[Smt-talk] Music theory on Wikipedia - a different perspective

Devin Chaloux devin.chaloux at gmail.com
Thu Jul 21 14:26:01 PDT 2011

Dear all,

I've also been closely following this topic on music theory in Wikipedia. In
a different perspective from those who have commented thus far, I am a
Masters Theory student at CCM. I will admit that I have used Wikipedia as a
source for quick information, music included. Occasionally, I find it
interesting to look at the talk pages, because there are occasionally
interesting debates that occur. Typically these revolve around the
controversial subjects that should be debated and discussed in length.
Luckily, we have a forum to do that here - in many cases and other areas of
study, that is simply not the case.

Given that I personally have used Wikipedia in this manner and can only
expect younger students to do the same, maybe at a more exacerbated level, I
believe it should be a goal to edit these articles so that they are
error-free and factual as best as we can. John McKay has correctly mentioned
that it would be a long and arduous battle, but it is something that
eventually will have to be done out of necessity.

The best way that we, as music theorists, can enhance these articles in an
effective way is to build up the reference lists. While I never have used a
Wikipedia page as a source itself, I always look at the references to gauge
what resources there are on the subject. Very few subjects in theory have
databases of references scholars can use to help continue their research.
Where Wikipedia can be helpful to us as theorist and to the general public
is, rather than bickering over the method of labeling for cadential 6/4
chords, build the reference lists to allow people the chance to make the
decision on their own.

Personally, I think that would be more worthwhile and maybe easier to change
than some of the page's text. This way, we can tell our students why
Wikipedia can be a great resource beyond the text of the article.

-Devin Chaloux
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