Farewell, Lehrauftrag

Closing a chapter today: Just taught my last two classes as an adjunct lecturer at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Despite the ridiculously low income associated with teaching undergraduate music theory modules as a minor subject, it’s been a pleasure helping those students (most of which were focused, dedicated, and really smart in conversation) develop their abilities in reading and listening to music. Yet I am more than happy that I’ll never require to work as a freelance lecturer again. The concept of Lehrauftrag (teaching assignment) is one of the most corrupted and exploitative constructions in German academia, and even though the hourly rates at Berlin’s universities will rise to a €35 minimum in the near future, there is very little hope that conditions for adjunct staff will significantly improve.

The Pitfalls of Harmonic Functions

It continues to amaze me how German functional analysis is still used and taught in an idiosyncratic way, seemingly in disregard of critical approaches and enhancements of the past decades, and sometimes leading to apparent inconsistensies. Have a look at the following passage, taken from a harmony script which is currently used at a German music university. The self-referentiality and dogmatism of functional theory becomes already apparent in the title of the chapter (»The subdominant fifth-sixth chord in root position«). Your thoughts are appreciated.

»Just like the dominant, the subdominant harmony employs a characteristic dissonance: the sixth above the bass, which is also used in the S6 [= ii6] chord where it functions as a consonance. […] The added sixth [marked ›sixte ajoutée‹ in misattribution of Rameau’s concept of the same name] causes the fifth, despite being consonant to the bass, to become a dissonant note which must be correctly resolved.« (Manfred Dings, Harmonielehre I. Skript zur Übung im Wintersemester 2017/18, Hochschule für Musik Saar 2017, p. 40; see also: Wilhelm Maler, Beitrag zur Harmonielehre, Leipzig 1931, p. 15).

Perpetrators in Tailcoats: Srsly?

I have recently been engaged with VG Musikedition, the German collecting society for music publishing, in a discussion on their recent publication on copying musical scores (which is largely based on an older brochure by the same author Thomas Tietze, titled »Perpetrators in Tailcoats«). The subliminally threatening tone of this publication tends to criminalise musicians as »sheet music pirates«, and behaviour due to lack of juridical knowledge is marked as »illegal action«. Using the hashtag #keinenotenkopieohnelizenz, VG Musikedition stereotypically claims that all music copying needs to be licensed regardless of the age of the composer and edition—which is a purely propagandistic view, considering that large portions of the repertoire are in the public domain. My correspondence with director Christian Krauß (at least I believe it’s him) is available through the screenshots below.

The First Commandment

This is the first general rule of classical music journalism: Do not, by all means, comment on a blogpost on Slipped Disc. Don’t even think of it. Do read the blog and comments if necessary, but #neverever take the bait to add your own two cents. Rather follow Norman‘s example: He will never comment one of his contributions himself (and I am pretty sure he won’t react to this post either). Mark my words, and keep clear of a whole load of embarrassment. Thanks for your attention!