Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Public Theorist

Scott Spiegelberg is a theorist, specializing in pedagogy and perception, who has made a point of making his work public, and in doing so in a way that doesn't restrict his audience to a narrow circle of professional colleagues. His lively blog, Musical Perceptions, has included a number of great items, including some compact and practical primers on Neo-Riemannian theory and realizing Figured Bass. Spiegelberg has also been a pioneer in using the blog as a medium for classroom teaching (his blog side-bars a number of these class blogs) and, again, his committment to the broadest definition of academic publication is well in evidence.

I have written a few outrageous things about theory on these pages, as part of my on-going attempt to articulate the distance between compositional and theoretical projects. Theory is an important service discipline for composers, a mirror to our own work, and a never-empty source of new ideas, but in order to take advantage of theory, composers will inevitably play fast and loose with the most elegant theoretical constructions. In this context, it's good to encounter a theorist like Spiegelberg, who seems comfortable writing about music theory in a way that balances perspectives and never gets too far away from either the practical issues of music making or the mysterious issues of musical perception.

1 comment:

Scott Spiegelberg said...

Aw shucks, now I'm blushing! And now, can you send this to the tenure committee?