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Music Curriculum for the 21st Century Based on the Concept of Generating Music

The Philosophy Underlying the Music Curriculum Composition

- The Principle of Generation -

NISHIZONO Yoshinobu

The chairperson of Committee for Music Curriculum for the 21st Century

 

1. The principle and generation of a curriculum composition

 

This 21st-century music curriculum takes the “generation of music” as the principle for its composition and study method. Here, we will first clarify the general concepts concerning the “generation of music”.

 

(1) The principle of generation furnished with artistic expression

Art is an activity that expresses the perception of the natural qualities of the world such that everyone may perceive it through the senses. The meaning of the impressions and sentiments of the heart, which is moved by the natural qualities of the world, are perceived as an inner experience by a sensitive faculty called intuition. Art is an activity to express meaning through the medium of sound, color, language or the body, such that it may be perceived by everyone. A logic by which to establish an expression is required to make inner experience perceptible. In the case of music, this is the expression of qualitative time by means of the various musical elements and their organization. In other words, music expresses qualitative time such as elation and depression, advance and retreat, acceleration and deceleration, a sudden rush or slow fall back through the composition and organization of the raw musical elements such as timbre, rhythm, tempo, melody, rate and strength by the methods of repetition, contrast and harmony. In the case of the fine arts, the expression is of a qualitative space through the elements of artistic expression and their organization. This is to say, the fine arts express qualitative spaces such as light and dark; airy and heavy feelings; and expansive and constrictive sensations through the composition and organization of the raw artistic elements of, in the case of a painting for example, lines, surfaces, and colors by the methods of repetition, contrast and harmony.

Accordingly, with regards to the experience of artistic expression, the meanings of internal experiences such as impressions and feelings are organized and expressed by the raw materials of music and art and it is here that the principle of the generation of artistic expression is present. That is to say, the significance of the internal world (inner experience) is embodied by organizing elements of artistic expression, and expression is given shape in the external world; namely, expression is generated. By this process meaning is embodied for the internal world (inner experience) and this inner experience is regenerated; namely, experience is generated. Artistic expression is accompanied by a change (generation) of the external world by the organization of the subject matter in this way and the change (generation) of the experience of the inner world by having done so. Through this, expression is formed.

 

(2) The Generation of music

According to the Kojien Japanese Dictionary (5th edition), “generation” means “1. Give an intended form. 2. (Phil.) (Werden) Origination of an object, the change of a condition, to make into a different thing. Production. Transformation.” In other words, insomuch that existence may be said to be constant generation, "generation" expresses the beginning of things that were not and the transition from a certain condition or situation to a different one.

The example usages of “generation” given are:
(1.) “What is the silver solid generated when a silver oxide is heated?” (National Institute for Education Policy Research [2002] “Reference materials for the production of evaluation standards and a schematic improvement of evaluation methods”)
(2.) “Words do not simply clarify a symbol, but participate in the generation of yet a new symbol.” (Nobuko UCHIDA [1994] “Imagination” Kodansha
Here (1) expresses a change of substance in the external world and (2) expresses a change of mind in the internal world.

 

In such a manner, the word “generation” is used for both a change of substance in the external world and a change of the heart in the internal world. For this reason, the word “generation” is applicable to both the internal and external worlds as exemplified previously with regards to artistic expression.

When the principle of "generation" seen in the above artistic expression is applied to musical expression, it results in the following. First is the generation of musical expression in the external world by means of the organization of sounds. Yet another aspect is the meaning given to the experience of the internal world through the process of the organization of the sounds, from which an experience is generated. The principle of "generation" furnished with this musical expression is the principle from which the teaching content of the music course is derived.

 

(3) The music course teaching contents derived from the principle of generation

The teaching contents of the music course are derived from the principle of generation. Artistic expression is the embodiment of the internal experiences of humans by means of an external subject matter such that they may be perceived by everyone. In the case of music, this is performed by means of the organization of sounds. First, sentiments and impressions existing as internal experiences are embodied as an expression by means of the various elements of music and their organization. By means of these various musical elements and their organization, music is given "form". This is the formal aspect of music. By means of this aspect, the impressions and feelings of internal experience, that is, "substance", is embodied. This is the substantive aspect of music. With regards to actual music, this substantive aspect is the mood, musical theme or atmosphere and we receive these accompanied with an impression or sentiment.

Then, the "form" and "substance" are generated by means of the thoughts or senses of a given person, whereupon the climate, culture and history that make up the environment in which that person was raised forms the "background". This is the cultural aspect of music. Furthermore, a “technical skill" in manipulating voice or musical instrument is required in order to embody the "form”, “substance” and “background” when expressing the music made from this elements as a performance. This is the technical aspect of music.

Arranging the music course teaching contents derived from the above principle of generation gives the following. These music course teaching contents compose the contents of the curriculum.

1. "Form": the formal aspect of music (the various elements of music and their organization)

2. “Substance”: the substantive aspect of music (mood, musical theme, atmosphere, impression and sentiment)

3. "Background": the cultural aspect of music (climate, culture and history)

4. "Technical skill": the technical aspect of music (technical skill in expression by voice or musical instrument, technical skill in expression by chorus or concert, knowledge and understanding of musical score etc.)

"Music and other media" is added in addition to the above teaching contents and the music curriculum composition for the 21st-century is arranged as follows.

1. People, regions and music (the relationship with sound, climate, daily life, culture and history)

2. Musical arrangement and technical skill (the formal aspect, substantive aspect and technical aspect)

3. Music and other media

 

(4) The practicality of music activities by means of the principle of generation

In the case the principle of "generation" is applied to musical activity, i.e. "the generation of music", both a change in the substance of the external world and a change of the heart in the internal world are taken as requirements. This is to say, one is the generation of music in the external world by means of timbre, rhythm and melody etc. The other is the discovery of new harmonization and meaning in the process that generates music through timbre, rhythm and melody etc. and the generation of one's own thoughts and experiences. In brief, in the case of "music generation" it is taken as a requirement that humans influence the world of sound and music and generate both the internal and external worlds through making a world of sound and music. Accordingly, practical examples of musical activities that take this generation of music as a principal are given.

A) Composition

With the title "Making music using a tongatong”, the subject is developed according to the following kinds of activities. 1. Produce sound with tongatong of differing sizes and ascertain the timbre and pitch. 2. Knock on bricks and the floor and discover various timbres. 3. Try out various rhythm patterns and search for an impression of what kind of expression in which to engage. 4. For example, making a theme of “Japanese festival” from the rhythm patterns of a Japanese orchestra. 5. Make the structure of the piece Festival → Shrine → Fireworks → Festival, and determine the timbres and rhythm patterns present at each setting. 6. Based on the impression of each setting, devise the strength and tempo etc.

The following kinds of external world and internal world generation can be seen in this composition activity. "External world generation" – draw out the receptivity (impression) of the internal aspect of the music from the perception of the formal aspect of music, i.e. the timbre and rhythm patterns. Generate an expression by means of making that the composition or through the strength of the piece etc (perception of the formal aspect) or a technical device (technical aspect ability). "Internal world generation" - the experience of the internal world (for example, the impression of a "Japanese festival") is segmented and generated through the process by which the organization of the sounds of the external world and the impressions of the internal world interact.

B) Performance (Song)

This section will be illustrated by example of singing instruction for junior high school students. With the title "savor the joy of a chorus", the course is developed using “Tabidachinohini” (On the day of departure) as a teaching material1). First, the composition of the music and musical theme is taken from the contents of the verses and the composition of the melody etc, and each individual forms an impression of what they wish to express. Next, expression is devised in groups. This is promoted by the following kind of activities. 1. Each individual forms an impression of “Tabidachi” from the content of the song lyrics through reciting and listening to them. 2. using the feeling or impression of the lyrics, devise an expression in terms of various musical elements or techniques. 3. Devise an expression in terms of the musical elements of tempo and strength in particular. 4. Expand the impression of “Tabidachi" from the relationship between the content and lyrics of the verses and the melody.

The following kind of external world and internal world generation can be seen in this expression activity. “External world generation” - each student perceives the formal aspect of music (the various elements of music such as tempo and strength etc) and generates an expression as a chorus by means of the technical aspect of music (the means of producing a high voice or the expression of the relationship between voice parts) whilst being receptive to the substantive aspect (the content and musical theme of the song lyrics). “Internal world generation" – The students’ impression of “Tabidachi” (substantive aspect) is generated by means of the formal aspect (the various elements of music such as tempo and strength etc) and the technical aspect of music, a new musical harmonization is formed in the heart of the students’ connection with this impression, and an internal world is generated.

C) Appreciation

This section will be illustrated by example of teaching appreciation to elementary school students. The title was “Become a clown” and with this as a "march" (The Clown composed by Kabalevsky) the following kinds of activities were developed2). The children freely moved their bodies to suit the music. They listened one more time and were made to consider how many scary points there are. The children talked about movements in groups and thought about what movements to make. Thereupon the children perceived that “The small points were like sneakily taking a treasure and the big points were like a treasure being found,” and expressed this difference with their bodies. In other words they recognized that there are phrases whereby the sound is weak and those whereby the sound is strong, and perceived the musical theme as the phrase points where the sound is weak being "like taking a treasure” and the phrase points where the sound is strong being “like a treasure being found”. They then expressed these in the external world with their bodies.

The following kind of external world and internal world generation can be seen in this appreciation activity. “External world generation” - the students perceive the formal aspects of music of power and phrase and receive the musical theme produced by the organization of these. They perceive these (sound strength and phrases) and express (generate) what they have received (musical themes of differing impression) in the external world with their bodies. “Internal world generation” - they broadly perceive a feature of the musical composition to be “The loud parts felt scary”. By placing the focus on the perception of the formal aspect of music and the reception of the substantive aspect of music and studying them, the features of the piece they initially perceived in broad terms are organized, the contents of which are generated in terms of meaning in the children’s internal worlds.

 

(5) Music course study method that makes generation a principle

From the above examples, the music course study method that makes generation a principle is as follows.

Composition activities generate expression in the external world through working on the various elements of music that form the raw material of composition and perceiving and organizing these changes. then the quality of a new harmonization of sound born from the organization of those sounds is received by means of an impression or feeling, and one's own experience with regards to music (internal world) is generated.

Next, through musical performance activities students perceive lyrical content and the various elements of music and generate a performance in the external world through the organization of expression. Then the quality of a new harmonization of sound brought forth by the organization is received accompanied by an impression or feeling and one's own experience with regards to music (internal world) is generated.

Through appreciation activities, students perceive the various elements of music seen in a composition, and by generating the quality brought forth from the organization of these received in accompaniment with an impression or feeling in the external world by means of one's own body or critical writing, the internal world of perception, receptivity, impression and sentiment is generated.

As above, the perception of song lyrics and the various elements of music that are the target of expression (composition and performance) and appreciation and the reception of the qualities brought forth by means of the organization of these in accompaniment with an impression or sentiment are made the focus in the development of music study that makes generation a principle, and it becomes a situation whereby the external and internal worlds interact whilst being generated. In this manner, music study that makes generation a principle facilitates the cultivation of an internal world of sensitivity, impression and sentiment for children by means of the external and internal worlds interacting and both being generated in the process through the activities of expression and appreciation.

 

2. The subject of perception and receptivity in music study

 

It was previously stated that the arts are an expression such that everyone may perceive the world of natural qualities. This will now be expressed in comparison with the understanding of science.

 

(1) The subject of receptivity for music study is “quality”

Heading 2 of the 21st-century music curriculum composition, “Musical Arrangement and Technical Skill”, is made up of formal aspect, substantive aspect and technical aspect contents. The formal aspect is the perception of voice timbre, the perception of beat and the perception of pitch etc. The substantive aspect is the receptivity to the qualities the voice timbre brings forth, those the beat brings forth, and those the pitch brings forth etc. In this manner, the teaching subject for the formal aspect targets the objective aspect of the various elements of music whereas the substantive aspect targets the quality of aspect that can only be grasped by a sense of the various elements of music. For example, in addition to the objective aspects of high voice, low voice, male voice, female voice, child voice, adult voice etc quantitatively differentiated by the wave form of an oscillograph, the voice timbre has aspects received by sense, such as soft male voices, transparent voices, voices that seemed to expand, and voices that are soft like velvet etc. In addition to when targeting the parts of the various elements of music, that is, these voice timbres, the formal aspect and the substantive aspect are also classified when targeting the compositions organized by timbre, rhythm, melody, the relationship between sound and sound including harmony, form, tempo and strength etc, and perception and receptivity are made the target. When making organizations of these various elements, the target, melody, tempo and form are perceived for the formal aspect and the mood and theme of the music are perceived as a quality, for example, as an elated feeling, a depressed feeling, a ponderous feeling or an intense feeling for the substantive aspect. Expression is embodied by technical skill in voice or instrument (technical aspect) consequent on these perceived and received contents.

As above, a formal aspect and a substantive aspect are presents in music; in the various elements of timbre, rhythm, melody, tempo and strength etc, and furthermore in the organization of these. The former is an aspect perceived as a quantity and the latter is an aspect received as a quality. The arts, and above all the essence of music, are in the quality that is the substantive aspect, and there is meaning in the expression and recognition of this by means of the formal or technical aspect. So, what does “quality” indicate in a recognition or expression of the arts? We will now compare this with the understanding of science.

 

(2) The dimensions of quantity and quality in nature

There are two dimensions in nature. One is the dimension of quantity that can form an abstraction or conception through perceiving a thing by the relationship between things. The other is the dimension of quality such as timbre, rhythm, color, or fragrance etc. We take in experiences such as the color of tree leaves when passing a street lined with ginkgo or maple trees in autumn splendor or the sound of a leaf fluttering to the ground by the five senses. Here there is a qualitative dimension that we can only grasp by a sense other than the details perceived as a change of wavelength of light or atmospheric oscillation of sound3).

The activity of science is to quantify and grasp nature, with color as a wavelength of light and sound as a vibration of air. It is the activity of the arts to grasp the world of natural quality through sensitivity and express it such that it may be perceptible to everyone. As for the form of cognition, the former is rational and the latter is sensitive.

 

(3) Cognition by means of reason and sensitivity

The first natural dimension, namely that of quantity, may be perceived primarily by rational cognition as a scientific subject. The second natural dimension, namely that of quality, may be perceived primarily by sensitive cognition as a subject of the arts. A faculty in rational cognition is primarily related to things such as intelligence, reason, conception and logic. Such cognition has properties such as objectivity, universality and rationality. In contrast with this, a faculty in sensitive cognition is primarily related to sensitivity, intuition, impression and sentiment. Such cognition has properties such as subjectivity, individuality and irrationality.

It can be said that humans are cognizant of the world (environment) by means of these two styles of wisdom; however, in practice these overlap and intensify cognition. In other words, in the cognition of science, rational cognition comprises the leading part and sensitive cognition supports it whereas conversely in the cognition of the arts, artistic cognition comprises the leading part and rational cognition supports it. These two cognitive forms must be involved in any cognition. However, in the ideology of modern Western rationalism, only the first dimension is made the subject, even for nature, and for that reason rational cognition alone has come to be emphasized as the cognitive form. Without recognizing the originality of sensitive cognition, it has been positioned as an installation of scientific cognition. This is according to the way of thinking whereby in modern science, nature and the psyche (the object and the subject) are segregated, with nature being viewed as a material which is then separated into elements from which information is acquired by means of experiment, observation and knowledge acquired through quantification.

In this “dualism” and “reductionism” way of thinking that decides to segregate and perceive nature and the psyche, only the nature that can be quantified is made the subject and dimensions of natural quality that cannot be qualified have come to be placed outside the scope of science. For that reason, rational cognition alone is stressed with regards to the cognition form and the sensitive cognition that forms the leading part in the cognition of the second dimension of nature, namely quality, has come to be devalued. Actually, as this cognition form varies over time, it has come to be considered somewhat of a hindrance to the rational cognition in which objectivity is sought.

From such a view of cognition, cultivation of the rational cognition necessary for scientific cognition is emphasized with regards to the cognition and faculties of humans in modern scholastic education, and in addition, subjects that can cultivate such faculties have come to be respected. In other words, the subjects of language and science have come to be emphasized as principal subjects from within the curriculum as they cultivate the faculties of intelligence, reason, conception and logic required by rational cognition. in contrast to this, artistic subjects have come to be regarded as secondary subjects due to a way of thinking that says they are not directly associated with the cultivation of such faculties.

 

(4) The result of cognitive/educational perspectives emphasizing science

Amidst such cognitive/educational perspectives based in scientism, what has become of our daily lives? It can be said that daily life has become materially affluent in advanced nations such as Japan due to the developments of science and technology. Nevertheless, many phenomena that seem to be placing the existence of humans in a precarious position, such as global warming and environmental destruction etc, are seen. In addition, the principle of “efficiency first” has produced many accidents; problem behavior and emotional problems in young people are being brought to light; and many people have come to feel anxiety with regards to their existence.

It could be said that these phenomena are the result of the values and living environment of humans being completely devoted to science, such as systems including our intellect that come from a worldview that emphasizes modern science. Ultimately, in modern times, only the dimension that can be quantified is made the subject, even in nature, and science and technology is developed by making this into knowledge. The dimension of quality that cannot be quantified is ignored and hence the cognition form stresses rational cognition alone and sensitive cognition that recognizes the world of quality has come to be devalued or ignored.

The various problems of leading countries including Japan that were identified previously can be said to be a result of the balance between these two cognizance forms having collapsed.

 

(5) Cultivation of a sensitive cognition by means of the arts

Entering into the post-modern era, the cultivation of these two cognition forms through education and making the two dimensions of nature recognizable is sought. This is because the former is a form that splits nature into elements by reason and recognizes it as a concept, whereas the latter is a form that comprehensively recognizes nature through sensitivity. It can be said that it is by means of these two cognition forms that the world can be first recognized in perfection and the intellectual and emotional education of children can be facilitated in harmony.

Implementing this requires a school curriculum that positions and balances the subjects of language and science and the subjects of the arts with a balance, and the development of a music course education by means of the principle of generation located as one of these subjects. In other words, making the school curriculum cultivate the faculties of the inner world, such as sensitivity, impression and sentiment through the perception of the formal aspect and the reception of the substantive aspect of the music curriculum and the generation of expression by means of the technical aspects whilst in possession of these contents.

 

 

1) Fumiko HOSHI (Agatsuma Municipal Junior High School, Fukushima) Materials for the open class in the 1996 Tohoku District Music Education Research Convention.

2) Yuriko SAITO (2004) “March – From the Clown”, Yoshinobu NISHIZONO, Ritsuko KOJIMA editorial “Teaching and Evaluation for Elementary School Music”, Kosaido Akatsuki, pp. 100-103

3) J Dewey stated in “Art as Experience, 1934” “Experience and Nature, 1925” that modern subjects target nature that can be quantified and have come to exclude the quality of nature. In “The Brain and Qualia" (NIKKEI SCIENCE Inc, 2003) Kenichiro MOGI takes the qualitative world of nature that cannot be grasped by the physical sciences, such as timbre and hue etc, as qualia and considers them.

 



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