In which I ask is sheet music racist without answering it!

This article has been getting some attention on social media during the week. Most of it is inevitably in the political correctness gone mad category. But it reminds me of something I originally wrote last September.

So, here it is in its entirety….


Back on Monday, I posted a link to an article asking essentially whether music theory was diminishing or ignoring aspects of more traditionally black music. In other words, is music theory racist? You can read the article here…

My initial reaction was basically a raised eyebrow, but I said I would watch the video once I had a chance and get back to you. I finally had the opportunity last night to do so – and I’m in some agreement with the premise.

I have to defer to others in some ways on this, as my musical knowledge is much more limited than that of Adam Neely. But you only have to listen to things like jazz and hip hop to know they don’t follow the same rules as a lot of other genres. They sound different, the structure is often different, the melodies and such are different – it doesn’t take an expert to work it out, though it does take one to explain it.

As someone who makes house music, I’m all too aware of using what music theory perceives as the “wrong” chord. I’ve done it myself before, but music theory is a guide. It’s not meant to be something you blindly follow as if it were some kind of cult.

Perhaps it is time that the rules of music theory were revised. It’s not like there is just one set of rules anyway…


The Six On Saturday column, which normally occupies this space, is currently having a week off. It returns next weekend.