"white European music", art music, black lives matter, Classical music, colonialism, gifted and talented, music notation, music theory, Oxford University, racism, virtuoso, white supremacy
As regular readers know, math is racist. We also know music theory—the academic study of the nature, construction, methodology and application of writing music, is also racist. In that article, I wrote, in part:
Unfortunately, social justice, and the siren song of finding racism under every bush and behind every tree have infected even the academic study of music theory. Let us imagine I am a noted music theorist, and wanting to remain employed, have suddenly discovered in the figured bass of Bach’s compositions, a mathematically constructed, racist dog whistle which is not only systematic, but evidence of white supremacy, misogyny, transphobia and anti-anti-racism. That such a theory is surely nonsense doesn’t matter. That there is no evidence whatever to support it doesn’t matter. It’s woke, and because it’s woke, I will be praised for my groundbreaking scholarship, which will be reflexively and ardently defended because racist!
Now we discover sheet music—actual written music—is colonialist, white supremacist, and of course, RAAAAAAACIIIIIST! The Daily Mail reports:
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’.
Let me clarify: the masters of “classical”—actually “art” music—are suddenly discovered to be racist not because they owned slaves, there is any evidence whatever of racism in their lives, or their written music is in some way racist or harmful to non-white people who might happen to gaze upon it, even though they understand it not, but because they lived and wrote music at roughly the same period in history that slavery existed (it still does). Oh, and colonization was also occurring.
It is thought that music writing will also be reformed to be more inclusive.
And what, pray tell, would more inclusive music notation be? Make the bass notes much, much larger and add dynamic levels of: ffffff and fffffffffffff? Require “bitch,” “ho,” and “bust a cap in yo ass, Motherf*****!” in every line of lyrics? Or include the expression direction: “play the thumping bass so loud the windows on cars next to yours at stop lights shatter.”
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’.
At least there’s some sanity in the music faculty of Oxford. Let’s add a bit more depth from Brietbart:
The music department at the prestigious and ancient university [Oxford] has seen calls to remove music notation from the curriculum as professors seek to focus less on white European heritage and culture, according to documents seen by The Telegraph.
The woke educators went on to claim that musical notation itself is a ‘colonialist representational system’ that has complicity to white supremacy’. The claim is similar to leftist pronouncements in America that mathematics is inherently racist.
The Oxford academics went on to pronounce that teaching the piano or conducting orchestras could cause ‘students of colour great distress’ as the skills involved are closely tied to ‘white European music’.
A music major without piano or directing skills is not a trained musician at all. It is in college they have the opportunity to develop those skills. Of course, if the intention is to so dumb down music and musicians through the use of “music” so simplistic it needs neither direction nor interpretation—just volume—this makes a sort of deranged sense.
Professors at the university said that the classical music, which is taught at Oxford, which includes Beethoven, Mozart, and Schubert, among others, is too focused on ‘white European music from the slave period’.
The assertion is somewhat dubious, as Western classical music, as well as the practice of sheet music notation, predates the Atlantic slave trade, stemming back to musical traditions from the medieval period such as Gregorian chanting.
In the last several paragraphs, the woke lunatics have given away the game. Wokeness is, in large part, about doing away with merit. From a young age, I was musical. Hearing a song once, I could remember the melody and recreate the chord structure on the piano, though I wasn’t fluent on the instrument. Growing up in the rock era, I picked up the guitar, and developed considerable skill virtually entirely by ear. It was only in my early 30s when I returned to college and took a music degree that I suddenly and rather dramatically understood everything I had been doing by ear and rote for so many years. “Oh! That’s why that’s a G7 chord!” Music notation, which until then I understood only dimly, was suddenly revealed. The scales almost actually fell from my eyes, and I’ve been an arranger and composer since.
What most people don’t understand is most popular musicians are musical illiterates. They cannot read or write music. Music notation is no more decipherable to them than Aramaic or Sanscrit. Consider: pop “artist” Bob has a tune rummaging around in his head, and sort of figures it out on his guitar. He goes into a studio where an actual musician—someone who is musically literate—works, and says: “Hey, I wrote this song last night,” so they sit down at the piano, and the actual musician puts it down on paper—usually helping write it as he goes—and when the tune goes gold, and the sheet music is published, “Bob” is listed as the composer, which he is, sort of. Other people did the arrangement, adding all the other parts and harmonies that make the tune profitable, and actually transcribed the music, which is mostly done these days with music writing software like Sibelius. But if Bob were handed a copy of that piece without a title or lyrics, only the music notation, he would not recognize it as the song that made him a lot of money. Back to Brietbart:
In response to student demands ‘arising from international Black Lives Matter demonstrations,’ the Oxford faculty is also considering placing a heavier emphasis on ‘non-Eurocentric’ musical traditions such as Hip-Hop and Jazz, as well as ‘African and African Diasporic Musics’ and ‘Global Musics’.
The curriculum could also place more importance on pop music and culture…
Well of course it could. “Eurocentric musical traditions” are the height of musical expression. They’re the greatest musical works of which human beings are capable, the equivalent of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, or Michangelo’s David. They’re the creation of transcendent beauty, beauty that touches every human being regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation.
The motivation of these cultural barbarians is simple. Producing such musical works requires not only genuine talent, but very hard work. Learning music notation, which is in effect a foreign language, learning to play an instrument very well, takes not only a genuine talent for music, but high intelligence and supreme dedication, the willingness to work very hard for decades. Becoming a virtuoso, among the very best composers and performers the world has to offer, goes beyond even that level of dedication, talent and intelligence.
Which is where merit enters, and why cultural barbarians must destroy it.
Truly capable composers and performers are rare. Were this not so, everyone could do it. I’ve often observed we’re schizophrenic about such things. We would never suggest it’s racist to pay only the very best athletes to play in the NFL, nor do we care at all about everyone else who will never be that good. We carry this to school athletics, where we do not for a moment care about the hurt feelings of the kids who will never play on a varsity team, because that’s really important; that’s sports! Yet woke barbarians/destroyers are now seeking to abolish gifted and talented classes because kids who aren’t gifted and talented might feel badly when they dimly realize they aren’t gifted or talented, which is the case for most people. If there is no such thing as average, there can be no such thing as below or above average, and if we’re honest with ourselves, we know all three of those categories unquestionably exist.
Let’s carry this logic just a little further to the NBA. Isn’t it almost entirely racist? What about the feelings of old white guys like me who are denied the opportunity to make millions? Where’s the equity in that? The NBA is racist!
In doing away with K-12 gifted and talented programs, we do away with classes like music theory. Should a talented student want to pursue music in college, eliminating music theory, which is largely where one learns how to write music, completes the destruction of merit and of “Eurocentric musical traditions.” It leaves us with nothing but pop music, and of course, the height of woke musical expression, hip hop, rap and the like.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a director, composer, arranger and performer. I’ve played rock, country, jazz, blues, big band, swing, even polka. I’ve played the scores of Broadway musicals in pit orchestras as player and director. Put the music before me, and I’ll play it. Because I learned music by ear, even if there is no written music, I can figure it out—“hear” it–and play without a chart. I’ve also performed the works of the masters: Bach, Handel, Mozart, Schubert, Brahms, Palestrina, you name the “eurocentic” composer, I’ve probably performed their works. I’ve enjoyed every genre of music I’ve written, arranged, directed or performed, but I do not for a moment think the various genres of popular music are in any way as complex, demanding, or ultimately, as satisfying as art music. Performing a particularly melodic pop song is fun and enjoyable, but in performing Handel’s Messiah, I sense the hand of God; I am transported beyond my daily existence and for a time, am a part of a tradition of excellence, of accomplishment, extending for centuries. Performing pop music is fine, but in terms of music, there is so much more for the composer, performer and listener.
The movements to do away with music notation, writing, great literature, and so much more are attempts to destroy human progress, to limit the human soul to the meaningless, trivial and profane, to bring mankind down to the lowest levels of accomplishment and existence. People are much easier to control when their lives are joyless daily struggles for mere existence. They seek to drive everyone below average, to deny the existence of the truly talented and gifted, so the mediocre, cruel and stupid may be exalted and rule. To do this, merit, in all its expressions, must first be destroyed, and among the first steps to destroying merit is to call it racist.
That allows barbarians to batter down the gates, and to shred the scores.
..and ultimately burn the books.
I wonder.. if music is one of the languages of the soul (as is any art form of personal expression), and we seek in some way to silence what’s being conveyed, are we then attempting to silence the soul?
On the other hand… how can music without lyrics offend?
Mike McDaniel said:
All of the “woke” movement is an attempt to crush the joy out of life and reduce us to wretches scrabbling for mere daily existence. As you say, how can music without lyrics offend. Those trying to ban music notation are, again, trying to destroy merit. To read music and play in an orchestra, one must demonstrate not only merit, but be willing to work for years, often be rejected, yet persevere. That’s equality of opportunity, which woeness rejects in equality of outcome, which means no orchestras and no art music. The lowest common denominator isn’t capable of producing them, and are offended by any evidence of merit.
What you say certainly applies to anything in life. The more one invests in themselves the greater the life experience. Yet.. I tend to do less finger pointing and circling the wagons against some fear we perceive in others, and prefer to examine the cause and effect for why people act, believe, the way they do. It’s seems we are going through a phase where it’s far easier to assign blame to the “other” than trying to understand where/how/why the “other” got to be. “Woke” is just a swing of the social pendulum.
Mike McDaniel said:
Among the things I taught new police officers was people do things for a reason, so don’t get mad, get curious. However, when “others” are actively trying to destroy the Republic in very specific and damaging ways, the time for analysis is when the destruction is stopped, perhaps then it can be looked at as mitigation in the sentencing phase.
The difference between the usual swing of the pendulum and now, is D/S/Cs are trying to ensure the pendulum stays stuck to the far left forever. They don’t accept the give and take of a representative republic, and don’t care why Normal Americans want to preserve the Constitution.
“Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”
Popped into my head after your last reply. Interesting your perception of the Republic being destroyed by other Americans who claim a love for the Constitution as well. We are loving ourselves to death? Not likely.
Mike McDaniel said:
Ah yes, John Donne. I used that quote, in its entirety, to teach history and the cycle of life we all share. You really don’t think there are people–Marxists, anarchists, etc. actively working to destroy the Constitution, and with it, the Republic? I’d be curious as to how much love D/S/Cs pushing H.B 1 are showing the Constitution. Are they merely constitutional illiterate, or actively seeking to abolish its protections?
Mike, we have (what’s the count up to now.. ?) some 320 million(?) Americans in the country so to presume to think not a one doesn’t wish to expressly dump the Constitution and take over as some dictator or create an American “royalty” in some pro-Marxist revolution, is just numerically not realistic. The question is rather, do people that think that way have some representative numbers of support to become an actual threat to the Republic? I don’t see it. But you prefer to add to that list of nasties your moniker of “D/S/C”, which is just a label dumping ground for all the “other” that you feel needs to be feared… as if they were all unified toward the end of the Constitution… and that there’s some “under siege” attack on the Constitution. I see it as pretty much “business as usual” since 1789.
As for HB 1… you, me, any average person can go to a site and read the entire thing.. and for the most part most of us simply do not have the time, nor the “reading-for-comprehension” inclination to draw substance and application from the language. We rely on our respective media sources and politicians to translate it for us. Our current political divide dictates that each side of that divide thinks the other side’s sources as being bogus. In the end we have to believe in something and fall back on what we think is critical thinking on our part.
Yup.. it’s CNN, and echoed in the other media services I follow. You won’t find this from Conservative sources obviously.
Mike McDaniel said:
Surely you know H.B.1 is, in many of its parts, clearly unconstitutional? It’s not a matter of opinion. It’s a corrupt power grab, there on the page or screen in black and white.
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