Thursday, January 12, 2006

Great Moments in Textbook Writing
This may have to be a regular feature for a couple months while I come to grips with my reality this school semester. The first sentence to the section on "Harmony" in my new Music Appreciation book reads as follows:

"When folksingers accompany themselves on a guitar, they add support, depth, and richness to the melody; we call this harmonizing."
(book's emphasis)

A more stomach-turning sentence introducing the topic I can hardly imagine.

On the opposite page, there is a picture of Avril Lavigne, in some kind of camouflage clothing, sitting and playing the acoustic guitar while singing. The caption reads: "The singer-songwriter Avril Lavigne blends melody and harmony by accompanying herself on the guitar." Then there is a teacher's suggestion: "Play a recording by Avril Lavigne to illustrate the combination of melody and harmony."

I have a long list of rants about this I could bore you with, starting with the fact that this is a horrible non-definition of both "harmonizing" and especially "harmony", (let alone "folksingers") but I'll leave it at this side point: is there any doubt that some coordination exists between the textbook company and the record company that owns Avril Lavigne's recording rights? If there's not, why are they behaving like there is? Is this book *trying* to become out-of-date in 3 years? (My guess is that next year's freshmen will have never heard of her) And finally, If I were to take their advice, and play an entire track of Ms. Lavigne's in class as demonstration, is there any doubt that said company would, if they could find out about it, try and make me pay some kind of royalty for performance - educational use or not? I do that sort of thing all the time and, of course, don't pay and shouldn't. But schools are getting so cautious and filled with warning and a better-safe-than-sorry attitude over musical copyright as if educational fair use might as well not exist any more, that I'm shocked that a textbook would urge such behavior...

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