EDI Part 7 : Music Theory

Submitted by shawreb on
Avery Brzobohaty, TALint Student

To quote Dean Ellie Hisama, “music theory as a field is often regarded as neutral […] and exempt from discussions of issues of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, nationality, citizenship, economics, politics, and so forth” (Hisama 2018, 253). Hisama goes on to assert that we “can and should grapple with [these issues]” in the music theory classroom, offering practical suggestions of where to start.

Dean Hisama is not the only scholar to have written on this topic, so we have compiled a short list of resources to help you learn more about EDI topics in music theory and implement change in your scholarship or teaching!

Scholarly Articles

Ewell, Philip. “Music Theory and the White Racial Frame.” Music Theory Online 26.2 (September 2020). [Also see his Supplemental Bibliography.]

Hisama, Ellie. 2018. “Considering Race and Ethnicity in the Music Theory Classroom,” in Norton Guide to Teaching Music Theory, edited by Rachel Lumsden and Jeffrey Swinkin, 252-66.  New York: W. W. Norton.

Molk, Dave and Michelle Ohnona. 2020. “Promoting Equity: Developing an Antiracist Music Theory Classroom.”

Other Resources

Engaged Music Theory: Inspired by Naomi André’s vision of an “engaged musicology” (2018), the members of the Engaged Music Theory Working Group collectively assembled the following bibliography to encourage music scholars to engage directly with issues of cultural politics—race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, intersectionality, decolonization, and disability—in their research and teaching. 

Diversity in Music Theory: Teaching Tools

  • “This extensive list of resources, compiled, vetted, and edited by the Committee on Race and Ethnicity for the Society for Music Theory, includes reflective essays, scholarly research on the philosophies and contexts of music theory pedagogy with regard to diversity, and practical resources for the hands-on practice of teaching music theory in the classroom.”—Professor Jocelyn Neal

Diverse Music Theory Examples

  • The mission of the project to provide resources to teaching faculty and other curious people to produce a more inclusive curriculum by including works of composers who have worked within the common practice who are not normally encountered in music theory courses. These composers include: women composers, LGBTQ composers, composers of color, and non-Western European composers.

For earlier posts in this EDI series, please follow us on Instagram (@uoftmusiclib).

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