I've been piecing together my thoughts on this over the last few days. /thread
tl;dr It's a lot better than I expected, great on Schenker; I've got some questions about the first half.
It's pretty sophisticated and in-depth, structured around a conversation with @philewell - I only realized after seeing this that the man who sparked the Music Theory Culture War was someone I had dinner with at SMT 2018, as a minority travel grant recipient.
and it got me to go back and read through more of Ewell's paper and presentation. Illuminating to know more of Schenker's racial views and his own view of his ideas about music theory being part of a unified world view, interconnected with his hierarchical views on humanity.
I have certainly always taught music theory as like the descriptive study of the language of a particular idiom but it's useful to remember that Schenker emphatically didn't see it that way but as a way to understand the greatness of (mostly) Germanic geniuses.
And wasn't so interested in descriptive analyses of other languages.
Incidentally, this - in-depth critical discussion of a scholarly issue in a format that 100s of 1000s of people watch from their homes - feels like the dream of what the Internet was supposed to do.
That said, equating "music theory" with "the harmonic language of 18th c European musicians" seems over-reductive, even for the most conservative branches of the field. At the very least, any conservatory program will also cover 19th and 20th century European art music.
And studying jazz theory isn't an unknown proposition by this point. I have to imagine that @its_adamneely 's own education at Berklee/MSM would have gone beyond 18th c Euro harmony?
My undergrad alma mater requires both for the BMus, as well as W African drumming for rhythmic training. I taught a required music tech course at the last uni I worked at, which focused totally on popular styles.
It felt like there were at least two issues being raised in the first half, which might be in contradiction with each other.
One was that the focus on the language of classical music is alienating, esp in American institutions, because it excludes American music itself and contemporary music that most young musicians are most likely to know, listen to, and might want to play.
The other is that this focus is ethnocentric and white supremacist and excludes musical traditions that are even MORE foreign to most American students such as Indian classical music and West African drum/dance.
Wanting a more contemporary, populist, or pragmatic theory curriculum is not the same thing as wanting a broader global perspective; it wasn't totally clear to me which is being advocated. (Maybe it's not to him either, which is fine.)
There is something to be said for focusing on the language of one idiom, which doesn't have to be classical for everyone - it's hard to master more than one at once. A universal comparative approach is unlikely to bring students to a professional level in any.
Some music programs really do exist to train orchestral musicians, for whom the traditional curriculum is completely appropriate. The principles of functional harmony are also broadly applicable to other Western styles - I give this to theory students who work in any idiom.
Voice-leading rules are generally the least transferable ime - this is also largely what makes classical theory as difficult as it is.
A curriculum that de-emphasized classical voice-leading and spent more time on modal harmony would be v appropriate in some contexts, for instance.
Coming back to Schenker, I signed up for the free month of Scribd so I could read the JSS issue that was responding to Ewell: fr.scribd.com/document/47171…

The Jackson piece starts out making some potentially interesting points about how Schenker's views changed over time and then... it really gets as bad as described in the video.
"Ewell's scapegoating of Schenker, Schenkerians, and Schenkerian analysis occurs in the much larger context of Black-on-Jew attacks in the United States" (topic sentence for a whole paragraph) is mindbogglingly appalling and wildly uncalled-for.
and... yeah, dude cites Wikipedia
so wtf; I had actually been willing to seriously consider the "cancel culture gone mad" takes before reading this nonsense.
Overall, v glad for such an in-depth, thought-provoking Youtube video on issues within the discipline.
Oh, also, has anyone ever heard any music or read any scholarship by Ben Shapiro's father David, or even heard OF these? The only thing I know of him being on record for is writing pseudonymously for Breitbart. Seems weird that Ben's dumb comments generated so much talk.

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Sundar Subramanian

Sundar Subramanian Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @SundarSubrama13

7 Sep
How do we make sense of "Girl From Ipanema"? /thread

#jazz #jazztheory #musictheory #guitar
Let's look at the original Getz/Gilberto version in Db, not the fakebook version in F. Here's a faithful transcription of Gilberto's guitar part: hjgs.co.uk/wp-content/upl… . And this is the melody: drive.google.com/file/d/11gZNXD….
The A sections aren't too crazy: essentially, the progression of Db [6/9] - Eb9 - Ebm9 - D7 (or Ab flat9 when the bass enters) - Db [6/9] reduces to a I - ii - V7 - I progression with a chromatic II7 chord produced by an incomplete neighbouring note between the I and ii chords.
Read 10 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!