Conditions of Use
The text addresses the fundamental aspects of music that a novice listener needs to be able to recognize and respond to as well as instruction on harmonics and form. A search capability easily directs the reader to pages defining terms. Given... read more
The text addresses the fundamental aspects of music that a novice listener needs to be able to recognize and respond to as well as instruction on harmonics and form. A search capability easily directs the reader to pages defining terms. Given its purpose to develop understanding of music through listening, it presents music largely independent from its biographical, historical, or cultural context.
The text reflects a deep knowledge of music. Its goal is to develop listening skills to enhance the subjective experience of music, so individual responses are valued.
The analogies used in the explanatory material will not lose applicability; more contemporary listening examples could be incorporated easily.
The author’s style is engaging and non-intimidating, drawing many comparisons between abstract musical concepts and familiar experiences (like, for example, driving a car and playing football). The author relies on non-technical terminology. The listening exercises invite the reader to interact with the content; answers are provided
The text is easy to process; chapters in Part 1 devoted to a single concept alternate with “listening gallery” chapters adding additional examples and opportunity for the reader to apply the concept. Brief summaries are linked to each concept chapter. Then, a chapter summarizes all 6 concepts and amplifies them as a process to follow when listening to music. Finally, a chapter and listening guide on modern music demonstrate how the use of the concepts has evolved. The most complex material is reserved for Parts 2 and 3 (harmonic structure and musical form), which also use listening gallery chapters.
The length of each musical concept chapter in Part 1 and its accompanying listening gallery seems workable: long enough for ample explanation and application, but short enough to maintain interest. I think that chapters could readily assigned in groups, but would need to be used in order since each builds to the more complex. Parts 2 and 3 could be reserved for music course beyond the novice level.
The chapters on musical concepts are arranged in order of increasing complexity. Within chapters, text is divided logically with headings and subheadings.
I found the text easy to navigate and read. Visuals and use of additional bulleted points and/or numbered lists would enhance it further. The table of contents that remains on the page is useful. The embedded listening examples are accessible. In the listening galleries, it would be helpful to separate the possible answers the reader chooses from (instead of presenting them run together in a single line).
The text is well-edited with few surface errors.
More non-Western references and examples, as well as more attention to a wider range of musics (beyond classical), would enhance the book.
As an instructor of interdisciplinary humanities courses that include music, I find this material to be promising as a means of introducing students with limited music background to a process that would enable them to respond deeply to any music, both during a course and beyond. The author explains musical concepts in terms of everyday experience, presenting only the most necessary terminology and coupling verbal explanation with musical example. Chapters in Part 1 would be excellent preparation for in-class presentation of entire pieces in their historical and cultural context.
The text covers many key fundamentals of music in a format designed to develop critical listening skills. While drawing almost exclusively on Classical and Modern music canons, the author’s intention is to expand the listening approach to... read more
The text covers many key fundamentals of music in a format designed to develop critical listening skills. While drawing almost exclusively on Classical and Modern music canons, the author’s intention is to expand the listening approach to eventually include “jazz, folk music, music of other traditions, and popular music.” (page 2) Of the text’s nineteen chapters, seven are formatted as ‘Listening Galleries’ that include a multitude of listening excerpts to reinforce concepts and build skills introduced in the preceding chapters. In addition, listening excerpts are embedded in all other chapters while terminology and concepts are introduced. Chapter glossaries are provided when necessary making the text accessible to non-majors and first or second year music students.
Listening examples and explanations are accurate. Audio is carefully chosen and directly relates to the listening skills being developed in the context of each chapter. However, bias may be perceived with the overarching emphasis and references to ‘written music’ and the omission of credit for the few audio examples outside of the Western canon: see the “Navajo” and “Shakuhachi” examples at the opening of “Part II: Hearing Harmony.” This is a symptom of larger problems associated with a listening focused approach intent on developing “subjective opinions” and, as the author states on page 65 of the pdf format, necessitates other supplemental sources: “Equipped with these principles, you will be better prepared for the biographical, historical and theoretical contexts with which music is often described.” (65) – it would be wise to add social and cultural contexts here as well.
The content will remain relevant within institutions whose music curricula center on the repertoire of Classical and Modern music. The proposed additions from other instructors to include musics from outside these canons will potentially increase both longevity and relevance.
A strength of this text is the plethora of non-music analogies geared towards students and popular culture that make the text more accessible. Generally, each chapter is book-ended with analogies including references to sports, food (always effective), travel, art, literature (including Dr. Seuss), and even Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote. All new technical terminology introduced is accompanied by a brief definition in the glossary.
The content in the first seventeen chapters is well organized and easily conceived of as a unit. Each of these include clear listening sections accompanied with explanatory text and guide questions for listening. The last two chapters (which may be considered separate units in themselves) depart from this clear structure and format, but are effective, nonetheless.
Each chapter is easy to navigate with clear section/sub-section divisions.
Logical flow of ideas that reinforce listening skills through many listening excerpts and that gradually address more specific concepts and meanings.
With the help of a suggestion in the ‘summary’ under the text’s ‘more information’ tab, I was able to navigate almost all content - including audio playback - in Internet Explorer without any issue. However, some audio did not play in Chapter 9, and none of the audio worked in Google Chrome.
A few typos were found while reviewing the text: page 2 “unusual or unusual the music,” page 3 “there is has,” page 7 “dieters are at a first,” page 85 “one-note-at-time instruments,” page 143 “how identity can refashioned,” and page 171 “to understand more fully understand.”
Particularly if the intended audience is a non-major music appreciation course, the text does little to meet the students where they may be and the musics they may be most familiar and engaged with. Music examples and conventions are situated squarely within an Ameri/Euro-centric canon that, when applied to musics outside of this canon, has potential to be perceived of as offensive to a diverse student audience. However, in tandem with supplemented theoretical, historical, and sociocultural context, the critical listening skills developed with this text could provoke fruitful conversations pertaining to contemporary issues in the Humanities and Social Sciences more broadly.
As a music appreciation text that focuses on how to listen to music rather than on its historical context (which many such textbooks do), it encourages thinking in numerous way and thus is comprehensive in that regard. It does not cover all types... read more
As a music appreciation text that focuses on how to listen to music rather than on its historical context (which many such textbooks do), it encourages thinking in numerous way and thus is comprehensive in that regard. It does not cover all types of music in detail, but what it teaches could be applied to a broader array of musics. It arms the user with tools to truly appreciate any kind of music by encouraging intelligent listening. In so doing, it also teaches a good deal about form and analysis.
Since much of the text is based on listening strategies, it is difficult to determine the accuracy in a traditional sense. Te content is suitable for what it intends to convey.
Because of the approach to listening the textbook emphasizes, it will not quickly become obsolete but will be useful over time and to a variety of reading audiences.
The prose style is accessible, although terms and works are not explained as thoroughly as they could be. The level of clarity would thus largely hinge on an instructor's supplements through lectures and other teaching technique as well as on the level of the class participants.
The framework is sensible. The listening galleries provide welcome supplements to the explanatory chapters.
Some chapters (modules) can be more easily used independently than others. The organization within a chapter is usually easy to divide into manageable sections.
The organization is very well suited to the content. It progresses quite logically from relatively simple concepts to more complex (and even interdisciplinary) considerations.
The text was easy to navigate online. That one must have the most up-to-date specific software (Marcromedia's Flash plugin) to listen to the music examples is a bit of a drawback.
The writing style flows well. It reads quite conversationally. I note nothing glaringly offensive in grammatical structures.
The listening choices are limited in scope and quite traditional. Since the listening strategies the book teaches can be applied to many different kinds of music, it would be helpful to have more examples drawn from various musics, which may also appeal to different sets of readers.
That this music appreciation text teaches real skills is a plus. It could easily be used by various readers, who would benefit from a good instructor who can contextualize the musical samples. I would welcome the opportunity to structure a course around the text.
The subject matter is quite comprehensive, but from mainly the perspective of listening. read more
The subject matter is quite comprehensive, but from mainly the perspective of listening.
Accuracy of the book is first-rate.
The book is designed so that each module may be used independently and additions may be easily made.
The book has lengthy explanations and prose which seems not as accessible as it could be.
Text is very consistent.
This is one of the best features of the book.
This book will be better used as a reference text than as the course textbook due to the way the chapters are organized.
I found no interface issues.
Grammatical errors were found.
The text is not offensive or culturally insensitive.
Sound Reasoning by Anthony Brandt is a good option as a reference textbook for 300 and 400 level music history and music theory courses. It should not be used as the primary course textbook nor should it be used as a reference textbook for 100 and 200 level courses.
The text is intended for Music Appreciation courses, but provides numerous, ready-made listening examples that could easily service a multitude of courses in a comprehensive music curriculum (music theory, music history, orchestration,... read more
The text is intended for Music Appreciation courses, but provides numerous, ready-made listening examples that could easily service a multitude of courses in a comprehensive music curriculum (music theory, music history, orchestration, etc.). 'Sound Reasoning' eschews the traditional historical-survey approach to Music Appreciation, developing instead the capacity to “listen attentively and think constructively” about the music students encounter. Music of different style periods (including popular music and some references to non-Western music) is contrasted in the broader discussion of musical elements and approaches to hearing formal design. Historical context and composer biographies are not considered, although specific attention is given to compositional developments of the 20th century. Although suited as a stand-alone text, Sound Reasoning could also supplement an historical-survey text.
Information throughout is accurate and the progression of chapters is well-structured. Musical examples are numerous and carefully selected. Observations provided for each are insightful and astute.
The emphasis in developing ‘top down’ listening for students of all musical abilities and experience seems an appropriate direction for Music Appreciation courses, even if sacrificing a detailed historical survey. The approach should provide lasting skills for non-musicians which enhance their lifelong enjoyment and appreciation of music.
The language is clear and carefully crafted in early chapters to avoid musical terms not readily understood by non-musicians. Later chapters employ specific music terminology, but concepts are carefully defined for novices and a glossary is provided. Students would benefit additionally, of course, from the instructor’s direction and explanation of key terms and concepts.
Structure and approach are consistent throughout: listening examples demonstrate each concept presented and are embedded for immediate access. A ‘listening gallery’ follows each section, quizzing students on their ability to hear new concepts, with an opportunity to check their hearing at each step.
The modules are consistent in design and format. Organization throughout is clear and purposeful.
The text is divided into three parts. The first part considers how various musical elements create structure and purpose throughout a piece. Students are taught to listen for repetition as a determinant of form (broadly defined as ‘A’ or ‘A/B’) and contrast expository and developmental sections of a piece. Descriptions are purposefully simplified for non-musicians (expository sections, for example, are defined in the broadest sense as “predictable;” developmental sections are “unpredictable”). These descriptions are also well-suited for aspiring professional musicians in their foundational studies. The concluding section to the first part considers changing approaches to composition in the 20th century, but still within the context of hearing large scale form and direction. The second section explores hearing harmonic structure in music, including major/minor tonality, harmonic rhythm, cadences, chromaticism, modulation, and chord resolution. The listening exercises provided could easily supplement both music theory and music appreciation courses. The third section considers formal structure more deeply, speaking of music in terms of identity and transformation. Overviews of sonata form and fugue are provided. Listening examples and listening galleries (quizzes) could equally service aspiring musicians and general students.
Perhaps the greatest strength of 'Sound Reasoning' are the hundreds of carefully designed listening examples embedded directly into text. Each provide an immediate opportunity for students to develop their understanding of musical structure through directed listening. Examples may be downloaded as well.
The text is well written and free of errors (although, to note in future editions, one incidental typo does appear, found on page 44 or the .pdf version. The first sentence of the first full paragraph reads: The “Sound of Music” is is a third type of destiny.)
The text is intentional in its inclusion of popular music examples and occasional references to music of non-western cultures (Indian ragas, etc.). There is a clear sensitivity to different cultures and musical traditions.
'Sound Reasoning' is an excellent resource that could be easily adapted for uses beyond Music Appreciation.
This textbook is not designed as a survey, which works to its advantage. In order to develop and improve students' listening skills, "Sound Reasoning" focuses on eight different concepts that inform any kind of musical listening (not even just... read more
This textbook is not designed as a survey, which works to its advantage. In order to develop and improve students' listening skills, "Sound Reasoning" focuses on eight different concepts that inform any kind of musical listening (not even just Western classical music). The language is expressly written for non-specialists, which would make it a great tool for students of any musical background. However, this also means that the textbook cannot cover all topics related to deep music listening that may be required of conservatory students or music majors. The addition of Chapter 18 "Hearing Harmony" and Chapter 19 "The Language of Transformation" do help increase the book's comprehensiveness, but these feel like appendices rather than essential parts of the text itself.
From the very first page, Brandt reminds readers "the experience of a musical work is a very subjective one." Thus, the author acknowledges that the point of his text is not to teach students "what" to thinking, but rather "how" to think. This helps increase the trustworthiness of Brandts' text since its main goal is not to present biography or histories of great composers or musical works. Instead, the author uses a great balance of his own listening experience with easily understood musical terminology in a way to successfully self-guide a student through the text on their own.
This is perhaps the greatest benefit of this text, that it can be updated rather easily in real-time, ensuring that students always have the most up-to-date version. For example, my library was hyperlinked to an older version, but there was a message at the top of the text that a newer version was available! In looking at the version history, it was nice to see that while version 2 was dated from 2011 - version 3 was updated in 2019. I am encouraged that the author is still invested in this title enough to update it as needed.
This is another excellent characteristic of this text. I really appreciate that this is written in such an approachable way that students could use this text on their own in a self-paced online course or than non-traditional/first generation/community college students, etc. would not be overwhelmed when tackling a music course for the first time. While some essential musical terminology is used, the author provides an in-chapter glossary alongside the activities to make the text as user-accessible as possible.
The author's writing style is spot on, and can easily be understood by any level reading audience (from high school to college). Even Parts II and III are written in the same kind of tone and using the same kind of terminology as the Introduction.
In terms of overall length, no single chapter feels too long. While some sections with the chapter are longer than others, I feel like it would still be possible to use each section fairly independently of the others. For example, chapter 8 "Expository and Development" has two subsections on "distinguishing" and "balancing" exposition and development in music. Each subsection functions on its own, and an instructor could easily decide to assign the first section and not the second (or vice versa). Due to the nature of developing listening skills over time, I do not get the feeling that the author intends the instructor (or student) to reorder the modules. For instance, I would recommend anyone using this text start from the beginning and work through the text in order. However, any instructor looking to supplement OTHER course materials may find excerpting one or two chapters from this textbook to be a great added tool - since each individual chapter or subsection is not dependent on having read the previous material to be useful.
The organization of this textbook really works for what the author has intended to do. For example, the author pairs each "lecture" chapter (where concepts are introduced and explored through his interpretation) with a "listening gallery" chapter (where students apply the concepts they just learned on their own through guided listening activities). This makes the text especially well suited for an online course, or for any other highly systematic course design needs.
The interface is great! All sections are hyperlinked in a collapsable Content menu (that doesn't cover the text if it stays open, which is nice). Smartly, the author also embeds all media (e.g., musical excerpts) directly in the text and he is analyzing them. This seems like it will really increase the likelihood of students actually listening to the intended examples as they read. Unfortunately, there are no visual images - only text and listening examples, so the book is not "pretty" to look at.
As far as I can tell, the textbook is free of grammatical errors.
While the author sets out to make "Sound Reasoning" listening skills applicable to all varieties of musical experiences, this is perhaps the biggest downside of this text. The selected listening examples see rather conventional, mostly featuring cishet male, white composers from either Europe or the United States. These choices alone are not bad excerpts (and they certainly achieve the goal of the textbook), however, there is a lack of world music, pop music, or even jazz to help demonstrate that these musical concepts can help listening audiences interpret a range of unfamiliar music. I get the feeling that this textbook was originally designed like a traditional Music Appreciation course rather than a World Music course.
The pedagogy behind this book is sound and represents a noble goal of developing both students' critical thinking and critical listening skills. In fact, I can't think of another textbook in use among college music instructors where the primary focus is learning how to listen to music, and not just memorizing historical facts about the pieces or composers. While this textbook feels like it would work best in an online environment, there would be value in integrating some of these concepts into a traditional classroom environment as well. For example, I would consider assigning some of the listening activities from this online textbook (since there is no additional cost) as homework in a large-enrollment Music Appreciation lecture!
Table of Contents
- 1. Sound Reasoning: A New Way to Listen
- 2. How Music Makes Sense
- 3. Listening Gallery: How Music Makes Sense
- 4. Musical Emphasis
- 5. Listening Gallery: Musical Emphasis
- 6. Musical Form
- 7. Listening Gallery: Musical Form
- 8. Expository and Developmental
- 9. Listening Gallery: Expository and Developmental
- 10. Overall Destiny
- 11. Listening Gallery: Overall Destiny
- 12. Time's Effect on the Material
- 13. Listening Gallery: Time's Effect
- 14. Summary: A Quick Guide for Listening
- 15. Making Music Modern
- 16. Listening Gallery: Making Music Modern
- 17. Conclusion: What is Music Trying to Express?
- 18. Part II: Hearing Harmony
- 19. Part III: The Language of Transformation
About the Book
“Sound Reasoning” is a web-based, introductory music appreciation course. It offers a new approach to music appreciation for adults, focusing on style-independent concepts. While the course concentrates primarily on Western classical and modern music, the concepts that are introduced apply to music of any style or era. The goal of “Sound Reasoning” is to equip you with questions that you may ask of any piece of music, thereby creating a richer and more comprehensive understanding of music both familiar and unfamiliar. Here are some additional features of the course. 1) ”Sound Reasoning” is completely listening based. No ability to read music is required. 2) The course assumes little or no musical background. A minimum of terminology is invoked. 3) Musical examples are interpolated directly into the text. 4) The course is interactive. A “listening gallery” with exercises follows each module, so that you may practice and refine your listening skills. 5) The modules may be studied in sequence or individually. 6)You may easily print a .pdf of any module.. “Sound Reasoning” is designed as both a stand-alone, self-paced course as well as a supplement to existing university classes.
About the Contributors
Anthony Brandt, Composer Anthony Brandt (b. 1961) earned his degrees from California Institute of the Arts and Harvard University. His honors include a Koussevitzky Commission from the Library of Congress and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Meet-the-Composer, the Houston Arts Alliance, the New England Foundation for the Arts and the Margaret Fairbank Jory Copying Assistance Program. He has been a fellow at the Wellesley Composers Conference, the Tanglewood Institute, the MacDowell Colony and the Djerassi Resident Artists Colony. He has been a Visiting Composer at the Bowdoin International Festival, the Bremen Musikfest, Baltimore’s New Chamber Arts Festival, Southwestern University, SUNY- Buffalo, Cleveland State University, and the Universidad Verucruzana and Composer-in-Residence of Houston’s OrchestraX and the International Festival of Music in Morelia, Mexico.