Marc Hannaford, assistant professor of music theory, has published a new research article in the Journal of the Society for American Music. Titled “Theory on the South Side: Muhal Richard Abrams’s Engagement with Joseph Schillinger’s System of Musical Composition,” the article addresses music theory and its relationship with Black American music.
The abstract states:
Muhal Richard Abrams’s ground-breaking work as a composer, improviser, and cofounder of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) is far reaching and multifaceted. Russian composer, theorist, and polymath Joseph Schillinger appears repeatedly in discussions of Abrams and the AACM, suggesting that music theory played a generative role in Abrams’s creative practice and pedagogy. This article focuses on Abrams’s engagement with The Schillinger System of Musical Composition. It theorizes Abrams’s incorporation of Schillinger’s work into his broader creative palette, analyzes Abrams’s compositional application of Schillinger’s theory, and suggests conceptual resonances between Abrams’s creative practice and the text. Ultimately, this article suggests a larger network of African American theorists, which I conceptualize as ‘fugitive music theory.’
Hannaford’s 2023 article “Theory on the South Side” is open access and is available online.