minstrel: Early Period Music Theory Class: Baltimore, MD area, Dec 18

Teleri Barod sca_bard at yahoo.com
Thu Dec 8 07:55:53 PST 2005

I've been encouraged to post this little blurb farther
afield than our regional bardic list, so here you go. 

Time: 2-3pm on Sunday, Dec 18, 2005.  (Bardic circle
to follow, 3-4pm)

Place: Christ the King Church off of Baltimore Beltway
exit 17 (directions at end)

Class Description:
I'm restructuring the class from the first time I
taught it to assume that the audience has little or no
modern music theory.

I'm planning on spending 10-15 minutes on math and
physics.  No, seriously.  Music theory in period was a
science, taught with geometry, astronomy, and
arithmetic.  We'll look (actually look! there is a
demo) at vibrations in a string, and also hear on my
harp how these translate to different tones.  I'll
also introduce a few music terms.

That will get us to Do-Re-Mi and leads nicely into a
discussion of the modes.  Where we have major and
minor scales, the medieval folks had four (well, sort
of eight) "modes."  We'll cover some of Guido
d'Arezzo's (c. 1000) rules for composing monophonic
(one voice) modal music.  This should be the bulk of
the class, around 20-30 minutes.

(Guido is actually a great teacher; he's a bit
prescriptive - how it ought to be done - but also
descriptive - this is how some people actually do it.)

I might mention hexachords briefly - they're another
structure that works with modes - but I'm still
figuring their uses out myself, so I won't cover them
in any depth.

Then, drawing mostly from Guido and John Cotton (c.
1100), we'll cover organum, which was the earliest
European polyphony (singing in parts).  This is useful
if you actually want to compose a polyphonic piece, or
if you want to compose accompaniment for a monophonic
melody.  This should be another 10-15 minutes. 

Directions to Christ the King Church:
Get off the Baltimore Beltway (I-695) at Exit 17
(Security Blvd Exit).  Take the exit going west toward
Rolling Road, not the exit going east toward Woodlawn.
Travel west along Security Boulevard about one-half 
mile, through traffic-lights at Belmont Avenue, Lord
Baltimore Drive,  and Rolling Road. Continue west for
another block, until you reach  Brookdale Road. The
Episcopal Church of Christ the King is on your  left. 
Make a left turn onto Brookdale, and then turn right
into the Church parking lot.

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