Gordon Sly


For the past dozen summers, I have taught a graduate course in analysis. Each year, I begin by trying to make a case for analysis itself. I argue that if an analysis presents a good way to hear or play a piece, it should follow that musicians be enthusiastically involved with analytical work, since the overwhelming majority of us play and/or conduct and/or teach. We should, in fact, see analysis as common ground - perhaps the only common ground - shared by the various sub-disciplines that make up music study. I then acknowledge what they all know, that, despite this, very few musicians are involved in any way with analysis, and express my belief that this is due in large part to a misunderstanding of the process of analysis that musicians develop, paradoxically, in the analysis courses they take as students. We purport to teach analysis in our courses, but actually often don't. Instead, we teach the workings and employment of analytical tools. We know we're doing this, and we have good reasons for doing it. But if that's all, or nearly all, we do, the result is that students confuse the acquisition and application of analytical tools for analysis. And they are not at all the same thing.