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Musical Exploration: Music theory and analysis


The traditional core (classical/contemporary theory, analysis, counterpoint, orchestration, and aural skills) • musical theater analysis (musicals, song structure/function) • jazz and popular theory

My philosophy in teaching theory and analysis

Theory and analysis offer the insight and discipline to create deeper pathways in understanding your favorite music and how you might apply what you’ve learned to your own creative endeavors.  It is the process of musical exploration.  Theory is learning spelling, grammar, and syntax. Analysis is applying these tools to music. All theory and analysis needs to directly relate to how the music sounds and functions.  It is an abstraction of music, but never abstract.

As a composer, I often wear two hats: the creator, the analyst. They are not the same, but each reinforces the other. The role of composition is to create and express; the role of theory and analysis is to guide our exploration of how and why a piece of music works (or doesn’t). By simultaneously building their creative and analytical abilities, students have tools that lead to a greater understanding of how music sounds and functions.—tools they can employ in service of their own creative ideas. This emphasis comes from being a “practitioner,” a composer.

Much musical training has segregated classical and popular repertoire and their respective analytical methodologies.  But underneath the specifics of language are universals; differing perspectives allow for deeper comprehension. Many of my students are surprised that the same principles that govern classic works are at play in popular song.

Along with traditional theory and analysis courses my areas of interest are analysis of popular songwriting (harmony, form, text setting, texture, and technology),  and a specialty: dissecting musicals to reveal how the various elements function in projecting narrative and character development, especially the songs.

For more detail see:  Curriculum Vitae