Racism & White Supremacy in Music Theory

This might be a fairly niche topic, but this video by Adam Neely (featuring music theory professor Phil Ewell) is a really great primer on race in the study of music theory. They also discuss recent blowback to Professor Ewell’s presentation from the likes of Fox News and the National Review (see also, Trump’s America)

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Here’s a non-video link about the imbroglio from a neutral source:

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That’s great! Thanks for sharing!

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Ditto!

I’ve been hearing about this dustup, so great to see Ewell drop a bomb of righteousness right in the middle of his own discipline.

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I discovered Adam Neely last spring when he collaborated with LegalEagle and have been happily digging through his 14 year back catalog since. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Only watched 15 minutes (work) but that is awesome.

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I like Adam Neely videos, they’re really interesting.
One of the problem on teaching music is unfortunately copyright: because Hanon, Czerny and Beyer sheet music is out of copyright but contemporary Bartok or Philip Glass studies are still copyrighted works, teaching is made on old 18th century music.

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That may be true for textbooks, but there are ways around that while teaching (and let’s not forget “fair use”), especially these days. No instructor should get away with that excuse.

The far bigger cause, as Ewell and Neely point out so well, is institutionalized white supremacy.

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Yeah, copyright law in Ireland is more restrictive in many ways than US but the legislation is broadly similar (international regime ultimately derives from the US, WIPO and all that) but the legislation has long and very specific provisions for music teaching and exams. And this is actually my professional competence. I’m the person in my work you go to for IP advice wrt teaching on and offline.

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I’m reminded of when notable, early to mid 20th century European composers (ex: Debussy [Music of Spain, itself with strong Arabic roots]; and Messiaen [Gamelan Music of Indonesia]) were influenced from outside the “norm”.

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Influence? Or appropriation?

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Debussy (and other European artists) who were exposed to Spanish music at an exhibition were impressed by the spirit and lively rhythms; hard to say there re influence or appropriation. An argument can be made that Messiaen (and for that matter the great Pierre Boulez and others) appropriated Gamelan music. I do have to say that Messiaen saw Gamelan music as joyous, and composed his Turangalila Symphony to express joy following the end of WWII. Jump to 31:46 and 1:10:134 for his more obvious, wild riffs on Gamelan (with his “trademark” use of transcribed song bird ‘music’ thrown in here and there.)

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Musicians always always always steal from each other. They steal techniques, technology, melodies, rhythms, harmonisations, styles, arrangements, instruments, words, vocalise, songs…

Any attempt to codify a purity of music will fail in the genuine joyful open-handed giving and receiving which occurs when groups of musicians from different cultures get together and play with each other.

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Fits here. Many musicians have chafed at the term “jazz” feeling it demeaned African American composition. If anyone is interested all of the names in this article are worth checking out for a listen.

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