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Thread: famous youtuber and jazz musician adam neely claims music theory is racist

  1. #31
    Senior Member Bwv 1080's Avatar
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    all 'classical' traditions - European, Indian, Persian, Chinese etc are the music of elites. We dont baggage Chinese Opera or Hindustani music with the unsavory acts by the elites of those societies, why should European music be different in this regard? Yes, holding common practice theory as some sort of scientific universal standard of music is stupid and people would be much better educated using, as Adam says, other traditions as 'foils' to better understand music in general. However, if the goal of a music theory class is to better prepare a performer for a job in a symphony, then teaching sonata form is more valuable than teaching gamelan music

  2. #32
    Senior Member Phil loves classical's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by norman bates View Post
    I don't think he said that. He (and more than him the professor he interviewed) said that TODAY, the fact that common practice harmony is still held in the highest regard (like even classical music didn't went beyond it) and it's still so central when the musical language of today is often very different can be explained in terms of racism.
    Pop music is the most popular musical genre of today, and does use common practice harmony, while there is nothing in it that goes beyond the Classical masters in terms of scope (an understatement). So studying the chord progressions from Taylor Swift is less illuminating than from the masters.

    Classical is more fundamental than Jazz in that Jazz uses a lot of chord extensions which were built from the foundations of common practice harmony, so it makes sense to study Bach, Telemann before Coltrane and others. Ellington himself thought of Jazz as modern Classical. I noticed the RCM has been introducing pop and jazz songs into the repertoire for piano.

    There's nothing stopping someone who wants to get into Jazz to bypass the stuff less applicable to them, but to expect conservatories to do the same? Also how would they be able to analyze children lullabies and songs like Twinkle, Twinkle? Or do they have to introduce more contemporary and diverse songs for kids? It's easy to make a Youtube video and get viewer support, but not easy or practical to actually do.
    Last edited by Phil loves classical; Sep-09-2020 at 16:22.
    "Forgive me, Majesty. I'm a vulgar man. But I assure you, my music is not.“ Mozart

  3. #33
    Senior Member Jacck's Avatar
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    grammar is racist, math is sexist, and musical theory is white supremacist and eurocentric, and if you question these views, you are a racist, sexist, misogynist, white supremacist pig and you should be canceled.

  4. #34
    Senior Member TalkingHead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HenryPenfold View Post
    I think we need to think clearly about the hideous behaviour of Dvorak when he swept into the US, enjoyed white privalige, and indulged in some of the most blatant cultural appropriation that the world has ever seen. Perhaps the Czechs could lead by example and pull down all statues, plaques, paintings of him. I've done my bit; I've destroyed all my Dvorak CDs and burned the two books on him that I bought years ago. We must #kick racism and white supremacy out of music.
    Hah! Maybe, Mr Penfold, you are old enough to remember the TV ads in the late 70s in the UK for "Hovis brown bread" that used an adaptation for brass band of the slow movement from AD's New World symphony. Brown bread! Good lord! And with music from "The New World"! Appropriated from the idigenous culture! I'll never be able to listen to any of his music again. You have ruined my day.

  5. #35
    Senior Member HenryPenfold's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TalkingHead View Post
    Hah! Maybe, Mr Penfold, you are old enough to remember the TV ads in the late 70s in the UK for "Hovis brown bread" that used an adaptation for brass band of the slow movement from AD's New World symphony. Brown bread! Good lord! And with music from "The New World"! Appropriated from the idigenous culture! I'll never be able to listen to any of his music again. You have ruined my day.
    Lol!

    ...... and I remember those adverts like it was yesterday and I still buy Hovis religiously!



    Edit: Although I've almost exclusively eaten Hovis brown bread all my life, I must publicly state that I also believe white loaves matter.
    Last edited by HenryPenfold; Sep-09-2020 at 20:53.

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  7. #36
    Senior Member SanAntone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil loves classical View Post
    Pop music is the most popular musical genre of today, and does use common practice harmony, while there is nothing in it that goes beyond the Classical masters in terms of scope (an understatement). So studying the chord progressions from Taylor Swift is less illuminating than from the masters.

    Classical is more fundamental than Jazz in that Jazz uses a lot of chord extensions which were built from the foundations of common practice harmony, so it makes sense to study Bach, Telemann before Coltrane and others. Ellington himself thought of Jazz as modern Classical. I noticed the RCM has been introducing pop and jazz songs into the repertoire for piano.

    There's nothing stopping someone who wants to get into Jazz to bypass the stuff less applicable to them, but to expect conservatories to do the same? Also how would they be able to analyze children lullabies and songs like Twinkle, Twinkle? Or do they have to introduce more contemporary and diverse songs for kids? It's easy to make a Youtube video and get viewer support, but not easy or practical to actually do.
    Studying "common practice" harmony, form, or history is of no use to anyone other than someone wishing to go on to study composition, musicology or music education. In fact it is questionable of how much use it is for budding composers, since it can create some bad habits like trying to write in sonata form for music that is not harmonically suitable.

    But I have no gripe with teaching 18th century music history or counterpoint or harmony or form since it is a subject that still has some relevance. And to do so is absolutely not "racist" or "Eurocentric" or what not. It is no different from teaching courses on Black history or Women's studies. The curriculum is a focused subject matter and has a specified audience and purpose.

    What does touch on racism is the claim that European classical music is the highest expression of music mankind has created, superior to all other genres of music, or music from non-Western cultures.

    The fact is there is much music, non-classical music, e.g. Blues, which is so complex it cannot begin to be described using Western classical notation. While it is possible to write out a crude version of a melody - all of the aspects which make Blues what it is are missing: the complex rhythm, the most basic aspect cannot be described with Western note durations, and the melodic style - the notes of which fall between the cracks of any Western scale. Which is why this (as well as many musics) are transmitted orally.

    Western music has wielded a hegemony of a written tradition as some sort of indication of superiority. But that is a specious argument.

  8. #37
    Senior Member Phil loves classical's Avatar
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    ^ I almost fell reading that one: Blues is complex?! I love Blues, but I can't imagine how it can be so complex that it couldn't be notated. There is way more complex music that IS notated.

    BTW, this is pretty bluesy, and more complex than the usual Blues I've listened to.

    Last edited by Phil loves classical; Sep-09-2020 at 21:55.
    "Forgive me, Majesty. I'm a vulgar man. But I assure you, my music is not.“ Mozart

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    Senior Member JAS's Avatar
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    That fallin' outta ma chair blueeesssss . . . .

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  11. #39
    Senior Member julide's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SanAntone View Post
    Studying "common practice" harmony, form, or history is of no use to anyone other than someone wishing to go on to study composition, musicology or music education. In fact it is questionable of how much use it is for budding composers, since it can create some bad habits like trying to write in sonata form for music that is not harmonically suitable.

    But I have no gripe with teaching 18th century music history or counterpoint or harmony or form since it is a subject that still has some relevance. And to do so is absolutely not "racist" or "Eurocentric" or what not. It is no different from teaching courses on Black history or Women's studies. The curriculum is a focused subject matter and has a specified audience and purpose.

    What does touch on racism is the claim that European classical music is the highest expression of music mankind has created, superior to all other genres of music, or music from non-Western cultures.

    The fact is there is much music, non-classical music, e.g. Blues, which is so complex it cannot begin to be described using Western classical notation. While it is possible to write out a crude version of a melody - all of the aspects which make Blues what it is are missing: the complex rhythm, the most basic aspect cannot be described with Western note durations, and the melodic style - the notes of which fall between the cracks of any Western scale. Which is why this (as well as many musics) are transmitted orally.

    Western music has wielded a hegemony of a written tradition as some sort of indication of superiority. But that is a specious argument.
    Did anyone claim "european classical music" -oh i shudder to call it that- was superior that you went on this rant. The discussion was how whiteness and maleness was assigned to common practice era music and was considered not "diverse and woke" and therefore racist that it took a central position in musical pedagogy. And then you had to claim how blues was this superiorly complex music. Make it make sense.....

  12. #40
    Senior Member Bwv 1080's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil loves classical View Post
    ^ I almost fell reading that one: Blues is complex?! I love Blues, but I can't imagine how it can be so complex that it couldn't be notated. There is way more complex music that IS notated.

    BTW, this is pretty bluesy, and more complex than the usual Blues I've listened to.

    Art>Sergei


  13. #41
    Senior Member SanAntone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil loves classical View Post
    ^ I almost fell reading that one: Blues is complex?! I love Blues, but I can't imagine how it can be so complex that it couldn't be notated. There is way more complex music that IS notated.

    BTW, this is pretty bluesy, and more complex than the usual Blues I've listened to.

    Anyone with a knowledge of musical notation and Blues will readily agree that while you can notate a Blues melody using Western notation, it will sound very little like a performance by a Blues singer. You may have heard about the Blues scale, usually said to have a flatted 3rd and 7th degrees and sometimes the flatted 5th. This is a crude description of the melodic patterns used in Blues music. It is microtonal so that (in C) the 3rd is not an E nor is it an E-flat - it is somewhere in between and often there are several variations, some slightly flatter or sharper than others. Blues pianists came up with some tricks, playing two notes at the same time, crushing the E/Eb together in an attempt to simulate this conundrum. But Blues is normally played on a slide guitar (or bending the strings) and singing, where the melody is not confined to Western scales.

    Then there is the rhythm. You may have heard of the concept of "swing" most often used in reference to Jazz. There is no satisfactory method of notating this way of playing. Some used the dotted eight-sixteenth, a very exaggerated version, others use triplets - but nether method really captures how Louis Armstrong plays his melodies. Blues uses a similar swinging rhythmic stye.

    Blues must be transmitted orally, as is also true for Flamenco music, Indian Classical Music, and Bluegrass, and countless other kinds of vernacular music.

    Your example is not Blues it is a a composed work using some syncopation but has nothing in common with Blues.

  14. #42
    Senior Member Bwv 1080's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SanAntone View Post

    Blues must be transmitted orally, as is also true for Flamenco music, Indian Classical Music, and Bluegrass, and countless other kinds of vernacular music.
    But this is also true of Western Classical music, you cant become a good player without personal instruction on phrasing, dynamics, ornamentation, rubato and other items not in the score

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  16. #43
    Senior Member SanAntone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by julide View Post
    Did anyone claim "european classical music" -oh i shudder to call it that- was superior that you went on this rant. The discussion was how whiteness and maleness was assigned to common practice era music and was considered not "diverse and woke" and therefore racist that it took a central position in musical pedagogy. And then you had to claim how blues was this superiorly complex music. Make it make sense.....
    Common Practice music is European Classical music. It was created in large part by white males. Teaching this music accurately and historically is not racist. That is a very short discussion. I took that discussion on a short tangent because my entire life as a Classical music listener, and practitioner, I have been subjected to a parade Classical fans and musicians claiming its superiority over all other musics (often this occurs on Internet forums). A notion I do consider racist.

    If someone wants a university course to be "woke and diverse" I suggest a comparative music course, much like a comparative religion course.

    But wokeness and diversity have no place in the study of 18th century Western common practice music, since it is what it is: the music of Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and their contemporaries. Unless you are suggesting we include the study of the 18th century music of Africa. Something I would expect might occur in a comparative music course.

  17. #44
    Senior Member SanAntone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bwv 1080 View Post
    But this is also true of Western Classical music, you cant become a good player without personal instruction on phrasing, dynamics, ornamentation, rubato and other items not in the score
    That is icing on the cake. Western notation accurately captures the music and while you may never become great without instruction, you can play the music convincingly. Not so with Blues read from notation without having at least heard a real Blues musician play it.

    I have heard Classical musicians try to play it from reading a score. Apparently you have not.

  18. #45
    Senior Member Bwv 1080's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SanAntone View Post
    That is icing on the cake. Western notation accurately captures the music and while you may never become great without instruction, you can play the music convincingly. Not so with Blues read from notation without having at least heard a real Blues musician play it.

    I have heard Classical musicians try to play it from reading a score. Apparently you have not.
    Yes, and I have also heard Jazz players try to read and phrase Baroque music, and suck at it

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