‘I’ve heard there was a secret chord’

Do we need to teach music notation in UK popular music studies?

Authored by: Paul Fleet

The Routledge Research Companion to Popular Music Education

Print publication date:  February  2017
Online publication date:  January  2017

Print ISBN: 9781472464989
eBook ISBN: 9781315613444
Adobe ISBN: 9781317042013


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Much of what follows is born from my experience as a student, a popular musician and a teacher in further and higher education. 1 The chapter, then, follows a more emic trajectory, as opposed to an etic means of consideration (Fetterman, 2008). I firmly acknowledge that the discussion of musical notation is a difficult and contentious issue within popular music studies; this chapter is designed to explore what I will go on to argue is the inherent value of notation to a popular musician who has chosen to study their discipline within an institution; and I hope to offer guidance to those designing popular music curricula to prevent, as the title suggests, any student from feeling that there are elements of music that are somehow secret and only known to those who can read and write.

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