Thesis submission ID 938 | created | last updated

Matthew Mazanek, Implicit curriculum: improvisation pedagogy in guitar methods 1760-1860
DMusPerf, Royal Irish Academy of Music, 2021

Volumes, pp.: 1 vol (xii, 313pp.)  
Supervisor(s): Denise Neary
Repository (online):
Repository (hard copy): Royal Irish Academy of Music Library

General specialism: Performance
Historical timeframe: 1760-1860
Key terms, concepts: Pedagogy
Key terms, genres, instruments: Guitar; Improvisation

Between 1760 and 1860 the guitar was in a fervent state of metamorphosis and experienced an unprecedented rise in popularity among lower- and middle-class learners. In this period of popularity, a strong community of professional and amateur guitarists developed and music education began to transition from an apprenticeship-model to one which catered to a mass market of leisure learners.

Twentieth-century research has revitalised the study of improvisation with a focus on the seventeenth and eighteen centuries. But scholars have neglected the specific teaching techniques employed in the nineteenth-century guitar methods and this dissertation analyses how amateur guitarists learned to improvise in the nineteenth century. Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century guitarists were not so concerned with adequately performing musical ‘works’ as is the predominant focus of twenty-first century instruction. Instead, a wide variety of musical skill sets such as preluding and accompanying were cultivated, and the ability to improvise was a quietly understood necessity.

In the nineteenth century there was an obvious link between compositional and instrumental technique which made improvisation so vital a practice that, even when it was not explicitly taught, its instruction was implicitly understood. Improvisation on the guitar was wide-spread between 1760 and 1860 and this thesis interrogates the hermeneutic process of methods and reveals how the skill was learned while providing answers as to why, in the early twentieth-century, improvisation in western art music swiftly declined.
Thesis submission ID 938