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Music Theory

r/musictheory

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Posted by6 days ago
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Posted by18 hours ago

A couple days ago I did a search of the phrase "Forced Musical Labor" and one of the related searches (and I have no idea how the Google algorithm comes up with this) was "music schools near me" and of course I laughed out loud.

I laughed out loud, not only because it was an odd juxtaposition, but also because in so many ways it is totally true that the history of music schools went hand-in-hand with Forced Musical Labor.

I'm currently working on a piece for the JMHP, tentatively titled "A History of Forced Musical Labor: Slave Orchestras and Ensembles in European Colonies Globally (1594-1888)," and a couple of talks centering on that topic in a few weeks so it's been interesting reading the threads here about Adam Neely's video and seeing many of the tropes about Western classical music being "superior technically and sonically" and "way more complex than other systems" that are jarring, if not surprising.

It also shows how much the topic of Philip Ewell's work in the video is necessary in the field (especially in North America, if not the whole Global North), especially given four centuries of forcing enslaved and Indigenous peoples to play Western classical music. This is how the history of music schools that emerged where forced musical labor was happening is something that probably needs to highlighted.

Everything from how the Aztec Calmecacs and music specialists (e.g. Tlamacazque, Tlapizcatzin, Ome Tochtzin) were replaced with Spanish [Church] music education models in the early 16th century; to Portuguese Jesuits creating music schools for slaves in 17th century Brazil; to Dutch colonial administrators training Indonesian slaves to play German and Italian music in the 18th century; to US Residential Schools using classical music as part of their forced assimilation programs for Indigenous children during the 19th and 20th centuries.

This colonial history of music education and music schools is the first of two presentations I'm giving at a Symposium in January. That's the set up for the second which will discuss how those foundational models of Western music education globally has been incorporated into current institutions. I wish I could have gone more in depth about some of this in the "World of Classical" BBC program but so much of that got cut from the script due to time constraints.

Which takes us back to Philip Ewell's work and Adam Neely's video that seems to pop back up here every few months with all the apologists, "rebuttals," and general controversy. Little of what was said in the video should have been particularly controversial.

Sure, I took issue with some small points and the general presentation as a whole. It is what it is, but I feel most of the negative responses towards it says far more about the viewer than the video itself. There's probably a reason some SF users say things like, "listening to the classics FORCES you to be white,” and “Celebrate the power of your race and listen to more classical music. There are not many activities that you can take part in to be ‘pro-white.’” Since centuries of the global history of classical music has been whitewashed, these kinds of things and viewpoints have become associated with it and become so easy to say.

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Posted by22 hours ago

Added about 40 or so Music notation systems to the Timeline of Music Notation. Mostly from Japan, the Ottoman Empire, Persia/Iran, and Thailand.

The bibliography hasn't been updated as I'm doing most of the cataloguing of notations in separate regionally based text documents. Also thinking about how (and where) to create a hosting solution with actual examples (and probably brief explanatory figures).

It's a big project and this resource page is like a "gestural sketch" of the roughly 4000 years of the history of music notations.

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Posted by14 hours ago
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Posted by14 hours ago
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A subreddit for people who care about composition, cognition, harmony, scales, counterpoint, melody, logic, math, structure, notation, and also the overall history and appreciation of music.
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