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I am sure to be lambasted for this post. My interest in this topic, direction, is a way to look at teaching music theory education from a more generalized perspective. Specialization in any given topic would follow and is ubiquitous throughout music education and dependent on coursework, needs, area of specialty, essential training, etc. A string player does not necessarily need to study conducting and why "conducting" is not listed as Universal - but on the other hand the way in which musicians communicate the start, flow, intermittent points, ending of music may be included. A specialist in Western music topics does not need to study Ethnomusicology if their focus is elsewhere. However, regardless of interests, specializations, cultures, genres, style, geography, there are some universal aspects inherent in all music and would this not be a good place to start for introducing musical concepts as an educational strategy and basis for further study? I encourage anyone to add to the list, contribute, edit, agree, disagree, comment, elaborate - all input and perspectives are welcome.
List of Universal Elements Necessary For [Any] Music:
pitch, rhythm, timbre, instrument types, orchestration, articulation, types of linear/vertical motion (oblique, parallel, contrary, silence), silence, melody, harmony, counterpoint, scale/mode, temporal placement of elements, modulation, contrast, meter, pulse, form, consonance/dissonance, temperament/tuning, repetition, variation, character, predetermined or improvisational forms, language, social meaning, dynamics, intervals, acoustics, technology, organizing concept, musicianship, voice leading, symbols/notation, group communication and direction . . .
Some universals cross categories and are interrelated and most should be universal (notation may not be used in every culture of music, but most major musical philosophies have symbols and notation and why I have included it).
How is this all valuable? Instead of teaching music theory as an element of the Western canon, it might be useful from a more generalized perspective to see how any of the above Universals can be compared across a wider spectrum, scale for example - how is it used in classical, jazz, Japanese music, Native American music, experimental music, etc. If one can start from a perspective of generalization, insight into that aspect of function in music could be illuminated in a more comprehensive light.