pieces they are playing. This thesis examines how several current undergraduate textbooks deal with issues of expressed meter, and reviews non-pedagogical studies of the last half century that have given expressed meter more attention. The studies assert that accents of harmony are accentually most salient, and so can change metrical perception. Accordingly, the thesis provides a lesson plan for a unit on the relation of harmony and expressed meter that complements the current undergraduate curriculum, integrating the issues of metric perception discussed in the textbooks with those set forth in current theoretical studies. The concepts and vocabulary it presents will help students analyze the perceived meter of the tonal music they are performing.

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