Sheet music is now considered “too colonial,” while Beethoven and Mozart, and music curriculums in general, are believed to have “complicity in white supremacy.”
The Post Millennial
The University of Oxford has taken the Black Lives Matter movement to heart, and as such is considering a plan to scrap sheet music, notation, and the classical music that was scored upon it. Sheet music is now considered “too colonial,” while Beethoven and Mozart, and music curriculums in general, are believed to have “complicity in white supremacy.”
Arguments against the music, which is one of the greatest achievements of western civilization, arose not just from activist students but from activist professors, who say that the music study in its current composition is focused on “white European music from the slave period.”
Musical notation is believed now to be part of a “colonialist representational system.” The changes are being proposed to undergraduate level courses and the goal is to “decolonize” music study. These professors are intent on addressing “white hegemony,” according to the Telegraph.
The professors argue that the teaching of musical notation would be a “slap in the face” for students because notation “has not ‘shaken off its connection to its colonial past.” Music study, moving forward, has been “earmarked for a rebranding to be more inclusive.”
Additionally, requirements will no longer dictate that music students are taught to play piano, or how to conduct orchestras, because this, too, “structurally centres white European music.” According to these music instructors at Oxford whose job it was to teach the history, scope, breadth and practice of music, this can cause “students of colour great distress.” Even the way music is taught, these profs complain, is a problem because the “vast bulk of tutors for techniques are white men.”
So what will all this problematic scoring and compositions be replaced with? There would be “special topics,” more electives and less requirements that students learn about the history or technique of European music. The concern is that, according to some profs, the “structure of our curriculum supports white supremacy.”
This is evidenced by the fact that the faculty, who is of course proposing these changes, are “almost all-white.” These “almost all-white” professors are worried that they are “giving ‘privilege to white musics,'” even though in practice, they are currently giving preference to anything but.
These special topics would include “Introduction to Sociocultural and Historical Studies,” or “African and African Diasporic Musics,” “Global Musics,” and “Popular Musics.” So instead of studying the history of western music, which has been evolving and changing for thousands upon thousands of years, students will study what is happening in music right now.
Pop music will now be on the curriculum, so that students can study 2021 Grammy Award winning pop star “Dua Lipa’s Record Breaking Livestream,” or “Artists Demanding Trump Stop Using Their Songs.” The academics proposing these changes have stated that it is in direct reaction to the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Following a faculty ‘away day’, staff state in documentation,” the Telegraph writes, “that ‘arising from international Black Lives Matter demonstrations, the Faculty Board proposed making changes to enhance the diversity of the undergraduate curriculum.'”
Oxford profs are tying themselves in knots to root out the white supremacy in western music and to bring in elements of contemporary pop music. They are clamouring to say that their discipline, the ethereal art of music, is also racist.
There has been some pushback against these changes from inside the department. One professor noted that those who teach music from prior to the 20th century “are often implicitly accused of being concerned exclusively with music that is ‘Western’ and ‘white.'”
Western music, however, has been a long evolving art form that, as the Telegraph notes, predates the trans Atlantic slave trade entirely. Music evolved along with the Catholic church and was about worship of the divine. Musical notation does not even have its origin in the west
The first known musical notation was found on a cuneiform tablet from ancient Iraq, then known as Babylonia. That tablet is now some 4,000 years old. That first notated song is known as the Hurrian Hymn No. 6, and because a fragment of it has survived in notation, it is able to be recreated today.