Harmonic Conventions in a Conventional Context: A South African Case Study

Marianne Feenstra
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In my teaching experience of the past number of years, it has become noticeable that students are showing an apparent increasing lack of perception of the 'traditional' use of triads in second inversion as being unstable structures requiring some form of resolution, typically within the 6/4 - 5/3 cadential context, or within the so-called 'passing 6/4' context. Often students prefer to harmonise using a succession of triads in second inversion - anathema in the accepted, diatonic, common practice style.
Within the context of Black South African choral music, however, such a style of harmonisation is not only acceptable but also desirable and widespread. It is a style of harmonisation that challenges the validity and relevance of promoting 'traditional' harmonic theory and practice within a contemporary South African framework. The underlying question that this paper aims to address is: How does music theory reflect performance practice in the context of Black South African choral music?

Keywords: Music Theory, Harmony and Counterpoint, Choral Music, South Africa
Stream: Analysing Artforms
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Harmonic Conventions in a Conventional Context

Marianne Feenstra

Lecturer, S A College of Music, University of Cape Town
South Africa

Marianne Feenstra is a lecturer in the School of Music, University of Cape Town. She specialises in the teaching of harmony, counterpoint and form. Marianne is particularly interested in the development of the choral tradition amongst the indigenous people of South Africa. She is currently researching the life and works of Daniel Cornelius Marivate, one of the major figures in South African choral music in the period approximately 1930 to 1980. Marivate's works represent major stylistic elements common to this genre, which has remained relatively unchanged for the last 70-odd years.

Ref: A06P0040