Oxford University May “Decolonize” Classical Music Curriculum, Including Western Notation
Oxford University’s music department is looking to make significant changes to its curriculum in an effort to “decolonize” it.
According to The Telegraph, the department has faced pressure from Black Lives Matter protesters to “diversify” the curriculum and address “white hegemony” in its courses.
Some professors have said that the curriculum may demonstrate some level of “complicity in white supremacy,” not just in its focus on Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven, but also in the very emphasis on Western musical notation—the standard notation for classical music worldwide.
These professors even go so far as to say that developing skills like conducting an orchestra or playing the piano should no longer be requirements “because the repertoire ‘structurally centers white European music’ which causes ‘students of color great distress.'”
So what would a “decolonized” curriculum look like? From The Telegraph:
As a proposed change, “special topics” for students to choose from instead would be relabelled as “Introduction to Sociocultural and Historical Studies” to reflect the faculty’s new focus.
Options focussing on French composer Machaut and Schubert’s last decade could be changed to focus on “African and African Diasporic Musics”, “Global Musics”, and “Popular Musics” under one proposal.
Another suggestion is that pop music will come into greater focus, allowing students to study mooted events in popular culture including “Dua Lipa’s Record Breaking Livestream” and “Artists Demanding Trump Stop Using Their Songs”.
God help us all.