Digging: The Afro-American Soul of American Classical Music

Digging: The Afro-American Soul of American Classical Music

Digging: The Afro-American Soul of American Classical Music

Digging: The Afro-American Soul of American Classical Music


For almost half a century, Amiri Baraka has ranked among the most important commentators on African American music and culture. In this brilliant assemblage of his writings on music, the first such collection in nearly twenty years, Baraka blends autobiography, history, musical analysis, and political commentary to recall the sounds, people, times, and places he's encountered. As in his earlier classics, Blues People and Black Music, Baraka offers essays on the famous--Max Roach, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, John Coltrane--and on those whose names are known mainly by jazz aficionados--Alan Shorter, Jon Jang, and Malachi Thompson. Baraka's literary style, with its deep roots in poetry, makes palpable his love and respect for his jazz musician friends. His energy and enthusiasm show us again how much Coltrane, Albert Ayler, and the others he lovingly considers mattered. He brings home to us how music itself matters, and how musicians carry and extend that knowledge from generation to generation, providing us, their listeners, with a sense of meaning and belonging.


A great song arose, the loveliest thing born this side of the
seas. It was a new song. It did not come from Africa, though
the dark throb and beat of that Ancient of Days was in it
and through it. It did not come from white America—never
from so pale and hard and thin a thing, however deep these
vulgar and surrounding tones had driven. Not the Indies nor
the hot South, the cold East or heavy West made this music.
It was a new song and its deep and plaintive beauty, its great
cadences and wild appeal wailed, throbbed and thundered
on the world’s ear with a message seldom voiced by man. It
swelled and blossomed like incense, improvised and born
anew out of an age long past, and weaving into its texture
the old and new melodies in word and in thought.

W. E. B. DuBois

One of the most beautiful explications, as analysis and history, of “the Music” comes from Du Bois, in his grandest work, Black Recontruction in America. So, because the good Dr. combines the material social world with and as the origins of Art. the Earth & the Sky.

So Digging means to present, perhaps arbitrarily, varied paradigms of this essentially Afro-American art. the common predicate, myself, the Digger. One who gets down, with the down, always looking above to see what is going out, and so check Digitaria, as the Dogon say, necessary if you are to dig the fartherest Star, Serious.

So this book is a microscope, a telescope, and being Black, a periscope. All to dig what is deeply serious. From a variety of places, re views, liner notes, live checking, merely reflecting, the intention is to provide some theoretical and observed practice of the historical essence of what is clearly American Classical Music, no matter the various names it, and we, have been called.

The sun is what keeps this planet alive, including the Music, like we say, the Soul of which is Black.

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