A cancelled music professor speaks out

Professor Timothy Jackson of the University of North Texas is being hounded for defending the music theory giant Heinrich Schenker, whom an African-American colleague has branded racist. It’s rare for an academic to respond to mob rule in these overheated times.

Here‘s Professor Jackson’s defence:

The controversy engulfing me and Professor Philip Ewell of Hunter College is widely misunderstood as a debate over “racism.” This controversy is actually about whether or not the Twitter mob may silence open discourse and scholarly debate at the University of North Texas.

Professor Ewell certainly has a right to express his ideas. He labels as a “virulent racist” the great music theorist Heinrich Schenker. By extension, he argues, modern music theory is institutionalized “racism” and those who teach and defend Schenker are “whitewashing” music theory. We who have dedicated our life and scholarship to Schenker’s ideas are, by extension, inescapably racists.

I had the courage to object. But I did so by following the usual course of open academic debate. The Journal of Schenkerian Studies sent out a Call for Papers to everyone in the Society for Music Theory, including Professor Ewell. We deliberately collected different viewpoints, some supporting him.

Professor Ewell himself made no response. The claim that the Journal somehow denied him a voice is simply false.

Instead, as Professor Ewell told this paper, he chooses not to read the responses at all. He and the Twitter mob nevertheless shout down our viewpoints as “racist.” I have requested that the Journal and the University of North Texas Press immediately make all the responses publicly available.

I have run the Center for Schenkerian Studies at the University of North Texas for two decades. My colleagues and I have a long track record of opposing racism. For example, the Center rescued the compositions of Paul Kletzki thought lost to the Holocaust. At the time he composed, Kletzki was condemned as “racially inferior.” His work is now performed around the world thanks to our Center. In 2011, this earned a Grammy nomination, bringing recognition to UNT.

I have personally promoted and mentored people of color from around the globe. They come to study music theory at UNT. I also stand by my life-long support for providing resources to people of color in the United States to nurture the appreciation of classical music from an early age. Perversely, this too is now condemned by the mob as “racism.”

I also took issue with Professor Ewell for looking the other way at anti-Semitism among black intellectuals. In this, I suppose I am guilty of agreeing with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. My response gives concrete examples of this anti-Semitism in rap music.

I still appeal to Professor Ewell to join me in opposing this disturbing and racist trend. I continue to hope and believe that Professor Ewell and I are fundamentally on the same side.

We should teach and take Schenker’s life and career as exemplary. As my response to Professor Ewell points out, Schenker’s confrontation with racial supremacy in National Socialism led him to conclude in defiance: “Music is accessible to all races and creeds alike.”

Schenker was not considered “white,” certainly not part of a “white male frame.” They spat on him as a “sow Jew”—denying him standing as either “white” or “male.”

I still believe there is universal humanity in Schenker’s intellectual victory over racism and in music theory. But that victory is perishable. It can only survive by staunchly defending open discourse and an open society. It will never happen by kneeling before the Twitter mob.

Sincerely,

 

Timothy Jackson

Distinguished University Research Professor of Music Theory

College of Music

University of North Texas

Denton, TX 76203

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    • Schenkerians all seem to think they are mind readers. Maybe they are angry that Ewell was just even thinking about Schenker.

    • I may have misunderstood your point. If the abstract does not mention Schenker, the spoke address certainly does.

  • Prof. Jackson writes that “Professor Ewell himself made no response.” Well, of course not. The call for papers that was distributed asked explicitly for responses to a lecture Ewell had given at a conference. Was Jackson really expecting Ewell to send in a response to his own talk? What should have happened is that Ewell should have been invited to respond to the responses to his paper–that would have been the customary scholarly procedure. And that, as far as I can tell from Jackson’s letter here, never happened. So the controversy here is not (only) about racism, or about the “twitter mob,” as Jackson claims: it’s also about Jackson not following basic academic protocols.

    • Maybe Jackson should have been more proactive in giving Ewell the right of reply at the appropriate juncture, but to describe an alleged deficiency/failure of that process as “not following basic academic protocols” or “professional misconduct” (cf. Executive Committee of the SMT) is going too far.

      • If not inviting Ewell were the only thing, I would agree. But there’s more: the call for papers was issued on New Year’s Eve, and had a deadline of January 20—as if to make sure few people saw it and even fewer had time to submit a contribution. At the same time, several authors (coincidentally, ones that Jackson believed would be on his side) were personally invited to contributed and apparently offered a deadline of mid-March. None of the contributions were peer reviewed, and one contribution was published anonymously. So yes, all of that taken together I would call “not following basic academic protocols.”
        Jackson should take it as a man, apologize, and withdraw from the Journal of Schenkerian Studies. I doubt there are many within the SMT who would want him to be sacked over this (there are some, to be sure, and they tend to be very loud on twitter), but if he continues like this, that may be how this whole story ends.

        • You are still being too harsh, and taking a far too narrow view of what constitutes “basic academic protocols” (protocols should *serve* academic discourse, not the converse):

          1. 3 weeks (New Year’s Eve to 20th January) is not a very long time, but it is reasonable enough, especially in the context of a current debate — journal editors often ask for shorter turnarounds when it comes to peer review and responding to reviews… meanwhile other formats, such as in-person/online symposia and ‘blog-posts often invite replies/contributions on timescales measured in days rather than weeks;

          2. rightly or wrongly, it is actually very common for editors, conference-organisers, &c. to approach specific individuals and invite them to make a contribution on more favourable terms (such as a later deadline) than those proposed in a general call for contributions… the classic case is the keynote speaker at a conference;

          3. in music, many journals exist in a grey area between ‘academic’ and ‘trade’/’special interest’ (a classic example is /The Musical Times/)… but even if the relevant journal is a purely ‘academic’ one, there are not-necessarily-scholarly categories of contribution for which peer review can be reasonably waived or done solely by the editor, such as the ‘correspondence’ section, an ‘editorial’, a book/concert review, or an ‘opinion’ piece;

          4. anonymity of an academic author may be a bit unusual a published journal article, but there are sound reasons why an editor may agree to publish something on that basis… scholarly discourse is about ideas (this is *why* peer review is usually on a blind or double-blind basis), not names, and whilst including the author’s name can be valuable accountability mechanism, it can also be problematic if it inhibits candour or puts the author at risk (there is a lot of sanctimoniusness online, and many academics have been targeted by very toxic online trolls with death threats or with demands for them to be sacked…).

          Without reading the relevant material in the journal, it is difficult to form a judgement on its acceptability, so I shall refrain from specific comment thereon. But I am troubled by the harsh and sweeping criticisms of Jackson’s /modus operandi/.

          • Jackson both claims that Schenkerism isn’t racist and that Ewell’s anti-racism proposals are an attack on Schenkerism. One does not need to be a mind-reader to see that these claims do not logically combine. Neither does one need to rely on supposition of deeper content of Jackson’s mind to reject the pair of claims as a combined claim. If the intent is not racism, the consequence of effectively supporting racism is a real consequence; a consequence of which it is only reasonable to hold that Jackson could not be fully unaware unless he has some kind of mental defect that prevents him from understanding that two statements that contradict each other can’t both be true. Moreover, if Jackson wants to save his career at this point, maybe he should try to convince people that he has a brain tumor or that, for decades, he has been taking two medications that should never have been combined. Instead, though, watch him escalate his commitment to the lies in which he has already been caught, attack straw men, and try to shift the burden of proof (that is: try to treat Schenkerian claims as if they are not chronologically prime to Ewell’s challenges to them). For my part, I accept that this would be ad hominem on my part if I were characterizing Jackson as a person who WOULD do these things. I’m not doing that. I’m characterizing Jackson as a person who WILL do these things. Now just watch him do these things and maybe you’re see my point.

      • That’s just not Schenkerian behavior. Ewell was given platform just long enough to allow the JSS editorial board to use him as a template for their own straw men. Predictable.

      • Regardless of the electronic paper trails, the statement that Ewell was offered such mechanisms probably just needs to be repeated a few times in order for Shenkerians to fully believe it.

        • Is it “racism” that you spell Schenker with “Sh”? I mean, is it a manifestation of your belief in English/American superiority over Germans? Because that’s the crux of Ewell’s anti-Schenker “argument” as far as I can tell.

    • Either Jackson is lying about what happened or Ewell is lying about what happened. If you’re running a pool, I’ll put whatever I can scrape together on Jackson lying about what happened. He has misrepresented enough other things already.

  • I wonder if the people attacking Dr. Jackson were aware that the great radical African-American scholar and activist, W.E.B. DuBois, was an avid listener to and supporter of classical music (including Wagner!). Certainly, as comments from a number of African-American musicians have made abundantly clear, there is significant racism in the enterprise of classical music. That cannot be equated with the idea that the music itself, including the music analyzed by Schenker, is racist. In fact, even the idea that the origin of this music is European is, at best, an oversimplification. There are traces of Jewish liturgical practice in plainchant, and a number of significant instruments employed in classical music, including the violin (and other stringed instruments of that family), the guitar, and the timpani, have middle-Eastern origins.

    • The premise of your comment is *completely* removed from the actual issues at hand.

      The case against Schenker is not about the music he analyzed as such or the politics of its composers, it’s about his model for analysis being overtly developed to “prove” the musical superiority of German men (only Chopin is given an exception), with the attendant racial attitudes explicitly emphasized in other writings and contexts by Schenker. This isn’t even controversial, the question is whether those formative attitudes carry into fundamental tenets of Schenkerian practice and how we should interrogate that today.

      If anything, your comment moves to disprove your apparent defense of Jackson; his article paints, as a basis for accusations of antisemitism, gross generalizations about a monolithic culture of Blacks in America, with specific reference to rap/hip-hop as “their” music. Thank you, then, for adding a nuance to the picture about individual Black musical taste that Jackson seems unwilling or unable to grasp .

      Just to emphasize: Du Bois on Wagner is not even a rebuttal, it just has absolutely nothing to do with the case against Jackson. The point here is that Schenkerian analysis according to Schenker himself would have deliberately discarded and devalued the contributions of, say, Du Bois’ composer wife Shirley, in ways arguably inextricable from her identity and race.


      • Schenkerism from the Perspective of an Ex-Music Theorist (draft2)

        From Hegel to Hitler, the basic common thread is anti-empiricism. Heinrich Schenkjer and Fritz von Frantzius are good examples of how anti-empiricism gradually came to pervade Germanic culture over a period of about 150 years. After World War II, anti-empiricists, including Felix Salzer, fled to the United States because their dogmatic approach to scientific inquiry had become somewhat unwelcome in Europe. In the United States, Salzer and other anti-empiricists took advantage of Schenker’s Jewish identity in order to flip the Holocaust narrative for their own advantage. Whereas anti-empiricism, in the form of racism, had been a necessary variable in order to bring about the Holocaust, Schenker (a Nazi sympathizer) became useful as an implicit Holocaust victim on the basis that he was a Germanic Jew who happened to die while Hitler was in power. Criticism of Schenkerism, including criticism of its anti-empirical basis, was (and still is) almost invariably met with counter-charges of anti-semitism; this is certainly easier than defending Schenkerian theory by means of treating its alleged scientific merits.

        Without mid-ground structures, Schenkerian theory is not even theory, but barely even a handful of interesting ideas. There may be other kinds of mid-grounds to consider, but that’s a separate problem. That the Schenkerian mid-ground, specifically, would inevitably exist anywhere but in the mind of a trained Schenkerian is hypothesized by Schenkerians in a way that would make the hypothesis unfalsifiable, if it were not also so cryptically hypothesized that potential skeptics are not really offered any clear thing to try to falsify. But the hypothesis, cryptic as it is, is nontheless publicly promulgated by Schenkerians, not as hypotheis, but as if were of essentially the same epistemic value as a deductive forensic conclusion. As a person of even minimum scientific training, I have an ethical problem with this behavior on the part of Schenkerians. Practical conseqences aside (and there are some), it’s just plain wrong.

        How important is it to Schenkerians that Schenkerism remain insulated from skeptics?

        It matters enough that I never got a PhD in Music Theory.

        Even after I proved to my Schenker professor that I was capable of doing what was graphically required of me, he only agreed to give me a passing grade and let me complete my MA
        if I agreed that I would not apply to any music theory PhD programs, not ask anyone in my department for a recommendation of any kind,
        not submit music theory papers to any academic journal, and not teach music theory formally, anywhere. He also warned me not to talk about any of this, even though he said no one would believe me anyway, much as he said I wouldn’t see any success with other forbidden efforts, anyway, either. It was unclear whether the threat was to somehow take away my MA after the fact, or simply put me on some kind of black list. 20 years into our pact, I have run out of reasons to care any longer what might still happen if I begin to talk. Although readers can investigate, who, specifically, he was probably doesn’t especially matter at this point.
        Watching Timothy Jackson and other JSS contributors begin the process of publicly gaslighting Phillip Ewell further supports my standing impression that my own professor’s attitude toward critics of Schenkerism is not some kind of exception.

        Meanwhile, the continued presence and influence of Schenkerians in and upon academic music departments has not produced a new efflorescence of musical art. There is no explosion of fantastic new compositions or stunning performances by avid Schenker proponents. And Schenkerians, themselves, continue to recycle the same interpretive topic: music by Germanic men written before 1900. If anything, the Schenkerian influence would appear to be contributing to the stagnation of the art form that Schenkerians ostensibly intend to promote. Practically all important innovation in music since 1945 has come either from outside creative environments tangent to Schenkerism, or from persons actively removed or self-removed from Schenker-adjacent intellectual environments. And the most innovative musics are actually regarded by Schenkerians as unworthy of analysis, and implicitly, culturally inferior. What these musics seem to have most in common is that a Schenkerian would not have Schenkerian tools with which to “analyze” them. That no one inside Schenkerism seems to care what they’re doing to broader academic interest in music they don’t analyze can be reasonably regarded as suspicious. Occam’s Razor: the effect they get is probably the effect they really want. Moreover: it’s probably not really about the music anyway, but about what Schenkerian treatment of the music stands to accomplish in broader culture: the continued promulgation of Germanic-flavored anti-empiricism.

        Make no mistake. The Schenkerian movement is culturally hegemonic. The Schenkerian movement is rooted in culturally hegemonic dogma at the very core of its methodology.
        Schenkerians do not really analyze music.
        Schenkerians analyze dogmatic interpretations of music by non-consenting composers; interpretations produced by use of culture-specific dogma. Schenkerians then market these analyses of their interpretations to us as supposed analyses of the music, itself,
        and also as implicit proof of the cultural superiority of the culture from which the treated music originates.

        It is time that, if Schenkerian Interpretation (let’s please stop calling it “analysis”) cannot be academically constrained for explicit and
        exclusive use as a tool for memorization and making decisions about performance expression, then the entire anti-empirical movement attached to these often-invoked utilities should simply be taken off-campus
        and out of publishing provenance by accredited institutions.

        – “Disgruntled Student”, Joshua Clement Broyles, MA, Music Theory, University of British Columbia

    • Criticism of racism in academic music culture is not the same thing as an attack on the music the academics treat. Ewell has also said this almost ad nauseum. But, as usual, Schenkerians and other supporters of white cultural hegemony just see whatever they choose to see and hear whatever they choose to hear in order to maintain perceptions compatible with a fixed set of beliefs. They are framing any critique of Jackson’s racist statements as part of some kind of anti-white conspiracy to completely end academic treatment of the music Schenkerians prefer to treat. I further posit that the larger subtext is probably some kind of supposed threat to western civilization as a whole, against which Jackson’s admirers see Jackson as bravely and selflessly standing like some kind of Medieval Christian martyr. Just a guess.

  • Kudos to Professor Jackson-a damn sight more magnanimous towards Ewell than I would have been in similar circumstances.

  • SD risks cancellation for printing Professor Timothy Jackson’s opinions now. James Bennet just got fired from the NYT for publishing an op-ed by Tom Cotton. Ian Buruma was fired from the editorship of the New York Review of Books after inciting outrage by publishing and defending an essay that was anti- #MeToo.

    • “SD risks cancellation”… cancellation by whom, exactly? (I may disagree with Lebrecht on many things, sometimes strongly, but I doubt I would stop reading Slipped Disc)

      • Racism aside, the Schenkerians should be jailed for fraud just on the basis of their “work”. Holding charlatans accountable for their scams isn’t cancel culture. It’s the bare minimum of intellectual rigor.

    • Diversity of skin color is what’s important to the left, not diversity of opinion. Anyone who disagrees is labeled a white nationalist.

      • And not true diversity of skin color, since Asians, South Asians, and Latin Americans don’t count in their demands.

    • Ewell has gone softer on them than I would have, given the same platform. He may as well be telling the KKK to clean up their image by trying harder to recruit black people.

  • I think I learned more about Norman Lebrecht’s stance on cancel culture than I did about the views of the two men in this esoteric news article.

  • Professor Ewell teaches rap music, which is misogynistic and advocates violence. He uses his toxic masculinity to oppress women. African-American males have a long history of oppressing women through violence and rape. Hunter College should not allow a class that oppresses women.

    • Yes, black folks have issues that keep themselves down.

      It’s time to get out black brothers and sisters into a psychiatrists office to help them with their propensity towards violence.

      Hillary Clinton’s assessment of their “SUPER-PREDATOR” Status was spot on!

      • I do not see any sign, anywhere, of Ewell supporting any specific piece of music that is misogynistic. Every genre has mysoginistic examples, and examples that otherwise variously offensive. Have you ever really looked at texts from classical vocal music? The charges of Ewell supporting bigotry, in any case are Tu Quoque/ Two Wrongs make a right. Even assuming that Ewell were forcing students to listen to “B*** Better Have My Money” (he’s not), how would that much hypocrisy weigh as compared to everything that Schenkerians have already done and everything they are still doing? Maybe everybody’s a hypocrite. I never deny being one. But there are important differences between personal hypocrisy, professional hypocrisy, and institutionalized, enforced hypocrisy. The slope might be slippery if music academia begins to treat Hip Hop seriously. But Schenkerians never cared about that when they fully lubricated the whole slope with their own choice of subject matter, and jumped off. If they want to protect decency, they should start by being decent. They aren’t. Ewell, really, is.

    • Yes, Anon, I agree , Ewell is dangerous in any academic role. Professors bring up students – our younger generation. It is unacceptable that a full blown RACIST Ewell is allowed to teach at a State University. He should be fired immediately!

    • Every style of music that has lyrics has lyrics that are offensive to someone. But only lyrics that offend persons of privilege are used and an excuse to exclude whole styles of music from the white music curriculum.

  • Here is how “musicology twitter” is responding to this defence.

    https://twitter.com/MusicologyDuck/status/1290750618827718658

    It really gives you an idea what types of personalities these “musicologists” (and the New Yorker critic Alex Ross) are. Ad hominem attacks are their default mode of discourse.

    Here is another one: https://twitter.com/imanimosley/status/1290720174698639366

    The gist of their retort: GASLIGHTING! Q.E.D.

    Alex Ross has a book called “Wagnerism” coming out this fall. Why didn’t he write an introductory book on black composers instead of masquerading as a Wagner scholar? Does he not understand he is in a great position to magnify the work and voices of black composers? Of course he does. But clearly he doesn’t give a damn, except virtue signalling on social media and telling himself how he is so morally superior.

    • Ales Ross can write about what he wants to write, what he considers interesting and meaningful (of course there are other meaningsful issues, but he is free to chose and mind his own business).

      • But isn’t it hypocritical of him to denounce orchestras on Twitter and in his reviews for not performing music composed by ethnic minorities, yet when it comes to his own book that he needs to sell, choose to write about Richard Wagner? This to me speaks to his acute lack of principles.

          • The Wagner book is topically irrelevant to the issue at hand unless it’s Schenkerian. Is the Wagner book Schenkerian?

  • Jackson made a mistake when he responded to Ewell’s generalized discussion of systemic racism with a personal accusation of racism against Ewell–an accusation widely perceived in academia as unfair and inappropriate. That’s why the scandal exploded, and the matter won’t be resolved until Jackson addresses his error. This isn’t doing a lot for UNT’s reputation.

    • Please quote the passage where Jackson accused Ewell personally of racism. If this is the passage you have in mind, the passage that seems to have outraged the most of Twitter musicologists, then you are dishonest. He did not respond with a personal accusation of racism against Ewell, but rather a generalized discussion of systemic racism. He did exactly what you claim Ewell did, except that in this case the systemic racism is genuine.

      “On the contrary, demagogues from the extreme right and left, Black Nationalist—and also White Nationalist—and also in academe, continue to legitimize scapegoating “the Jews” for every conceivable ill. In this sense, Ewell’s denunciation of Schenker and Schenkerians may be seen as part and parcel of the much broader current of Black anti-Semitism. Given the history of racism against African Americans, there is a strong tendency today to excuse or downplay these phenomena, but they are real—and toxic. They currently manifest themselves in myriad ways, including the pattern of violence against Jews, the obnoxious lyrics of some hip hop songs, etc. It is noteworthy that, when the New Jersey attacks took place, CNN initially failed to mention, and later played down, that the perpetuators of the latest attacks on the easily identifiable Ultra-Orthodox Jews were African American. Of course, the reason that Black anti-Semitism is soft-pedaled, excused, ignored, and even applauded, is that for too long Blacks themselves have been the object of racism. Yet history does not absolve African Americans of anti-Semitism. What we are seeing now in NYC and its environs, and increasingly across the US and Europe—especially in France—and in academia, are the lethal fruits of this slowly gestating disease.”

        • That is pointing out the larger environment of systemic racism and placing Ewell’s thesis in that context, not accusing Ewell personally of racism.

      • The potential charge of antisemitism is almost always used as a threat not only against critics of Schenker, but also against critics of Schenker theory. Students are told they need to separate Schenker from Schenker theory in order to appreciate why the theory matters. But then when they begin to logically dismantle the theory, itself, they are accused of doing so because they hate Schenker for being a Jew. Yes, this is logically inconsistent. But if Schenkerians were logically consistent, they wouldn’t be Schenkerians.

    • Racists used to respond to individual black calls for racial justice by characterizing the specific black individual as “uppity”. Jackson doesn’t use that word for Ewell, but his point is the same.

  • Number of orchestras on the brink of extinction, many concert halls with no known plan for reopening, artists in limbo, and they make a storm in a teapot over Schenker. The guy has been dead for 85 years. Typical musicologists. Is Rimsky-Korsakov and his Principles of Ochestration next in line? He didn’t write a word on how to use Ukulele in the orchestra therefore he is white male supremacist.

    • RK had the idea of including an ukulele in one of the arias of the cock in Le Coque d’Or, but his wife was against it, finding it offensive.

    • No ukulele, but he did write for Pan Pipes in the opera Mlada and the suite he derived from it, The Night on Mt. Triglav. About as ethnic as you can get which makes it so difficult to program. Zamfir, where are you?

    • One of the issues is the racism. Another issue that, like racism, Schenkerian theory is anti-science. This is a year that civilization finally has to get a handle on anti-science, or possibly collapse. You might as well add every form of quackery and charlatanry to the list, because the con artists support other con artists. To believe one’s own con doesn’t legitimize the con. It’s time to start shutting down all the scams.

    • The JSS editorial board hasn’t been dead for 85 years. And they’re still practicing a cultural hegemony that produces racist effects, if not for racist purposes.

  • I am now trying to help an undergraduate student who was suspended for TWO YEARS for inadvertently making a comment considered racist. There is no guarantee after that that she would be reinstated at even that time. Her college administration would just consider it.

    The pressing need for discriminated against minorities, racial and otherwise, such as transexuals, especially in this age of Covid, is to find ways, in the arts and everywhere else, to create more economic opportunity, ie to find ways to create more jobs.

    We all need to work together to do this, rather than waste huge amounts of time and energy on these unproductive and divisive historical debates

  • How exactly has he been ‘canceled’, pray? He has his job, and right-wing media is howling in his defence. Where’s the canceling, exactly?

    Or is this one of these cases where “to cancel” really means “to criticize”?

    • I see, Emil, you can’t wait till the mob will fire professor Jackson, right? I am sure it will happen, because the school’s top bureaucrats are part of the mob, like you!

      • That’s actually my point: he hasn’t been fired, and he won’t be (save for actual misconduct). And a guy who has a job in a major university and a platform in the National Review is not, in fact, cancelled.

        • Strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter. But Jackson is probably not the real shepherd, so you’ll just see the next human sock puppet in Jackson’s place once he has been thrown under the bus. Until the academic community, as a whole, addresses what Schenkerian theory really is, what it really does, and why it even still exists, there will always be a next Jackson.

    • The cancel campaign against him has just started. Dr. Mike Adams held out against it for years before he finally resigned his position and then committed suicide.

      • I recognize that Adams may have had a diagnosable mental condition that would explain both the racist statements and the suicide. But, as a white guy, if I act like a victim after a university pays me $500K just to stay away, someone better tell me to check my privilege.

    • It’s called “canceling” when it’s even attempted by persons from marginalized groups. But when the privileged do it successfully, they just call it “peer review” or “editorial oversight”.

  • Two points need making to the modern mind it would seem:
    First ‘diversity’ means that there is more than one point of view;
    Second ‘tolerance’ means tolerating opinions you don’t agree not just opinions you do agree with.

  • Ewell may cut in music but his post on Beethoven was so ridden with logical fallacies as to be garbage, from a strictly logical analysis. The argument failed. If that is considered credible from a university teachers it implies that basic intellectual standards have plummeted.

  • As always with the mob rule: the mob is seen as a victim – IT IS NOT! The mob is the AGGRESSOR !!

    It is up to any individual either to study Schenkerian Analysis or not to study is. This is optional.

    There is no doubt the Ewell is a provocateur, not a musician. He is a racist political activist. And this standing cannot be compatible with professorial position in academia in any country, let alone, in the USA.

    • People getting advanced music theory degrees have to study Schenkerian theory. But it’s not really a form of analysis. It’s an epistemological shell game. It’s a test of blind obedience to arbitrary academic authority. It is used to assure than anyone who might threaten to change the system from the inside isn’t allowed into the system.

  • I wonder how long people will continue paying attention to these modern-day witch hunts, which obviously would not even take place, were it not for the presence of the internet. I suspect that at some point a fatigue will set in, which frankly would be the only outcome these vacuous disputes truly deserve. It is sad to acknowledge that we live indeed in a modern-day totalitarianism of thought relentlessly attempting to regulate our very thinking and silence anyone who does not thoughtlessly parrot the prevailing Zeitgeist. Anyone nowadays with a laptop and an internet connection can readily indulge in this form of cowardly intimidation, often done by people who really have no credentials to dictate anything to anybody. Their only talent, in fact, lies in a reckless propensity to expose, denounce and shame, because otherwise many of them wouldn’t amount to much, including some who were somehow able to achieve some measure of visibility in high places, through the force of sheer arrogance, manipulation, charm, and opportunism. The internet has become the perfect instrument for them to boost their narcissistic selves, perhaps in order to avoid doing the kind of soul-searching they so desperately need.

    We have indeed reached an apex in what Christopher Lasch had called, many years, ago “the culture of narcissism,” and the internet has become its perfect vehicle. Many so-called “social media” nowadays (I prefer to call them “asocial media,” which would actually be a more accurate expression) have unfortunately turned into just another embodiment of practices we thought had been relegated to another age. There is no more place for rational discourse nor for dissent; everyone must agree on mostly everything, because disagreement has become too threatening, too intolerable. The paradox of a narcissistic self is that, deep down, it is fundamentally fragile and hides behind a thin veneer of confidence — a fake confidence that is merely a show for other people to see, since everything has indeed become a spectacle, including these self-proclaimed battles for social justice. Part of me wishes that Professor Jackson ignored this whole issue altogether, because to even address it gives it a dignity it does not deserve. I do wish him well. Perhaps he might find some solace in the thought that, nowadays, most people are incapable of an attention span much longer than that of a fruit fly, so I believe this issue will die down of its own, once those who are engaged in it have run out of vitriol to expend.

  • Prof Jackson would be cancelled had he been forced to resign. This was not the case, unless I misread the exchange.

    • But the cat is out of the bag. If a judge somehow eventually forces Jackson to explain what Schenkerian models are supposed to model, that’s going to cost him something for sure. Hint: they don’t model anything in particular.

  • I’m white; I’m liberal; I support BLM. Ewell’s stance is ridiculous.

    To all the “open-minded” Trumpers who comment on this site: Please try to display a modicum of hiding your racists tendencies. Your true colors are tediously apparent.

  • This is all posturing for the coming retreat/drawdown of music schools, and faculty. COVID is merely accelerating this. Social justice issues are invented, equally by the applied and academic music faculty, at each institution. You can find them on any online music forum shouting to the peaks that they are socially responsible people, study with them. At the same time, administration is looking to cut faculty.

    IF you are looking to send your aspiring musician to one of these institutions in the coming years, take care to screen the online footprint/commenting history. Advise them to consider a broader university education (double major), versus a conservatory. Have a backup plan.

    Because when these reductions start, the released faculty will cling to the notion that it’s about differing views on social issues. The truth? It’s that they cannot sustain an adequate teaching studio with students. They’re more concerned with increasing their overall post count in a forum, peer reviewed academic journal. Which is what we have here.

  • If Schenkerians are not racists, then why do they think anti-racism proposals are an attack on Schenkerism?

  • ———————————————————
    RESPONSE (revised and abridged) to TIMOTHY JACKSON, “THE GENERAL CHALLENGER” by JOSHUA CLEMENT BROYLES, “DISGRUNTLED STUDENT”
    ———————————————————
    1) “The controversy engulfing me and Professor Philip Ewell of Hunter College is widely misunderstood as a debate over “racism.” ”

    If Schenkerians are not racists, then why do they think that anti-racism proposals are an attack on Schenkerism?

    And if you are not a racist, why did you consider anti-racism proposals to be an attack on you, personally?

    The controversy seems to be barely touching Ewell, and mostly engulfing you.
    Maybe because what Ewell said didn’t sound very controversial outside of your little echo chamber.
    The thing between you and Ewell isn’t about the Twitter mob, anyway. Ewell didn’t solicit a Twitter mob.
    Using the Twitter mob as an excuse not to face your thing with Ewell is a pretty cheap, lazy evasion tactic.
    If you think people don’t see that, you must think you’re smarter than everyone else, everywhere.
    Sorry to bust your bubble on that.

    2) “This controversy is actually about whether or not the Twitter mob may silence open discourse and scholarly debate at the University of North Texas.”

    Being white does not confer upon you any right to decide that even before the Twitter mob,
    the controversey was actually about some future Twitter mob.
    Why do I smell gaslight?

    3) “Professor Ewell certainly has a right to express his ideas. ”

    What he has is the “right” to serve as a template for your own straw man, but only because you allow it.

    4) “He labels as a “virulent racist” the great music theorist Heinrich Schenker.”

    His epithet for Schenker is “virulent racist”, yours is “great music theorist”.
    Looking at the objective historical evidence, Ewell’s epithet is the shorter forensic stretch.

    5) “By extension, he argues, modern music theory is institutionalized “racism” and those who teach and defend Schenker are “whitewashing” music theory. ”

    That’s not really his extension. His extension seems to be that ignoring or denying Schenker’s racism is an example of a larger pattern of whitewashing. If Ewell has not provided enough other examples, I ceratainly can. Ethan Hein certainly can. There’s no shortage of people, even very white people, who certainly can.

    Meanwhile, please stop insulting the intelligence of basically every educated person by describing Schenkerian theory as “modern”. The music treated is overwhelmingly not modern, and the ideas used to rationalize the “analysis” are almost pure, unfiltered Hegelian hubris.

    6) “We who have dedicated our life and scholarship to Schenker’s ideas are, by extension, inescapably racists.”

    Ewell hasn’t really named the larger problem, but I will: anti-empiricism; specifically Germanic anti-empricism. Germany has changed a lot, but Germanic-American culture, not so much. From Hegel to Hitler the common thread is the rejection of earnest evaluation of empirical data in favor of rationalization and cherry-picking. Heinrich Schenker and Friedrich Wilhelm von Frantzius are part of this tradition and, in terms of the post-World War II revival of Lowell Mason’s crusade being germanized by Eurocentric cultural hegemonists and anti-empiricisms such as Felix Salzer, you, also, are part of the Germanic anti-empiricist movement. A proper scientific term for what you do procedurally would be something like “charlatanry”. Conus is largely considered debunked, and yet his reported defense of his work is almost verbatim to standard Schenkerian defenses of Schenkerism.

    But, much to your credit, I understand that practical racism is something your narcissist collective would probably drop if it were no longer useful to support your scam.

    To this extent, you you are not essentially racists; you are essentially opportunists.

    7) “I had the courage to object. ”

    You have the privileged position from which to object, and to do so with reliable blind support from a bunch of other white men.

    8) “But I did so by following the usual course of open academic debate. The Journal of Schenkerian Studies sent out a Call for Papers to everyone in the Society for Music Theory, including Professor Ewell. We deliberately collected different viewpoints, some supporting him.”

    That’s your version of events. There are already other vesions. They are compatible with each other, but not with yours. If you somehow get away with this, then you are every bit the genius you must imagine yourself to be. But I’m not optimistic. For the sake of your own basic human dignity, please just come clean NOW.

    9) “Professor Ewell himself made no response. The claim that the Journal somehow denied him a voice is simply false.”

    Show us the paper trails or electronic paper trails. Continuing not to do that supports Ewell’s position.
    And worse, it begins to support public positions which I have only begun to offer. F*** around and find out.

    10) “Instead, as Professor Ewell explained in this paper, he chooses not to read the responses at all.
    He and the Twitter mob nevertheless shout down our viewpoints as “racist.”
    I have requested that the Journal and the University of North Texas Press immediately make all the responses publicly available.”

    That’s very generous of you; to ask that a public university make your publicly-supported “work” available to the public when you suddenly need it to defend yourself. I’ve seen things in your response that are incidentally racistic. But they’re also Tu Quoque / Two Wrongs Make a Right. Even if Ewell were forcing students to listen to “B*** Better Have My Money” (I’ll bet he isn’t), you conveniently ignore that your own musical culture harbors essentially all the same objectionable lyric content, But I get it: misogyny can be redeemed by revealing the elegance of Schenkerian mid-ground objects that the composers possibly never even costructed; that is: it can be redeemed by whiteness; by YOUR whiteness.

    11) “I have run the Center for Schenkerian Studies at the University of North Texas for two decades. My colleagues and I have a long track record of opposing racism. For example, the Center rescued the compositions of Paul Kletzki thought lost to the Holocaust. At the time he composed, Kletzki was condemned as “racially inferior.” His work is now performed around the world thanks to our Center. In 2011, this earned a Grammy nomination, bringing recognition to UNT.”

    Kletzki is now recializable as white in the United States. Moreover, your “work” makes him even more racializable as white. Congratulations.

    Meanwhile, Americans of all colors wonder why you need to go back in time 70 years and to another continent to find works to archive and “analyze” by people at some point defined as less than white.

    I forget… what State do you live in? What country do you live in?

    12) “I have personally promoted and mentored people of color from around the globe. They come to study music theory at UNT. I also stand by my life-long support for providing resources to people of color
    in the United States to nurture the appreciation of classical music from an early age. Perversely, this too is now condemned by the mob as “racism.””

    Yes. You are happy to personally indoctrinate nonwhite persons in musical whiteness. How heroic.

    13) “I also took issue with Professor Ewell for looking the other way at anti-Semitism among black intellectuals. ”

    It’s not necessarily relevant.
    Did Ewell cite any of those intellectuals, or is this just a matter of you tarring him with the same brush; a matter of the pot calling the kettle a n*****?

    14) “In this, I suppose I am guilty of agreeing with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.”

    So a racist position isn’t racist if one black guy seems to agree with it? Please explain. I thought you just made a point that black people could have racist positions. OTOH, If Abdul-Jabbar hasn’t asked to be dragged into this, to be implicitly cited by you as a fellow licensed racist, I will go out on a limb by guessing that much, due to my respect for him and his very real accomplishments. Criticizing the climate of rap lyrics isn’t the same thing as dimissing an entire genre called Hip-Hop. Abdul-Jabbar and Ewell probably understand this just as well as I do. Really, it seems like only you don’t understand it. Or do you?

    15) “My response gives concrete examples of this anti-Semitism in rap music.”

    Did Ewell support teaching those examples? Please say unambiguously that he did, so he can sue you, personally, for that. I’m kind of poor, but I’ve got some loose coins for his legal fund, at least.

    16) “I still appeal to Professor Ewell to join me in opposing this disturbing and racist trend.”

    So, once a cultural conflict finally makes you uncomfortable, that defines it as racism?
    I guess BLM knows who to call now to consult on whether things they don’t like are actually racism.
    How very considerate.

    17) “I continue to hope and believe that Professor Ewell and I are fundamentally on the same side.”

    I think you both are, for now.

    I also think he’ll eventually wise up a bit and realize that, racism aside, Schenkerian models don’t model anything in particular, and that your whole career has been basically an epistemic shell game.

    Don’t say I didn’t give you a heads-up.
    Over the next year, your world could easily become a circular wall of Narmour citations.

    18) “We should teach and take Schenker’s life and career as exemplary. As my response to Professor Ewell points out, Schenker’s confrontation with racial supremacy in National Socialism led him to conclude in defiance: “Music is accessible to all races and creeds alike.””

    What Schenker must have meant in context and what you imply that he meant are not the same.
    You know this, and you’re talking to everyone like we’re a bunch of idiots when you act like we can’t see this.
    Schenker’s musical bigotry was even more extreme than his racial bigotry.

    Like you, Schenker was eager to see nonwhite people replace their nonwhite music with white music.

    19)” Schenker was not considered “white,” certainly not part of a “white male frame.” They spat on him as a “sow Jew”—denying him standing as either “white” or “male.””

    Schenker advocated more than spitting be used to punish participants in music that he didn’t think was white enough; it’s still quite unclear that you don’t really agree with him. Who is spitting on Schenker now, while you’re pushing a musical culture on both white and nonwhite students which is created almost entirely by people currently racializable as white?

    Hitler claimed both personal and affiliate victimhood as supposed justification of his policy decisions.
    But now that you’re being “victimized” by being held accountable like a regular adult for the sh** you say,
    you no longer need to lean on the crutch of affiliate victimhood by citing things that plausibly happened to Schenker 80 years ago or more.

    If you want to look any less like a collective narcissist, you should let go of the affiliate-victim tactic.
    People know you don’t represent a personal microcosm of your academic group, and they know that your group is not really a group of Holocaust victims. Increasingly, people are also aware that the tacit implication that Schenker was a Holocaust victim is without any basis.

    If you keep milking the bogus Schenker-Holocaust angle, even a lot of Jews who know almost nothing about music will be calling you out publicly, and they should.

    Just watch.

    20) “I still believe there is universal humanity in Schenker’s intellectual victory over racism and in music theory. ”

    Based on what?

    Was this recently revealed to when you were visited by the ghost of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.?

    Do tell.

    There’s certainly nothing obvious in Schenker’s own words to support your position.

    21) “But that victory is perishable. ”

    Myths sometimes get debunked. Get over it.

    22) “It can only survive by staunchly defending open discourse and an open society. It will never happen by kneeling before the Twitter mob.”

    The matter at hand begins not with an attack on public discourse, but with a critique of academic culture,
    and the only person whos has been specifically vilified for his response to it is you.

    You’ve taken Ewell’s broad cultural critique, made it about yourself, and then decided to hide behind some imaginary conspiracy against white music and the supposed right (yours, anyway) to bullsh** people as “public discourse” in order to protect yourself from your own bad decisions.

    But there is no war on white music, and most white people know this.
    We are not at all scared of what Ewell’s suggestions are going to do to our options as music consumers.
    No one is going to tear down and burn up white music as we know it just to get at you.
    You’re not standing braveley against some threat against Western Civilization like a Medieval Christian martyr.

    Get over yourself.

    23)…

    I already know to expect either no response to my comments, or responses that depend heavily on appeals to things other than evidence and logic.

    I already know a bunch of things I could be called. I won’t deny being an a-hole or a hypocrite.
    But there are things at stake here more important than anything that stands to be taken from me, including my very meagre reputation.

    You are too smart to cling to the sunk costs of the lies you have been telling yourself all these years.
    When you decide to face facts, I’ll still be the jerk you’ve seen so far, but others won’t.
    Others will be there for you. I would guess Ewell would be there for you.
    For my own part, I expect I can probably resist the temptation to rub it in.

    Meanwhile, stop saying you’ve been “canceled”.

    This is a personal insult to me because I actually was canceled 20 years ago in order to protect Schenkerism from scientific critique.

    And I’m probably not the only one.

    So far, total f***s given by you about people getting canceled for Schenker skepticism: negative zero.

    Schenkerian culture IS cancel culture.

    – Joshua Clement Broyles, Ex-Music Theorist

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