The Rest Is Noise : A Historically Integrated Approach to Post-Tonal Pedagogy

Amy Fleming and Aaron Grant

While making connections to pre-existing knowledge is crucial to student learning, fostering such connections in a post-tonal theory classroom can be difficult. This article proposes a curricular approach to post-tonal undergraduate theory in which historical context provides an already familiar framework around which students can learn new information and skills. We present an example of such a curricular approach, framing an undergraduate post-tonal theory course around Alex Ross’s The Rest is Noise. We demonstrate how instructors can use Ross’s chapters as a backdrop for a variety of adaptable activities that intertwine music, its history, and the tools we use to understand it. Rather than prescribing one specific curriculum, the purpose of our article is to empower instructors to create their own historically-driven post-tonal curricula. In doing so, we demonstrate the importance of context for student learning and provide flexible materials that instructors can adapt for use when developing their own courses.