A Music Theory Curriculum for the 99%

Trevor de Clercq


Due to the lack of diversity as represented by the repertoire typically studied in the undergraduate music theory core, a number of scholars have called for an "integrated" or stylistically neutral theory curriculum, in which more pedagogical attention is devoted to jazz, world, and popular music. I contend that this approach is fundamentally insufficient and inadequate to genuinely address the diversity problems facing the field. Instead, I propose for all music students that the entire first year of theory coursework be devoted exclusively to popular music, with the study of other styles reserved for upper-division courses according to academic interests or tracks. In this essay, I present some of the motivating factors behind my recommendation, provide a brief sketch of what such a curriculum would look like, and discuss some of the challenges in its implementation.


diversity; pedagogy; popular music; curriculum; music theory

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18061/es.v7i0.7359


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