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An embodiment of Schoenberg's method of teaching musical harmony in a guided discovery learning environment

Most traditional musical harmony teaching methods in use in undergraduate courses are centred on pedagogical principles that require students to manipulate musical elements, beyond those directly relevant to the subject matter. Beginning harmony students often encounter extra difficulty in the learning process as they usually lack experience in manipulating individual musical elements. In addition, the emphasis on exemplars of the common practice of eighteenth and nineteenth century composers imposes some limitation on the student’s harmonic vocabulary and, in consequence, on the student’s creativity. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Arnold Schoenberg proposed a method of teaching harmony which presented a different set of pedagogical principles: the method required no background knowledge of other musical elements; it encouraged the exploration of the search space of solutions which, in conjunction with a self assessment of them, helps students to develop their own harmonic sense, without the influence of exemplars of the harmonic practice of existing composers. However, although Schoenberg’s method addresses the problems presented above, it has not been widely used, mostly because its fundamental pedagogy and curriculum are buried in lengthy philosophical discussions of polemical arguments and criticism of traditional methods. This thesis investigates the possibility of designing and constructing a computer-based learning environment presenting the pedagogy and curriculum of Schoenberg’s harmonic teaching method while remaining true to its spirit. We present a formalisation of part of the method’s curriculum and associated pedagogical principles, which have been embodied in a prototype learning environment. The results from studies involving the prototype are also presented: a formative evaluation was carried out with music experts aiming to assess its interactive music notation human computer interface and to inform changes and improvements to be made to the prototype; and a summative evaluation was conducted with music lecturers to assess not only the degree of faithfulness of the environment to the method, but also the educational benefits that such an environment can potentially bring to harmony teaching.
CreatorsBrandão, Márcio da Costa Pereira
PublisherUniversity of Edinburgh
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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