Music Theory for the 21st-Century Classroom
Robert Hutchinson, University of Puget Sound
Copyright Year: 2017
Publisher: Robert Hutchinson
Conditions of Use
Free Documentation License (GNU)
Free Documentation License (GNU)
Overall, this text is quite comprehensive, including the topics generally covered in a 4-semester theory sequence. There are a few instances where there is not as much detail as I am used to (for instance, I couldn't find mention of the Phrygian... read more
Overall, this text is quite comprehensive, including the topics generally covered in a 4-semester theory sequence. There are a few instances where there is not as much detail as I am used to (for instance, I couldn't find mention of the Phrygian half cadence), but the text includes a significant amount of pop and jazz music theory which many texts do not cover. Both the index and glossary are easy to use and by using links, send one immediately to the correct place in the text.
The accuracy is very good. I did not see any obvious mistakes.
The text had a nice balance of examples from art music, popular, and jazz music styles. Personally I would have liked to see a few more examples from the musical theatre genre, since at our school music theatre majors have to take two semesters of music theory. More examples from female composers would also be a relevant element.
The text utilizes succinct explanations of concepts and employs clear language overall. The examples are easy to follow and relate clearly to the topic under discussion.
The text employs consistent language, style, and layout in each chapter.
The text is well organized into modules that can be re-ordered quite easily. In some cases, the modules for certain topics occur later than typically found, but are presented in their module in a way that would allow an instructor to utilize it earlier. However, some modules would need to be broken up, but the subheadings generally make that possible.
The text is fairly well organized. There are some instances where I would prefer a topic be separated out or placed in a different module (for example, modes, whole-tone scale and octatonic scales are only listed in a chart in the jazz theory chapter) but overall, the text flows in a logical manner.
I did not notice any interface issues.
The text was well written and contained no grammatical errors.
Overall I appreciated the breadth and variety of musical examples used in the text and homework assignments. As stated above I would like to see more examples by women and other underrepresented groups, particularly when giving examples of art music.
I very much appreciated the ancillary materials such as homework assignments and practice tests. Not all OER music theory texts include them, and these were in-depth and creative. I also found the practice exercises at the end of each chapter helpful, with answer keys at the end of the text. There were also several chapters included in this text that are not normally found in music theory textbooks that I thought were a good inclusion, such as the chapter on Accompanimental Textures.
The text is very comprehensive. Each chapter is concise and clear, without being overly verbose as some music theory textbooks can be. The index is very effective, in that you can just click on the link next to each term or topic and it will give... read more
The text is very comprehensive. Each chapter is concise and clear, without being overly verbose as some music theory textbooks can be. The index is very effective, in that you can just click on the link next to each term or topic and it will give you the section being referenced with also a link to navigate you right to the location in the book where it is cited for full context. In a way, this index functions as a glossary as well by giving such quick access to descriptions and definitions.
There are 35 chapters in this book, and I have yet to find any errors.
Content is up-to-date and relevant. It covers all of the traditional topics usually covered in music theory courses 1-4. Anything that needs updating should be quite easy to implement, as the chapters are all organized and divided into neat and tidy subunits.
As I had commented before, the writing is clear and concise without using any unnecessary language. The book does a good job of including great visual graphics and charts, along with several imbedded musical examples in every chapter to help illustrate the concepts.
Yes, terminology is consistent from chapter to chapter.
This books seems to have been structured with modularity in mind all along. Each chapter is divided into smaller sub chapters that would make it easy to divide and reorganize topics and subjects within. I plan on using this textbook in the coming year, but will likely change the order of chapters to match the order I usually present these topics in. Thankfully, there is not much cumulative/chronological overlap between chapters, so it makes it easy to do things in a different order. For example, the part-writing section which is covered later than usual (Ch 26) doesn't include practicing the chromaticism covered in earlier chapters (Ch 19 - 23) until the very end of the unit, so it makes it easy to use that chapter earlier in the semester.
Organization is very clear, logical, and easy to navigate.
Interface is clear and without issues.
The grammar is clear without any glaring errors.
I am very impressed with the cultural and stylistic diversity presented in the musical examples throughout this textbook. Too many traditional theory books lean so heavily on the music of 18th Century European classical composers. This book will illustrate a concept equally with examples from Bach, Mozart, the Beatles, Bruno Mars, and Cee Lo Green, all in the same chapter!
Table of Contents
- 1 Basic Concepts
- 2 Major Scales and Key Signatures
- 3 Minor Scales and Key Signatures
- 4 Basics of Rhythm
- 5 Intervals
- 6 Triads
- 7 Roman Numerals and Cadences
- 8 Seventh Chords
- 9 Harmonic Progression and Harmonic Function
- 10 Non-Chord Tones
- 11 Melodic Analysis
- 12 Form in Popular Music
- 13 Phrases in Combination
- 14 Accompanimental Textures
- 15 Creating Contrast Between Sections
- 16 Figured Bass
- 17 Secondary Dominant Chords
- 18 Secondary Diminished Chords
- 19 Mode Mixture
- 20 The Neapolitan Chord
- 21 Augmented Sixth Chords
- 22 Modulation
- 23 Enharmonic Modulation
- 24 Binary and Ternary Forms
- 25 Sonata and Rondo Forms
- 26 Voice Leading Triads
- 27 Voice Leading Seventh Chords
- 28 Voice Leading With Non-Chord Tones
- 29 Voice Leading Chromatic Harmonies
- 30 Introduction to Counterpoint
- 31 Introduction to Jazz Theory
- 32 Impressionism and Extended Tonality
- 33 Set Theory
- 34 Serialism
- 35 Minimalism
About the Book
Music Theory for the 21st–Century Classroom is an openly–licensed online four–semester college music theory textbook. This text differs from other music theory textbooks by focusing less on four–part (SATB) voiceleading and more on relating harmony to the phrase. Also, in traditional music theory textbooks, there is little emphasis on motivic analysis and analysis of melodic units smaller than the phrase. In my opinion, this led to students having difficulty with creating melodies, since the training they are given is typically to write a “melody” in quarter notes in the soprano voice of part writing exercises. When the assignments in those texts ask students to do more than this, the majority of the students struggle to create a melody with continuity and with appropriate placement of harmonies within a phrase because the text had not prepared them to do so.
In Music Theory for the 21st–Century Classroom, students learn about motive, fragment, phrase, and subphrase, as well as types of melodic alteration like inversion, intervallic change, augmentation, diminution, rhythmic change, ornamentation, extension, and retrograde. By understanding motive and subphrase (also known as “phrase segment” or “phrase member”), I believe students will better understand the logic and construction of melodies, which will aid them in creating their own music.
This text is meant to take the student from the basics of reading and writing pitches and rhythms through twelve–tone technique and minimalism over the course of four semesters. Whenever possible, examples from popular music and music from film and musical theater are included to illustrate melodic and harmonic concepts, usually within the context of the phrase.
About the Contributors