Marc HannafordMarc is beginning a PHD on music theory and sadly for us leaving these shores for more glamorous US surroundings.

If you want to take a sneek peek at the mind of a improvising composer and musician, this is his latest blog entry. 

Music theory and practice: an example

When I tell people I'm enrolled in a music theory PhD, the automatic assumption I've encountered is that I'm giving up piano and becoming a writer/theorist/teacher/accountant. Nothing could be further from the truth. Music theory might have the reputation of being dry, number-crunching, positivist-minded business, but I think it's more about what you do with the music-theory information.

If you do nothing with it, then I suppose you are a "pure" theorist, there's nothing wrong with that. But I'm a music maker, and an improviser, so my question whenever I learn about some new concept is "could I improvise using that?" or perhaps "could that concept inform my practice in some way?" I think that's the advantage of coming from a university system that emphasises practice-led research; anything you encounter in the literature has the potential to be incorporated into the way you make art.

As way of example, here's something I got to practicing today, and where it came from.


Editor of Jazz Australia, formerly contributor to Sydney Morning Herald and Women's Money Magazine Music programmer and producer