Click here to read a four-star review of SENSATIONS by the Infodad team.
Rhapsodies to Rhumbas
by Michael Morton-Evans, OAM
Presenter, Fine Music FM
"This year I had the pleasure of compering one of Margaret Brandman's concerts at the Zenith Theatre inChatswood. This was the first time that Ihad heard Margaret's music and I was amazed at her versatility across both the classical and jazz genres, not to speak of the apparent ease with which she moved intobossa nova mode for two works for the Mexican/Venezuelan Duo Deconet. Her solo piano works were reminiscent of Cecile Chaminade nearly a century earlier, and her works for both voice, saxophone and flute - both singly or together - were a delight. Personally I'm surprised that Margaret Brandman isn't better known or more widely played. All I can say is that she should be!"
Spirit Visions for Two Pianos
by Meriel Owen
for ‘The Studio’ quarterly magazine. MTA NSW August
piano students of all ages, practicing is mostly a lonely, self-disciplined
occupation, with the weekly lesson, occasional eisteddfod and/or
examination performances being the highlights of sharing the
joy and satisfaction of accomplishment. With these days of tightly
organized school or work commitments, playing for pleasure is
a welcome respite, even a luxury.
Playing duets is a lovely way to share musical skills, as is
any ensemble exercise, and can be implemented from early years
of study, developing sight-reading, aural and co-ordination
Playing on two pianos is an even more exciting and sophisticated
experience, learning to listen and achieve good balance of sound.
The opportunity of working with two instruments is rarer too.
Margaret Brandman’s Spirit
Visions is an appealing work, of intermediate difficulty,
with contemporary harmonic subtlety, syncopation of Latin-American
dance rhythms, and a wide range of timbre. Antiphonal passages
make musical conversation, and the entertainment value for performers
and audience is positive. Opportunities for sensitive inflections
and nuances abound,
is recommended as a useful and enjoyable addition to the ensemble
repertoire, and would be ideal for HSC candidates.
The copy provided has a duplicate for the second player, and
provides analytical notes as well as historical information
inside the front cover.
Used by kind permission MTA NSW
Good Resources - for the Serious Jazz Student
The life of the typical piano teacher is far from easy these
days. Trained in the classics as most of us have been, we are
now required to prepare students for examinations that welcome
the modern and jazz repertoire - either as part of the prescribed
list of exam pieces or as “free choice” pieces.
More challenging still is the prospect of teaching improvisation.
are progressively seeking guidance in these areas, as modern
sheet music becomes ever more skeletal and lean, requiring “fill-ins”
to create added textures and harmonies for the music to come
challenging part for teachers facing this repertoire revolution
is finding appropriate pedagogical resources that focus on the
“how- to” of contemporary and jazz pieces. Which
books exactly, best explain the vagaries of modal scales, of
suspended 4ths, of chord extensions and substitutions in a style
that both teacher and student can understand and work on together
good news for teachers and students alike is that there is a
treasure trove of material, both theoretical and practical,
for those wanting to explore the contemporary idiom.
Brandman, renowned Australian music educator, has again delivered!
Her books on contemporary music are a one-stop shop for anyone
interested in the modern repertoire, but they are essential
reading for the budding jazz musician.
establishes the fundamentals of contemporary music theory in
the first books of her comprehensive library, The Contemporary
Piano Method, Contemporary Theory Workbook
and Contemporary Chord Workbook. Right from
the start students are introduced to modern chord structures,
chord extensions and symbols, to the Cycle of 5ths, to a range
of modern genres such as Boogie, Blues, Bossa Nova, syncopation,
and so on. All this is so refreshing and exciting for students
who can finally start de-mystifying the music which they spend
so much time listening to.
more advanced jazz student is sure to discover pure gold in
Contemporary Theory Workbook, Bk 2, where for
example Modes are explained simply but also in great detail.
Nothing is overlooked: which modes are most suited to which
jazz chords, how to quickly remember structural features of
each mode, how to identify characteristic mode “moods”,
(eg. the Phrygian tone colour is “darker” than the
Dorian, the Lydian is brighter sounding than the Ionian etc.)
These characteristics are eloquently demonstrated in Brandman’s
Contemporary Modal Pieces. So many jazz tutors
on the market present the modes with all their corresponding
chords but fail to say a word about the tone colour of each
mode. For the jazz student then it is often just hit and miss,
as to whether the Dorian, Phrygian or Aeolian is used over a
minor chord in any given context.
deeper intricacies of jazz harmony are unravelled in books 3
& 4 of The Contemporary Piano Method. For example,
the altered dominant 7th chord is deconstructed, re-constructed,
illustrated and put to work in a range of effective exercises.
All the indispensable tools for the working jazz musician are
explored and explained in clear, plain English: root progressions,
chords with complex extensions, the modal 7th substitute chord,
chromatic progressions, polytonality and polychords, quartal
harmony and much more. These topics seem to be woven very naturally
into the contents of the various books like little threads of
silver and gold. Revelations about jazz progressions and harmonies
abound, and as connections are made, the language of jazz becomes
less remote and mysterious, and far more accessible.
Contemporary Piano Method, Contemporary
Theory Workbook and Contemporary Chord Workbook
are a great resource collection for all students. They are indispensable
for the jazz student and also a must for teachers who are seeking
enlightenment in the area of jazz and contemporary music generally.
the latest review of Harmony Comes Together, from
the Winter 2010 edition of Music in Action Vol 8, Issue
1 (Adobe PDF required)
by kind permission - Music in Action
Comes Together, Book 1 by Margaret Brandman (Jazzem
Reviewed by June McLean for ANZCA’s Stretto Magazine
book is designed to equip students with the skills to write
both four-part and three-part classical harmony, and to cross
the divide between contemporary popular, jazz and contemporary
British and American systems of labelling degree numbers and
names, cadences, decorative notes and scale terminology are
covered at the beginning of the book.
is first on understanding the cycle of fifths, major and minor
chord tables, and then root chord progressions. As students
move through the book from traditional figuring of chords, modern
chord symbols are introduced and form a link between the old
and new systems of music notation.
are encouraged to play and listen to the chord progressions
and interpret them with modern rhythms. Colour coding and graphics,
in the opening pages, make for ease of understanding and remembering
chord structure and voicings.
of harmony in piano style is included, and examples are given
in converting Four-Part Vocal Style to Piano Style. I particularly
noted in this section the introduction of the bye-tone to avoid
consecutive fifths or octaves. An understanding of the bye-tone
is such an aid to students, particularly those who lose so many
marks in their written examinations because of consecutives.
sound with the writing of harmony is so important. Students
must develop the ability to hear what they are writing to achieve
good marks as they move into the higher grades.
position chords are followed by first inversion and second inversion,
and then the most suitable progression of these chords. Sequences
using falling fifths (rising fourths) are also included, as
are the writing and recognition of cadences.
particular interest are the three melodies given at the end
of the book with examples of a completed harmonization for each.
Both traditional figuring and modern chord symbols are included.
2 will include decorative notes, harmonic analysis, progressions
using second inversion chords, scale-tone seventh chords, dominant
extension, substitution chords, melodic decoration, suspensions
Margaret on producing a book that makes harmony so easy to understand
for all students.
is a non-profit examining body of the performing arts offering
an innovative, exciting examination system www.anzca.com.au
Comes Together Bk. 1
Review by Jane Meggitt
for Studio July 2008
Margaret Brandman has, in her latest publication Harmony
Comes Together Book One, provided a text which,
whilst designed for students, will prove to be an invaluable
resource for all music teachers.
Comes Together is designed not only to equip the student with
the necessary skills to write effective and meaningful three
and four-part harmony required for current syllabuses but also
bridges the gap to include the popular, jazz and contemporary
For teachers, Margaret Brandman’s
book provides a clear and logical progression for harmony instruction,
ideal for lesson planning and perfect for the time-stretched
music teacher. It will have a real place on the studio shelf
for teachers wanting a source of reference for revision or confirmation
of harmony procedures
Although Harmony Comes Together
is intended to follow the earlier publications, Contemporary
Theory Workbooks and Contemporary Chord Workbooks it is able
to stand independently. Newcomers will have no difficulty following
The key feature of the book is
the gestalt approach to harmony, fostering an appreciation of
the why and how of chord progressions in meaningful and relevant
terms. The early explanation of the cycle of 5ths and chord
tables allows the reader to readily grasp the concept and pertinence
of harmony. This transports harmony from the dry and theoretical
chore necessary for exams to a fascinating and fun arena.
The conflicting, overlapping and
often confusing use of British versus American terminology is
addressed. The figured bass and the use of chord symbols is
de–mystified. Well spaced and laid out text with effective
use of colour coding and graphics will be a boon for younger
students. A welcome contrast to the dry conventional harmony
The contents flow easily and logically
from chords and inversions to more detailed chapters on chord
progressions. The reasons for specific chord selection with
emphasis on the resultant sound and effect are refreshing rather
than just recommending “what fits”. The demons of
a student’s four part harmony exercise (consecutives,
augmented intervals, doubling does and don’ts , false
relations and so on), are dealt with effectively in a logical
manner. Highlighted “Rescue Cards” give suggestions
for trouble-shooting and rectifying sticky situations - a boon
for teachers marking. Two and three part writing and piano style
are included, but of particular interest are the harmonization
exercises for popular songs – with answers. This bounces
four and three-part harmony writing into the twenty-first century
for the young student. The benefits and value of such functional
tasks are axiomatic.
Comes Together provides ample exercises and examples for the
student or teacher. Well spaced and spirax bound it is a pleasure
to read and use.
believe Margaret Brandman’s book will become a mainstay
in every studio and I look forward to the release of Harmony
Comes Together, Book Two.
Comes Together is published by Jazzem Music and available from
good music retailers.
* * * * *
Music Teacher’s Association of NSW: www.musicnsw.com.au
Thank you so much for sending me a copy of your book, Harmony
Comes Together. I am so sorry I won’t be able to make
it to the launch. When I opened the front cover of your book,
and started rifling through the pages, I almost wept - with
appreciation, but also the deep ache of remembering my early
years of learning Harmony – how lean and Spartan an experience
was taught Harmony from J.A. Steele’s Harmony for Students
– a criminally dull book with font size of about 3½,
and so serious and constipated that if you missed a comma, or
God forbid - a conjunction in the text, you’d end up drowning
in a sea of consecutives. And I did just that, thanks to Steele.
The other less serious tomes were still as dry as bones and
acute torture to the eyes and mind. I even suffered through
the much revered, Oxford Harmony – and can honestly say
it would have been more interesting watching the lawn grow than
trying to survive a single paragraph of that book. When it comes
to 4 part harmony, there seems to have been a universal pact
amongst educationalists (since the Baroque period) to be sad,
drab and inaccessible.
But, you have actually thrown open the curtains!
a start, your colours are a banquet for the eyes. The rich reds
and blues demand attention and truly are very functional in
highlighting important points- eg. the Sounds to Avoid section
in fire-engine red, complete with evil cross-bone symbols. This
section is so well set out, so easy to understand and so beautifully
presented. Every detail is self-evident - given the clear diagrams
and explanations: overlapping of voices, false relation, avoiding
augmented intervals, doubling the major 3rd and so on. The colour-coded
explanation of consecutives on p.30 is like manna from heaven!
Teachers will be able to put down their red biros forever.
book really has the WOW factor! You explain absolutely everything,
methodically and meticulously. The explanation of the different
terms and labels used by both the British and American systems
will be most appreciated, given the introduction of the new
AMEB Music Craft syllabus.
also really enjoyed reading the “emergency voicings”
section for the problematic progressions - complete with emergency
fire-truck symbols. There is something so very appealing and
delicious about every page that it actually makes you want to
keep browsing and picking bits from here and there. Quite a
modern-day miracle for a harmony book to have that affect on
Margaret. I will try, at some stage over the next couple of
months, to write a review for publication that does justice
to your ground-breaking book. It’s on my bedside table
now – having just dethroned my current novel. These are
obviously not normal times. When your book hits the shops, I
expect traffic to stop, eclipses will transform the skies, trees
will wind themselves around lampposts, and music teachers and
students will be smiling all over Australia!
bravo,and best wishes,
Kerin Bailey 13/06/2008
Thanks for sending me a copy of your text Harmony
Comes Together. What an appropriate title!
long been an admirer (and promoter) of your methods –
which in many ways mirror my own – I am still mightily
presentation is superb from cover to cover, the layout clear,
concise and extremely user-friendly – I especially like
your colour coding and combination of traditional and modern
enough to make me want to teach traditional harmony again!!
on such a wonderful effort and best wishes for the launch –
sorry I can’t be there.