Harmony unbound

I didn’t see you at the Kronos Quartet concert last evening. There was a piece by N. Raja. arr. Joacob Garchik ‘Dadra in Raga Bhairavi’ and there was no harmony. Ah! what bliss!

Posted by jfin107 | May 15, 2016, 11:16 am

  • I was sad to miss the Kronos Quartet. I relish the absence of harmony as much as I do its presence in my life.

    Posted by Hanh Doan | May 15, 2016, 9:12 pm

    • “I relish the absence of harmony as much as I do its presence in my life”.

      Good for a student talking point and preparation for university.

      (Kronos played Beatitudes by Vladimir Martynov. Hanh, a piece for your chamber choir to sing and harmonically analyse.)

      I came away from the concert wondering why we don’t concentrate more on the wonders of contemporary musical practices and leave the heavy hand of history behind.


      The above is part of discussion promted by Jane Werry’s May editorial on the teachertalkmusic site (See https://teachtalkmusic.wordpress.com/) asking questions about the place of harmony in Advanced Level Music Exams.

      The repertoire presented by the Kronos Quartet was post 1970 and in cultural-artistic terms postmodern.

      While the high spot of the programme was set up to be Steve Reich’s Different Trains of 1988, other pieces were likely to be less familiar to the audience. These were fascinating in their originality and freshness bringing together rock, multi-media, cultural hybrids, theatre, electronics and together revealing the global interchange of culture – boundaries crossed, categories dissolved, hierarchies challenged – the heavy hand of history and tradition becoming the light touch of a distant imagined authority – harmony a frequent metaphor, less a musical imperative and much less significant than the meanings opened up, the discourse created and the imaginations fired by the music present and exonerated from its past and future.

      The postmodern cultural turn is usually associated with the 1960s and much the same time as modernism’s late arrival in music education. Perhaps it’s time for postmodernism to have greater impact now on post 14 music education and place harmony in a global context; and relish ‘the absence of harmony as much as its presence in our lives.’


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