Monday, June 29, 2015

link: Black Beethoven and the Racial Politics of Music History

http://www.academia.edu/4074689/Black_Beethoven_and_the_Racial_Politics_of_Music_History

One would have imagined that the whiteness of Beethoven would have been more or less a given but, well, not necessarily thanks to the internet's capacity to revive long debunked ideas.

This is a relatively breezy read.  The name George Walker gets dropped near the end and you should give some of Walker's music a chance.  His cello sonata is nice, for instance.  I learned of his work through the blogging of Ethan Iverson and have only gotten any familiarity with Walker's compositions in the last year or so.

That we could or should rethink how we approach the history of the Western musical canon doesn't seem like a bad idea.  It's not so much that the canon itself has to or needs to exactly change but perhaps we could make a few distinctions.  For some of the super Calvinists in Moscow, for instance, it'd be good to remember that the major/minor key system is not particularly "robustly Trinitarian" seeing as it's mere centuries old.  When you consider that we've only had that equal-tempered chromatic approach to diatonic scales for just a couple of centuries it might be reason to not tell ourselves that's all there is to music.  I tdoesn' tmean you have to, say, enjoy Partch or Carter (though ifyou actually do that's fine).

Anyway, an interesting little piece for those interested in polemics in musicology and music history stuff.

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