Some Challenges in Teaching American-Based Harmony in French

Roxane Prevost

Music theory pedagogy at the undergraduate level imposes many challenges, such as the sequence of material, example selection, and drawing connections to performance, but the pedagogue of music theory in French at a North-American bilingual post-secondary institution faces more severe challenges. Since the University of Ottawa offers courses in both English and French, an attempt to coordinate the material between the different sections is ideal. Two main areas are problematic, however, for the French music theory class: the accessibility of recent resources in the pedagogy of music theory written or translated into French, and the discrepancy in the interpretation of certain concepts between English- and French-language texts. In recent years, French scholars have begun to translate and compile materials for a North American-rooted music theory, but few useful resources on music theory pedagogy exist. In this essay, I fi rst survey texts available for music theory pedagogy in French. I then explore some of the different interpretations for diminished, half-diminished, and augmented-sixth chords in English- and French-language sources. I conclude with a call for more resources for the French pedagogue and student of harmony.