Music of the Common Tongue: Survival and Celebration in African American Music (Music Culture)

Music of the Common Tongue: Survival and Celebration in African American Music (Music Culture)

Christopher Small

Language: English

Pages: 512

ISBN: B00519B75M

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


“A magnificent book about Afro-American music and its impact on western culture. ”—Race and Class

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bourgeois revolution, already under their belts and looking for new worlds to conquer. Played in a theatre (the purpose-built concert hall is a nineteenth-century invention) by an orchestra largely amateur with a stiffening of professionals, under the direction of the already hard-of-hearing composer, the piece must have contributed to an occasion of a very different kind from those of today, under the concert-hall conditions I described earlier. Today's audience belongs essentially to the same

infinite, and, in fact, perhaps because participants tend to select themselves, there is a tendency for a performance to draw people together into a common identity. We can deduce from this that, if as participants we enjoy a performance, we do so first because we feel that our sense of identity, our sense of who we really are, has been strengthened, and feel more intensely and knowingly ourselves, and, secondly because we feel that we have been, for the duration of the performance, in the

members understood that it was to their mutual advantage to protect each other, and that solidarity was a good which they believed to have moral force.'4 Thus, it was no offence to steal the masters' property (how could that be theft, the slave asked, not unreasonably, since he was himself the master's property?) but it was to steal from a fellow slave. Rituals for Survival. I 87 And if it was belief in the ultimate justice of God that held the community together, it was musicking and

growth of conformism and in stultification of the imaginative faculties through over-concern with the maintenance of status, not only in relation to the lower group but also within 124 Music of the Common Tongue the dominant group itself. The members of the lower group, on the other hand, have few worries about status, since nothing they can do will place them in the upper group (the fact that some do make the attempt does not invalidate the general statement); they may be afforded only the

European norms — that is, they have been defined as contravening in their very existence the society's norms of Caucasian racial purity. Black culture, and especially black music and dance, have over the past five hundred years or so been tools by means of which people so defined have struggled, and continue to struggle, to assert their own definition of themselves. If this has necessarily entailed compromises and accommodations with the prevailing definition (and, as we shall see, Afro-American

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