Thursday, May 6, 2010

More Devils

We we're planning a weekend's audiostudy, trying to get both sweep and
details. It prompted some familiar historiographical reflections and
then some unfamiliar thoughts about the gaps in the anthologies that
compose our studies.

Our weekend plan is to mash up the two anthologies we think of as role
models in study: Allen Lowe's "That Devilin' Tune," and Ego Trip's
"Greatest Rap Single's." We were planning on alphabetizing the artists
and lissenning through, from a to z.


It seemed like a fine plan. It went past the narrow boundaries of the
classic tunes, but still contained the most
massive stones in the pile: "West End Blues," "East St. Louis Toodle-
oo," "A Night in Tunisia," "Rapper's Delight," "The World Is Yours,"
"Glaciers of Ice," and "Can't Knock the Hustle."

Word to your Moms. Gonna be a good weekend and we'll keep you posted
on the alphabetical progress.

But as we began imagining, we began to worry about who wasn't showing,
and we realized that we've not conjured the devils thoroughly. Let's
list the devils to be called:


• Popular music from the sheet music, ragtime era, big musicals and
movies, etc.
• The wide range of things we call "blues"; there is a rumor that
Allen Lowe's got next on this one and we hope he gets done w/ his work
• Pancaribbean and Transatlantic pop trends. Drop the ethnographic
posture. Look for the groove that people looked for when they were
through working and wanted to dance.
• Sacred music and words. There is obviously a rich tradition, but
it is not well documented from a hemispheric perspective and we
distrust the fetish for imaginary primitivism called "raw gospel."

Postwar (we know it's not e/one's marker)

• Jazz after 1955. There are shreads of this devilin' fabric in the
solid marble Smithsonian Collection, but it drops off 40 years ago.
There have been some noble efforts to get the devils out: Giddins song
a year exercise was brainy if sparse; there have been a coupla lost
decade execises that have covered the 80s and/or 90s. But what's
missing is the emergence of jazz as the music of Duke Ellington's
heirs: public educated, church educated, military educated musicians
-- the music of Horace Tapscott and Anthony Braxton. It's a big and
unfinished structure.
• the big move from blue to r&b to soul to urban (some post 90s
gumbo of postsoul musics). There is a devilish proliferation of
regions and genres still too carved up by propertyrights of rekkid
companies and publishers, so we lack even a map.
• And this is where the while thing explodes, 'cause the regional
pop musics are not just northern or southern soul, but island by
island and city by city in a big pancaribbean and transatlantic
pattern. So there is nothing like the Allen Lowe of Jamaican music, or
South African music. C'mon, get busy.

Now we're talking lotsa devils. We'll think of more.

Word to you Moms Moms.

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