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ERIC Number: ED521167
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 8
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 31
Building Tunes Block by Block: Constructing Musical and Cross-Cultural Understanding through Impromptu
Downton, Michael P.; Peppler, Kylie A.; Portowitz, Adena
Online Submission
Using a constructionist framework in music, specifically through an emphasis on composition, is revolutionizing the field of music and education by bridging the gap between the novice and professional. Much of the research has been spearheaded by Jeanne Bamberger and others, who noted the computer's potential to highlight what it means to be a composer and facilitating those with no musical background to express their musical 'intuitions' through the use of the computer (Bamberger, 1972, 1975a, 1975b, 1991). Her close work with Seymour Papert at MIT allowed her to develop MusicLOGO and "Impromptu", which allows users to manipulate small blocks of melodic and rhythmic patterns, employing mathematical ratios, finding that people with little to no training in music, knew more than they could verbalize. Through their active constructions of tunes, they were building and developing intuitions about music. Despite her work and the work of other leading scholars in the field, constructionism is still a framework largely overlooked and understudied in the field of music education. However, music, specifically composition, is well aligned with the major tenets of constructionism and there is little known about how learners form a social, cultural, and historic identity through music composition. This is now an apt time to investigate how we can begin to use these tools to study how the sociocultural context changes learners' intuitions about music. The current study investigated how children develop musical understanding through cross-cultural activities composing music. 60 youth, equally divided, from the United States and Israel ranging from 8 to 12 years of age, reconstructed familiar and unfamiliar tunes, remixed tunes, and composed their own music using "Impromptu". Each exercise built upon itself to help youth gain a better understanding of important musical concepts and allowed us to better understand what youth know about music from their own culture as well as others through their active construction of music compositions. Data is currently being triangulated (Lincoln & Guba, 1985) using three qualitative data sources, including artifact (music composition) analysis, reflections of artifacts, and discussions of shared music compositions. Preliminary findings suggest that through the active construction and reconstruction of tunes, youth refined their intuitive musical understanding as well as becoming more aware of the cultural differences reflected in other styles of music.
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Education; Middle Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Israel; United States