Musical Composition, Theory and Songwriting/Expert Profile

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All aspects of the academic/theoretical side of music, including harmony, counterpoint, elementary composition, history, harmonic analysis, aural training, sightreading - the lot! Please note I'm not primarily a composer so I can't help with composition beyond what's required for Grade 8 theory or A'level. And don't ask me about psychoacoustics or music psychology as I have no knowledge of, nor interest in, either subject.

Experience in the area

58 years as pianist (soloist and accompanist); 43 years as harpsichordist (soloist and continuist); 10 years as violinist and 6 years as bassoonist (youth orchestras/chamber groups); 46 years as piano teacher, coach in performance/interpretation (all ages, instruments and levels) and private tutor (mainly the old O'level, Grade VI+ ABRSM theory/practical musicianship, A'level and undergraduates); 21 years as ballet pianist (Cecchetti syllabus).


Member of Musicians' Union in Britain 1978-1989 and 1991-2009.


I've been writing professionally since I was 20 - too many programme notes to count over the years and a number of articles. Additionally, from 1996-2000 I was a Music Assessor for London Arts and as such regularly wrote critiques of concerts given by recipients of Arts Council funding.


MA in European Cultural Policy & Administration (Warwick University, 1994)
B Mus with Honours (London University, 1977)
Postgraduate Diploma in Arts Administration (City University, 1982)
Licentiate of Royal Academy of Music in Piano Teaching (1976)
Licentiate of Royal Academy of Music in Harpsichord Teaching (1978)

Studied RAM Junior School (1966-74), then as full-time student (1974-78).

What do you like about this subject?

"Music creates order out of chaos: for rhythm imposes unanimity upon the divergent; melody imposes continuity upon the disjointed; and harmony imposes compatibility upon the incongruous." (Menuhin)

Something interesting about this subject that others may not know:

My cousin in the US sent me some theory coursebooks and an AP test paper, and I hadn't appreciated how differently music theory is taught over there - not just terminology but a very different approach, especially when it comes to harmonic analysis. This explains many past misunderstandings I've had on this forum! I'm happy to answer questions from Americans but do remember I'm English.

Something controversial or provocative about this subject

Thank you to the non-European questioners who start off "Dear Sir" - but I'm female! Just call me Clare (all my pupils do).

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    K = Knowledgeability    C = Clarity of Response    P = Politeness
John12/05/16101010Thank you so much, Clare. A very .....
Yu07/11/16101010Very detailed response
Liam09/17/15101010Thank you so much for your kindness .....

Recent Answers from Clare Redfarn

2017-02-24 parallel fifths:

But you can't just plonk down chords at random - they've got to be leading somewhere, so although Ib IVb is possible (followed by V or Ic and a cadence), you wouldn't go back to Ib again, would you?  You're

2017-02-18 parallel fifths:

Hello Hank, and thanks for being patient.    Why on earth would a series of consecutive first inversions be forbidden?  Of course they aren't.    Are we talking about SATB harmony?  Because that's the

2017-02-16 Melody Writing and Modulation:

Hello Rebekah,    My immediate reaction on reading your question is to recommend you think in terms of 16 bars rather than 12 as you'll find it easier - the ear likes symmetry and it's easier to think

2016-12-12 Burgmüller:

Hello again Anders, and thanks for being patient.  I've had a round of Christmas concerts and end of term parties.    The minor scale differs from the major scale in three places: the 3rd, 6th and 7th

2016-12-05 Burgmüller:

Hello Anders,    We're talking about Op 100 No 15.  Here's the score     As you'd expect, the melody (in the left hand) includes


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