[Smt-talk] Female theorists in history

Ronald Rodman rrodman at carleton.edu
Sun Oct 16 18:33:49 PDT 2011


Another good female theorist (deceased) is Naomi Cumming. She worked primarily in musical semiotics and died at a young age, tragically.
Ron Rodman 
Carleton College

----- Original Message -----
From: John Snyder <JLSnyder at uh.edu>
To: smt-talk at societymusictheory.org
Sent: Sun, 16 Oct 2011 14:47:25 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Re: [Smt-talk] Female theorists in history

 Dear Prof. Morse (and List),<br>
 I fear you may have misunderstood the nature of the situation--my
 initial message<br>
 was perhaps a little too brief--so let me fill in a gap or two.<br>
 The course is in the history of music theory, and the term paper
 has several options: the development of a concept over some span of
 time; a<br>
 "school" of music theory/theorists (e.g., harmonic dualism); or a
 study of a theorist<br>
 not dealt with directly in the course--i.e., a "minor" theorist. We
 had noticed on day<br>
 one (actually, I had noticed before then) that all of the theorists
 on the agenda, from<br>
 Pythagoras to Hindemith, were male. Given that we have the music of
 composers from at least the 12th century (Hildegard), the apparent
 lack of theoretical<br>
 writings by women seems curious. In any case, the student in
 question has floated<br>
 several possible paper topics, one of which included the question
 about women theorists.<br>
 I would not approve such a topic on gender alone--the theorist's
 contribution would<br>
 need to be worth writing about (and there are plenty of male
 theorists who would not<br>
 meet that threshold). But I've had trouble even getting to that
 point; hence my query online.<br>
 I have received a few suggestions from others, for which I am
 grateful. The small number<br>
 of suggestions, however, only serves, in my mind, to sharpen the
 point. And the person<br>
 most named (and I think most familiar) is known to me as a brilliant
 teacher, but not<br>
 as one who contributed to the discipline of music theory in the
 manner of Guido or<br>
 Glareanus or Schenker. But I may be mistaken--one of the joys of
 teaching at this level<br>
 lies in reducing not only my students' ignorance.<br>
 With best wishes,<br>
 Michael Morse wrote:
 <blockquote cite="mid:SNT112-W539135FF9CCB4906B8351BD0E70 at phx.gbl">
 <div dir="ltr">
 Why would you accept a paper about a theorist solely based on
 their gender? The setup is especially egregious, as the student
 doesn't even know which theorist they want to discuss, nor what
 their ideas might be, only that the subject of a <i>music
 theory</i> paper should be based on the (to be determined)
 theorist's gender.  Isn't the conclusion already written? The
 theorist-to-be-named is a. brilliant of course and a right-on
 sister; b. deliberately neglected or obscure because of
 patriarchal oppression.
 <div>Do you really want to collude in this self deformation?</div>
 <div>MW Morse</div>
 <div>Trent University</div>
 <div>Peterborough, Oshawa<br>
 <pre class="moz-signature">-- 
John L. Snyder
Professor of Music Theory and Musicology
Moores School of Music
University of Houston
<a class="moz-txt-link-abbreviated" href="mailto:JLSnyder at uh.edu" target="_blank">JLSnyder at uh.edu</a>

Ronald W. Rodman, Ph.D.,
Dye Family Professor of Music
Carleton College
Northfield, MN 55057
rrodman at carleton.edu

More information about the Smt-talk mailing list