It Bears Mentioning: Is music theory really #SoWhite?

A classroom with rows of wooden desks facing a blackboard showing a music theory diagram, flanked by a map and another chalkboard.

One dustup over antiracism these days has been inspired by an Austrian music theorist who died 86 years ago.

Heinrich Schenker’s music theory is still widely taught today. He was a genius – and also an open racist who wrote extensively of his sentiments thereabout in uncompromising language.

Musicologists have commonly noted that his music theory has nothing to do with his repulsive ideologies on race and moved on. One of them has been Timothy Jackson, who has edited a journal devoted to Schenker’s ideas. The journal has been printed in such small batches that passengers filling one bus would have to share a whole print run in groups of three or four.

Case featured in article by John McWhorter