Black Music Research Journal

This journal offers articles on philosophy, aesthetics, history and criticism of black music.

Articles from Vol. 22, No. 1, Spring

Bridging South America and the United States in Black Music Research
Just as the idea of a "Latin America" as a symbolic construction of general identity is politically problematic, the concept of musical boundaries and borders within it is equally perplexing. Latin-American scholars have insisted on setting boundaries...
Cultural Dialogics and Jazz: A White Historian Signifies
Free of the white person's gaze, black people created their own unique vernacular structures and relished in the double play that these forms bore to white forms. Repetition and revision are fundamental to black artistic forms, from painting and sculpture...
Editor's Introduction
The development of black music research during the past twenty years can be traced in the issues of the Black Music Research Journal (BMRJ). The first issue (1980), then an annual published by the Fisk University Institute for Research in Black American...
Improvised Music after 1950: Afrological and Eurological Perspectives
Since the early 1950s, controversy over the nature and function of improvisation in musical expression has occupied considerable attention among improvisers, composers, performers, and theorists active in that sociomusical art world that has constructed...
Musical Thoughts on Unresolved Questions and Recent Findings in Big Drum Research
I traveled to Carriacou, Grenada, immediately after reading Paule Marshall's novel, Praisesong for the Widow (1983). The novel introduced me to an island I had never heard of and to a society mysteriously unified in memorializing its past. After a...
Nationalism and the Soul: Gospelypso as Independence
"What use will you make of your independence?"--Dr. Eric E. Williams (Cudjoe 1993, 266) If they hadn't just called it gospelypso, everything would have been fine! --Roddie Taylor What might or should a Christian response to national independence...
"New Music" and the "New Negro": The Background of William Grant Still's Afro-American Symphony
William Grant Still's Afro-American Symphony has taken on mythic proportions in the history of African-American music. First performed in 1931, it stands as a powerful symbol of black achievement--as one of the first symphonies by an African-American...
New Orleans-Area Musicians on the West Coast, 1908-1925
Although the basic pattern of development of jazz up to 1940 is articulated in terms of regions (the Midwest, the Southwest) and cities (New York, Chicago, New Orleans, Kansas City), only one of those locales has been studied in any detail. Many amateur,...
"Nou Kwe Nan Sentespri" (We Believe in the Holy Spirit): Music, Ecstasy, and Identity in Haitian Pentecostal Worship
Since the 1920s, Haiti has witnessed an evangelical movement characterized by the rapid growth of Protestant and Pentecostal churches (Jeanty 1989, 56). Despite persecution by the Catholic Church and a brief closure (1941-43) under President Elie Lescot,...
Popular Music and Martinican-Creole Identity
In Martinique during the mid-1950s, a young light-skinned mulatto of bourgeois origins startled the population of Fort-de-France with a series of provocative musical creations. During the Carnival of 1956, Frantz Denis "Francisco" Charles took a conical...
Powers of Blackness: Africanist Discourse in Modern Concert Music
War, said Carl von Clausewitz ([1832] 1984, 87), is the continuation of politics by other means. My aim in this essay is to propose a pair of Clausewitzian theses about the encounter between a diversity of black American music--ragtime, blues, and...
Ring Shout! Literary Studies, Historical Studies, and Black Music Inquiry
Over the past ten years, black scholars in the field of English literature have identified a black literary tradition and developed critical strategies for studying that tradition from within black culture. And black historians have also been writing...
"Tell Tchaikovsky the News": Postmodernism, Popular Culture, and the Emergence of Rock 'N' Roll
The contemporary notion of the postmodern, developed in the early 1970s and being argued almost to meaninglessness today, arose in the context of pop in the broadest sense of the term (Huyssen 1984). In its most significant manifestations, postmodernism...
The Genesis of Black, Brown and Beige
Ellington's descriptions of the creative process often emphasized speed and efficiency. Like a reporter trained to work under deadline, he knew how to compose under pressure--usually for his orchestra's next recording date or concert appearance--and...
The Influences of Hispanic Music Cultures on African-American Blues Musicians
Egalitarian quests for multiculturalism can be offset by the lingering legacy of "melting pot" ideology. Cultural examinations of ethnicity exemplify this, for they frequently focus on minority-dominant relations, that is, the "contributions" of an...
The Nineteenth-Century Origins of Jazz
The question of the origins of jazz has, one might well imagine, received many answers in the seventy-five years since the music burst like a rocket over the American musical landscape. The least palatable perhaps is that offered by reactionary champions...
The Steelband "Own Tune": Nationalism, Festivity, and Musical Strategies in Trinidad's Panorama Competition
Between its beginnings around 1940 and Trinidad and Tobago's independence from England in 1962, the steel pan developed from a rustic invention of the urban poor into an astonishingly versatile musical instrument, a transformation that for many Trinidadians...