Oxford University Considers Scrapping a 'Too Colonial' Music Sheet

Published March 28th, 2021 - 08:57 GMT
Music score pages
Music score pages (Shutterstock)
It is thought that music writing will also be reformed to be more inclusive.

The University of Oxford is considering scrapping sheet music for being 'too colonial' after staff raised concerns about the 'complicity in white supremacy' in music curriculums.

Professors are set to reform their music courses to move away from the classic repertoire, which includes the likes of Beethoven and Mozart, in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.

University staff have argued that the current curriculum focuses on 'white European music from the slave period', according to The Telegraph.  

Documents seen by the publication indicate proposed reforms to target undergraduate courses.

It claimed that teaching musical notation had 'not shaken off its connection to its colonial past' and would be 'a slap in the face' to some students.

And it added that musical skills should no longer be compulsory because the current repertoire's focus on 'white European music' causes 'students of colour great distress'. 

It is thought that music writing will also be reformed to be more inclusive.

But the proposals caused upset among some faculty members who argued that it was unfair to accuse those teaching music from before 1900 of being concerned with just 'white'.

MailOnline has contacted the University of Oxford for comment.

It comes after one Oxford college removed the name of an 18th-century slave trader from its main library earlier this year - but has defied calls to take down his statue.

All Souls College reviewed its link to Christopher Codrington, a Barbados-born colonial governor, in the wake of last year's Black Lives Matter movement.

The former college fellow who died in 1710 bequeathed £10,000 to the library which has since been unofficially known as the Codrington Library. 

A marble statue by Edward Cheere of the benefactor has been standing in the library for centuries and the college says it has no plans to take it down despite the clamour from students.

The All Souls governing body said: 'Rather than seek to remove it the College will investigate further forms of memorialisation and contextualisation within the library, which will draw attention to the presence of enslaved people on the Codrington plantations, and will express the College’s abhorrence of slavery.'

Their review found that Codrington's wealth 'derived largely from his family’s activities in the West Indies, where they owned plantations worked by enslaved people of African descent'.

The college claims it has undertaken a number of measures to address the colonial legacy, including erecting a memorial plaque in memory of those who worked on the Caribbean plantations. 

This article has been adapted from its original source.

© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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