Teaching the Cultural Commitments of Musical Structures and their Theories
Keywords:cross-cultural music analysis, Chinese opera, pentatonic scale
While most undergraduate music theory classes are not overtly political, they often convey highly socialized convictions about musicality—that is, what counts as a "coherent," "well-formed," or "expressive" musical utterance—which can shape assessments of worth ascribed to individual composers, musical traditions, and ethnic and national identities. This essay advocates for an approach to music theory pedagogy that deliberately holds the inscribed socialized frameworks of musical structures up for critical examination. Through a lesson plan on the pentatonic scale in huangmei opera, I model several strategies for rendering the cultural commitments of familiar and unfamiliar musical structures palpable to students.
Copyright (c) 2022 Anna Yu Wang
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