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Pathways to Music

Author(s): Kevin Salfen

Edition: 2

Copyright: 2017

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Maybe you’ve noticed? Traditional music appreciation textbooks aren’t cutting it anymore. Conceived as streamlined, even “dumbed-down” chronological surveys of Euro-American music, they are increasingly distant from students whose literacy is more diverse. When these textbooks feature music from other cultures, it’s sidelined—often literally—a counterexample, a complement, reinforcing a hierarchy that today’s university students have every reason to challenge.

What if there was a different approach? One that puts music from various cultures on equal footing by focusing on themes instead of grand narratives. One that brings together ethnomusicology and musicology to help students develop a cohesive frame for better appreciating the diversity of music in their world.

There is.

Pathways to Music takes five topics—ritual, emotion, work, art, and politics—as starting points for encouraging a new appreciation for music. The content is diverse. From South African isicathamiya to the fugues of J. S. Bach, from shakuhachi music to the blues of Robert Johnson—the emphasis is on how the five pathways can be used to understand music across a wide stylistic, chronological, and geographical span.

The textbook is modular at every level. Each pathway has a conceptual introduction and three associated content chapters from which an instructor can choose. This means that an instructor can shape the course to maximize diversity of content or to “tell a story” through the five pathways without sacrificing structure and depth. To encourage instructors and students to develop additional correspondences between chapters, each is constructed from the same modules: Defining Terms, Historical and Cultural Context, Music Technologies, Analysis, and Summary.

The anthology is vast. Pathways to Music is bundled with Napster, so instructors and students have access to over 30 million tracks. Hear new releases in every genre, make class playlists, explore music off the beaten track without the fear that you’re assigning students “free audio” that infringes copyright.

It’s personal. The chapters include personal experiences, reminders that music affects us (including the writer) as individuals. Suggested assignments, from conducting fieldwork to blogging on favorite albums, ask students to make the textbook content useful to them.

Pathway One: Music as Ritual
Introduction
Chapter One: Gregorian Chant and Catholic Liturgy
Chapter Two: Renaissance Polyphony and Rituals of Power
Chapter Three: The Shakuhachi and Enlightenment in One Sound

Pathway Two: Music as Emotion
Introduction
Chapter One: The Madrigal and a Musical Language for Emotion
Chapter Two: Affecting Great Feeling on the Baroque Stage
Chapter Three: Blues and Pain into Pleasure

Pathway Three: Music as Work
Introduction Chapter One: Bach the Teacher and the Work of Fugue
Chapter Two: Enlightened Pleasures: Hearing the Classical Symphony
Chapter Three: Singing Raga, Clapping Tala in the Karnatak Kriti

Pathway Four: Music as Art
Introduction
Chapter One: Noh and the Practice of Art
Chapter Two: Reading and Rereading the Romantic Lied
Chapter Three: Modernism and the Musical Art Object

Pathway Five: Music as Politics
Introduction
Chapter One: Wagner and Opera for a German Nation
Chapter Two: Performing a Post-Apartheid South Africa
Chapter Three: Opening up a Thought Space Through Process Music

Kevin Salfen

Kevin Salfen is an Associate Professor of Music at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas. He has degrees in composition and musicology from the University of North Texas. His work on Benjamin Britten has appeared in Music & Letters (2011), 19th-Century Music (2014), and in two recent essay collections (Cambridge Scholars, Boydell & Brewer, 2017). He has presented papers at a wide variety of conferences on topics ranging from Britten and music education to animé. Salfen is compelled by public musicology. He is a frequent program note annotator and has given many public lectures on a range of musical topics for the San Antonio and Dallas Opera, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Nasher Sculpture Center’s chamber music series, the San Antonio International Piano Competition’s Piano Series, and the McNay Art Museum’s public programming.

Salfen is a student of Japanese nô theater, and he became a member of the international troupe Theatre Nohgaku in 2011. He has played nôkan (nô flute) in performances of the classic nô Funa Benkei and Sumida River, has played roles in Atsumori and in the Boston premiere of Carrie Preston and David Crandall’s Zahdi Dates and Poppies, and has sung in the chorus for Atsumori, Funa Benkei, Hagoromo, Blue Moon over Memphis, and Zahdi Dates and Poppies.

Salfen’s music has been performed in England, China, and throughout the U. S. He wrote the music for Elise Forier-Edie’s noh-influenced Icarus (2012), which was selected for performance at the 2013 Region VII Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. He also composed the music for 2015 Texas Poet Laureate Carmen Tafolla’s Song of the Yanaguana River, part of the outreach-performance project Where Rivers Meet, for which he also acted as executive producer. Salfen’s New Year Canticles was performed in July 2016 at the National Cathedral in Washington, D. C.

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