Kitty Brazelton writing musicteacherbooks
general infocomposerperformerbandleadercurator
music @ Bennington Collegeteacher/practitioner teacher/practitioner

BAND THEORY

Fall 2001


This course will study music as a collaborative art. How do groups make music? What "jobs" must members of a group cover, and how are these jobs different, or the same, in different musics? Are there shared roles? For instance, what makes "salsa" tick? Who plays what and why? Is it salsa still if the conga part is played on the cello? What roles and divisions of labor are traditional in European concert music? In a garage band? The course will also consider groups interacting in multi-disciplinary contexts with guest faculty such as choreographer and dance company leader Terry Creach. Our goal is to incorporate all our findings into our own regular group performances employing music composition/improvisation. Facility on a musical instrument is encouraged but not required. Music literacy is extremely useful. Prior composition or improvisation experience not required. In short there are no prerequisites but the in-person permission of the instructor.



This course is as new to me as it is to you. But I’ve taught courses and I’ve led bands so I figure one way or another, it will work itself out. Let me tell you what I know so far:

The basic premise is that we read and listen to prepare for weekly discussion meeting on Tuesdays. From our discussions we develop musical premises which we try out on Wednesday evenings when we meet as a "band" with instruments with the aim of performing for the rest of the Bennington community.

The overall focus of all our discussion throughout the term will be the exploration of music as a collaborative art. We will explore the nature of the collaboration in different cultures, instrumentations and media. We may also look at other collaborative arts such as dance, or collaboration in non-art settings. Whatever we find we will relate it back to our own collaboration as a "band" and the music we make.


By mid-October in time for midterm evaluations, I want every student to have conceived and implemented at least one composition for the class "band". It doesn’t have to be long, but the "band" must have successfully performed the "composition" publicly, e.g. at Tuesday’s "Musical Gathering" (immediately following our discussion meeting).

In the latter half of the term, I expect you to make at least one fully notated composition for the group and accompany it with a paper on your experience and reasoning during composition and notation. We will culminate the term with a concert for the school during which every student will showcase her or his work.

Lateness and absence will not be tolerated. This class depends on full and willing participation by all.

All class preparation must be done ON TIME so that our discussions can be fully informed. We teach each other. It will be obvious to all if you are not doing your part. As necessary, I will give unannounced quizzes on the readings, listening and discussion.


Weeks 1-3

Please read Chs. 1-4 of Caribbean Currents by Peter Manuel, on reserve in the music library.

Listen to BAND THEORY CD 1---purchase from me for $5 duplication cost---CD roster to be distributed in class. Specific cuts assigned per class as well.