What's in a name?


The relation between pitch notation, note names and sight singing


in different forms of pitch notation and in different ways of approaching pitch notation




Suzanne Konings




Master of Music Theory


Student number: 3033902


Royal Conservatoire The Hague – June 2015


Research coach: Dr László Nemes

Master circle leader: Dr Henk Borgdorff


Table of Contents


1.         The research question


2.         Relevance for peers, my own development and the music teaching world


3.         The research process


4.         Overview of methods for developing aural understanding of pitch in staff notation


5.         Description of the test material


6.         Description of the test plan


7.         Overview of the tested students and groups: data from the questionnaire


8.         Results on video: reports


Test Report Group 1


Test Report Group 2


Test Report Group 3


Test Report Group 4


Test Report Group 5


Test Report Group 6


Test Report Group 7


Test Report Group 8


9.         Analysis and critical discussion of the findings


10.       Conclusions


11.       Sources





Sight singing is a part of almost every music theory curriculum in conservatoires. But one might ask oneself why lessons in sight singing are needed for students who can already read music notation? The answer usually is: to develop the aural imagination in relation to music notation. The way students have learned to read music notation in the first place did not develop this skill well enough then?

Experiences in teaching made me think that we need functional note names (unique sound names) to be able to aurally understand pitch in staff notation, and that the absolute note names (unique pitch names) may be an instrumentally useful, but less effective step ‘in between’ in aural imagination. From existing literature and recorded tests with students performing special designed scores I hoped to learn more about connecting the inner hearing world to music notation in the most effective way.