Whose Music Matters?
Duke Ellington famously said, “There are simply two kinds of music, good music and the other kind.” Heeding Ellington’s genius, what if we were to redefine musical study as the pursuit of learning, embracing, and creating good music in all of its forms? In this scenario, the criteria for the music we study would no longer be limited by a composer’s gender identity, skin color, or geographical birthplace. Nor by the music most familiar within our own experience. Rather, the criteria would be how deeply the music challenges our intellect, stirs our emotions, and ignites our spirit. Of course, arriving at a consensus on a canon of “good music” would present its challenges, and if done so with bias, prejudice, or malice, would prove harmful. We know this from experience.