Classical music under assault in academia

Oxford University reportedly is under pressure to stop, or at least curtail, the teaching of sheet music, musical notation, and even the classical music that was scored upon it. The rationale is that all of this is “too colonial,” and that Beethoven, Mozart, and music in general are “complicit in white supremacy.”

It’s not just students and BLM groups that are pushing this insanity. In fact, professors seem to be leading the charge. According to this report:

The proposals put forward by one faction of academics to address so-called “white hegemony” include rethinking the study of instructive ­musical symbols because it is a ­“colonialist representational system.”

Their document states teaching notation that has not “shaken off its connection to its colonial past” would be a “slap in the face” for some students. Music writing studies have been ­earmarked for rebranding to be more inclusive and diverse.

In addition:

[T]he rebel professors. . .believe skills such as learning piano or conducting orchestras, should no longer be compulsory. They allege the repertoire “structurally centres white European music”, which causes “students of ­colour great distress”.

Almost all of the professors behind this movement reportedly are White.

What do they propose to replace “sheet” and “classical” music courses with? Special topics According to this report:

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.

(Emphasis added)

That’s obvious. It’s also an admission against interest.

I have nothing against adding courses to any curriculum if they can be shown to have merit unattached to any political movement or agenda. What I oppose is curtailing the teaching of core subjects (or any others) for reasons having nothing to do with the academic discipline in question.

It’s also deplorable falsely to brand a field of endeavor — in this case classical music — colonialist” or “white supremacist.” As this writer states:

Western music. . .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.

So the assertions used to support the purging classical music and musical notation are false.

The main criticism of these assertions, though, is that they are irrelevant. Classical music deserves a place in the curriculum regardless of whether it postdates or predates the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Musical notation should be studied whether it has roots in Babylonia or Brighton.

Classical music is one of man’s highest cultural achievements. It has a beauty that is unsurpassed. It is worthy of study for these reasons.

The real reason why BLM sympathizers want to put it aside as “white supremacist” is that nearly all significant contributions to classical music are by Whites. But to put it aside for that reason would be blatant racism.

Jazz music is one of, if not the, highest cultural achievement in America. It originates with Blacks and most of the best contributors to the genre have been African-American. To label it “black supremacist” and to cast it aside in academia on that basis would also be racist. No one would publicly propose doing so.

It’s unfortunate that self-hating White profs in Britain do not feel similarly constrained. And if this is happening in Britain, it must also be happening, or about to happen, here.

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