[Smt-talk] Gender Terminology in Music

Christopher Antila christopher.antila at mail.mcgill.ca
Wed Apr 30 13:47:05 PDT 2014

On 30 April 2014 19:23:32 Steve Haflich wrote:
> Regardless which terminology one chooses to use in teaching, it would be
> irresponsible not at least to let students know the "sexist" terms exist
> because they will be encountered in the literature.  That would be a fine
> opening for the prof to explain the choice not to use them.
Not true. I've only encountered the unnecessarily gendered terms, used 
seriously, in "the literature" written at least a century ago or more. 
Furthermore, the vast majority of students taking undergraduate music theory 
courses will never read any of what you call "the literature," so that's a bad 

In my memory, most modern (and somewhat modern) texts that discuss gendered 
cadence words will only describe them as antiquated alternatives nobody should 
use. These texts tend to say the only reason they mention gendered terms at 
all is that it would be irresponsible not to.

If the only reason we young people know gendered terms is to avoid using them, 
why bother mentioning them at all? You can almost guarantee we won't use words 
we don't know to begin with.

> (Note the careful avoidance of "him" and "his" in the preceding sentence, at
> the slight cost of specificity about whose choice, which observation leans
> towards Dimitar's point.)

Christopher "Dr Antila" Antila

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