Breaking the Rules: Non-Traditional and Extended Techniques

With much of Canadian orchestral music being composed in the 20th century after Arnold Schoenberg had already abandoned tonality, it is no surprise that avant-garde and non-traditional methods are a common part of current Canadian composers' techniques. Works often include graphic notation, serialism, improvisation (which has all but disappeared from Western Music), unorthodox performer placement, a pluralism of style, extended instrumental techniques, and more. Works with any combination of the above are often a challenge to play as well as a challenge to hear but they can also be a source of inspiring questions, of individual interpretation and exploration, and can be a beginning place for the formations of new art and a new way to listen to the world around us.

Breaking the Rules: Non-Traditional and Extended Techniques addresses some questions about creative individuality in creating and listening to music. Canadian composers Robert Aitken, John Weinzweig, R. Murray Schafer, Norma Beecroft, and Michael Colgrass have all made individual use of non-traditional compositional techniques. These approaches to alternative composition allow a wide range of experience and response from musicians and listeners.

Breaking the Rules: Non-Traditional and Extended Techniques begins with a series of exercises, each of which focuses on a non-traditional technique used by a composer to explore new ways of music making.

Breaking the Rules: Non-Traditional and Extended Techniques is designed for students and educators to meet the following objectives:

  • Learn about and experience non-traditional compositional strategies composers use to create new and distinct music.
  • Consider the role of "breaking the rules" in music as a way to encourage important questioning of how we hear and of personal taste and interest.
  • Make a personal connection with the challenges and enjoyment of non-traditional listening, composing, and performing.
Virtual Museum of Canada

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