Oxford University faculty members are advocating to ban sheet music and diminish attention placed on classical European composers, arguing both make the prestigious UK school an accessory to “white supremacy.”
Arising from international Black Lives Matter demonstrations, the university’s faculty board proposed a series of alterations to “enhance the diversity” of the music program, the Telegraph reports, pointing to internal documents about the new measures.
The board is looking to rectify what it says is a “white hegemony” that encompasses the standard use of musical notation—symbols labeled by the kooky professors as a “colonialist representational system,” according to the report.
Basic musical notation instruction amounts to a “slap in the face” for some pupils because of a “connection to its colonial past,” the board is said to have lamented.
Students should also be given the option to omit certain musical proficiencies from their curriculum, such as being trained to play the keyboard or conducting orchestras. That instruction “structurally centers white European music” which causes “students of color great distress,” according to the report.
The new policies present an even greater challenge because the “vast bulk of tutors for techniques are white men,” the board reportedly griped.
The professors also blasted the classical curriculum, which teaches the works of Mozart and Beethoven, for putting too much attention on “white European music from the slave period.”
Despite musical styles such as hip hop and jazz giving a “non-Eurocentric” field of study, the faculty asked if the “structure of our curriculum supports white supremacy,” the Telegraph reports.
Nevertheless, an “almost all-white faculty” provides “privilege to white musics,” the report claims the board wrote.
One solution batted around by the professors is to shift the focus to “African and African Diasporic Musics,” “Global Musics,” and “Popular Musics,” rather than concentrating on the likes of French composer Guillaume de Machaut or Franz Schubert’s last decade.
Subjects such as “Dua Lipa’s Record Breaking Livestream” or “Artists Demanding Trump Stop Using Their Songs,” were suggested as ways to bring popular music into the curriculum, the report stated.
One requirement of the reformed program states, “No tutors should speak disparagingly to students about any element of the curriculum.”
According to internal documents, however, not all staff members were happy about the changes. One argued that teachers focused on music from before 1900 “are often implicitly accused of being concerned exclusively with music that is ‘Western’ and ‘white.’”
There also seems to be a discrepancy over the use of the term “Western Art Music,” intended to be more diverse than “classical” by acknowledging other classical traditions and cultures.
Critics point out the advancement of Western classical music and its common meaning—both having a background in medieval liturgical music such as Gregorian chanting—came before the African slave trade.
Recognizable figures in the formation of the roots of classical music include such giants as Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig van Beethoven, who established themselves in the 17th through 19th centuries.
The board has yet to propose the final revamped course of study. The University of Oxford did not reply to requests for comment, according to the UK paper.