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What would a rigorous music theory curriculum that adopted rock, pop, and jazz (basically, modern tonal) music as central texts look like? Analysis of this music has become accepted in scholarship, and examples have made their way into textbooks, but this doesn’t seem to have changed our overall pedagogical priorities. For example, it’s rare not to have a whole chapter or two in a textbook on “Neapolitan” sixths and Augmented sixth chords, but we don’t often spend much time on (say) the tritone substitution, which is a similarly rich phenomenon.
I’m not interested in discarding the Classical/Romantic (and some Baroque and 20th century) canon, but rather adding to. Clearly, we cannot simply add another semester or two to our curricula. But I was intrigued by some of the suggestions at the “The End of the Music History Curriculum?” session at AMS/SMT this year, and this might be an analogous conversation to have in music theory. Perhaps, as some of the presenters there suggested, we might worry less about getting through “all" of the material, and focus instead on 1. (relatively) astylistic fundamentals, 2. depth in selected areas (chosen individually by each instructor), and 3. making sure students know where to get access to more information?
This is *not* to suggest that everyone should adopt this repertoire. I’m just wondering, for those who want to do this, what it might look like. At some point it may mean new textbooks and a greater diversity of curricula, but I think that's a ways off still.
I’m interested in any thoughts on this—whether they address the question directly or not. Thanks!