7 Nov

My first milestone of doctoral school has been achieved – I got a B on my very first essay as a Ph.D. student.  It was a deserved B, and I expected this grade, so all is well.  The feedback I got from the prof was extremely worthwhile.  He is awesome.

This course is “The History of Music Theory.” So  it’s a music history course, and a music theory course, simultaneously.  It’s also a philosophy course, a primer on Greek intellectual currents, a textbook on how science relates to music, and probably the most intense (but enjoyable) class I have yet encountered.  The first several lectures touched on topics ranging from Nietzsche to Copernicus to Descartes to Guido of Arezzo.  The music stuff?  Oh, that’s in there, but we have to first tease out what “theory” actually means.

I freaking love hyper-intellectual classes like this, where you gloss over every conceivable speculative theory in existence before you get to the stuff we still use – and even then, there’s still an awful lot of speculation going on.

Music theory is a dynamic discipline, if you’ll pardon the pun.  Like musicology, it has out-grown its old trousers and there is a scramble underway to sew some new ones that fit better.  That’s what I dig about being a music nerd.  Our field is alive.  As long as science and math are around, we’ll have music.  It’s remarkable how well it can slot into both those categories.

More about this class later.  My essay was a bit too ambitious – I attempted to draw the speculative music theory tradition into an overarching graphical metaphor – but I am excited to keep working with this professor to see where I can go.

Now it’s time to proctor an exam, so I will update this post when I get home.


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