The Musical Delusion: the Compulsion of Sheet Music

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The Musical Delusion:
Compulsion of Sheet Music
Considering the rapid and significant technological advancements made in the present generation, an argument can be made about the question of importance of extensive musical education and its requirement to establish oneself as a successful musician. There are plenty of professional musicians and band members out there who have successfully advanced in their career without pursuing in musical education extensively.

A periodical by Alexander Reid, Music Reading Is Essential to Successful Music Making, published in the Clavier Companion argues how music reading is one of the most essential pieces in fabricating a song or a melody. The author establishes how teaching music notation is the primary goal for every music teacher for his or her amateur students. He talks about how the Grand Staff can aid in basic music concepts such as pulse duration, finger numbers and hand coordination. However, I strongly disagree with this opinion and personally believe that music notation is just a tool and not an essential factor in composing or arranging sweet melodies and thoughtful lyrics – essentially in the process of songwriting. In earlier centuries, musicians in their learning stage found it somewhat a necessity to indulge themselves in the depth of education of music, spending years after years to reach the peak of perfection. On the contrary, there have been several professionals who managed to achieve success in the field of music by simply exploring their talents through practice, vocal training, self-assessment and experimental music-making. All they really needed to do was boost up their confidence by picking up a musical instrument and experimenting with the different musical notes it produces. In the modern generation, several musicians have accomplished their goals by following the same methodology. Additionally, the wonders of technology have provided access to an individual for excluding himself/herself from the pain of going through hundreds of steps and processes to be able to create a simple piece of harmony. A quick search on Google can reveal thousands of websites that provide the user with various simplified and facile musical notations that are fairly easy to understand and do not require prior knowledge on sheet music. Recent programming of computer softwares such as FL Studio and Acid allow users to create professional soundtracks (electronic music) at home without the need to comprehend any form of complicated music notations, but solely the software itself. An academic journal article by Per Dahl, The Rise And Fall Of Literacy In Classical Music: An Essay On Musical Notation, examines how music notation has changed over the past 11 centuries. It talks about the evolution of the Grand Staff from a mere memory aid to a form of art and knowledge and convention. The concept of the Grand Staff is the ability to play the treble clef and the base clef by one performer at the same time, creating a melodious and pleasant set of notes. In early times, mastering the Grand Staff was only possible by following the notes on a music sheet. However, with the evolution of music, musicians these days have developed the ability to aurally recognize and link the two clefs, producing wonderful melodies instantaneously with the help of modern instruments, such as the electronic keyboard, that allow the ‘blending’ of notes. The author discusses the fall in literacy in music and shows how modern technology has reduced the role of the composer and has increased the role of the performer to an extent that the ability to read music is now slowly losing importance. Referring to Dahl’s journal and considering the progression of technology, it can be argued that modern instruments have reduced the need to be able to read music, and the introduction of electronic music has diminished the need of possessing expansive knowledge on chords and scales. From personal experience, I will not...
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