Saturday, September 29, 2018

Wuytack and Melody, a Review of Musica Activa

Musica Activa - An Approach to Music Education - Volume 2, Melodic Expression, just published in March of this year (46 years after it was written),  is a definitive text in the world of Orff Schulwerk. To put this book in context, Gunild Keetman wrote Elementaria, also an essential text, in 1970 with the English translation by Margaret Murray in 1974. Musica Activa, Volume 2 was written in 1972 but translated by Judy Sills in 2018. (Musica Activa, Volume 1 - Rhythmic Expression was also written in 1972 but translated and published in 1995.)

Musica Activa - Volume 2 Musical Expression by Jos WuytackMusica Activa, Vol. 2 focuses on melody. Wuytack presented this material in level courses and master classes around the country from 1971 until 2011. His master classes were essentially focused on five main elements of music and pedagogy (melody, harmony, timbre, form, rhythm) and how they can be defined and expanded in the Orff approach. The two most important elements in Wuytack's view were melody and rhythm. The remaining elements are important yet corollary.

Musica Activa, an important text, should be in every teacher's library. Not only does it present an expanded explanation of the pedagogy of melody, but it also includes 57 beautiful orchestrations of songs and dances for use in elementary classroom or as models for composition and improvisation. These orchestrations are organized in the order of the melodic concepts being presented with two examples of everything from bitonic through all the diatonic modes including Lydian and Mixolydian. 

Each chapter begins with an essay describing the philosophical and psychological underpinnings of the concept presented (Phenomenology of Melody, Ontogenesis of Melody, The Pentatonic System, and the Modes) followed by examples. The final chapter, however, is the gem. Titled Activation Techniques for Melody, Wuytack lays out basic techniques and strategies for teaching melodic concepts, everything from audiation to visualization, improvisation to composition. 
Melody is the most characteristic element of music. It is usually the predominant part of a composition, It catches our ear, and it is melody that we retain most easily. True melody, as a means of expression, shares emotion, sentiment, and soul. It is with melody, specifically melodic intervals, that we express our true inner beauty. 
Jos Wuytack
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