Music Talks: Motive, Tonal Structure, and Form in Beethoven's 'Appassionata' Sonata No. 23, mvt. 1

Music Talks: Motive, Tonal Structure, and Form in Beethoven's 'Appassionata' Sonata No. 23, mvt. 1

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Embodied Meaning In John Adams' El Niño


The following first-year undergraduate ear-training curriculum is one that has been built and implemented successfully by Dr. Bruce Roter, myself, and Kari Francis. It develops the ear in traditional western common-practice, contemporary, and music industry-related sound structures. Areas of development include melodic dictation/transcription, chord progression recognition, harmonic dictation (including voice-leading and harmonies), and rhythmic dictation (one line, as well as two- and three-line drum dictation/transcription.) We are making it open-source, so feel free to make use of it yourself in your undergraduate classroom setting. (Student version and sound files provided here. Instructor copy will be made available on or after May 6, 2021.)

first semester ear-training (student version)

first semester ear-training (audio)

Homeworks 1–7

first semester ear-training (audio)

Homeworks 8–14

first semester ear-training (audio)

Homeworks 15–21

First Semester Ear-Training (Instructor Version)

second semester ear-training (student version)

second semester ear-training (audio)

Homeworks 1–7

second semester ear-training (audio)

Homeworks 8–14

second semester ear-training (audio)

Homeworks 15–21

second Semester Ear-Training (Instructor Version)

Music Theory ideas in incubation (informal notes)

1. Flexible scale-degrees 6 and 7 as      

     opposed to the 3 standard forms of the

     minor scale (a la Gary S.    

     Karpinski's presentation in the
     Manual for Ear Training and Sight 

2. Triadic cadence names that are more

    specific than "progressive" and

    "conclusive" when they don't fit into

    traditional cadence


     cadence (ends on IV, iv) supertonic

     cadence (ends on ii); supertonic-tonic

     cadence (ii–I), etc.

3. Secondary Modal Borrowing: For

    example, consider the following harmonic       progression: C F#ø7 B7b9 Emaj7...the

    progression continues in C major. From the

    perspective of E major, where this chord    

    progression ends, the preceding two

    chords can be seen as a iiø7 V7b9 from E

    minor (the parallel minor of E major). This is

    an instance of modal borrowing; however, it

    is from the perspective of a chord which is

    not a tonic, but a locally tonicized chord

    (which incidentally is not the expected Em

    or iii chord in the more global C major).

    From this perspective, the Emaj7 is a

    Picardy 3rd and maj7 borrowed from E

    minor's parallel major. However, Picardy

    3rds are usually the purview of tonic

    chords, not any and all possible triads. This

    situation then, proposes two different

    instances of modal borrowing, both with a

    "secondary" quality to them. The ii-V is an

    instance of secondary modal borrowing

    since it is borrowing from the parallel minor

    of a tonicized chord. The tonicized chord is

    an instance of "secondary" modal

    borrowing in the sense that it achieves the

    possibility of a Picardy third only as a very

    localized tonic rather than a global one.

4. Double function in the cadential

   V7sus chord.

5. Melodic Dictation In Pedagogy: Why

   Contour Matters In Taking Melodic

   Dictation. Some students will insist that

    they "got the right note" if, for instance, they

    move from sol up to do at the conclusion of

    a melodic line when, in fact, it moved

    from sol down to do. The pitch class is

    correct while the pitch is incorrect and the

    contour is incorrect. Would the rest of the

    world recognize these types of scenarios

    as the "correct" tunes if we took well-known

    tunes and completely altered the registers

    and directionality of the melodic lines of our

    favorite well-known songs? Obviously this

    is taking the same concept to the point of       absurdity, but by so doing it does help

    make the point that we need to be able to

    hear directionality as a basic listening

    component in melodic


6. Pedagogy: Making Explicit The

   Reasons For Note Specificity. Some

    students have a tendency to see a teacher

    who requires note specificity as the sign of

    a bullheaded instructor rather than viewing

    such specificity as a practical necessity of

    all musicians. For example, a student might

    say "I know I said the answer was A C E G,

    but of course you know I meant Ab C E Gb.

    Same thing. You are so specific." Explicitly

    pointing out (and even demonstrating) to

    students the musical situations in which the

    lack of specificity completely breaks down

    in terms of achieving compositional and

    performance accuracy which would be

    demanded of any musician in any musical

    scenario may effectively break students of

    such habits.

7. Distinguishing swing at the beat

   division level and beat subdivision

   level: At the beat division level, the beat is

    divided into two unequal parts (long-short)

    somewhere between two straight eighths

    per beat and straight triplet eighths in

    which the first two eighths are tied while the

    third is not. At the beat subdivision level,

    the divided beat (8th note, assuming a

    quarter note beat unit) is divided into two

    unequal parts (long-short) somewhere

    between two straight 16ths per 8th and

    straight triplet 16ths in which the first two

    16ths are tied while the third is not.

8. Help! I can't hear intervals! A multi-

   contextualization process for

   scaffolding the aural recognition of

   intervals. An example: The basic idea is

    varying small contexts for individual

    intervals we are studying. Let's take the

    major 2nd for example. I'll use a referent of

    C Major. 


     a. Play the major 2nd melodically, then


     b. Play it as an add-note chord: C major, then


     c. Play the major 2nd melodically, then


     d. Play C major with a doubled root (C-E-G-

         C), then Cadd9

     e. Play the major 2nd melodically, then


     f. Play a whole-tone scale beginning on C


     g. Play the major 2nd melodically, then


     h. Play a whole-tone 4-note cluster chord with

         a bass note of C.

     i. Play the major 2nd melodically, then


     j. Play C and D as a M9.

     k. Play C4, D5, C5 melodically.

     l. Play C4, D4, C4 melodically.

     m. Play C4, D4, C4, Bb3 melodically to orient

          it to a different key context (new tonal


     n. Play a Gsus4 (G-C-D) going to G major (G-

         B-D) *4-3 suspension. 

     o. Play Gsus 4 without resolving it.

     p. Play a major 9 (C-D)

     q. Play Cmaj9

     r. Play a major 9 (C-D)

     s. Play C9

     t. Play a major 9 (C-D)

     u. Play a C-9

     v. Play a major 9 (C-D)

     w. Play a Cø9

     x. Play a major 9 (C-D)

     y. Play a Cº9

     z. Play a major 9.

     aa. Play a Csus2, then C (CEG)



    In this way, we can help them not be so "hit or

    miss" with intervals, but scaffold their listening

    experience through small musical contexts for     those intervals. We can simultaneously

    introduce them to sounds (both traditional and

    contemporary) that make use of those


9. Measuring Strength Of, And

   Conformance To, Tonic Perception In

   Melody: Create various melodies intentionally

    crafted with the intent of measuring how much

    listener conformance to (or deviation from) the

    perception of a particular tonic(s) occur(s)

    depending upon the structure of a given


10. Examples Of Negative Musical Space

     In Pitch And Rhythm (and Timbre?):

      This idea comes from Bert Ligon in his

      textbook entitled Jazz Theory Resources (p.

      23) where he states "Negative space is

      implied space created by a positive image.

      Visual artists depend on the recognition of

      negative space. The concept of negative

      space is also important in music. Any pitches

      that are played (positive space) may imply

      other pitches that are not played. A certain

      pitch may be stressed by playing a number

      of pitches around that pitch that point to that

      pitch, while never actually playing the pitch.

      ...As with pitches, any rhythm that is played

      (positive space) may imply a rhythm not

      played (negative space)." Perhaps an

      example would be a ii-V which implies a

      certain tonic resolution, but never actually

      provides it. Another example could be

      running a major scale from low do up to

      high ti and then simply stopping. In certain

      contexts, we may feel an implication

      that ti implies a resolution to do, whether or

      not this implication is actualized. When these

      types of implication are not realized, they are

      examples of negative musical space.