One of my hobbies, or minor passions as Patrick Greene would refer to them, is old out-of-print music theory books. One of the things that I will periodically do here is discuss and share varying passages that I find in these books and their possible implications.
The current book in question is The Theory and Practice of Tone-Relations by Percy Goetschius, originally published in 1892. Here, it is the 16th edition, published in 1917 by G. Schirmer, “completely rewritten and enlarged”, coming in at 174 pages.
One of the interesting things to do with something like this, and well, anything really, is to check out the extremes. Here, let’s look at the last instructing sentence:
Every note must be accounted for.
Now of course looking at this sentence in this light takes it completely out of context, yet it is still fascinating to find this sort of sentiment arising from a book dealing exclusively in tonal harmony, written and rewritten well before the advent of Schoenberg’s system.
After total serialism had its heyday, and then over extended itself in some universities, there seemed to be a back lash, heading back to romantic sentiment (which in and of itself has become the new dogma…) by some composers and institutions. Some fractions of which would go on to extol the virtues of listening to one’s “inner ear” and focusing on intuition. But even here, in a book that is surely of minor historical importance, it is instructive to note the emphasis placed on craft, and being able to account for and justify every note and its place on the page.