Article Title

Learning in Time


The terms and concepts of music theory serve as tools for maintaining a practice through teaching and learning. They can also serve for exploration and discovery to follow changing practice or to suggest new practice. To function creatively, terms and concepts must themselves have the mobility to grow in depth and complexity and so lead beyond themselves. “Exploration,” “discovery,’ “creativity,” “growth”… speak to the temporal, which is to say, to actual musical experience and practice. A conceptualization and terminology that gets stuck in its abstractions, mistaking them for the concrete, can still function for teaching and learning, but at the high cost of alienation from musical creativity. This essay joins the work of Jeanne Bamberger in recommending a focus on time, or process, or development as a way of criticizing the reifications of theory and encouraging the development of a thinking and theorizing that, aware of its own openness and mobility, would serve the interest of creative music-making.