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Bach Re-Invention: Bridging classical and popular music in the college classroom

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This article highlights a composition project from an undergraduate musicianship course at a private liberal arts college. For the project, students studied a Prelude by J. S. Bach and utilized their analysis as a framework to compose new melodies. Instead of writing in the style of Bach, many students chose to transform their compositions into popular music styles. The study discusses the students’ processes and addresses how the new compositions were largely representative of popular music in a range of styles including heavy metal, punk, surf and rap. The unexpected transformations became an opportunity to implement a responsive pedagogy that became a bridge between classical and popular music. Implications for teaching are presented and include discussion of the use of popular music in the undergraduate theory classroom.
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Keywords: composition; creative approaches to theory; music theory; musicianship; popular music education; project-based learning; responsive pedagogy

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2019

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  • The main aims of Journal of Popular Music Education, especially initially, will be iteratively to define the parameters of the field and disciplines of its readership and contributors (especially with regard to other journals in popular music and music education), this being an emerging field of scholarship and practice. The other principal aim will be to disseminate excellent critique and other forms of scholarship (e.g. phenomenological) in and related to the field. The journal will have an inclusive, global reach. 'Education' and 'popular music' are terms that we expect to be stretched and problematized through rigorous examination from multiple international perspectives.
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