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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


Reading Music 

Music for Ear Training (with CD-ROM): CD-ROM and Workbook 3rd Edition [Spiral-bound]by Michael Horvit, Timothy Koozin, and Robert Nelson,  (Schirmer) When it comes to improving ear training and listening skills, choose the standard in ear training instruction: Horvit/Koozin/Nelson MUSIC FOR EAR TRAINING: CD-ROM AND WORKBOOK, Third Edition. Taking a hybrid approach, the workbook and CD deliver a wealth of practical material designed to help you quickly improve your listening and ear training skills. The dual-format CD-ROM provides an easy-to-use interface for listening with varied general MIDI instrumental sounds. The dictation repertoire includes basic rudiments (intervals, chords, and scales), melodies, four-part harmonic settings, and varied textures from musical literature.

Excerpt: This CD-ROM and the accompanying workbook are intended as supplements to a course in Ear Training.

Often, there is not sufficient class time to provide students with the reinforcing experiences necessary to develop the tools to take music dictation with ease, assurance, and fluency. The ability to write down music upon hearing it is an extremely important skill that benefits the musician in numerous ways. It enhances one's aural acuity both as a performer and listener, and makes all musical experiences more vivid and comprehensible.

This interactive material provides each individual student with the equivalent of a private ear training tutor. Each student may proceed at his or her own pace. Examples and portions of examples can be listened to as often as necessary for each individual to master the material. In addition, tempos and timbres can be varied as well. It is important, however, that the student develop the ability to take down dictation accurately within a limited number of replays, possibly four, or other number recommended by the instructor.

This CD-ROM is compatible with Windows and Macintosh formats. All the student has to do is insert the disc into the CD-ROM drive of the computer and the material is immediately accessible by clicking on the icon. The layout of the workbook is designed in parallel with the CD-ROM, so that the student can write dictation directly onto the appropriate page. Time and key signatures, bar lines, double bars, and staffs are provided as needed for each example. The CD-ROM provides the answers to all dictation examples except those contained in the quizzes at the end of each chapter. The answers for these are included in the Instructor's Edition.

All of the material in Music for Ear Training is cumulative. Each chapter builds upon those that have preceded it. We have included the following types of material for dictation:

1. Rhythmic exercises are played on a single pitch, and provide practice with specific rhythmic problems.

2. Melodic exercises are composed in a musical way and deal with specific scalar, harmonic and rhythmic material. In most chapters, preliminary as well as full-length exercises are provided.

3. Harmonic exercises are played in four-voice texture, either choral or keyboard. They focus on particular chordal vocabulary. In most chapters, preliminary as well as full-length exercises are provided.

4. Quizzes are included in each chapter after the exercises in each of the above topics.

5. Music from the Literature. At strategic points throughout Music for Ear Training, chapters
containing cumulative examples from the literature in a variety of textures are included.

The number of exercises within each unit was dictated by the desire to present both a sufficient number of exercises and a few more challenging exercises for the advanced students. It is, of course, not necessary to do each and every exercise. The instructor may even wish to assign only certain exercises within the quizzes, or may wish to mix items from the rhythmic, melodic, and harmonic exercises.

Unit 1 gives the student the opportunity for virtually endless drill in musical rudiments, that is, intervals, qualities of triads, and scale types. Within each category, practice drills generate random intervals, triads, and scales. The student is allowed to determine the range of intervals to hear from a single category—for example, major and minor thirds—up to all intervals. Similarly, the student may elect specific qualities of triads to hear. The practice drills are followed by quizzes. The interval quizzes are graded by interval type, but each quiz contains a section that is cumulative—that is, all intervals to that point are included, and in all possible arrangements.

It is not necessary to do Unit 1 in any particular order. Scales can easily precede intervals, for example. Unit 1 should also be considered a resource unit and the students should be encouraged to return to it at any time for review drill, particularly on intervals and triad qualities.

Music for Ear Training may be used conveniently with most of the sight singing texts currently available. It is designed in parallel with Music for Sight Singing by Benjamin, Horvit, and Nelson, fifth edition (Wadsworth, 2009: See below), and will work especially smoothly with the presentation of materials in that book.

The Instructor's Edition is laid out parallel to the Workbook, but with the answers to all of the exercises and quizzes included. The Roman numeral analyses provided for the common-practice examples follow the system used in Techniques and Materials of Music, seventh edition, but instructors should feel free to substitute whatever system they prefer. Lead sheet (jazz) chord symbol usage is also far from uniform and instructors may wish to specify how they want chords analyzed in Unit 20. Some serial melodies in Unit 25 show accidentals on every note; others use the traditional method. Enharmonic equivalents are occasionally indicated parenthetically, as with tritones in Unit 1. In other places, students may notate certain notes enharmonically and the instructor will need to determine the correctness of these spellings.

What's New in Music for Ear Training, Version 3.0

  • Quizzes are expanded with exercises of more varying length and level of difficulty. Units 2-9 and 11-12 each include a new 4th quiz.
  • Additional exercises in which students must determine the starting note themselves.
  • All musical examples are fully encoded within the software for security and improved operation. (No MIDI files that might be "hacked" by students.)
  • Newly upgraded interface for Windows® and Macintosh® operating systems.
  • Improved audio control and "quick key" commands for ease in listening while taking down dictation.

Music for Sight Singing 5th edition[Spiral-bound] by Thomas E. Benjamin, Michael Horvit, Robert S. Nelson (Schirmer) Designed for the "musicianship" portion of the freshman theory sequence presents music that is carefully chosen to challenge--not overwhelm--the student.

Ease into sight singing, with this accessible text that offers an array of beginning-level pieces designed to build your musicianship skills and your confidence at the same time. The authors' multifaceted approach includes a variety of examples, exercises, and musical genres that ensure well-rounded skill development, from simple rhythms and melodies to duets and canons.

This edition includes:

  • New musical selections that make it easy to start sight singing from the first day of the course.
  • New connections with Music for Ear Training, Fifth Edition, for a completely integrated approach to musicianship
  • Visit us online!
  • The Student Companion Website for Music for Ear Training, Fifth Edition, offers an array of online resources designed to help you succeed in the course.

To the Teacher

The following are some suggestions for the optimum use of this book. We have used three types of exercises:

  1. Unpitched rhythmic exercises, which provide practice with specific rhythmic problems. Included among these are canons and duets. The duets may be performed with individuals or groups on each part. Or each student may perform both parts, either by vocalizing one part and tapping the other, or by tapping both parts, one with each hand.
  2. Pitched preliminary exercises, which isolate specific melodic and harmonic problems. These should be mastered before going on to the melodies. Preliminary exercises are intended both as a presentation of specific materials and for drill on those materials, as distinct from the melodies and part music. With all material, a balance between sight reading in class and outside preparation is desirable.
  3. Melodies (canons, duets, and trios), specifically composed to deal in a musical way with material presented in the preliminary exercises.
  4. Sing and Play exercises are melodies with simple accompaniments drawn from the standard vocal literature. The accompaniments can be played by the singer, other student, or by the teacher. We have presented the melodies without the texts, so that the singer can concentrate on the rhythm and pitches. The use of syllables is strongly recommended. These pieces are readily available in various song anthologies should the teacher wish to perform them with the lyrics. (Students can hone their musical skills by improvising accompaniments to some of the simpler melodies found in each unit.)
  5. Interspersed throughout the exercises are units containing vocal part music from the literature. These provide a more complete musical context for the materials studied thus far.

It is important that some material from each section of each unit be covered, and in the proper order. More exercises are contained in each section than most classes will have time to use. It is not necessary to complete all the preliminary exercises before going on to the melodies in each unit. The intent here is to provide teachers with the flexibility to meet their individual needs. Some teachers may wish to make slight reorderings of material (for example, to introduce minor mode a little earlier), but should keep in mind that such reorderings should be done with great care in regard to the selection of exercises. With all material, a balance between sight reading in class and outside preparation (as well as sight-reading practice) is desirable.

We strongly recommend that students conduct all exercises and melodies after the concept of meter is introduced. The teacher should present preparatory beats, fermatas, and cutoffs. A useful procedure is to have various students conduct the class in the part music. As time permits, and the interest of both class and teacher indicate, it may be useful to go beyond mere "time-beating" to introduce, model, and practice the more contextual aspects of conducting, as this will insure more accurate and musical performances. In this case, issues of the ictus; size, speed, and character of the beat; conducting the phrase; approach to cadences; the musical nature of the preparatory beat; and so on should be considered and practiced.

In singing pitched material, it is possible to use a variety of methods: fixed or movable do, numbers, or a neutral syllable, such as la. Tonally oriented systems, such as movable do and numbers, work very well in primarily diatonic contexts; however, they lose their efficacy in highly modulatory materials and most twentieth-century idioms.

The tessitura of some exercises and melodies may be difficult for some students. These may be sung in any comfortable register or even transposed to a different key at the teacher's discretion. Instrumental as well as vocal idioms have been used to provide students with experience in dealing with the kinds of materials they are likely to encounter in performance situations. In the melodies and part music, emphasis should be placed on both accuracy and musicality of performance, including phrasing, articulation, dynamics, expression, and style.

We have employed the normal range of conventional approaches to notation:

  • Where an incomplete measure occurs at the beginning of an exercise, it is frequently, but not always, balanced metrically in the last measure.
  • Cautionary accidentals have been indicated both with and without parentheses. Clef changes within a given melody will occur both within and between phrases.
  • The variety of notational conventions in twentieth-century music is illustrated in Part III.

This book may be used with a wide variety of theory texts currently available. In large measure, it is structured to parallel the organization of the authors' Techniques and Materials of Music, seventh edition (Thomson, 2007), and Music for Analysis, sixth edition (Oxford, 2006), and may be used to reinforce the concepts presented therein.

Students should be urged to analyze the music they sing in class, including basic melodic shape and structural pitches, harmonic implications, phrase and period structure, cadences, motives, counterpoint, and style.

Because the development of aural skills—the ability to hear and recognize intervals or common chord progressions, to transcribe melodies, and even to hear and transcribe simple pieces—is such an important complementary skill to sight singing, we strongly recommend the use of a companion text, Music for Ear Training, CD ROM and Workbook, third edition (Schirmer, 2007). The units of text correspond exactly to the units in Music for Sight Singing, making the parallel use of both texts especially convenient. And though Music for Sight Singing is designed specifically as a sight-singing text, the exercises can be adapted for supplementary use in melodic or rhythmic dictation, using those materials that are not sung in class. The exercises can also be adapted for keyboard harmony by using the melodies for harmonization in a variety of textures and styles.

To the Student

The ability to read accurately and fluently at sight is essential to your musicianship; the competent musician must be able to translate symbol into sound with speed and precision. The exercises in this book have been written and selected to provide you with a wide variety of typical musical problems and to provide exposure to many different styles, materials, and techniques.

You should practice sight reading daily, just as you would practice your own instrument or voice. Steady, disciplined work will yield the best and longest-lasting results. Practice all examples only as fast as you can perform them with accuracy.

Here are some suggestions for practicing and performing the music in this book.

Rhythmic reading. The rhythmic exercises may be performed in several different ways, for example:

  • clapping or tapping the rhythm
  • tapping the rhythm while conducting
  • vocalizing (as on ta) the rhythm while conducting
  • tapping the beat with one hand and the rhythm with the other
  • tapping or clapping the rhythm while counting aloud the beats in each measure

The rhythmic duets may be performed with one person performing both parts, using a combination of tapping and vocalizing, or with a different person on each part. In general, be as metronomic and rhythmically precise as possible; you may profitably use a metronome while practicing.

Common conducting patterns are shown below. Compound duple meters, such as 6/8 or 4/6 are conducted in either 2 or 6, depending on tempo. Compound triple meters may be con- ducted in either 3 or a subdivided 3, and compound quadruple in either 4 or a subdivided 4. In slow tempos, simple meters may be conducted with a divided beat.

Quintuple meters, such as  4/5 may be conducted as shown in the illustration, or as combi- nations of duple and triple meters. Similarly, septuple meters, such as 7/4, may be conducted as a combination of duple, triple, and/or quadruple. The specific pattern chosen will reflect the prevailing rhythmic distribution within each bar.

Your beat-patterns should be very clear as to the placement of each beat (the arrival, or ictus), not too large, of roughly equal size, and uniform in speed within the tempo. Your teacher may choose to work with you on expressive conducting, in which the beat (including the preliminary beat) reflects character, dynamic, phrase-length, expression, and style.

  • Reading of melodies and part music. This is one possible technique for sight singing:
  • Note the meter signature and decide on an appropriate conducting pattern. Look up any unfamiliar tempo designations in the glossary.
  • Find, analyze, and drill any rhythmic problems.
  • Determine the key and play the tonic pitch on a piano or other instrument. Sing the tonic triad, and find the first note of the melody.
  • Sing and conduct through the exercise at a moderate tempo, concentrating on accuracy of pitch and rhythm. Mark breathing places.
  • Isolate and drill any pitch problems. Use the piano or instrument very sparingly, if at all, and only to check your pitch. The less you use it, the better.
  • Conduct and sing through the exercise again as musically as possible, observing all dynamic, tempo, phrasing, and articulation markings.

In each sight-singing exercise:

  • Concentrate on accurate intonation.
  • Work for steady tempo and rhythmic accuracy.
  • For musicality, observe all performance markings and the musical style of each example; work for continuity and a clear sense of phrase.
  • Keep your eyes moving ahead of where you are singing. As your sight reading improves, train your eyes to scan ahead over the next several notes and ultimately over several measures. The farther you are "ahead of yourself," the better your sight reading will be. Train yourself to recognize melodic patterns, such as scale fragments, chord arpeggiations, repetitions, sequences, cadential formulas, and so on. It is both easier and more musical to perform patterns than to merely move from note to note.
  • Try "silent singing," in which you conduct through an exercise and sing it internally; then check it by singing aloud. This is a very good exercise for improving your "internal ear."
  • Remember: "Find it, don't fake it." If you are not sure of the next pitch, find it by relating it to a previous pitch either by interval or by relation to the tonic note.
  • Analysis. It is a very good idea to analyze the melodies and part music you are performing. Such analyses not only will make it easier to read well but also will increase your awareness of style, musical materials, and techniques. The following points should be noted:
  • Phrase structure, including cadence placement and types, and periodic structures, if any.
  • Patterns, such as repetitions, sequences, and returning pitches, which both unify the melody and make it easier to read.
  • Motivic content.
  • Structural pitches, the principal notes that give a melody its overall shape and direction.
  • Harmony. As appropriate, analyze the underlying harmonies implied by the melodic lines, being attentive to the patterns of nonharmonic tones. This will improve your understanding of the relation of harmony to melody, will increase your ability to harmonize melodies quickly and musically, and will make it easier to sing.



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