Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Colloquy: Race, Ethnicity and the Profession (Part 3 of 4)

[Ed. Note: The following paper was presented by Bonnie Gordon of the University of Virginia as part of the special session on "Race Ethnicity, and the Profession" at the AMS Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia.  It is the second of three papers that form Musicology Now's first "Colloquy."  An introduction to the Colloquy can be found here, as well as links to the other papers.]

Listening for Disciplinary Timbres

     A few years ago I was shocked to learn that most of my graduate students had never read anything by Toni Morrison. Since then, I’ve been assigning her short story “Recitatif” in almost every graduate class.  The story narrates four encounters between Twyla and Roberta, two women who lived in an orphanage together as children. One is black and one is white, but Morrison makes it impossible to tell which is which. She replaces the racialized body with musical references and cultural bits like Jimi Hendrix and pink socks. Each time Twyla and Roberta meet, music sets the tone with purposeful ambiguity. For instance when they meet in a yuppie grocery store, Twyla notices classical music on the loudspeaker just as she takes stock of Roberta’s expensive clothes. It’s all recitative and no aria.

        The story uses sound and music to construct racial categories independent of the clues and context we often use. We need to listen not just to the racialized histories of the sounds we study but also to the conscious and unconscious racial timbres of our professional world including the demographics of our students, our colleagues, the AMS.  Unlike “diversity,” which Sarah Ahmed has argued involves managing conflict rather than eradicating inequality, talking frankly about “race,” as Morrison says elsewhere, can lead to progress. What might it mean to talk frankly about race?

     For starters our society is grounded in racist and exclusionary traditions. Classical music, which many of us, including me, have devoted our lives to is a symbol of class. Implicit racial bias exists as much in academia and the arts as it does anywhere else. And despite sustained efforts and good intentions this society still feels unwelcoming to some kinds of people. But those good intentions and actions are real, and shaming people who don’t make efforts or whose efforts seem to fall short won't help. Scholars should hash out the troubled history of our discipline. Those of us who live and work in the South know that this is painful work.  I teach at a school built by enslaved labor in a music department that had deep ties to a eugenics movement.  Our choir’s celebration of the UVA songbook will uncover minstrel songs, racist epithets, and celebratory depictions of rape.

     But it’s much easier to investigate past injustices than it is to acknowledge and address ongoing inequities, which require concrete institutional change. Marx said philosophers have interpreted the world but the point is to change it. Change will require people who think they are on the same page to disagree, it will involve huge mistakes and anger, it will cost money and it will mean giving stuff up.

     Think about curriculum. If I decide that I can’t conscionably graduate a music PhD who can’t hear in Morrison’s writing musical form and style and a deep interpretation of traditions that often elude the archival record, then I skip certain theoretical approaches, parts of the history of the discipline or entire genres of music. It will probably lead to some uncomfortable conversations about race. And it requires trusting my students to learn outside of the classroom.

     I’ll end by quickly summarizing some things I learned from the at least sixteen committees related to diversity, community engagement, and contingent labor that I have been on in the last three years.  Tenured white women with disabilities fill a lot of boxes. I owe much of my thinking on this to my colleague Richard Will, who chaired the UVA music department during years when UVA was a mess of diversity mandates, highly publicized power-based violence, and student protest.  Strong progressive department chairs can do a tremendous amount.

     First, this is not just an AMS project. We need to think as music scholars and practitioners and not in terms of what music society we pay dues to or what meeting we attend. I suspect that few people here make admissions or hiring decisions without someone who goes to SEM, SMT, SAM etc.... And we ought not to let the sense that other conferences feel more progressive get in our way. Ethnomusicology is deeply tied to the colonial project: think, first, explorers and then comparativists “capturing” the sounds of the natives. Other conferences may have fewer tweed suits, but ethnic clothing and hipster jeans have their own political problem.  Everyone has much work to do, and we need to do it together. And we need to pool resources on best practices around implicit bias, graduate recruiting, faculty hiring and undergraduate curriculum.

     Second, we who do have the privilege of institutional responsibility and the security of tenure need to think hard about contingent labor. In 1993 the AAUP released a study showing that the proportion of African-Americans in non-tenure track positions is more than fifty percent greater than the proportion of whites in non-tenure track positions. The 2013 “Taking the measure or faculty diversity report,” suggests that while institutions employ higher percentages of underrepresented minorities, they tend to do so in non-track jobs.  The academy in general began talking about problems of contingent labor in the 1980’s but Black faculty members had already been doing this for two decades.  Columbia students protested about this in 1969.

     Third, this can’t be an EOP numbers game.  In statistical speak a small field has a small N.  If you have three students in your PhD entering class and one is Latino, then 33% of your class is Latino.  But that one student does not change the departmental culture by 33%. And creating job descriptions in fields that have a higher representation of minorities also won't do it. Often those jobs go to white men. We need to think about building relationships and cohorts. I have been working with a grad student who graduated from Howard University on programs that encourage students to think about graduate music study and the humanities more broadly.

     This leads me to my fourth point. Graduate recruiting matters. The diversity literature calls this the pipeline. The job market is too late. What if all of the music societies and a cohort of PhD programs ran a summer recruitment institute for minority undergraduates?  What if the program reached out to students from minority-serving institutions? Everything we know about making it possible for minority students to comfortably inhabit predominantly white academic spaces says that students do better as cohorts than as token minorities.

     Fifth, college is also too late. The achievement gap is a well-known problem, but there also exists a very real artistic gap, which does just as much damage. As the cultural gap widens between children living in poverty and affluent kids, those growing up in poverty feel progressively more alienated, first from their public schools and later from their universities. And we know that approximately 38% of African American children and 32% of Latino children live in poverty. I’m not naive enough to think that the AMS can cure the structural inequities of the job market, the exclusivity of many music traditions, and the increasing disparities in higher education.  All of those contribute to the disciplinary rifts that got us here today. But we are supposed to be good listeners. We need to listen not just to words but to what Toni Morrison calls the truth in timbre.

Bonnie Gordon’s primary interests center on the experiences of sound in Early Modern music making and the affective potential of the human voice. Her first book, Monteverdi’s Unruly Women (Cambridge University Press, 2004), frames the composer’s madrigals and music dramas written between 1600 and 1640 as windows into contemporary notions of sound, body, voice, and sense. She uses vocal music written for sixteenth- and seventeenth- century Italian singers to illuminate our understanding of the music, science, and culture of that period. She co-edited an interdisciplinary and cross cultural volume of essays about courtesans entitled The Courtesan’s Arts, (Oxford University Press, 2006).

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Colloquy: Race Ethnicity and the Profession (Part 2 of 4)

[Ed. Note: The following paper was presented by Mark Burford of Reed College as part of the special session on "Race Ethnicity, and the Profession" at the AMS Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia.  It is the first of three papers that form Musicology Now's first "Colloquy."  An introduction to the Colloquy can be found here, as well as links to the other papers.]

Special Session: “Race, Ethnicity, and the Profession”
Mark Burford, Reed College

I would like to offer some testimony from my home campus, Reed College, that feels resonant with the conversation we are initiating this evening. Despite Reed’s reputation as a beachhead for “Keep Portland Weird!” white quirkiness, my impression over the past near decade there has been one of a campus oddly prone to political passivity, or at least not primed for organized and sustained activism.

That all changed on September 26, [2016] when a group of students, mostly freshmen who had been on campus for just weeks, called for a campus boycott after seeing a Tweet by actor Isaiah Washington calling for black Americans to stay at home and remove themselves from the U.S. economy for a day, a gesture of support for the Black Lives Matter movement. It didn’t get a lot of traction nationwide, but for the group of students who organized the Reed boycott at 48-hours notice, the invitation to do something was irresistible and galvanizing.

And somehow the boycott came off. Student support was remarkable and more than seventy faculty members cancelled or significantly modified their classes at a moment’s notice in support of the students. The protests sparked conversations about privilege, about what the ways in which a campus culture impacts raced, classed, and gendered human beings differently, and about the relationship between that cherished Reed catchphrase “the life of the mind” and more embodied forms of knowledge. I didn’t always agree with the protestors’ framing of the issues, but I was proud of the way that they had catalyzed a sense of productive discomfort on campus by calling out faculty, administrators, and fellow students, purposefully making questions of inclusion and occlusion less the elephant in the room than the bull in the china shop.

Meanwhile, the students produced a list of 25 demands, the most important and explosive of which pertained to the curriculum. Reed requires incoming freshmen to take a yearlong course that is ostensibly intended to cultivate close reading and critical thinking skills, teach college-level writing, and acclimate students to conference-style classroom dynamics. Since at least the 1940s, this mandatory first-year course—called Humanities 110, or in local parlance “Hum 110”—has focused on the ancient Greeks and the Romans. This fact has long been a source of controversy among some students, particularly many students of color and women students who year after year come away with a perception that the only mandatory course at the college does not represent them. An already problematic situation is magnified by the fact that Reed has in fact hung its hat and institutional identity on Hum 110. Admission pitches the course to potential Reedies, there is an annual Hum lecture at Convocation, parents dropping off their students for orientation attend breakout sessions to discuss the Iliad, alumni at annual reunions yuk it up over inside jokes about Thucydides, the Reed a cappella group is called the “Herodotones,” and so on.

Now, faculty in the course have pointed to revisions, both past and underway, seeking to make critique of the canon a more central consideration. But the current student protestors have taken off the gloves, calling the course irredeemably racist, white supremacist, and anti-black for its doubling down on a Eurocentrism that suggests that their historical experiences are ancillary. Moreover, they have launched a sit-in protest in the Hum 110 lecture hall that has lasted over a month with no signs of stopping. One the most most eye-opening aspects of the protests for me has been the varied responses of the Hum 110 faculty, the majority of whom have recognized student demands as legitimate by lecturing to the freshman class with sign-wielding protestors sprawled around their feet, others of whom are furious with what they perceive to be a breach of respectful discourse. I have heard Hum faculty miffed at the protests dispute the premise of critiques of the course, arguing that technically there are no white people on the syllabus since the ancient Greeks did not have the same conception of race that we have today. At a party, one colleague’s voice dropped to a conspiratorial sotto voce to confess that he actually believed—but would never say publicly—that studying Greek thought provides the theoretical and conceptual grammar for everything students will ever learn in their Reed education.

It may sound as if I am making sport of fellow faculty behind their back, but I’m really not. I mention the ongoing protest of Hum 110—and, more importantly, the reactions to critiques of the course—because they have pushed me to think about why we are really here today. So why are we here today? Ostensibly, as AMS President Ellen Harris wrote to the Society this summer, we are here to learn from and move forward in addressing accounts of marginalization within the field, but toward what end? To acknowledge flesh wounds from the bruising “Musicology in Prison” fracas in February? To diversify membership? To teach more inclusive music history sequences that stem our habits toward certain ways of teaching music history? To interrogate the hierarchies set up by a “West and the rest” curricular model that distinguishes between music major requirements—most of which emphasize the study of Western European art music—and electives that can run the gamut? To pressure book publishers to rethink models for music-historical resources available to teachers, which have predominantly offered textbooks laying out essentially the same, if an increasingly more inclusive, grand narrative? To commit ourselves to the goal of the historical method that forms the core of musicology ceding ground to other ways of studying music, resulting in a methodological diversity? To uncover unconscious bias in the ways we discern the quality of scholarship in the form of publications and conference papers? For me, answering the “why are we here?” question is what tonight’s session and the ad hoc committee’s meeting tomorrow morning is all about, so I look forward to the thoughts of others in the room.

But ultimately, I invoke the dynamics of the Reed protest because of the ways in which it highlights something that we rarely talk about: the inertia of desire. Though I do think that the deep woundedness expressed by Hum 110 faculty, who perceive ad hominem accusations that they are “racist” simply because of principled challenges to a course, is a quintessential example of white fragility, I also believe that these feelings come from an earnest commitment to a course that they have devised, executed thoughtfully, and in some cases taught for 30 years. Because of a desire to validate their work, an attack on Hum is felt as an attack on the way they do things and what they care about, and perhaps even their intellectual integrity. Similarly, even as the students seem to be tapping into what I perceive to be slightly anachronistic rhetorical style of late sixties, early-seventies Black Power Era discourse as a way of framing the issues, they do so because of the ways in which it lends their demands, rooted in a desire to register their experience of the institutional structures within which they are educated, a sense of powerful historical resonance and momentum.

The fact is that the AMS conference has changed quite a bit since I started attending around 2000—much less since the nineties, eighties, and seventies—and we are in a fortunate position because there is, I believe, a bounty of goodwill among the Society’s members when it comes to these issues. But goodwill is neither a self-sufficient nor an infinitely sustainable resource. My sense is that part of the frustration felt by some members of the Society stems from our tendency as teachers and as AMS members to also do things the way we do them because we have always done them that way, and then come up with purportedly objective rationalizations—sometimes openly, but more often unspoken—about why they matter. Maybe we simply presume too much value-wise about what we teach and study. I suspect that the logjam that I hope we are able to clear, or at least make sense of, emerges from the tremendous difficulty in acknowledging the place of our own desires in imagining—and in more contentious moments insisting—what “doing” music history ought to be. Perhaps some sense of these guiding desires—not to be confused with inviolable methodological precepts and principles—will emerge over the course of our discussion. But as we proceed, I also hope that we are able to resist the tendency to conflate musicology as a field of scholarship and a career path in academia, music history as a course of college study, and the AMS as an organization and an annual conference. Each of these has its own loose floorboards with respect to race and ethnicity and they may require entirely different sets of tools to address. But I look forward to our first steps at forging those tools this evening.

Mark Burford is an Associate Professor of Music at Reed College. He recently won the Irving Lowens Article Award for his research on Sam Cooke published in the Journal of the American Musicological Society. Burford is a music historian with expertise in nineteenth-century Austro-German concert music and twentieth-century African American popular music. His current research focuses on the circulation and reception of black gospel singing within U.S. popular culture during the 1950s and early 1960s. He received a BA in music from the University of California at Santa Barbara and MA and PhD degrees in historical musicology from Columbia University.

Colloquy: Race, Ethnicity, and the Profession (Part 1 of 4)

On Friday, November 4, 2016, the American Musicological Society held a special session on Race, Ethnicity and the Profession during its annual meeting. The panelists were members of a newly configured permanent Committee on the Status of Race and Ethnicity in the Profession, co-chaired (as was the panel) by Judy Tsou and George Lewis.

The editors of Musicology Now recognize that many readers were unable to attend this session at AMS, and accordingly have requested the three papers presented, by Mark Burford, Ellie Hisama, and Bonnie Gordon. We thank the panelists for making their work available in this more public forum. The three papers address issues of institutional or disciplinary exclusion, particularly of scholars of color, of marginalization, and of visibility. They also offer some concrete suggestions for the Society’s members to implement in their own institutions, and lay out the initial directions for this new committee. We will publish these papers over the next three days (see links below).

Rather than a Q&A, the panel chairs asked those in attendance for ideas, concerns, and input about the things this committee might do; they also accepted comments and questions online. These responses covered a great deal of ground; this is not a comprehensive account of the comments given, but a recounting of some of the concerns raised and suggestions made by those in attendance:

• The lack of diversity on AMS awards committees, and consequently, the lack of diversity among awardees, was addressed multiple times. This is most crucially a lack of racial and ethnic diversity, but it is also one of theoretical interests and subject matter. Suggestions included more transparency in appointments to the committees, and greater inclusivity of topics, periods, and methods. Ellie Hisama’s paper makes concrete proposals for addressing these problems.

• An ongoing struggle among scholars of color to be recognized within the AMS—a struggle that includes both professional and social recognition. Invisibility and lack of recognition are regular experiences among scholars of color, regardless of credentials, publication records, professional appointments, and other (ostensibly) recognizable markers of scholarly significance.

• This kind of invisibility extends beyond the AMS into the discipline’s other arenas; Mark Burford’s paper challenges readers not to conflate the disciplinary sites of inequality and exclusion, but to be prepared to address them both comprehensively and discretely. Within the discipline, scholars of color are underrepresented in terms of speaking invitations, keynote addresses, and other prestigious forms of inclusion. As with the awards, there is a great deal of social reproduction in terms of what is seen, recognized, and legitimized within the discipline and its institutions. And, as with the awards, this social reproduction is itself often invisible to those with the power to extend invitations.

• Lack of diversity in the profession begins well before there are tenure-track lines and search committees. Bonnie Gordon’s paper addresses the pipeline to the profession and the inequalities not only in tenure-track hiring, but especially in the contingent labor pools; she calls for collaboration across the music disciplines in addressing “implicit bias, graduate recruiting, faculty hiring, and undergraduate curriculum.”

• The lack of inclusion and real diversity in setting the direction for the discipline by way of the AMS. Proposals included increasing transparency in appointing people to AMS committees, and making a much more robust effort toward equality of representation when making decisions and framing debates about disciplinary and Society direction.

• Several people raised the question of whether greater recognition of popular music scholarship could directly address racial and ethnic inequalities. The larger conversation, however, made it clear that these inequalities have persisted for decades, across subject matter, and that while diversifying the kinds of music that are recognized by the Society and the discipline will help, it is not a complete answer.

It is our hope that this will be the beginning of a larger conversation, here and elsewhere.   --AM

Link to Mark Burford’s remarks.
Link to Bonnie Gordon’s remarks.
Link to Ellie Hisama’s remarks.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Musicology Now and Later

Welcome to a new phase in the life of Musicology Now, the official blog of the American Musicological Society.  As (now past) President Ellen Harris informed members of the society in a communication at the end of October:
"Since its inception three years ago, Musicology Now has been overseen by a single Curator: first by Kern Holoman, who established the blog and curated it for two years, and then by Drew Massey for the past year. The AMS blog is the one place where we try as a Society to give a public face to what we do in musicology. The mission is even more critical today, I believe, than it was a few years ago, and the Board of Directors has agreed that to move the blog forward our first priority needed to be the establishment of a curatorial team that would allow us a wider reach in terms of soliciting posts and also a think tank for new approaches."

The new curatorial team hopes to create a space where musicologists and non-musicologists alike can come together to discuss music in all its forms.  We wish to strike a balance between writing that serves the members of the American Musicological Society (inward facing posts) with that which also serves a broader readership of non-specialists (outward facing posts). We hope to update the blog’s look and feel; experiment with different types of posts; establish a more regular rhythm of contributions from new and interesting voices; and encourage negotiations in the public blogosphere of critical issues roiling our profession.  

Ultimately, however, the success of Musicology Now depends on a collective effort that surpasses the control of this curatorial team.  We encourage interested members of the Society to contact us to propose posts similar to those we’ve enjoyed in the past (think-pieces, reports on one’s research, teasers for forthcoming books, salty opinions) or those that open new ground or fill a need (you tell us). We will continue to feature stand-alone essays on a particular musician, genre, or issue. But we also hope to create new structures, new opportunities for dialogue.

These aims are reflected in the forthcoming publication of papers read at the “Race and the Profession” special session at the recent annual meeting of the Society in Vancouver, marking the first of what we hope will be a regular series of Colloquia.  A subsequent post by Naomi Andre and William Cheng imagines “breaking down the walls” of our society’s routine proceedings. One might also herald it as a disruption of the expectations currently set for Musicology Now.

We expect there will be others.


Ryan Raul Bañagale, Assistant Professor, Colorado College
Robert Fink, Professor, University of California, Los Angeles
Drew Massey, Independent Scholar
Andrea Moore, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California, Riverside
Susan Thomas, Associate Professor, University of Georgia

Monday, November 21, 2016

Excerpt: "Stravinsky's 'Great Passacaglia'"

by Don Traut

The following is partially excerpted from the author’s forthcoming book, Stravinsky’s ‘Great Passacaglia’: Recurring Elements in the Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments (University of Rochester Press, 2016), which received support from the AMS 75 Pays Endowment.

Since its completion in 1924, Stravinsky’s Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments has been many things to many people. For Stravinsky, it was both a major artistic accomplishment in his burgeoning neoclassic style and a vehicle for financial gain as a touring soloist, an endeavor that took him throughout Europe and was instrumental in bringing him to America for the first time. For the audiences who attended those concerts, it was very likely the first truly original neoclassic piece by Stravinsky they had heard. For many critics, it came to represent all that was wrong with Stravinsky’s new style. For others, it pointed the way forward, while looking back for models. For scholars, it initiated a call for new avenues into understanding tonality in the new century. To conductors of wind ensembles, it now holds a welcome place as an original composition by a composer of the highest stature.

This inventory draws attention to the significance of the Concerto, which represents—both artistically and biographically—so many important new elements in the life of the Russian master. His performing career went hand-in-hand with his increasing comfort as a conductor, a discipline that sustained him longer than playing. His 1925 visit to America impacted him so strongly that he would eventually move there permanently. He changed as a composer as well. After the Concerto, he composed his pieces primarily one at a time, from conception to premiere, not in the dovetailing manner that sustained him through his Russian period. Individually, these may all seem like small matters, but when taken as a whole, they signal a sea change in Stravinsky’s compositional approach.

Attributing such significance to the Concerto may seem misplaced, since it is neither his most famous neoclassic piece nor his most critically acclaimed. Anyone who knows the Concerto is aware of its quirks: the slow, dissonant, intricately contrapuntal introduction by a quartet of horns, the dry and sometimes shrill orchestration, the simplistic repeated-note theme, and the third-movement fugato that comes out of nowhere. In many ways, however, the Concerto is simply a lot like his other music from this era. Its surface textures and forms remind us of Baroque genres. Its three movements lay out in the fast-slow-fast arrangement typical of seventeenth-century concerti. Its unique sense of tonality leaves us feeling somewhere between comfortable and uncertain. Its rhythms are sometimes Handelian and other times more like Joplin. It is also quite disjunct, with sometimes jarring interruptions of texture. By and large, it is comprised of discrete formal sections, not all featuring the ostinati of the “blocks” associated with his Russian period, but still clearly delineated. In a word, it epitomizes the essence of what has come to represent Stravinsky’s neoclassic language.

Regardless of its significance, one thing is certain—listeners have always had strong and often diametrically opposed opinions about the piece. This is as true today as it was in the mid-1920s. Some early reviewers described the Concerto as a masterpiece of formal logic, praising it for its charm and authenticity. German critic Adolf Weissmann felt it pointed the way forward for a new phase of anti-Romanticism. As he stated, “The Piano Concerto, with wonderful terseness of form, is a model of this prevailing latest phase.” Its detractors often used the exact opposite terminology in their reviews. For them, its themes are “cheap” and unlovely, its form confusing and illogical. As Prokofiev put it, the “scratched-up Bach” comes across as “a case of ‘monkey see, monkey do.’” Other authors went out of their way to make an example of the Concerto. The most famous was Heinrich Schenker, who determined that Stravinsky’s counterpoint “lacks coherence” and is therefore “bad, inartistic, and unmusical.” Constant Lambert’s monograph Music Ho!: Music in Decline attacked Stravinsky’s themes and described how the “very insignificant content” of the second movement is “illogically extended.” Theodor Adorno referred to the piece as “dissolute” and “incomprehensible.” Scorn for the Concerto is not reserved for Stravinsky’s enemies either; neither Robert Craft nor Pieter van den Toorn cared much for it. Indeed, Lawrence Kramer was correct when he stated that the Concerto is “a special target for Stravinsky’s detractors and no special favorite, it seems, of his admirers.”

While these comments seem damning, they should be taken with a grain of salt. In most cases, they come from commentators relying on relatively superficial impressions of the piece, at least judging by what appears in print. Often there is mention of only one movement or, more common still, just part of one movement, with little concern for context. This is true even for those authors with a more positive spin. Both William Benjamin’s thoughtful article and Robert Morgan’s anthology entry discuss only the opening Allegro. Simply stated, it is time for an in-depth analysis of this piece.

Stravinsky’s ‘Great Passacaglia’ sets out to study all three movements of the Concerto, allowing for both detailed analysis of individual passages and broader observations about inter-movement connections. Two main sources guide analyses. The first is a single sketch that Stravinsky jotted down on a page torn from a pocket calendar. This hasty musing—surely his earliest for the piece—shows the main tune, which is transformed throughout the piece. The second is a statement he made while touring in America. When asked for a few comments regarding the Concerto, he likened it to a “great passacaglia.” While his precise meaning is unclear, I illustrate four primary recurring elements that cut across movements and unify the piece. The strategic use of these elements—both exact and transformed—in all three movements lends credence to Stravinsky’s passacaglia statement. It suggests that the Baroque elements go beyond mere gimmicks. In fact, they impact the piece at the deepest levels.

The analyses also respond, in a way, to many of the critics cited above. A recurring theme of these authors is that Stravinsky somehow misunderstood earlier music. Schenker and Adorno, for example, both focus on his treatment of dissonance. They both reveal a clear bias against Stravinsky when they conclude that compositional techniques (namely contrapuntal displacement) associated with inspiration and genius in other composers (such as Bach, Beethoven, and even Schoenberg) are cause for repudiation in Stravinsky’s case. Sensitive analyses show that many of Stravinsky’s dissonances derive from clear underlying tonal patterns, suggesting that the novelty of his contrapuntal practice represents more a matter of degree than a difference in kind when compared to more common-practice composers. When viewed through this lens, the Concerto, like his other Neoclassic pieces, represents a masterful and intentional misreading of earlier music offered up by a composer intent on paving a new path forward, not an amateurish hack-job written by a naïve composer with little understanding of the past.

Don Traut is an associate professor of music theory. His research focuses primarily on the music of Igor Stravinsky, with a special interest on the composer's compositional sketches and what they tell us about the creative process. He has published articles on this and other topics in Theory and Practice, Popular Music, Indiana Theory Review, and Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy.