Multiculturalism: the Musical

Multiculturalism: the Musical advocates a complementarian view of human cultures, as distinct from an egalitarian view.  Diverse musical cutlures can be seen to complement one another in a collage of aesthetic wholeness and integration.  The French say 'vive la difference' in regard to gender - after all XX differs from XY as X chromosomes do not equal Y counterparts, nor do penises equal vaginas - and one can perceive similar differences in the realm of culture.  The view of cultural complementarianism derives from an analysis of diverse musical cultures, which leads to a conclusion that musical cultures are not equal, but rather are complementary.

Cultures move in time, through the seasons.  Divine keynote of raga=spring, divine cadence of sonata=summer, musical expressions of black nationalism which sanctify blue notes=winter.

“Words move, music moves
Only in time; but that which is only living
Can only die. Words, after speech, reach
Into the silence. Only by the form, the pattern,
Can words or music reach
The stillness...”

Dane Rudhyar, Dissonant Harmony: "A culture is essentially a natural, spontaneous phenomenon.  It has a basic relation to the soil wherefrom it sprang, to the type of nature-forms surrounding it.  It is the flowering of life-experiences, of physical-emotional experiences, the conventionalized reaction of the race at large to such experiences, which really belong to the race rather than to any single human being.  Cultural growth is therefore merely the prolongation of the race's physiological development, very much as the flower is the prolongation and transformation of the leaves."  Multiculturalism may manifest the winter phase of a culture, in which the center cannot hold.  There is no core culture.  My multicultural genre and musical freeze this historical process in a frame.  Multiculturalism seems an impractical social ideal best left to the realms of art and philosophy.

Theme Song

Many genres make my song: classical and rock 'n' roll, raga and rhumba, sonata and salsa.
Many voices sing along: rednecks and beatniks, rappers and hipsters, metalheads and natty dreads.
Multiculturalism: is it for real, or just another schism, and an ideal?  Multiculturalism: will it last, or is it but a relic of the past?

Tentative Prosaic Intro: A Brief History of Western Multiculturalism

The Canadian government has often been described as the instigator of multicultural ideology because of its public emphasis on the social importance of immigration.  The Canadian Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism is often referred to as the origins of modern political awareness of multiculturalism.  In the Western English-speaking countries, multiculturalism as an official national policy started in Canada in 1971, followed by Australia, where it has since been displaced by assimilation, in 1973.  It was quickly adopted as official policy by most member-states of the European Union.

Recently, right-of-center governments in several European states—notably the Netherlands and Denmark— have reversed the national policy and returned to an official monoculturalism.  A similar reversal is the subject of debate in the United Kingdom, among others, due to evidence of incipient segregation and anxieties over "home-grown" terrorism.  Several heads-of-state have expressed doubts about the success of multicultural policies: The United Kingdom's Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Australia's ex-prime minister John Howard, Spanish ex-prime minister Jose Maria Aznar and French ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy have voiced concerns about the effectiveness of their multicultural policies for integrating immigrants.

Shelby Steele describes multiculturalism as “an idea that claims to exist as a defense against white racism….racism created the need for multiculturalism.” (52)  Steele describes “a multiculturalism that reduces minority cultures to the theme that best triggers white obligation: victimization.” (A Dream Deferred, 53)  Katherine Young and Paul Nathanson: “In avoiding tyrannies of the majority…democracies can easily succumb to the opposite problem.  When minorities band together, after all, they can become the majority….this problem is…the result of naïve assumptions made in many Western societies about political correctness, on the one hand, and ‘pluralism,’ ‘diversity,’ or ‘multiculturalism’ on the other.  These societies no longer accept the fundamental principle of all democracies: majority rule (albeit with safeguards to prevent tyranny).  The whole notion of a majority, in fact, has been ‘deconstructed’ by postmodernists and their ethnic, sexual, or other allies.  It is now known pejoratively as ‘the dominant culture,’ one that exerts ‘hegemony’ merely by existing.  Canada is a good example.  Although Canada was founded by Christians and although most Canadians associate themselves at least marginally with Christianity (no matter how secularized), the vaguest reference to Christianity in [589] public life is now considered an affront to Canadian minorities….the very fact of being a minority is inherently undignified and therefore intolerable, which is a dangerous point of view in any democracy.  This particular political strategy…[undermines] the ‘dominant’ culture.” (Legalizing Misandry, 589-90)  

John Fekete wonders if zero tolerance policies are a result of “the censorious habit of a puritanical anglo establishment urgently trying to recycle sexual reaction in the form of ‘women’s safety’ and ethnic parochialism in the guise of multi-ethnic virtue.” (Moral Panic, 188)  Ishmael Reed: "I think what Black Arts did was inspire a whole lot of Black people to write.  Moreover, there would be no multiculturalism movement without Black Arts.  Latinos, Asian Americans, and others all say they began writing as a result of the example of the 1960s.  Blacks gave the example that you don't have to assimilate.  You could do your own thing, get into your own background, your own history, your own tradition and your own culture.  I think the challenge is for cultural sovereignty and Black Arts struck a blow for that."  The success of this black blow is evident in Tricia Rose's description of "the contemporary popular music realm" as "a space all but overrun by Afrodiasporic sounds and multicultural hybrids of them.” (Black Noise (1994), 65)

Pro

In a 2002 interview with the Globe and Mail, Karīm al-Hussainī the 49th Aga Khan of the Ismaili Muslims described Canada as "the most successful pluralist society on the face of our globe", citing it as "a model for the world."  He explained that the experience of Canadian governance - its commitment to pluralism and its support for the rich multicultural diversity of its peoples - is something that must be shared and would be of benefit to all societies in other parts of the world.

Cons

Critics of multiculturalism often debate whether the multicultural ideal of benignly co-existing cultures that interrelate and influence one another, and yet remain distinct, is sustainable, paradoxical, or even desirable.  It is argued that Nation states, who would previously have been synonymous with a distinctive cultural identity of their own, lose out to enforced multiculturalism and that this ultimately erodes the host nations' distinct culture.

Harvard professor of political science Robert D. Putnam conducted a nearly decade long study how multiculturalism affects social trust.  He surveyed 26,200 people in 40 American communities, finding that when the data were adjusted for class, income and other factors, the more racially diverse a community is, the greater the loss of trust.  People in diverse communities "don’t trust the local mayor, they don’t trust the local paper, they don’t trust other people and they don’t trust institutions," writes Putnam.  In the presence of such ethnic diversity, Putnam maintains that "[W]e hunker down.  We act like turtles.  The effect of diversity is worse than had been imagined.  And it’s not just that we don’t trust people who are not like us.  In diverse communities, we don’t trust people who do look like us."

Ethologist Frank Salter writes: "Relatively homogeneous societies invest more in public goods, indicating a higher level of public altruism.  For example, the degree of ethnic homogeneity correlates with the government's share of gross domestic product as well as the average wealth of citizens.  Case studies of the United States, Africa and South-East Asia find that multi-ethnic societies are less charitable and less able to cooperate to develop public infrastructure.  Moscow beggars receive more gifts from fellow ethnics than from other ethnies  [sic].  A recent multi-city study of municipal spending on public goods in the United States found that ethnically or racially diverse cities spend a smaller portion of their budgets and less per capita on public services than do the more homogenous cities.

From a National Post article: Salim Mansur is a political scientist at the University of Western Ontario.  He has been described, including in the pages of this newspaper, as Canada’s “angriest moderate.”  And what makes him so angry is that nobody, he says, not the media elite, politicians or even the academics, is willing to have a frank and open dialogue about multiculturalism in this country.

“Numerous languages spoken inside a country is only a problem, and a lethal problem, when the core identity of that country comes to be increasingly disputed — as is happening in Canada,” Professor Mansur, an Indo-Canadian Muslim originally from Calcutta wrote in an email.  “A multicultural country, and officially so designated, has basically indicated it is a country without a core culture, or the core culture that once gave it cohesion, identity, framework, anchor, has been jettisoned to embrace a multiplicity of identities — and thereby the unintended consequence is that there is a void in the centre.”

The term "cult" first appeared in English in 1617, derived from the French culte, meaning "worship" which in turn originated from the Latin word cultus meaning "care, cultivation, worship".  Outward religious practice in worship is expressed through religious rituals.  Cult in this sense is literally the "care" (Latin cultus) owed to the God or gods and the temples, shrines, or churches.

James Davison Hunter summarizes a critique of multicultural studies programs.  “The multicultural credo and program, critics say, is a sham.  The ‘diversity’ its advocates celebrate, they say, is not a true diversity.  After all, its advocates rarely if ever propose courses in Irish Catholic, Greek American, Asian American, Jewish, or Protestant Fundamentalist studies.  Rather, their idea of diversity is defined by political criteria – namely, the presumed distinction between ‘oppressors and oppressed.’  Programs such as women’s studies, black studies, Chicano studies, and the like, therefore, are better subsumed under the heading of ‘oppression [218] studies.’  The classes taught in these programs, critics claim, have more to do with ‘raising consciousness’ than expanding students’ knowledge.  The whole idea behind multiculturalism is ‘to give an academic gloss to an implied power struggle and to organize the academy on a political basis without seeming to do so.’” (Culture Wars, 218-19)

Christine E. Sleeter: “Multicultural education as a field is sometimes criticized as skirting around white racism, and celebrating the European ethnic immigrant experience….I believe this criticism is often well-founded, and results from the silence and acceptance people of European descent maintain about white supremacy….I view multicultural education as a critique of white supremacy.” (White Silence, White Solidarity; from Race Traitor, 257)

According to David Horowitz, multiculturalism “’was manufactured by veterans of the Sixties left, who had established a new political base in the faculties of the universities.’” (Left Illusions, xxxi)  In 2000 Richard Zeller wrote, “now, any challenge to the campus sacred cows – feminism, affirmative action, and multiculturalism – is denounced as evil.’” (from Left Illusions, 238)

Roger Kimball: “The academic enfranchisement of popular culture has meant not only that trash has been mistaken for great art, but also that great art has been treated as if it were trash.” (The Long March, 12)  “This triumph of vulgarity has helped to pave the way for the success of the twin banes of political correctness and radical multiculturalism.  The abandonment of intrinsic standards of achievement creates (in Hermann Broch’s phrase) a ‘value vacuum’ in which everything is sucked through the sieve of politics and the ideology of victimhood.” (13)  Note: “William Henry’s largely overlooked book In Defense of Elitism (1994) has many intelligent (and horrifying) things to say about the ‘battle between elitism and egalitarianism’ that has been waged in American society since World War II – a battle in which, he points out, ‘egalitarianism has been winning far too thoroughly.’” (13)

Kimball: "[C]ountercultural radicalism has come more and more to define the dominant culture….For examples, you need look no further than the curriculum of your local school or college, at what is on offer at the nearest museum or so-called ‘public’ radio station: indeed, you need look no further than your workplace, your church (if you still go to church), or your family to see evidence of the damage wrought by the long march of the counterculture.” (15) 

From a website called African Perspective: "Multiculturalism policies should also include 'with serious limitations' words because that is what it is, literally.  The assimilation policy that Canada tried after the second world war was perhaps not a very good way but more realistic."  "A friend of mine told me a fascinating story about two Kenyan immigrants that wanted to practice their culture in Canada.  After all they have always been told that Canada is a multicultural society whereby people are free to give life to their cultural practices.  These two gentlemen lived in the condominium.  According to their culture Christmas was not Christmas without slaughtering a goat.  So they went and bought a goat.  One challenge that they faced was where do they slaughter the goat.  After some negotiating they decided to “practice their culture” in their apartment, in the bath-tub.  That was the only place they could think of given the tough laws on trespassing.  Just as they started slaughtering the goat it made noises that forced neighbors to call 911 thinking that someone was being brutally murdered in that apartment.  Cops arrived, broke into the apartment just to find these two gentlemen with their hands full of blood in the bath-tub.  They were later on charged with quite many offences from distraction of peace to cruelty against animals.  Practicing their culture costed them a big deal."  Michael Ignatieff: “[Canada[ is tearing itself apart….If one of the top five developed nations on earth can't make a federal, multi-ethnic state work, who else can?” (The Disuniting of America, 11) 

A Multicultural National Anthem: Yo Canada

Jimi Hendrix described his motivation for playing the American national anthem in a unique way.  "When it was written then it was written in a very, very beautiful, what they 
call beautiful state, you know.  It is nice and inspiring.  Your heart throbs and you say, 'great I'm American!'  
But now days when we play it we don't play it to take away all the greatness that America's supposed to have.  We 
play it the way the air is in America today.  The air is slightly static." (Elles, 5)  Perhaps it's time for a new Canadian national anthem.  Yo Canada?

Indo-Euro-Afro Fusion: Raga, Sonata, Blues, Heavy Metal, Reggae, Hip Hop, Jazz

 “Unless I become the raga itself, I cannot feel the soul of the raga.”  Ravi Shankar
"One should begin a piece of music and wake up at the end, having become that music."  Manuel Barrueco 
"My music is the spiritual expression of what I am - my faith, my knowledge, my being."  John Coltrane
In a lot of ways, hip-hop is the Five Percent."  RZA
"All races, nations, classes and people are like a strain of music based upon one chord."  Inayat Khan

Raga and Hinduism / Sufism

The Divine Keynote of Asia: “Indian classical music at its best can lead to an experience of oneness with a higher power, as with many other forms of music.  The Sa [Western Do or keynote] represents the sound of the divine.  This is Nada Brahma, the sound of God.  The best performers achieve a connection with the primordial sound, the Om.”  Peter Lavezzoli

Dane Rudhyar refers to "the persistent and unchanging sounds of the tambura. These sounds are the first four sounds of the Harmonic Series (the real musical Tetraktys of Pythagoras)."  (The Dualism of Musical Substance)  Rudhyar mentions "the 'filial' relation of the tones of the raga to these fundamental tones of the tambura."

Rudhyar: "What essentially characterizes a rag is that all its tones are direct overtones of this one fundamental, that therefore sonal energy can flow into the musical organism made up of the fundamental and overtones, as blood through a compact body.  But the very first thing necessary is to arouse the energy latent in the fundamental of the rag.  If the sakti within the fundamental is not awakened there will be no real rakti produced.  There comes in the utterance (audible or inaudible) of the sacred name of the fundamental, that is within as Well as without.  The single tone must be set resonating before the rag, which is the form taken by the cyclic evolution of the tone's energy, can acquire its full power.
      Thus the use of the tambura, which is a symbol and yet a pretext to spiritual inertia.  The mission of the tambura is to sound the fundamental of the rag all the while the rag is being sung — not only the fundamental but also the fifth or fourth above, which is the heart of the sakti.  But the true tambura is not a mere instrument, it is the very body of the singer.  It is the body of the singer which ought to produce and vitalize this fundamental in the phenomenon of root resonance.  The body of the singer ought to be this very root of sound, because in this body the god of the fundamental ought to incarnate at the call of the singer's will.  This is the meaning of the bowing and salutation made to the tambura, and of the humming of the rag before starting a song.  The god of the fundamental must be called upon, the path of his sakti must be outlined, then the music may flow arousing the rakti fire.  This fundamental is mystically Tum or Tom or Tam; thus the sacred meaning of the tomtom, of the name Tumburu also, which if properly grasped reveals what the tambura stands for.  Again, let us say that the true tambura is within.  No outer instrument of dead matter is necessary to one who has made of his own body a living instrument, the tabernacle of the God within.  Such a one knows the secrets of living resonance.  He is the cup of libation, the sacrificer and the libation." (The Rebirth of Hindu Music, Chapter 6, Melodies and Symphonies)

Like its Western counterpart, Indian classical music theory perceives tones as analogous to dramatic characters.  Sufi mystic Khan writes: "Each raga has an administration of its own, including a chief, Mukhya, the key-note, vadi, a principle note; Samvadi, a minister, a subordinate note; Anuvadi, a servant, an assonant note; and Vivadi, an enemy, a dissonant note [which is never played]." (62) Inayat Khan.  The Mysticism of Sound.  Banff: Ekstasis Editions, 2004.  vadi and samvadi; major 3 and 7; minor 6 and 2; 1 and 5.  In this sense, Indian classical music is non-confrontational, as the enemy note is never played.  "Whereas Melody is the cry of Man to God, Harmony is the answer of God to Man."  Anonymous

Sonata and Trinitarianism

The Divine Cadence of Europe: "Tonality took the form of a harmonic system providing order, direction, and the resolution of tension into the ‘perfect chord,’ the major triad (C, E, G), which is a reflection of the divine Trinity, Father, Holy Spirit, and Son."  Dane Rudhyar
"In music the leading tone is the Gospel, which dominates the other tones.”  Martin Luther  
"The flat seventh [of a dominant seventh chord; the fourth of the keynote] leads all tones, which pray to it for delivery, to their source – divine spirit."  Bettina Brentano

The Divine Chromaticism of Africa: "We can call notes by many names, but in the end they are all Sounds, and they are messengers of the Holy....Sound is Sacred…The Holy is found not only in each listener and each musician, but also in each and every Sound.”  Stephen Rush on Ornette Coleman's Harmolodics

"You may not always be where you'd like to be in relation to the tonal gravity of the chord to which you are relating (that is you may be too close or too distant from it), but you are always somewhere within the parent Lydian Chromatic Scale of your chord."  George Russell, The Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization, 27

George Russell: “’Since the bop period, a war on the chord has been going on.’”  (from The Cambridge Companion to Jazz, 192)  Darius Brubeck: “The Lydian Chromatic Concept meant liberation from the obsolete concerns and dictates of ‘legit’ academic theory which is based on a different tradition of tonal organization.  Even back in 1959, the ‘war on the chord’ escalated to thermonuclear proportions with the advent of free jazz and Coleman’s harmolodic theory, which he has not systematically defined.”  (1959: the beginning of beyond, from The Cambridge Companion to Jazz, 193)

Blues as Devil's Music

Larry Neal, The Ethos of the Blues, Sacred Music of the Secular City: "The 'devil songs,' as religious black people called the blues, had become an integral part of the American music scene." (40)  "Many Negro ministers warned their congregations against associating with blues singers.  A black man traveling with a guitar ('devil box') was not allowed to pass even into the front yard of the church unless he left his guitar outside.  The social impulse in the blues, its raw quality, is almost completely at odds with the moral attitudes which the Negro ministers attempted to instill in the religious community.  The music had arisen out of the same feeling which produced the spirituals, jubilees, gospel songs, and work songs.  But the overt literary content of the blues was radically different from the view of the world as expressed in the spirituals." (41)  

Heavy Metal as White Blues

Robert Walser: “A heavy metal genealogy ought to trace the music back to African-American blues, but this is seldom done….the histories of musical genres such as rock and heavy metal commonly begin at the point of white dominance.  But to emphasize Black Sabbath’s contribution of occult concerns to rock is to forget Robert Johnson’s struggles with the Devil and Howlin’ Wolf’s meditations on the problem of evil.  To [8] trace heavy metal vocal style to Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant is to forget James Brown’s ‘Cold Sweat.’  To deify white rock guitarists like Eric Clapton or Jimmy Page is to forget the black American musicians they were trying to copy….The debt of heavy metal to African-American music making has vanished from most accounts of the genre.” (Running With the Devil, 8-9) 

“Heavy metal began as a white remake of urban blues that often ripped off black artists and their songs shamelessly.  If the motive for much white music making has been the imperative of reproducing black culture without the black people in it, no comparable reason exists to draw black musicians and fans into traditionally white genres.  Heavy metal has remained a white dominated discourse, apparently offering little to those who have been comfortable with African-American  musical traditions.  Moreover, it has been transformed into something quite different from its blues origins.  Metal’s relatively rigid sense of the body and concern with dominance reflect European-American transformation of African-American musical materials and cultural values.” (17)

Walser: “Heavy metal, like all forms of rock and soul, owes its biggest debt to African-American blues.  The harmonic progressions, vocal lines, and guitar improvisations of metal all rely heavily on the pentatonic [57] scales derived from blues music.  The moans and screams of metal guitar playing, now performed with whammy bars and overdriven amplifiers, derive from the bottleneck playing of the Delta blues musicians and ultimately from earlier African-American vocal styles.” (57-58) 

Deena Weinstein corroborates Walser's perception of a link between blues and heavy metal.  “Heavy metal is a lineal descendent of the blues, using that style’s musical and lyrical conventions.” (Deena Weinstein, Heavy Metal: A Cultural Sociology, 260)  “The blues transvalued the singer’s pain into pleasure through the inherent pleasure of the music itself and through allowing them to express their lives lyrically within the spirit of that music.  They celebrated the aspects of the life-style of their group that made them pariahs to polite society, black and white: free-and-easy hedonism, vagrancy, and sexual appetite.  They sang freely of ‘devilish’ things, inverting, just as heavy metal does, the value signs of religious symbols.”  (271)  “[Blues] music, its artists, and its audience were denounced as devil worshippers by the black churches.” (271)  “[Heavy metal] might be usefully thought of as white-boy blues, a music appealing to the ethos of the marginalized group of male, white, blue-collar youth.” (272)  

In his 2005 documentary Metal: A Headbanger's Journey, Canadian director Sam Dunn states: “Since Black Sabbath the sound of evil has become a defining element of heavy metal.  But what makes metal sound evil?"  Alex Webster of the metal band Cannibal Corpse answers.  “The blues scale has the flat fifth, the tritone.  That’s the devil’s note – like in the old days you weren’t allowed to use that note.  But Black Sabbath, their title song, you know, Black Sabbath, is totally working the diminished fifth, the tritone.”

Reggae and Rastafarianism

In the 1920s Garvey organised the black nationalist movement in America.  Many people believe that what Marcus Garvey said in 1920, ("Look to Africa, when a black king shall be crowned, for the day of deliverance is at hand"), came true in 1930, when Ras Tafari Makonnen was crowned the new Emperor of Ethiopia, and became known as Emperor Haile Selassie.  Although Marcus Garvey never actually followed Rastafari or believed in it, he is considered to be one of the religion's prophets, because it was his ideologies that eventually grew into Rastafari.  It is after the crowning of Selassie that the Rastafarian movement officially began.  Garvey emphasized his belief in the One God, the God of Africa, who should be visualized through black eyes.

The African Orthodox Church was founded by George Alexander McGuire, by the direction of Marcus Garvey, in 1921.  Roi Ottley: “[Garvey] had been a convert to the Roman Catholic faith, and for a time was a devout follower - it was in fact the Saint Mark's Roman Catholic Church which provided him with his first platform in the United States.  But he felt the logic of an all-black world demanded a Black God....The fundamental outlines of the Roman Catholic Church were borrowed, even to much of its ritual and liturgy, and the Holy Trinity acknowledged – in black, of course.  An impressive service was held at Liberty Hall, and a ‘Special Form of Divine Service’ was performed by His Grace, Archibishop McGuire, for the purpose of ‘canonization’ of the Lord Jesus Christ as ‘the Black Man of Sorrow’ and the Blessed Virgin as a Black Madonna.” 

Garvey “admonished both whites and blacks that the purity of the races was being endangered.  ‘It is the duty of the virtuous and morally pure of both the white and black [192] races,’ he declared, ‘to thoughtfully and actively protect the future of the two peoples, by vigorously opposing the destructive propaganda and vile efforts of the miscegenationists of the white race, and their associates, the hybrids of the Negro race.’  A racial doctrine of this sort brought him the open support of the notorious E.S. Cox, of the Ku Klux Klan, and that of John Powell, of the Anglo-Saxon clubs.” (Black Nationalism, 193)  The St. John Coltrane African Orthodox Church traces its roots to Garvey’s church.

Byron Rushing, in A Note on the Origin of the African Orthodox Church, calls Ottley a "source of misinformation," and quotes Theodore Draper (The Fantasy of Black Nationalism): "He [Garvey] founded an African Orthodox Church in which God was Black, angels were Black, and Satan was white.  The church held meetings to deify the 'Black Man of Sorrows' and canonize the 'Black Virgin Mary.'"

Paul Gilroy: "According to the historian J.A. Rogers, in a 1937 interview quoted in what has become a celebrated passage from the second volume of The World's Great Men of Color, Garvey himself compared his organization's activities to those of Hitler and Mussolini: 'We were the first Fascists.  We had disciplined men, women, and children in training for the liberation of Africa.  The black masses saw that in this extreme nationalism lay their only hope and readily supported it.  Mussolini copied fascism from me but the Negro reactionaries sabotaged it.'"  (Against Race, 232)  Gilroy: "Common enthusiasm for ritual, pomp, and sacralization of the political sphere led Garvey repeatedly to claim kinship with Hitler and Mussolini and to describe himself as their inspiration."  (Race, 330)  

In 1937 Garvey claimed in a London interview with Joel A. Rogers that, as Rogers reported, his Fascism preceded that of Mussolini and Hitler.  "We were the first Fascists," [Garvey] said, "when we had 100,000 disciplined men, and were training children, Mussolini was still an unknown.  Mussolini copied our Fascism."  Later the same year he declared that the "UNIA was before Mussolini and Hitler ever were heard of.  Mussolini and Hitler copied the program of the UNIA---aggressive nationalism for the black man in Africa."

One can perceive a liberal Rastafarianism in songs like War, derived from a speech by Haile Selassie.

Until the philosophy which hold one race superior and another inferior
Is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned - everywhere is war.

That until there no longer first class and second class citizens of any nation
Until the colour of a man's skin is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes -
Me say war.

That until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race -
Dis a war.

That until that day the dream of lasting peace, world citizenship rule of international morality
Will remain in but a fleeting illusion to be pursued, but never attained -
Now everywhere is war - war.

And until the ignoble and unhappy regimes that hold our brothers in Angola, in Mozambique, South Africa sub-human bondage
Have been toppled, utterly destroyed - well, everywhere is war.

War in the east, War in the west, War up north, War down south - War - war - Rumours of war.
And until that day, the African continent will not know peace,
We Africans will fight - we find it necessary - and we know we shall win as we are confident in the victory of good over evil.

A more radical or fascist strain is detected in Peter Tosh's song, Black Dignity, founded on a blues chord; over this chord Tosh admonishes his listeners, "Love him and live.  Hate him and die....Live black, love black, think black - our God is black."  Tosh may have derived these slogans from Garvey, who counselled Afro-Americans, "Be black, buy black, think black."  (Speech, 1:25)

Hip Hop and Black Islam

Robert Walser mentions “the infamous Newsweek conflation of metal and rap as ‘the culture of attitude.’” (20)  The two genres share a predilection for flatted fifths.  Gary Herman states that "Rap's similarity to heavy metal runs deeper than a simple love of shock.  Both cultivate aggressive posturing as a statement of identity.  Metal aspires to be the music of the white dispossessed, to distil their hate and hopelessness.  Rap, rooted in the oppressed communities of urban black America, seeks to drown its community's oppressors in vitriol." (Babylon, 292)  

The black Islam of hip hop has origins in the genocidal teachings of Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam.  Farrakhan preaches about "a wheel over your heads....you call it UFO's, but they're not unidentified, they're identified, and they're here for the destruction of the United States of America [standing ovation]." (1:34:20-1:35:02)  This wheel only destroys whites.  Eddie Murphy satirizes this sort of genocide in a song called Kill the White People.  

Mattias Gardell: “The hip-hop movement’s role in popularizing the message of black militant Islam cannot be overestimated.  What reggae was to the expansion of the Rastafarian movement in the 1970s, so hip-hop is to the spread of black Islam in the 1980s and 1990s. Teenagers dance into black consciousness and internalize the NOI creed through hip-hop albums.  The Defiant Giants emphasize that hip-hop is ‘God’s music,’ based on the teachings of Elijah Muhammad and the inspiration of Louis Farrakhan, saying that they ‘rap strictly for the revolution and resurrection of our people.’  K-Solo raps that he is ‘a messenger from a Muslim Empire / here to let you know what Allah requires,’ urging blacks to ‘listen to Big Brother Farrakhan.’  Shockin’ Shawn of the Skinny Boys says that they ‘want to conquer [the black youth] by the thousands, by the millions.  We want our music to have so much of an impact that the youth will run to the Nation.’  Rap lyrics frequently, though not always explicitly, allude to NOI teachings and use code words or metaphors unintelligible to those unfamiliar [295] with black Islamic beliefs, like ‘dead niggaz’ (non-Muslim blacks), ‘Yacub’s crew’ (whites), or ‘cave bitch’ (white female).  Expressing thanks and support for the Nation of Islam and Louis Farrakhan has become almost standard practice on the rap albums, and long quotations from NOI literature are often included in the lyrics or in the background shout-outs.” (In the Name of Elijah Muhammad, 295-96) 

Gardell, writing in 1996: “Until the 1960s, black youths generally regarded whites as role models and sought to bend nature to comply with their wishes, as, for example, when they used congolene to straighten their hair.  One now can observe a reverse tendency, in which white youths look to blacks for role models.  Today you might find white people wearing African medallions, X-marked clothing, and dreadlocks….This new trend means that black Muslim raptivists are selling tens of thousands of albums to white fans who dance to their own destruction.”  (In the Name, 300)

Paul Gilroy refers to “playful affirmations of the insubordinate spirit which ties this radical form [hip hop] to one important definition of blackness.”  (104)  According to Naeem Mohaiemen, "Islam as a cultural force in hip-hop is severely under-documented.  In the most recent oversight, Jeff Chang's exhaustive hip-hop history Can't Stop, Won't Stop (Picador, 2005) pays only fleeting attention to the Muslim connection.  Elsewhere in mainstream media, the Muslim connection is never spoken aloud, even in the middle of thorough analysis and journalism."  (Fear of a Muslim Planet: The Islamic Roots of Hip-Hop, Sound Unbound, 313)  

Miyakawa describes the theology of Five Percenters: “For Five Percenters submission to Allah has no meaning since each (black) man is Allah incarnate….Five Percenters see Islam as a flexible way of life, a mode of encountering the world in their own self-deified orbit.” (30)  Miyakawa quotes Lord Jamar of the rap group Brand Nubian: “’in the Five Percent Nation, each man is the sole controller of his own universe.  If you’re the god of your universe, you set up your own laws.’” (31)  Five Percenters interpret Allah as an acronym for Arm, Leg, Leg, Arm, Head and Islam as an acronym for I, Self, Lord, and, Master.  This self-centered theology implies that the rest of humanity ought to submit to black males, which may account for the presence of discordant tonal structures in rap songs.  Miyawaka notes: “The common phrase of the 1990s, ‘What up, G?’ originally meant not ‘What up, gangsta?’ as is commonly assumed, but ‘What up, God?’ a greeting that circulated first among Five Percenters and later in hip-hop culture at large.” (41)  Knight: "While black men do not practice the religion of Islam (submission) since 'God can't submit to God,' Earths [black women] are often considered to be Muslim because they do submit to Allah - in the form of the black man....Because three quarters of the earth is covered by water, Earths today are taught to keep three fourths of their bodies covered at all times." (Five, 215)  

At :58 of Miss Ghetto rapper Wise Intelligent says: “I thought that maybe I could show them that other way G
 of Gods and Earths, resurrected through mental birth, from death to life, teaching niggas of every type the wrongs and rights, to put an end to living trife.

  The black man is God.”  The two chords are C minor and G minor; the electric pianist plays a repeated diminished riff.  The diminished piano riff occurs over the lyrical phrases “that other way G” (G is shorthand for God, synonymous with black men in Wise's theology) and “teaching niggas of every type.” 

Miyakawa: “Rappers associated with the Nation of Islam and the Five Percent Nation are uniquely positioned to spread their spiritual message through music and are [70] encouraged to do so by leaders they respect, such as Minister Louis Farrakhan.  Considering themselves Black Muslim missionaries, Five Percenter rappers use their musical platforms to minister to African American youths who would otherwise have no way to learn ‘knowledge of self.’” (70-1)  Farrakhan spread his message in his song A White Man's Heaven is a Black Man's Hell, which he concludes with the words, "Our God has come to give us heaven and take the devil [white people] into hell."  Brand Nubian's song Meaning of the 5% features "a recording of a Louis Farrakhan speech set to a sample from Marvin Gaye's 'T Stands for Trouble.'"  (119)  Gaye's song features a melody with a diminished riff (at 1:08 and 1:19) as does Trouble Man.

Gardell cites Sister Souljah: “’if black people kill black people every day, why not take a week and kill white people?’” (299)  Rose cites Sister Souljah: “Rap music has inspired me because….when you hear the tribal beat and the drums, they are the same drums of the African past that draws the community to war.  The drum beats are just faster, because the condition is accelerating so they’ve got to beat faster.  And when your feet are jumping, dancing….it’s the spirit attempting to escape the entrapment.  When you feel the children have gone mad, if you don’t feel it, and when you look at the dances you don’t see it and when you listen to the music and you don’t hear a call, then you missed the jam.”  (Sister Souljah speaking at ‘We Remember Malcolm Day’ held at Abyssynian Baptist Church in Harlem, New York, 21 February 1991.  From Black Noise, 62.)

Evidently the church minister "missed the jam."  Rose: “Calvin Butts, black minister of the Abyssyinian Baptist Church in Harlem, has gone on a mission to rid the black community of rap music because [183] of its harmful effects on today’s youths.” (Noise, 183-84)  Butts: “I may have more in common with a white man who loves humanity than I do with the black man who thinks that he ought to call all women b’s and hos.” (3:15) 

Richard Shusterman notes that Queen Latifah “insistently commands her listeners, ‘I order you to dance for me.’  For, as Ice-T explains, the rapper ‘won’t be happy till the dancers are wet’ with sweat, ‘out of control’ and wildly ‘possessed’ by the beat, as indeed the captivating rapper should himself be possessed so as to rock his audience with his God-given gift to rhyme….the spiritual ecstasy of divine bodily possession should remind us of Vodun and the metaphysics of African religion to which the aesthetics of Afro-American music has indeed been traced.” (Challenging Conventions in the Fine Art of Rap, That’s the Joint!, 464) 

Mark Dery: “Rap is the musical equivalent of a – forgive the pun – Black Mass.  Satanists invert Christian iconography by hanging the crucifix upside down and reciting the Lord’s Prayer backwards; rappers invert the natural – read ‘European’ – order of things by stripping music of its harmonic content and supplanting it with rhythm, timbre, and boasting, bullying, wisecracking lyrics delivered in a voice that hovers between speech and song.” (Public Enemy, That’s the Joint!, 409)

Rapper King Sun’s song Be Black is based on a four note bass riff: E, G, A, Bb.  E, G, and Bb outline a diminished triad; E and Bb form a tritone.  The first two verses end with the following lines. “I think I should reveal what it is to be black.”  “There's more to learn on how to be black.”  After diss[miss]ing Oreos in the second verse, King Sun represents himself “As modern day God,” in the third verse.  The final line of this verse, addressed to the singer's “black sista,” is: “Teach her to be original, and how to be black.”  The chorus consists of a rapper repeating the phrase, "I'm a black man" over what sounds like a blues scale riff of B, Bb, A, G, E - 5, b5, 4, b3, 1.  Assuming that Bb is present in this riff (it is played very quickly) it echoes the diminished bass line, but in reverse order. 

Rappers are being touted as role models.  Chuck D: “There’s a lot of young white guys around the country who are saying, ‘Hey, the type of individual I’d most like to be like is Ice Cube [of Niggas With Attitude] or Run [of Run-D.M.C.]’  That’s what makes it rabble-rousing rebel music.” (Public Enemy, That’s the Joint!, 415)  Chuck D's observation is endorsed by Quincy Jones.  "Rappers are the best role models we have.  Every rapper I know is clear as chitlins.  They have determination, pride, and hungry, inquisitive minds.  Their word power is growing.  Rap will cross over because 14-year old white kids always need new forms of vitality and rebelliousness.  Right now that's coming from hip hop."  (Listen Up, 166)  "I walked by Big Daddy Kane when we were at the heat of our crunch in the album [Back on the Block] - and he's got his dictionary and his gangster hat on.  There's a lot of drama with rappers and he's got his heaviest gangster look going on." (167)  Big Daddy Kane ends his rap on Jones' Back on the Block at 3:44 by identifying himself as "an Asiatic descendant, Big Daddy is shocked.  Yo Q[uincy], we back on the block."  The bass line of the song makes prominent use of the flatted fifth, affirming Jones' sense of a continuity from bebop to hip hop.

The Five Percenter Nation’s Student Enrollment Lesson no. 1 is as follows: “Who is the Original man?  The original man is the Asiatic Black man; the Maker; the Owner; the Cream of the planet Earth – Father of Civilization, God of the Universe.” (47)  Miyakawa notes that this Lesson “inspires the metaphorical underpinning of Digable Planets’ ‘Dial 7 (Axioms of Creamy Spies).’  Metaphors of ‘cream’ and ‘creamy,’ both referring to ‘the cream of the planet earth’ and thus to members of the black diaspora, run throughout the song.  The first lines of Sara Webb’s sung introduction initiate this metaphor (‘We are the creamy spies, the cream always rises up’) and the last lines of the introduction call for unity among ‘creamy spies’: ‘Hey, we can make life better together, not divided / Universal, original, creamy.’” (53)  This song begins with a D diminished chord, followed by a D minor chord, and then the A minor chord that fills the remainder of the song. 

Brand Nubian’s song Allah and Justice, "a reference to and praise of Clarence 13X (Allah)"(56), features a continuous diminished riff from the pianist played over D minor and G7.  Yurikawa notes that "the lyrics of 'Allah and Justice,' with a different but clearly related melody, constitute the Five Percent Nation's anthem, a song collectively sung during Five Percenter gatherings." (119)  Miyakawa is of the opinion that the efficacy of Brand Nubian's preaching on the theologically inspired tracks from their second album, In God We Trust, "must be weighed against other songs from the album, such as their misogynistic 'Steal Ya Ho', ' homophobic 'Punks Jump Up to Get Beat Down,' and the violent 'Pass the Gat' and 'Black and Blue.'  Ultimately, fans must be left with the sense that Brand Nubian is not always primarily concerned with spreading the Five Percent gospel." (131)

Brand Nubian’s song Aint No Mystery features a recurrent guitar riff of D, Ab, B, Ab, and F#.  This riff outlines a diminished triad of Ab, B, and D, with Ab and D forming a tritone.  The lyrics reject a theology of mystery.  “Preacher you could never be my teacher, dealing lies and deceit for some brothers from the street.  Know that the Black Man is God (the Black Man's God).  There is no mystery.  It ain't no mystery.  Who is that?  The Supreme Black Man, that's who!  Hoo, that's the man!  It ain't no mystery.  First soul, black like coal, the Original One, with the power of the sun.  Allah's God, always has been, always will be.  Never could be a fucking mystery.  But you pray for Jehovah to come.  That'll be the day when you leave the slum.  Until that time, you just keep eating swine, drinkin' cheap wine on the welfare line.  Who's the clown that didn't paint Jesus brown?  Everybody knows the man was original.”  In the theology of black Islam original refers to a member of the divine black race.  Rabbi David Kasher writes of hip-hop's God-complex.

Lakim Shabazz’s song The Lost Tribe of Shabazz begins with a bass line of E, D, E, and F#, which seems to establish E as the key center.  The song also begins and ends with a tritone of E and Bb from a sample of a piped instrument.  A saxophone riff of a diminished riff of E, Eb, Db, and Bb coincides with the phrase “this really bothers me,” at :53, and “lost tribe of Shabazz,” at 1:19.  At 1:20 the piped tritone reenters with the twice repeated chorus “our people will survive America.”  The diminished saxophone riff is also repeated twice, the second time coinciding with the words “will survive.”  At 1:50 the diminished sax riff coincides with the words, “tricknology fools ya.”  The diminished sax riff is again repeated twice during the chorus, the second time coinciding with the words, “will survive,” at 2:29.  At 2:52 the sax riff coincides with the phrase “these companies would lose.”  At 3:35 the third statement of the chorus, “our people will survive America,” coincides with the third occurrence of the piped tritone riff.  At 4:07 the diminished sax riff reenters coinciding with the phrase “will survive,” as at 4:12.  At :18 and 3:45 a second sax riff is played, outlining an A7 chord; however, this riff concludes with a diminished phrase of Eb, D, and C, with a final A note implied. 

The tonality employed in The Lost Tribe of Shabazz reinforces the lost quality of this 'tribe.'  The bass line suggests a key center of E.  The diminished sax riff suggests a key center of Bb.  The piped tritone alternates between both centers.  The blues sax riff suggests a key center of A7.  In the final verse Lakim Shabazz pronounces his hatred for "oreos."  The Urban Dictionary defines this term as "A[n] insulting termed often used by blacks to denigrate other blacks as 'Black on the outside, white on the inside.'  White on the inside meaning anything from speaking proper english, getting good grades, liking music that isn't hip hop, rap or R&B and having a diverse group of friends."  

The negative evaluation of oreos by rappers contrasts with the positive associations of this concept in the past.  In the late eighteenth century English poet William Blake wrote The Little Black Boy, who states, "I am black, but oh, my soul is white."  In the early twentieth century Afro-American pianist Fats Waller wrote Black and Blue, with the phrase, "I'm white inside."  The Five Percenters' association of the cream in oreo cookies with white culture seems to contradict their association of the cream used in hot beverages with black people.  Breau's version of Tyner's Ebony Queen could be called Oreo Queen as it begins and ends in Tyner's 'dark' minor mode, yet modulates to an ethereal and 'bright' major modality in the middle.  

The lost quality of The Tribe of Shabazz also characterizes GZA's song Swordsman.  The bass line, F, D, and C, seems to have no relation to the eerie synth riff moving from F#, through A and Bb to C, thus outlining a tritone.  The first two notes of the sampled acoustic bass riff in Micranots’ song Culture outline a tritone.  The lyric begins: “This is original, indigenous.  This is all that we know that we have....(die-die-die for they culture) [I-Self Divine]  We dealin’ with sound, filling ya crown with immaculate concepts.”  The discordant tonal structures are not "original, indigenous," or "immaculate."

Paul Gilroy associates hip hop with what he describes as "revolutionary conservatism....in a gloomy presentation of black humanity composed of limited creatures who require tradition, pedagogy, and organization.  This seems to go hand in hand with a fascistic fear and contempt of the masses.  Ice Cube has reported this revealing conversation with his sometime mentor Minister Louis Farrakhan: 'Mentally he told me, the people are babies.  They are addicted to sex and violence.  So if you've got medicine to give them, then put the medicine inside some soda so they get both and it won't be hard for them to digest.'"  (Against Race, 206) 

Modern Jazz and Black Islam

Steve Waksman describes the black aesthetic as "the cultural movement that paralleled the drive toward political autonomy expressed by Black Power.  Adhering to the black aesthetic involved accepting the maxim 'black is beautiful' as the first step toward breaking away from white European aesthetic standards that had so long associated blackness with ugliness, depravity, and evil.  Aesthetics were transfigured into a battleground in which black and white artists struggled over control of the images that shaped the collective racial consciousness.  Larry Neal offered a striking articulation of this sensibility in his essay on the Black Arts Movement. 'The motive behind the black aesthetic is the destruction of the white thing, the destruction of white ideas, and white ways of looking at the world.  The new aesthetic is mostly predicated on an Ethics which asks the question: [173] whose vision of the world is finally more meaningful, ours or the white oppressors?  What is truth.  Or, more precisely, whose truth shall we express, that of the oppressed or of the oppressors?...[The black aesthetic] comes to stand for the collective conscious and unconscious of Black America - the real impulse in back of the Black Power movement, which is the will toward self-determination and nationhood, a radical reordering of the nature and function of both art and the artist.'" (Instruments of Desire, 173)  Waksman describes "the adherents of the Black Aesthetic movement" of the sixties as those "whose efforts to define a separate black cultural identity continue to resonate within contemporary culture and politics." (Instruments, 173)  James Baldwin: "Black has become a beautiful color - not because it is loved but because it is feared." (The Fire Next Time, 91)  

Newton: "Another expression that helped to raise Black people's consciousness is 'All Power to the People.'  An expression that has meaning on several levels - political, economic, and metaphysical." (166)  "In the metaphysical sense we based the expression 'All Power to the People' on the idea of man as God.  I have no other God but man, and I firmly believe that man is the highest or chief good.  If you are obligated to be true and honest to anyone, it is to your God, and if each man is God, then you must be true to him.  If you believe that man is the ultimate being, then you will act according to your belief.  Your attitude and behaviour toward man is a kind of religion in itself, with high standards of responsibility....The phrase 'All Power to the People' was meant to...convince Black people that their rewards were due in the present, that it was in their power to create a Promised Land here and [168] now.  The Black Panthers have never intended to turn Black people away from religion.  We want to encourage them to change their consciousness of themselves and to be less accepting of the white man's version of God - the God of the downtrodden, the weak, and the undeserving.  We want them to see themselves as the called, the chosen, and the salt of the earth." (Revolutionary Suicide, 168-9)

"I have arrived at my understanding of what is meant by God...through philosphy, logic and semantics.  My opinion is that the term 'God' belongs to the realm of concepts, that it is dependent upon man for its existence.  If God does not exist unless man exists, then man must be here to produce God.  It logically follows, then, that man created God, and if the creator is greater than that which is created, then we must hold that man is the highest good....I think that when man clings to the idea of a God, whom he has created and placed in the heavens, he actually reduces himself and his own potential.  The more he attributes to God, the more inferior he becomes, the less responsible for his own destiny.  He says to God, 'I am weak but thou art mighty,' and therefore accepts things as they are, content to leave the running of the world to a supernatural force greater than himself.  This attitude embodies a kind of fatalism, which is inimical to growth and change.  On the other hand, the greater man becomes, the less his God will be." (169)  "Much of the Bible is madness.  I cannot accept, for ex[169]ample, the notion of divine law and responsibility to 'God.'  As far as I am concerned, if men are responsible beings, they ought to be responsible to each other.  And so, when we say 'All Power to the People,' we mean to convey a sense of deep respect and love for the people, and the idea that the people deserve complete truth and honesty.  The judgement of history is the judgement of the people.  That is the motivating and controlling idea of our very existence."  (169-70)

The Black Panther Party seems to be based on the notion that black men are gods, in the image of a two-headed African deity.  The slogan All Power to the People seems to mean all power to black men.  This notion recalls the character named God in the film In Too Deep.  

Guitarist Michael Bloomfield called Greenwich "the Coltrane of guitar players."  A reviewer refers to "Greenwich's vision of a guitar-based version of the John Coltrane Quartet."  Greenwich suggests an analogy between black aesthetics and diminished harmony when playing a flatted fifth relative to the fundamental at 2:32 of the opening statement of the melody of his song Black Beauty.  The first flatted fifth over the fundamental chord of A- occurs at 2:43, quickly followed by a flatted fifth, B, relative to the second chord of this song, F, at 2:46; in fact this F chord is an F7b5, for the bassist plays a two note line of F and B over this chord throughout the song. 

At 3:10 Greenwich begins to play what Branford Marsalis calls Coltrane's "blues lick" from A Love Supreme; from 6:50-7:20 he plays this "blues lick" in several positions, as Coltrane did in his Acknowledgement, from A Love Supreme.  Greenwich plays the "lick" over seven root notes: A, D, Bb, Eb, B, E, and Db.  The three note riff over these seven key centers covers all of the notes in the chromatic scale.  At one point Coltrane plays the four note riff [of three different notes] thirty seven times, in different keys.  Kahn notes Lewis Porter's interpretation: "'he's telling us God is everywhere - in every register, in every key.'" (102)  Kahn states: "To Dave Liebman, the key-hopping section portends the final, experimental extreme of Coltrane's career: 'It's really looking towards what he's about to go into, which is very, very free and non-key-centered improvisation.  The way he takes that 'a love supreme' motif, and transposes it through all the keys over the ostinatto pattern that Jimmy is playing, is a real study.'" (103)  Therefore, Greenwich's Coltranean citation in his Black Beauty indicates that he is making a musical statement of black theology, as well as black aesthetics.  This indication is supported by Greenwich's statement, "I play [music] to awake[n] people spiritually - that's the only reason."  From 5:30-53 Greenwich plays a diminished scale over the song's two chords.  The prominence of flatted fifths in Greenwich's Black Beauty suggests his rejection of traditional negative associations of this interval.  The Canadian Encyclodpedia mentions Greenwich's "pursuit of a personal religion similar to pantheism."