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Classical Music has a Diversity Problem

Farnsworth, Brandon LU orcid (2024) p.41-58
Abstract
A recent profusion of statistics on classical music repertoire, performers, and education from across several countries have produced quantitative evidence confirming that it is primarily a musical tradition where white, middle class European cis-males succeed. This chapter examines how improving the inclusivity and equality of classical music conflicts with its beliefs in meritocracy and high musical quality, but argues that giving up on a belief in classical music’s universalism and exploring instead its many situated entanglements with the world around it would allow for a new approach that does not fall back on the exclusionary categories it has historically relied upon, while offering forms of engaging with classical music that better... (More)
A recent profusion of statistics on classical music repertoire, performers, and education from across several countries have produced quantitative evidence confirming that it is primarily a musical tradition where white, middle class European cis-males succeed. This chapter examines how improving the inclusivity and equality of classical music conflicts with its beliefs in meritocracy and high musical quality, but argues that giving up on a belief in classical music’s universalism and exploring instead its many situated entanglements with the world around it would allow for a new approach that does not fall back on the exclusionary categories it has historically relied upon, while offering forms of engaging with classical music that better align with contemporary values of inclusivity and equality. I also argue that sustained statistical work is crucially important to continuing to address classical music’s exclusions, but that in order to not simply facilitate surface changes to a problematic system (engaging in what I call a reformist critique), their goal must be to confound existing categorisations and help usher in new perspectives on the classical music tradition (a radical critique), which in turn requires statistical categories to be readapted. While structural problems will not disappear overnight, such an approach will reveal how classical music has always already been entangled with its surroundings and been the site of many experiments and interactions with other musical genres, which it has marked as ‘other’ and has either forgotten, omitted or purposefully discarded. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceeding
publication status
published
subject
host publication
Classical Music Futures : Practices of Innovation - Practices of Innovation
editor
Smith, Neil T. ; Peters, Peter and Molina, Karoly
pages
18 pages
publisher
Open Book Publishers
external identifiers
  • scopus:85188867518
ISBN
978-1-80511-075-0
978-1-80511-079-8
978-1-80511-076-7
978-1-80511-073-6
978-1-80511-074-3
DOI
10.11647/OBP.0353.02
project
Another Break with Tradition? Investigating Contemporary Music's Diversification through an Institutional Ethnography of the Borealis Festival in Bergen, Norway
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
51492d7a-17a6-494c-820e-846f2849a2ae
date added to LUP
2023-01-27 13:58:02
date last changed
2024-04-16 12:49:21
@inbook{51492d7a-17a6-494c-820e-846f2849a2ae,
  abstract     = {{A recent profusion of statistics on classical music repertoire, performers, and education from across several countries have produced quantitative evidence confirming that it is primarily a musical tradition where white, middle class European cis-males succeed. This chapter examines how improving the inclusivity and equality of classical music conflicts with its beliefs in meritocracy and high musical quality, but argues that giving up on a belief in classical music’s universalism and exploring instead its many situated entanglements with the world around it would allow for a new approach that does not fall back on the exclusionary categories it has historically relied upon, while offering forms of engaging with classical music that better align with contemporary values of inclusivity and equality. I also argue that sustained statistical work is crucially important to continuing to address classical music’s exclusions, but that in order to not simply facilitate surface changes to a problematic system (engaging in what I call a reformist critique), their goal must be to confound existing categorisations and help usher in new perspectives on the classical music tradition (a radical critique), which in turn requires statistical categories to be readapted. While structural problems will not disappear overnight, such an approach will reveal how classical music has always already been entangled with its surroundings and been the site of many experiments and interactions with other musical genres, which it has marked as ‘other’ and has either forgotten, omitted or purposefully discarded.}},
  author       = {{Farnsworth, Brandon}},
  booktitle    = {{Classical Music Futures : Practices of Innovation}},
  editor       = {{Smith, Neil T. and Peters, Peter and Molina, Karoly}},
  isbn         = {{978-1-80511-075-0}},
  language     = {{eng}},
  pages        = {{41--58}},
  publisher    = {{Open Book Publishers}},
  title        = {{Classical Music has a Diversity Problem}},
  url          = {{https://lup.lub.lu.se/search/files/170110476/Chapter_2_-_Farnsworth_PREPRINT.pdf}},
  doi          = {{10.11647/OBP.0353.02}},
  year         = {{2024}},
}