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Earfirst Method: DT relation, squiggle, slantnote

Posted: 24 Jan 2014 01:12
by earfirst is where I publish my Kodaly-inspired, non-Kodaly method. I delay diatonic solfege indefinitely, however, in favor of more immediately appreciable and useful fundamentals.

Putting off letternames, keys and scales in favor of an intervals-and-landmarks approach, I begin with the domino-tonic relation, requiring mastery before proceeding. I regard a discussion of major-minor premature without it. "Key,Shmee! Pre-Harmony" presents familiar tunes in text only, with a two-symbol visual markup above in place of a staff.

When the DT groundwork is mastered, we address major-minor, on both the tonic and dominant (the main practical places where major-minor is obviously important--no need to generalize to all non-perfect intervals yet--generalizing too soon is mystifying). For objectifying thinkers, to whom notes are still more real than intervals, we name the major/minor deciding note. It's the "pad above the tonic" or the "pad above the dominant". Those minor dominant modes easily sound different as people encounter aeolian, dorian, myxolydian and phrygian.

The tool for this and all further theoretic exposition is the squiggle, a divide-and-conquer visual key-free alternative to the keyboard. The squiggle is a vertical sine wave, in as many periods as will cover the compass of a tune, plus a few more to avoid implying limits. "Notes" may nestle in bays on both sides of the squiggle.

When solfege becomes appropriate, a two-name binary solfege is introduced first. Modeled with the squiggle, the gross fretwise size distinction of the qualified nominal intervals becomes obvious. That is, major thirds and seconds are squiggle-cis (same side of the squiggle); their minor counterparts are trans. Perfect fifths and fourths are squiggle-trans; the tritone is cis.

As the squiggle terminology is being acquired, we mount training wheels on the bike: slantnote transcriptions on familiar-looking five-line staves. The slant of noteheads--"two-o'clock" and "ten-o'clock"--conforms to cis-trans squiggle sense. When you see notes on neighboring lines, for example, you don't need a key signature to tell the fretwise size of the third. If the slants are opposite (squiggle-trans), it's a minor third.