Strategies for Inclusive Teaching through Timbre

Megan Lavengood, George Mason University

Music schools across the English-speaking world are attempting to become more broadly inclusive of different types of musics and students. This talk considers why theorists should—and how we can—incorporate timbre analysis into an undergraduate theory curriculum, and how this can contribute to a more equitable theory curriculum. I present some practical lessons and assessments and identify areas where timbre might fit most easily into a traditional or a modular curriculum. Timbre, instrumentation, and texture are inherent properties of all sound and thus can be studied in (nearly) all music; furthermore, these concepts do not rely on the complex systems of pitch that underlie most music-theoretical topics (and privilege students with access to classical training). While not a panacea, emphasizing the analysis of timbre, instrumentation, and texture is one way of developing a more inclusive pedagogy of music theory.