The members of the University of Toronto’s Music Theory faculty strongly condemn the anti-Black racist sentiments and personal attacks on Prof. Philip Ewell that appear in several contributions to the “Symposium on Philip Ewell’s 2019 Plenary Paper” published by the Journal of Schenkerian Studies in July 2020. We were dismayed to see such sentiments expressed by an emeritus faculty member of our institution. The reported lack of editorial transparency and peer review, as well as the failure to offer Prof. Ewell the opportunity to respond to a symposium on his talk, are clear acts of racism that also fall far short of healthy scholarly practice in our field. We are heartened by the initial response by the Executive Board of the Society for Music Theory (SMT) and fully endorse the open letter issued by a group of SMT members. We look forward to additional actions by the SMT to address this disturbing incident and the systemic racism that remains deeply embedded in our field.
We acknowledge that North American music theory urgently needs to reckon with its racist, anti-Black, white supremacist roots in order to evolve and grow. We are committed to implementing anti-racist strategies in our teaching, mentorship relationships, scholarship, and recruitment to help dismantle the white racial frame that Prof. Ewell powerfully and pointedly described in his plenary address to the SMT in 2019 and in his article, “Music Theory and the White Racial Frame,” in Music Theory Online. We encourage our students and alumni to hold us accountable for these actions. With colleagues in other disciplines and the University of Toronto’s Anti-Racism and Cultural Diversity Office, we are also engaging in discussions to act in a coordinated manner to promote anti-racism, equity, diversity, and inclusion across the Faculty of Music.
Sebastiano Bisciglia, Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, Music Theory & Instructional Technology
Ben Duinker, SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow
Ryan McClelland, Professor of Music Theory, Associate Dean, Academic Affairs & Student Affairs, Faculty of Music
Don McLean, Professor of Music Theory and Musicology, Dean, Faculty of Music
Mark Sallmen, Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, Music Theory
Daphne Tan, Assistant Professor of Music Theory
Steven Vande Moortele, Associate Professor of Music Theory, Associate Dean, Research, Faculty of Music
Music Theory is the study of musical structure. We learn how music in historic and contemporary styles is constructed; how to deconstruct it through analysis and analytical modeling; and how to understand it through hermeneutic and historically informed interpretation. The music theory faculty at UofT—Sebastiano Bisciglia, Ryan McClelland, Don McLean, Mark Sallmen, Daphne Tan, and Steven Vande Moortele—is known for its strengths in Schenkerian analysis, musical form, theories of rhythm and meter, history of music theory, music perception and cognition, nineteenth-century music, and the music of the Second Viennese School.
All undergraduate students build musical fluency through two years of core courses in music theory, musicianship, and other skills. At the advanced undergraduate level, Music Theory features a variety of specialized courses, offering students the possibility to graduate with a major in Music History, Culture, and Theory within the BMus program.
At the graduate level, the combination of scholarly excellence, the intimate scale of the program, and the close ties to Musicology and Ethnomusicology make for a vibrant, friendly, and intellectually engaging environment that attracts top-level students pursuing the course-intensive MA or the research-oriented PhD in music theory. Graduate students receive ample opportunity to gain professional experience through teaching and research assistantships. They also benefit from the presence of the Institute for Music in Canada (IMC), the Centre for the Study of Nineteenth-Century Music (CSNCM) and the Music and Health Research Collaboratory (MaHRC) as well as from the regular presentations by guest speakers in the colloquium series, the graduate student roundtables, and special events such as the Form Forum.