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*All* Amer. music Afr.-Amer expression?

31 Jan 21 - 09:11 AM (#4090819)
Subject: *All* Amer. music Afr.-Amer expression?
From: Mrrzy

This article makes interesting claims...

I am interested on all y'all's takes, especially those not American.

I am reserving thoughts on native music.

31 Jan 21 - 09:52 AM (#4090828)
Subject: RE: *All* Amer. music Afr.-Amer expression?
From: Howard Jones

All popular music, maybe. But does that really come as a surprise to most Americans?

However there are many genres of American music which have their roots elsewhere. Appalachian music, the mid-west polka tradition, Cajun, country all come to mind. Of course, black music may have had an influence on these to a greater or lesser extent.

01 Feb 21 - 04:04 AM (#4090915)
Subject: RE: *All* Amer. music Afr.-Amer expression?
From: AnMal

I read the article and I don't think any of it was new or surprising - but I think it's missing part of the picture. African-American music did not just spontaneously develop into jazz and blues an rock from the different music traditions slaves brought with them, they developed in the meeting with other music traditions. Throughout history this has been true, not only in America, but everywhere - one tradition has inspired and infuenced (and occasionally forcefully taken over or pushed out) another. I kind of understand that presenting African-American music this way has its point in an American context, but I sincerely hope and believe the average European doesn't need to be told of how much African-American music traditions and musicians have contributed throughout music history. I honestly think we would need a few reminders of how traditions have interacted with and influenced eachother instead - at least those Europeans who comment on youtube folkmusic videos sometimes seem painfully ignorant of this.

01 Feb 21 - 08:46 AM (#4090947)
Subject: RE: *All* Amer. music Afr.-Amer expression?
From: Jack Campin

Crude and bungled musical nationalism of the kind we ought to have seen the back of years ago. Nobody's music is purely an autonomous development, despite what the Orban fanboys in the Hungarian folk scene and the Jacobite-fascist throwbacks with knotwork tattoos you get in Scotland might think.

The Carolina Chocolate Drops made a great start in showing how African-Americans made creative use of Scottish material and made it their own. Anybody who looks AT ALL at early jazz can see how it builds on a sophisticated understanding of European musical idioms as much as it incorporates African ideas. This museim's line is basically a dressed up version of "natural sense of rhythm" stereotypes and it's grossly condescending to people like Armstrong who had a comprehensive view of music and the intellectual equipment to weave startlingly unrelated ideas together. The implicit message a lot of people are going to take away from this effort is that African-Americans are too stupid to understand anybody else's culture. It's totally counterproductive.

01 Feb 21 - 09:15 AM (#4090951)
Subject: RE: *All* Amer. music Afr.-Amer expression?
From: Mrrzy

I am kind of reminded of the one-drop thing, where in the US if you have *any* black you are considered black. Tiger Woods, 3/4 Thai 1/4 a mix of African, European, and Native American, is an example.

01 Feb 21 - 03:32 PM (#4090999)
Subject: RE: *All* Amer. music Afr.-Amer expression?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

In Haiti, organized Afro-centrism is called Noirisme. Recorded history has no part to play.

There is some African influence in anything American pop because African-Americans have always been Americans. There is European influence in anything African-American for the exact same reason… they have always been Americans.

The first African-Americans in popular entertainment were Anglo-Americans and the first women were men.

So an African-American woman's song would be sung by a black-faced, Anglo, cross-dresser. A Liberace floor show was more 'authentic.'

Typically, after all the BS is scraped away, it boils down the academic's personal consumer preferences for... 'emotional and improvisational drive and depth' or some such.

02 Feb 21 - 05:38 AM (#4091074)
Subject: RE: *All* Amer. music Afr.-Amer expression?
From: Gibb Sahib

If you're imputing to someone a belief that something is "all," that should be a red flag that you're probably strawman-ing their views. It's never all, and nobody serious ever means "all." If they do mean "all," they're not serious and not, in my opinion, making a claim worth engaging.

It's probably just a headline put there by the editor, not even representing the writer, who herself is probably out of her depth and misrepresenting (to what degree is for you to decide) the people interviewed.

Getting suckered in by these headlines creates phantoms on both sides of a conversation.

African American (not African, but African American--creolized, multi-lineal) musical activities have been central among the activities of [the perceived center] of [what most people tend to know as] American music. I don't think there's anything contentious about that observation. The museum, whether you agree or not with their goal, aims to highlight that. The newspaper reduces and simplifies that in its presentation—perhaps for brevity, perhaps because it is a story for Black History Month, perhaps because CNN is left-leaning, whatever. But I wouldn't lose sleep over and storm the Capitol chasing phantoms that are imagined to be there taking extreme positions and whitewashing/blackwashing all the hybridity and mixture that normal, reasonable people know to be the nature of things.

In other words, the author is "feeling herself" a lil bit. Felt cute; might delete later.

02 Feb 21 - 09:17 AM (#4091105)
Subject: RE: *All* Amer. music Afr.-Amer expression?
From: Mrrzy

Interesting, thoughtful views. I am enjoying reading them.

02 Feb 21 - 11:08 AM (#4091119)
Subject: RE: *All* Amer. music Afr.-Amer expression?
From: punkfolkrocker

I immediately think of Redbone, a Mexican-American/Native American rock band from the 1970s..

Obviously also infused with African American originated rock influences..

We like melting pot fusion music.. it's healthy for cultures...

04 Feb 21 - 11:41 AM (#4091447)
Subject: RE: *All* Amer. music Afr.-Amer expression?
From: Mrrzy

Folks are folks, indeed.

04 Feb 21 - 07:45 PM (#4091522)
Subject: Why all American music is rooted in African Americ
From: Joe Offer

Just to make sure it doesn't disappear, I'd like to post the text of the article that Mrrzy refers to.

Why all American music is rooted in African American expression, a new museum shows
Story by Kristen Rogers, video by Channon Hodge, CNN • Updated 28th January 2021

(CNN) — As more people are starting to learn about the history of African Americans, there is one component that's particularly integral to understanding the national culture: music.
African American artists created and influenced genres from the blues, jazz and hip-hop to rock and roll. Bluesmen Muddy Waters and B.B. King electrified that genre and galvanized rock guitarists, and trumpeter and composer Louis Armstrong changed the jazz landscape — all building on traditions brought to American soil by enslaved people.

Educating the world on the central role African Americans have played in "creating the American soundtrack" and preserving that legacy are the missions of the National Museum of African American Music, which debuted in Nashville on Martin Luther King Jr. Day on January 18. The museum opens to the public on Saturday.

On display here are interactive exhibits as well as artifacts including a Gibson guitar, "Lucille," played by B.B. King, a Grammy won by jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald, a gold-plated trumpet owned by Armstrong and a kimono worn by singer-songwriter and pianist Alicia Keys.

In development since 2002, the museum seeks to deepen visitors' appreciation of American music by showing that there is more to the stories of more than 50 music genres and subgenres — details that have been obscured by factors such as racism, cultural appropriation and industry labeling, said NMAAM President and CEO Henry Beecher Hicks and Dina Bennett, an ethnomusicologist and NMAAM's curatorial director.

"Often the story lines of music and of these songs deal with social justice, the quest for freedom and the social quest for equality, for a better life," Hicks said. "Those kinds of messages are nothing new. And they really are a core element of the story that we tell."

While other museums have focused on different genres of African American music, this is the first comprehensive museum that "has actually laid out the experience of African Americans in the creation of these musical traditions that spanned from the 1600s, when the first Africans were brought to the US as enslaved peoples, to the present day," Bennett said.

Lessons on the roots
A film overview of traditions in West and Central African cultures that predated enslavement is where guests begin. This takes place in the Roots Theater, which is both the figurative and literal nucleus of the museum experience.

The Roots Theater will host lectures, performances and film screenings as well.

"As enslaved people, they brought their music traditions," Bennett said. "Many times their instruments were taken away from them, because their instruments were used to communicate with each other. But they still had their voice or they had their body."

The film chronicles the "evolution of becoming African American." Spirituals, blues, jazz, gospel, rhythm and blues and hip-hop were forms of expression created during slavery, the Reconstruction era, Jim Crow, the Great Migration, the world wars, the Harlem Renaissance and more.

While African spirituals were a sacred experience, Bennett added, the later genres were largely methods of coping with the harsh realities freed people faced.

"The root of American music is African American expression," Hicks said.

Charting the ties between music and history
Maybe you remember what music was popular when the Twin Towers fell, or when former US President Barack Obama was elected. Those aren't only memories, but also cultural snapshots of the political and musical zeitgeists of those times.

This concept of mirroring eras lines the Rivers of Rhythm Pathways, the "central spine of the museum experience (that) features touch panel interactives and an animated time-line that links American history and American music history," says the museum's website.

The Rivers of Rhythm Pathways also feature periodic immersive-film experiences that place visitors amid iconic music moments.

"From 1600 to present day, we have 13 different eras. So, there's an era that covers the civil rights period, and when you click on it, you'll begin to read about the March on Washington," Bennett said. You'll also "hear about the music that was going on ... and read about different artists that were present."

Musical hope
The Wade in the Water gallery connects the religious music of African cultures and later African American spirituals and hymns.
Those led to gospel. Photos of artists including Mahalia Jackson, interactives and artifacts depict how gospel groups influenced secular R&B, doo-wop and soul music.

For the "Sing With the Choir" interactive, the staff enlisted gospel singer and television host Bobby Jones, the leader of The Nashville Super Choir. Jones and his choir filmed a segment teaching visitors the gospel song "Oh Happy Day."

Pictured is the area where visitors learn a gospel song to join The Nashville Super Choir.

Visitors "go into a space and stand up against the green screen and they take their directives from Dr. Jones," Bennett said. "The film is played back with the visitor superimposed in with the choir." With the RFID bracelet you receive when purchasing your ticket, you can download that experience to your mobile device.

Background on the blues
As formerly enslaved Africans worked in Southern US fields, some sang to accompany their work or communicate. These "field hollers" produced the blues, and the Crossroads gallery details "how the blues influenced White country music and the rock and roll sound of the 1950s," according to a news release.

The Crossroads exhibit, in the National Museum of African American Music, explores the history and influence of the blues.

"Roots and Streams" interactives allow visitors to click on the biographies of artists, revealing who their influences and peers were, and who those artists inspired.

"If you click on the Rolling Stones, you're gonna find out that they were influenced by Muddy Waters. They actually took their name, Rolling Stones, from a Muddy Waters song," Bennett said. "You get to see all those little interconnections."

The jazz explosion
A Love Supreme is the gallery that explores jazz, which emerged from African musical traditions retained in New Orleans in the 1900s. Once jazz traveled with musicians to the North, it became nationally popular.

The Love Supreme gallery features artists such as Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington.
Also highlighted are the resulting styles, and legends who made huge contributions to jazz.
Known as the Queen of Jazz, singer Ella Fitzgerald's Grammy award is displayed here along with a fur coat she wore.

Groovy products of change
The background of R&B — a combination of blues, gospel and jazz that emerged post-World War II — is outlined in the One Nation Under a Groove gallery.

The era was not only politically transformative but culturally, too, as the music industry grew and new technologies changed how music was made and distributed.

The exhibit covers the stories of influential forces such as Motown Records, music-dance TV program "Soul Train" (1970s) and MTV (1981).
The One Nation Under A Groove gallery is the largest in the museum due to it covering the influence of R&B on genres including soul, funk and disco.

The One Nation Under A Groove gallery is the largest in the museum due to it covering the influence of R&B on genres including soul, funk and disco.

In the pattern of tracing from origin to influence, the gallery chronicles how R&B yielded genres including soul, funk, disco, techno and hip-hop. R&B's popularity was a positive, but it was also vulnerable to cultural appropriation.

"We talk about songs recorded by African Americans that were then recorded by White Americans, and the White American version went on to get the most play and the most success," Bennett said.

The One Nation Under A Groove gallery offers two gallery-specific interactive elements: Visitors can find out what producer style they are, and there is an interactive dance studio teaching visitors different dances throughout the decades.

"A really great example is ('Hound Dog'), which was a song by Willie Mae Thornton, and Elvis recorded it and the rest is history. When you peel back the layers, you understand that Willie Mae Thornton was the one who recorded it."

Expressing a centuries-old refrain
The grit of hip-hop and rap that originated from New York's South Bronx in the 1970s is captured in The Message exhibit. These genres were pivotal for art, street style and music production technology, which the gallery shows.

The Message gallery explores the origins of hip-hop and rap.
Speaking truth to power and honesty about the ongoing struggles for equality are the concepts connecting 1970s and modern hip-hop and rap.

As visitors peruse the museum's interactives, they can create a playlist that they can download to their RFID bracelet, Hicks said. Afterward, they can go to a website to download to their device the playlist that documents the experience they had at the museum.
What Hicks also hopes that people leave with is a realization that "we've got more that unites us than divides us."

The Message gallery also features artifacts and interactives, such as a rap battle against friends and building your own rap song.
"For non-African Americans," he added, "I hope that they would realize that African Americans are at the center of American culture in a way that they maybe never considered."

If you go
The museum, located at the intersection of 5th Avenue and Broadway in Downtown Nashville, opened to museum board members, staff, elected officials and community leaders on January 18. The museum opens to the public on January 30.
Through February, tours will be offered from 11 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
Admission costs $24.95 for adults 18 and older, $13.50 for children ages 7 to 17, and $18.75 for adults 65 and up, students, teachers and military. Children age 6 and younger receive free admission. You can find out about the museum's Covid-19 plans here.

04 Feb 21 - 07:58 PM (#4091523)
Subject: RE: *All* Amer. music Afr.-Amer expression?
From: Joe Offer

OK, so the headline says "all American music is rooted in African American expression." I think it's certainly safe to say that "all American music is influenced by African American expression."

I think it's hard to underestimate the influence of African American expression. It's one of many, many influences - but it definitely remains a very strong influence.

But I wouldn't argue very hard against the original headline. It's very moderate exaggeration.