Diversifying Music Theory Course Materials

Principal Investigator
Dr. Nathan Lam and Dr. Sarah Iker, Music and Theater Arts
Fund: d'Arbeloff Fund
Funding Period: AY2023
Department/Lab/Center: Music and Theater Arts
Educational Initiative: GIRs

In this project, we propose the development of new course materials for MIT’s keystone Western music theory class 21M.301 (Harmony and Counterpoint I). The course content relates to many musical genres today, yet the conventional curriculum and available resources remain exclusionary. In the newly proposed course materials, we aim to prioritize racial and gender equality in the music represented in 21M.301, contextualize and problematize notions of the West, and appropriately broaden the scope of music to better reflect MIT’s diverse student body and interests. Examples include pop music and video game music, which overlap greatly with existing topics and bring in diverse perspectives. Specifically, we propose a new, complementary repository of transcriptions (for music without available sheet music), lecture notes, and assignments that would reflect the diversity of Western music and our student population. Such a repository would allow us to better integrate such topics into our current curriculum, and it will be made available to all music instructors at MIT.