Gordon Sly


One of the basic assumptions that underlies the undergraduate theory curricula of most colleges and universities is that instruction in counterpoint, harmony, and form will prepare students to do analysis. In some respects, this assumption is valid: a student who understands how passing tones and suspensions work will stand on more solid ground in a Schenkerian analysis course than one who does not. But for the sort of analysis whose goals are less clearly prescribed - when we ask students to make an argument about a work's striking qualities, its particularly beautiful or eccentric events, about what gives it its special character - here, I would maintain, this assumption is misplaced: the typical Freshman-Sophomore sequence proves largely inadequate as a preparation for analysis.