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

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    Senior Member julide's Avatar
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    Default famous youtuber and jazz musician adam neely claims music theory is racist

    what do you all think?

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    Senior Member starthrower's Avatar
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    A very interesting video. He clearly states the point that there is a racist or biased angle to the way 18th century European music theory is taught and presented as superior and to the exclusion of the music theories of other cultures. Not that the theory itself is racist. But it's clearly not representative of all musical cultures and societies.
    “Music makes you feel feelings. Words make you think thoughts. But a song can make you feel a thought.”

    - Yip Harburg

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    He probably doesn't understand why 18th century music is used - it is the most studied and consistent language with good examples of masterworks. (The only problem is that some people have - even on this forum - the wrong impression that this is the only possible "canonical" music theory, while it is not even authentic in methodology and analysis of what is going on even in the style that is being taught; that's why there is a recent movement to teach partimenti etc)
    Last edited by BabyGiraffe; Sep-08-2020 at 07:24.

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    If you use the term "racist" then you are biasing the argument. It should be culturally/socially biased, not "racist."

    The "Black Lives Matter" movement is really a bigger, more inclusive problem in which citizens have been "played" by the powers that be. So is "Classical music is "racist."

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    Senior Member julide's Avatar
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    should we assume the centrality of the common practice era or should we just claim all music is valid and should be taught to everyone even though that is not practical at all.... i love turkish art music and i'm turkish but i can see that its ottoman court music and its music associated with alcohol consumption and dining .... so i would never claim it to be universal and central to everyones experience.... whereas i can argue that mozart or beethovens music for the concert hall is truly democratic and they have that universality which might lack in arabic music, indian classical or what have you....... this relativism where everything is valid and there is no centre was already passe in the 60s but in our post covid world it feels like a farce when everyone parrots the same inclusivity diversity rhetoric when that is a very american concern........ but i truly hope worse for the americans because they deserve all of it... i just hate it when this kind of rhetoric spills out in all areas and all geographies....
    Last edited by julide; Sep-08-2020 at 16:09.

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    Senior Member julide's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    If you use the term "racist" then you are biasing the argument. It should be culturally/socially biased, not "racist."

    The "Black Lives Matter" movement is really a bigger, more inclusive problem in which citizens have been "played" by the powers that be. So is "Classical music is "racist."
    Can you elaborate on why do you think citizens have been "played" by the powers that be and how that came about and to what purpose. I'm not agreeing or disagreeing i was just intrigued by your reply.

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    Senior Member SanAntone's Avatar
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    A university course on 18th century counterpoint or music history is clearly NOT racist or culturally biased. The subject is what it is, limited and focused.

    However, when I hear people claiming the superiority of Western (read European) classical music I cringe since it clearly undervalues music from other cultures. Coincidentally, Western Europe was also responsible for colonization, slavery, the genocide of indigenous peoples, among their crimes against humanity.

    That said, the music produced by Western Europe is a great cultural achievement - but it is not the only one nor is it of intrinsically higher quality than other musical accomplishments by non-Western cultures, or even non-classical cultures in the West.

    We have comparative religion courses, maybe a comparative music course might be interesting.
    Last edited by SanAntone; Sep-08-2020 at 17:22.

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    Senior Member julide's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SanAntone View Post
    A university course on 18th century counterpoint or music history is clearly NOT racist or culturally biased. The subject is what it is, limited and focused.

    However, when I hear people claiming the superiority of Western (read European) classical music I cringe since it clearly undervalues music from other cultures. Coincidentally, Western Europe was also responsible for colonization, slavery, the genocide of indigenous peoples, among their crimes against humanity.

    That said, the music produced by Western Europe is a great cultural achievement - but it is not the only one nor is it of intrinsically higher quality than other musical accomplishments by non-Western cultures, or even non-classical cultures in the West.

    We have comparative religion courses, maybe a comparative music course might be interesting.
    Calling the common practice era music european music itself is a bit....... As if there was something inherently european (whatever that term might mean) in the music. Anyway common practice era music should not exclude other music from pedagogical concerns or approbation. But neither the fact of the european colonialism and european atrocities make this music something to be ashamed of. This warding off shame with calling music theory intrinsically racist because it only deals with common practice era music is ridiculous.

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    Senior Member Phil loves classical's Avatar
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    Music theories and notations (plural as in ancient and modern cultures) are an attempt to prescribe and explain/analyze the music respectively. There is nothing inherently racist with any of them. Those guys in the video are already being exclusive for interpreting music theory in general as Western music theory.

    Western music notation and theory, though, is the most comprehensive and advanced system on the planet. So it was adopted in many cultures by merit, not by class/race. Scott Joplin and Duke Ellington wrote some great stuff, but was still based off of the Eurocentric tradition. I feel those guys in the video are reducing music theory down to a particular style rather than overall scope. Bach's music was more influential than Ellington's. He at least indirectly influenced Ellington, and everyone that came after him. So it makes sense to study the music of the historical figure that influenced so many (including all pop artists whether or not they know it).

    Sounds to me these guys in the video are re-evaluating why we put the horse before the cart.
    Last edited by Phil loves classical; Sep-08-2020 at 19:31.
    "Forgive me, Majesty. I'm a vulgar man. But I assure you, my music is not.“ Mozart

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    Senior Member norman bates's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by julide View Post
    should we assume the centrality of the common practice era or should we just claim all music is valid and should be taught to everyone even though that is not practical at all.... i love turkish art music and i'm turkish but i can see that its ottoman court music and its music associated with alcohol consumption and dining .... so i would never claim it to be universal and central to everyones experience.... whereas i can argue that mozart or beethovens music for the concert hall is truly democratic and they have that universality which might lack in arabic music, indian classical or what have you....... this relativism where everything is valid and there is no centre was already passe in the 60s but in our post covid world it feels like a farce when everyone parrots the same inclusivity diversity rhetoric when that is a very american concern........ but i truly hope worse for the americans because they deserve all of it... i just hate it when this kind of rhetoric spills out in all areas and all geographies....
    so you are basically saying that european music is superior to the music of all other cultures (without explaining why) and saying that to say otherwise is rhetoric.
    What time is the next swan?

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    Senior Member norman bates's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil loves classical View Post
    Music theories and notations (plural as in ancient and modern cultures) are an attempt to prescribe and explain/analyze the music respectively. There is nothing inherently racist with any of them. Those guys in the video are already being exclusive for interpreting music theory in general as Western music theory.

    Western music notation and theory, though, is the most comprehensive and advanced system on the planet. So it was adopted in many cultures by merit, not by class/race. Scott Joplin and Duke Ellington wrote some great stuff, but was still based off of the Eurocentric tradition. I feel those guys in the video are reducing music theory down to a particular style rather than overall scope. Bach's music was more influential than Ellington's. He at least indirectly influenced Ellington, and everyone that came after him. So it makes sense to study the music of the historical figure that influenced so many (including all pop artists whether or not they know it).
    Ellington (and even more Strayhorn, but much more by the impressionists than Bach) was influenced by classical music, but their music was also something else. The blues didn't come from the harmony of eighteen century classical music. Same for swing.
    And other jazz composers after Ellington were even more removed from that. It must be said that even the same classical music of the 20th century is very different from functional harmony of previous centuries.
    What time is the next swan?

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    Senior Member julide's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by norman bates View Post
    so you are basically saying that european music is superior to the music of all other cultures (without explaining why) and saying that to say otherwise is rhetoric.
    i never said it was european music... and i certainly never would call common practice era music as "european" as if that term and what it connotes isnt a recent ideology.... i certainly did say that beethoven or mozart is more democratic music not superior dont get it twisted and try to make me the white supremacist.... they are not church music.... or court music... in the sense that they are for the concert hall..hence having a universality beyond other music.... like jazz music with a chamber formation, or a church music for christians or music for rituals.... hence concert hall music in the common practice era whether that be symphonies or concertos or recitals will always assume centrality pedagogically at least....
    Last edited by julide; Sep-08-2020 at 23:08.

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    Senior Member julide's Avatar
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    now the practices of music theory might be experienced as racism by some jazz musician or some minority who might feel alienated by schenkerian analysis or whatever.... but calling the common practice era music inherently racist white and male is just incredibly vile......
    Last edited by julide; Sep-08-2020 at 23:08.

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    Senior Member Vasks's Avatar
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    I now can imagine "woke" musicologists searching for info on racist thoughts of composers in the past, so we cancel their culture.

    And we'll be left with only Dittersdorf and Satie to enjoy.
    "Music in any generation is not what the public thinks of it but what the musicians make of it"....Virgil Thomson

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    Senior Member norman bates's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by julide View Post
    i never said it was european music... and i certainly never would call common practice era music as "european" as if that term and what it connotes isnt a recent ideology.... i certainly did say that beethoven or mozart is more democratic music not superior dont get it twisted and try to make the white supremacist.... they are not church music.... or court music... in the sense that they are for the concert hall..hence having a universality beyond other music.... like jazz music with a chamber formation, or a church music for christians or music for rituals.... hence concert hall music in the common practice era whether that be symphonies or concertos or recitals will always assume centrality pedagogically at least....
    I don't get what the fact that music for a big orchestra had to be performed in a concert hall should give it more universality. Or why it should assume centrality pedagogically.
    When I watched the video I thought that Adam Neely was absolutely right when he said that a person that wants to learn spanish would learn the modern version of it, not the spanish that was talked centuries ago. And that's exactly what happens with music. He even mentioned Rimksy Korsakov that said basically the same thing more than a century ago.
    What time is the next swan?

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