Keynote Abstracts

Thursday, June 2, 2022

3:15–4:15 Keynote Speaker: 12tone (Cook Recital Hall)

Title: "New Horizons: The History and Practice of Music Theory YouTube"

The last two decades have seen an unprecedented explosion of music theory content being created and shared in online spaces. On YouTube, this has taken the form of an evolving community of music theory experts operating outside the confines of the academy, introducing new audiences to the field by leveraging the unique discoverability options of the platform. In some ways, these new ambassadors have challenged and reshaped what music theory can be, while in other ways they reinscribe and reinforce the same dynamics that have governed the field since its inception. In this talk, we examine the history and culture of the modern Music Theory YouTube community, placing it in the context of the larger Educational YouTube movement in order to understand its impact, its potential, and its limitations. We discuss the different approaches to making and promoting educational content in the attention economy, how those different approaches have shaped the tactics of successful MTYT creators, and how those tactics have changed across the community's history. We also consider the technological and editorial restrictions inherent to YouTube as a platform, and the dangers of running such an influential community on a private platform hosted by a for-profit company. While YouTube's size allows even relatively niche music theory content to achieve remarkable reach, those opportunities are not distributed evenly, and over the last 5 years especially, the MTYT community has calcified around a few central figures. As one of those figures, I will attempt to provide a view from the inside, to analyze how we got here and consider where we might want to go next.

Friday, June 3, 2022

1:00–2:30 Keynote Speakers: Laura D’Angelo and Frank Doyle (Cook Recital Hall)

Title: 18th Century Music Theory Constructs in a 21st Century High School Classroom

Do you ever feel the material you were taught in college feels a little “out of touch” with the 21st Century student? Laura D’Angelo and Frank Doyle, with over 50 years combined of teaching high school music theory classes, will explore “alternative” ways the 18th Century constructs of music theory, such as part-writing, chord progressions, and cadences, can be applied to other genres of music. Laura will share ideas about getting kids interested in music theory, how to keep them there with active participation in the classroom, and how to maintain the integrity of the curriculum while using alternative methods of teaching. Frank will go more in-depth into the idea of using the corpus of rock music in the traditional AP and IB music theory classroom, breaking the “rules” of AP music theory for creative applications and composition, and turning up the volume at just the right time during your harmonic analysis of “Good Vibrations!”. Finally, Laura and Frank will open up the floor for questions and discussion about high school theory programs.

Saturday, June 4, 2022

2:00-3:30 Keynote Speakers: Robin Attas and Philip Ewell (Cook Recital Hall)

Title: Beyond Inclusion, Toward Justice: Dismantling Racialized and Colonial Music Theory Pedagogical Structures

Our world is in the midst of tremendous transformation. The climate crisis, Black Lives Matter, Indigenous peoples’ resurgence, COVID-19, human migrant abuses, mass species extinction, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine all point to great uncertainties that might be best described as an upheaval toward an unknown future. Music theory, too, is in a period of great change in both the discipline and its pedagogies, with calls for action in research and teaching practices in order to dismantle the white supremacist, colonial, sexist, cisheteronormative, and ablist nature of the field. Some steps are being taken, but are they enough? In this keynote, we draw renewed attention to the challenges we face and the opportunities we have as educators in order to make meaningful change. We will describe the problematic positioning of music theory as it is currently taught, cite several places in higher education where some positive steps have been taken, and encourage participants to move beyond incremental individual strategies toward systemic and institutional change. In the face of our current sea change, we must all summon our strength and realize that we are not alone and that everyone, and everyone’s music, deserves music theory’s attention.