Diabolus in Musica


Diabolus in Modern Classical, Modern Jazz, Blues, Heavy Metal, and Hip Hop Music

The Sound of Evil; The Blues Roots of Heavy Metal; Four Eras of Tonality/Spirituality; Harp and Psaltery as Cross, Blues Guitar as Devil Box; The Ironic Guitar Hero; The Jungian Black Shadow, Black in Psychoanalysis, “The Great Canadian Shadow of denial,” and the European and American Shadow of Blackness; Race Traitor; Black Feeling; The White Negro; Hip Hop and Blackness; After the Rap and Rain: Deconstructing the L.A. Rebellion; Free at Last.

The Sound of Evil

Sixteenth century Reformer Martin Luther: “Satan hates music because it drives away temptation and evil thoughts.”  “It is a gift from God to drive away the devil and make us forget our anger and impurity and pride and evil tempers.”  Centuries later, in 1957, Little Richard proclaimed: “’If you want to live for the Lord you can’t rock ‘n’ roll.  God doesn’t like it.’” (Just My Soul Responding, 190)  Decades later he testified: “I believe [rock and roll] is demonic….A lot of the beats in music today are taken from the voodoo drums.  If you study music in rhythms, like I have, you’ll see that is true.  I believe that kind of music is driving people from Christ.  It is contagious.  I believe that God wants people to turn from Rock ‘n’ Roll to the Rock of Ages – to get ready for eternal life.”  Cultural critic Cornell West uses a similar metaphor when referring “to the antiestablishment youth behind the infectious pulses of rock.” (Democracy Matters, 92)  

In an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine singer David Bowie declared: “Rock has always been the devil’s music, you can’t convince me that it isn’t.  I honestly believe everything I’ve said—I believe rock and roll is dangerous.  It could well bring about a very evil feeling in the West.  I do want to rule the world…I feel that we’re only heralding something even darker than ourselves.” (February 12, 1976, p. 83)  Bowie also stated: “Those old Fifties antirock movies [such as Blackboard Jungle, The Girl Can’t Help It, The Wild OneWild for Kicks, Expresso Bongo, The Tommy Steele StoryRock Around the Clock] were right.  Rock ‘n’ roll records are dangerous to the moral fibre.”  Bowie was quoted as saying: “Adolf Hitler was one of the first rock stars.”  According to Steve Martin & Co., “atheists sing rock ‘n’ roll.” (2:05)  Compare with Harold Bloom: “How uninteresting it is to be an atheist.  I mean, you can’t make literature out of that….I think if you argue with God, or you’re angry at God, if you have a grudge against him, then that’s much more fun than just saying he’s not there at all.”

Michael Bane: “Boys and girls got together; blacks and whites joined hands, just like the poster promulgated by the United Klans of America threatened they would.  Young America drank whiskey, smoked the weed formerly relegated to the backwaters of jazz musicians, got together and talked in a cr-aaaaaaaaazy language.  Kids dressed funny and talked funny and danced funny and thought funny ideas.  By golly, the grown-ups were right – rock and roll did represent a clear and present threat to the existing social order.” (White Boy Singin’ the Blues, 131)  It may have been in the late fifties that Canadian guitar legend Lenny Breau told his sister-in-law: “You know, Judy, you’ve got to stop listening to that rock and roll.  It’s no good for you.”  Such statements perpetuate what hip hop scholar Tricia Rose describes as “a long-standing sociologically based discourse that considers black influences a cultural threat to American society….For the antirock organizations, heavy metal is a ‘threat to the fiber of American society.’” (Black Noise, 130)  

Linda Martin and Kerry Segrave note a similar belief from singer Jerry Lee Lewis: “Toward the end of the 1970s Jerry Lee Lewis was still toying with the idea of being a preacher and remarked that by entertaining people he had served Satan.  When asked to elaborate Lewis explained, ‘Cause I’m draggin’ the audience to hell with me.  How am I gonna get ’em to Heaven with “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On”?  You can’t serve two masters; you’ll hate one an’ love the other.'” (Anti-Rock, 78)  During Bob Dylan’s 1979 tour college students demanded that he play rock music.  Howard Sounes: “He told them angrily that if they wanted rock ‘n’ roll they should go and see the rock [332] group Kiss, noted for painting their faces and poking their tongues out.  They could ‘rock ‘n’ roll all the way down to the pit!’” (Down the Highway, 332-33)  U2’s Bono describes “the music business where never before have so many lost and sorrowful people gathered in one place pretending they’re having a good time.” (Walk On, xiv)

These condemnations of rock music by musicians were echoed by Martin Luther King, who warned that rock and roll “’often plunges men’s minds into degrading and immoral depths’.” (Just My Soul Responding, 189)  In 1958 King asserted in Ebony Magazine that gospel and rock and roll “are totally incompatible.”  A preacher who is cited on CBC’s Global Metal on The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulose followed this line of thinking: “Satan is using the rock groups as his patsies to evangelize the youth of the world.”  

Neil Young nationalizes this condemnation when singing: “Don’t feel like Satan but I am to them, / So I try to forget it any way I can; / Keep on rockin’ in the free world.”  David Horowitz extends this moral condemnation: “In the perspective of [“The editors of Race Traitor”], white America is the ‘Great Satan.’  In academic cant, they replicate the poisonous message of the black racists of the Nation of Islam.” (Hating Whitey, 9)  Horowitz: “The intellectual most associated with the view that America is the Great Satan is MIT linguistics professor Noam Chomsky.” (Destructive Generation, 273)  Horowitz: “radical Islam and…those who offer radical Islam aid and comfort,…the international radical left….see America as the ‘Great Satan,’ embodying the twin evils of capitalist oppression and western domination.” (Left Illusions, 370)  Brigitte Gabriel: “through Islamo-fascist eyes, Israel is merely ‘the Little Satan.’  The United States is ‘the Great Satan.’” (Because They Hate, 109)  To Walid Shoebat, “a devil must exist – how else can one explain the unity of beliefs between the leftists and Muslims?” (God’s War on Terror, 12) 

Stroumboulopoulose, however, distances himself from the views of those that condemn rock music when commenting on the genre of heavy metal: “You know, to some metal is loud, obnoxious, and angry; but it’s also a hell of a lot smarter than some might think, and so are its fans – case in point, Scot McFayden, Sam Dunn.  They made one of the best metal documentaries ever called Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey, and that film traced every step of Sam’s quest for the true meaning of metal.”  At this point the show features the introduction to Am I Evil by Diamond Head, a song that begins with a riff of 1, 5, b5, b9, 1; the riff frames the two notes of a tritone, 1 and b5, as 5 and b9 are passing tones.  Stroumboulopoulose (6:45): “Especially in North America, because it’s such a Puritan culture, most of the people who didn’t like metal were the parents and religious leaders, like, ‘This is evil.’”  Katherine Young and Paul Nathanson: “Calvinists…created the founding cultures of both the United States and English Canada.” (Legalizing Misandry, 177)  John Calvin was French.

Andrew Hacker equates Puritanism with whiteness when describing American immigrants who are “allowed as valid a claim to being ‘white’ as persons of Puritan or Pilgrim stock.” (Two Nations, 13)  According to Franklin Rosemont, “the blues is absolutely incompatible with puritanism.” (Blues and the Poetic Spirit, 10)  Rosemont: “The spectre of Afro-American music continues to haunt the white power structure.” (14)  Seymour Martin Lipset describes “the basic strain of Protestant puritanical morality” which recognizes “that there is a fundamental difference between right and wrong, that right must be supported and that wrong must be suppressed, that error and evil have no right against the truth.  This propensity to see life in terms of all black and all white is most evident, perhaps most disastrous, in the area of foreign policy, where allies and enemies cannot be gray, but must be black or white.” (The Sources of the ‘Radical Right’ (1955); from The Radical Right, 317)  

Karl Stern: “Puritanism, once the mask is off, has clearly sadistic features.” (The Flight From Woman, 185)  Roger Kimball cites Yippie leader Jerry Rubin: “’Puritanism leads us to Vietnam.  Sexual insecurity results in a supermasculinity trip called imperialism.  American foreign policy, especially in Vietnam, makes no sense except sexually…

The revolution declares war on Original Sin, the dictatorship of parents over their kids, Christian morality, capitalism and supermasculinity trips….

Our tactic is to send niggers and longhair scum invading white middle-class homes, fucking on the living room floor, crashing on the chandeliers, spewing sperm on the Jesus pictures, breaking the furniture and smashing Sunday school napalm-blood Amerika forever.’” (The Long March, 151)  Rubin: “’The hippie-yippie-SDS movement is a “white nigger” movement.’” (241)  Abbie Hoffman: “In time the hippie life-style that evolved in the mid-to-late sixties will be seen as the force that broke the stranglehold of the Protestant Ethic, that spiritual underpinning of the profit greed-grab.” (Soon to Be a Major Motion Picture, 99)

Kimball mentions “the common but misleading use of the epithet ‘puritan’ as a synonym for ‘priggish.’  The novelist and essayist Marilynne Robinson astutely noted, ‘the way we think of the Puritans seems…[24] a serviceable model for important aspects of the phenomenon we call Puritanism.’  In other words, castigating someone as a ‘puritan’ is a ‘great example of our collective eagerness to disparage without knowledge or information about the thing disparaged, when the reward is the pleasure of sharing an attitude one knows is socially approved.’” (24-25)

David Frum: “The Puritan heritage and the rigors of frontier life had instilled in Americans a mistrust of garrulity, of the blatherskate, of the flibbertigibbet.  ‘Speak not but what may benefit yourself or others; avoid trifling conversation,’ urged Benjamin Franklin in his autobiography, and even into the mid-twentieth century, Americans wanted to think of their heroes as men of few words, like Gary Cooper or John Wayne.  But the public display of one’s suffering, one’s wrongs, one’s pitiableness, one’s misfortunes, which would have seemed shameful, ignoble, even disgusting before World War II, became in the 1970s the distinctive American national style.  Don’t bottle it up; you have a right to tell others how you feel.  It was, said the author Tom Wolfe, the undeclared motto of the 1970s: ‘Let’s talk about me!'” (How We Got Here: The 70’s, 99)

Andrew Hacker: “The puritan catechism, with its emphasis on the deferral of gratifications and the avoidance of indulgence, formed the childhood lessons of most modern adults.  The difficulty is that the puritan ethic was made for an era of scarcity.  Temptation could be avoided if it was seldom available.  But affluence encourages promiscuity: not only in sex, but in the accumulation of all the amenities which comfort the body and stimulate the senses.  If an individual’s behavior violates the imperatives of his early instruction, self-hatred is engendered which is bound to have consequences.  The customary outlet is rationalization: hence efforts at persuading yourself that you have earned (and are therefore deserve) life’s pleasures; indeed, that you are too strong to [26] be corrupted by enjoying your existence.  In this dialectic what remains is the puritan assumption that, for all your sybaritism, you are still a unique and superior person.” (The End of the American Era, 26-27)

Stroumboulopoulose’s criticism of ‘white’ Puritan culture reflects a transvaluation of values, whereby the traditional moral and spiritual authorities of the establishment, “parents and religious leaders,” are the new social scapegoats.  James Davison Hunter describes cultural conflict as “a struggle to control the symbols of public culture…The symbols of public culture are always mediated in the social world by a variety of social institutions.”  “The right to shape the public culture, or at least the right to have a voice in how public culture will be shaped, confers….the right to pursue individual and community interests.  Those who have no voice may be defined as illegitimate – and their interests may be deemed irrelevant….the many different voices that contribute to the shaping of public culture are not of equal volume or authority.  Many voices may be heard, but the historical tendency has been for one voice to dominate…. [56] This is what social scientists would call ‘cultural hegemony,’ and the benefits that accrue to it are nothing less than power and privilege.” (Cultural Wars, 56-7) 

The Origins of Heavy Metal

In a chapter called The Globalization of Metal, from the book Metal Rules the World, Deena Weinstein states: “The genre’s formative bands came from the United Kingdom and the United States.  Many scholars of heavy metal point to Black Sabbath, emanating from the industrial British midlands at the start of the 1970’s, as the first heavy metal band.”  (37)  Dunn’s Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey outlines a history of heavy metal, beginning with “Early Metal (1966-1970) Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Blue Cheer, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, MC5, Mountain, The Stooges, Black Sabbath.”  During Cream’s first American tour in 1966 guitarist Eric Clapton recalls an acid trip during a concert when “it was in my head that I could turn the audience into angels or devils according to which note I played.” (Autobiography, 92)  

From Dunn’s documentary: “In 1986 heavy metal became the most popular music in the world.  And everywhere you looked kids were growing their hair long.”  Noel Ignatiev: In “the early 1970s….many young people were breaking with the values that had guided their parents.  In areas as seemingly unrelated as clothing and hair styles, musical tastes, attitudes toward a war, norms of sexual conduct, use of drugs, and feelings about racial prejudice, young people were creating a special community, which became known as the counterculture.  In particular, long hair for males became the visible token of their identification with it.  It was a badge of membership in a brotherhood cast out from official society – exactly the function of color for Afro-Americans.” (Race Traitor, 22)  Santana: “In 1972 your long hair was not just a mark of honor – it was your identity and your strength and your connection to a way of life that said, ‘I’m done with the old way of doing things.’” (Universal Tone, 322)  

“Every metal band owes a debt, musically, to Black Sabbath.  They were the original.”  Cannibal Corpse
“Indeed.  First metal band ever – Black Sabbath.”  Lamb of God
“Every cool riff has already been written by Black Sabbath.  Anything anyone else does is just basically ripping it off.”  Rob Zombie
“For my money, Black Sabbath reigns as the first heavy metal band….It was Tony Iommi, Sabbath’s guitarist, who was responsible for creating the band’s sound, and the first, true, heavy metal riffs.”

Black Sabbath’s eponymous song begins with a bell ringing what sounds like two notes, G and D.  The guitar riff consists of the same two notes as the bell, G and D, in a G power chord, with no third, followed by the flatted fifth, Db.  This song was apparently inspired by a vision that bassist Geezer Butler had of a ghostly “large black figure” filching a book that Ozzy Osbourne had lent him about witchcraft.  Butler: “I’d sort of dabbled in Black Magic, not practicing it, but I was interested in it.  All these horrible things kept happening to me – a lot of my aunts and uncles started dying and I was seeing all these bloody things visiting me during the night.”  Osbourne: “I’ve got many, many demons that affect me on many, many levels.  A few years ago, I was convinced of that – I thought I truly was possessed by the devil.  I remember sitting through the Exorcist a dozen times, saying to myself, ‘Yeah, I can relate to that.  I really wish I knew why I’ve done some of the things I’ve done over the years.  I don’t know if I’m a medium for some outside source.  Whatever it is, frankly, I hope it’s not what I think it is – Satan.”

Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi: “Before we called ourselves Black Sabbath we were a blues-jazz band.”  “When I first heard the term heavy metal I hadn’t had the faintest idea what they were talking about, which was many years ago when I was doing an interview and somebody said, ‘Oh, about this heavy metal.’  And I said, ‘What’s that?’”  “It just happened that I came up with a sort of music that everybody liked and when we first started writing riffs and then [the song] Black Sabbath, and Black Sabbath just seemed so different – those few notes that sort of said it all.  We thought, ‘God, this is great.’  We loved it.  We loved the vibe, you know hairs come up on your arm, and it just gave us a great feeling of ‘this is what we’re about,’ you know.  The sound being demonic, it just appealed to us.  We liked what we were doing.  We liked the idea of those evilly sort of sounding riffs.”  At this point Dunn’s documentary features the introduction to Am I Evil by Diamond Head, which begins with a bolero-like repetition of an E power chord (E with its perfect fifth and no third) played against a melody of E, B, Bb, F, E – in numbers, 1, 5, b5, b9, 8=1.  The chorus is: “ Am I evil?  Yes I am.  Am I evil?  I am man.”  This song was influenced by Gustav Holst’s Mars. 

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 heavy 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.”  Rapper Ice T borrowed the Black Sabbath tritone riff for his song Midnight.  Ice T’s statement, at 2:43 of the song Evil Dick, “when evil dick has his way it sounds a little like this,” is followed by a tritone riff.

Bob Ezrin: “You know in the Middle Ages the tritone was identified as the music of the devil, because it apparently was the sound one used to call up the beast.  There’s something very sexual about the sound of the tritone.”  Sander Gilman mentions “the traditional image of the phallus as the beast out of control.” (Sexuality: An Illustrated History, 258)  Ezrin: “The classical roots of heavy metal are fairly obvious and most of the pracitioners, most of the really, really, good ones, were fans of dark classical music, and in some cases dark, and powerful, and heavy classical music like Wagner.”

The Blues Roots of Heavy Metal

Kristin Hunter Lattany suggests the black roots of metal: “White adaptations of black music have succumbed to the great white death urge, going from bland rock to suicidal punk and homicidal heavy metal in less than twenty years.” (Off-Timing: Stepping to the Different Drummer, 164; from Lure and Loathing: Essays on Race, Identity, and the Ambivalence of Assimilation)  This musical heredity is confirmed by 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) 

“Some credit Jimi Hendrix with the first real heavy metal hit, the heavily distorted, virtuosic ‘Purple Haze’ of 1967.” (9)  “Inspired by the guitar virtuosity and volume of Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton, late 1960s rock bands developed a musical language that used distortion, heavy beats, and sheer loudness to create music that sounded more powerful than any other.  Groups like Iron Butterfly and Vanilla Fudge added organ to the musical mix; like the electric guitar, the organ is capable of sustained, powerful sounds as well as virtuosic soloing, and the combination of both resulted in an aural wall of heavy sound.  Iron Butterfly’s In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida (1969), [9] featuring the seventeen-minute title tune with its interminable drum solo, became the biggest-selling album Atlantic Records had ever had.” (9-10) 

“The sound that would become known as heavy metal was definitively codified in 1970….Joe Elliot, now lead vocalist for Def Leppard, recalls this moment, which he lived as a young fan: ‘In 1971, there were only three bands that mattered.  Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Deep Purple.’  Led Zeppelin’s….songs were often built around thematic hooks called riffs, a practice derived from urban blues music and extended by British imitators such as Eric Clapton (e.g., ‘Sunshine of Your Love’)  In their lyrics and music, Led Zeppelin added mysticism to hard rock through evocations of the occult, the supernatural, Celtic legend, and Eastern modality.  Deep Purple’s sound was similar….Black Sabbath took the emphasis on the occult even further, using dissonance, heavy riffs, and the mysterious whine of vocalist Ozzy Osborne to evoke overtones of gothic horror.” (10) 

Walser refers to “the beginning riff of Deep Purple’s ‘Smoke on the Water’ in its original blues-Aeolian form (G-Bb-C, G-Bb-Db-C) [1, b3, 4, 1, b3, b5, 4]” (47)  “Recorded in 1971 (released in 1972), Machine Head contained not only the hits ‘Highway Star’ and ‘Space Truckin’’ but also the heavy metal anthem ‘Smoke on the Water.’  The album came to be regarded by fans as one of the classic albums of heavy metal.”  (64)  Hendrix’s Purple Haze, Cream’s Sunshine of Your Love, Iron Butterfly’s In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, Led Zeppelin’s Heartbreaker, Black Sabbath’s eponymous Black Sabbath, and Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water, Space Truckin’, and Highway Star all manifest the flatted fifth in various forms.

“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)

Robert Walser mentions “the infamous Newsweek conflation of metal and rap as ‘the culture of attitude.’” (20)  James Twitchell: “If ‘heavy metal’ was the Anglo-American contribution to low culture, then ‘rap’ was the African-American donation….Both are rife with adolescent misogyny, homophobia, and threats of violence.  They are rude, bawdy, boastful, with a kind of ‘in your face’ aggression (called ‘attitude’) [265] characteristic of insecure masculinity.” (Carnival Culture, 265-66)  The two genres also share a predilection for flatted fifths.  Gary Herman states: “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)  Clarence Page describes “the sophisticated observers at ’60 Minutes’” who reported “on self-segregation at Duke University.  The program showed students ostensibly splitting off into…separate buses for Duke’s famous football team….The football team, it turns out, was not segregating by race after all, but by musical tastes.  On game trips, they played heavy metal music on one bus and rap on the other.” (Showing My Color, 271-72)

John McWhorter describes an “alienated posture [that] has settled in as what one is born to and inhales as a norm….An example is the howling antiestablishment despair typical of heavy-metal music, embraced even by the mild-mannered as ‘cool.’  Similar is the ’gansta’ strain of hip-hop, full of excoriations of the police and celebrations of black people as ‘niggers’ engaged in eter-[248]nal battle against a racist AmeriKKKa, now a staff of life among legions of blacks under 50 and supported by a 70 percent white buyer-ship.  The modern American, having never known a time when music like this was not a norm, is given to assuming that it is, in the first case, a natural reflection of the rebelliousness inherent to youth, and, in the second, the inevitable reaction of blacks who have suffered the abuse of racism.  Yet hungry Okie migrants knew no such music, nor did the black sharecroppers watching lynchings year by year.  No, music like this is the product of an attitudinal tic specific to our times.” (Americans Without Americanness; from Best African American Essays: 2009, 248-49) 

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)  Wikipedia: “The most common idea of a blues scale, and the quickest and easiest to pick up consists of a minor pentatonic scale with the added flatted fifth because use of the flatted fifth does not depend heavily on context and may be relied upon almost as frequently as any of the other notes in the pentatonic scale.  The real blues scale includes all the chromatic notes between octaves except for the major seventh and minor second in the following order of commonality of use: tonic, minor third, perfect fifth, minor seventh, perfect fourth, major third, tritone [flatted fifth], major sixth, minor sixth, major second.” (Music Theory/Blues)  Iain Chambers refers to “the lurking presence of the ‘illegitimate’ musical ladder of the ‘blues’ scale….the heart of black American sonorities were ultimately linked….to a sense of songs being ‘out of tune’ and rhythmically erratic.  This, and their resulting clash with official, ‘legitimate’, musical languages (the ‘Do Re Mi…’ scale of European harmony, for example), were the obvious offspring of a ‘forbidden’ exchange.” (Urban Rhythms, 65) 

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.” (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)  Referring to heavy metal, Iain Chambers states: “The classic group line-up, derived from the urban blues, consisted of a powerhouse drums-electric bass combination laying down a bludgeoning beat as a base for the voice and lead guitar to narcissistically mix and mirror aggressive musical and sexual prowess.” (Urban Rhythms, 123)

Steve Waksman states that during the 1960s “the electric guitar came to embody a certain set of countercultural desires that hinged upon the transference of racial and sexual identity between African-American and white men.  African-American bluesmen became the ideal type of electric guitarist after whom legions of young white musicians (like Michael Bloomfield) sought to pattern themselves; and the resulting ‘rebellion’ reproduced patterns of racism and sexism even as it aimed to produce an effective model of resistance rooted in musical practice….The putting on of blackness, or of elements of black style, is from this perspective an attempt to compensate for a perceived lack in the composition of whiteness….Thus electric guitar performance in the1960s…followed a ‘gendered logic of exchange’ within which white males sought to compensate for their supposed deficiency by drawing upon the sexual excess that African-American men were thought to embody.” (Instruments of Desire, 4)  According to Marshall Chess, the idea behind the Muddy Waters record Fathers and Sons came when Mike Bloomfield was at his house and said that he and Paul Butterfield wanted to do an album with Muddy Waters because they would be in Chicago for a charity concert.

“The music of hard rock and heavy metal forebears such as the MC5 and Led Zeppelin provides perhaps the most explicit enactment of the racialized nature of rock’s favored mode of phallocentric display, with the electric guitar as a privileged signifier of white male power and potency…For Hendrix, the electric guitar was crucial to the creation of a demonstrative sexual persona.  Like the white guitarists who were his peers, he manipulated his instrument onstage to accentuate his physical presence.  Unlike them, however, he was not seen to be aspiring toward some ideal of authentic musical performance rooted in race and sexuality, but was believed to personify that ideal by many of the whites in his audience.  Among black onlookers he was more often criticized for his willingness to play to white expectations of how a black man should act.” (Instruments of Desire, 5) 

Paul Garon argues “that for those interested in the support and study of African-American culture, blues as purveyed by whites appears unauthentic and deeply impoverished; further, it too often represents an appropriation of black culture of a type sadly familiar.  Finally, it can be economically crippling to black artists through loss of jobs and critical attention.” (Responses to Crossover Dreams; from Race Traitor, 168)  This “controversy…exploded on the pages of Guitar Player magazine (August [168] 1990) in a guest editorial by Lawrence Hoffman, a white professor/composer and blues critic, who noted that it was ‘absurd to think that the lifeblood of blues could be extended by anyone who, in essence, could never be anything more than a convincing, expressive copyist’ (p. 18).

His position – that white players could bring little authenticity to their blues performances and that they took jobs that should go to blacks – brought mountains of vituperative abuse from Guitar Player readers.” (168-69)  Garon concludes his Responses with the comment, “How ironic if the white blues performers, who so reputedly respect their black mentors, are only another instrument aiding and abetting white rule.” (175)  McCoy Tyner: “the blues originally came from Africa.  The blues is really based on a five-note scale, which is African….This music, the blues, is based on African music.  There’s some talk about the American or European influence on our music, but again, the five-note scale is African.  Africa is the mother of civilization and all else is, obviously, based on that.” (McCoy Tyner: An Interview; from Kofsky, Coltrane, 405) 

Levin and McDevitt describe a sub-genre of heavy metal known as black metal.  “Running as a general theme through the lyrics of Black metal is a preoccupation with eliminating Christianity and its basic tenets from the face of the earth.  Support for the virulently anti-Christian (and, in many cases, anti-Jewish) position comes from at least two sources.  Many of the fans of National Socialist Black metal are followers of Satan (considered to be the archenemy of Christ), whom they praise and honor in their music and their behavior.  Others cling to ancient pagan rituals and beliefs that were supplanted by an onslaught of Christian conversions throughout Europe a thousand years ago.” (Hate Crimes, 41)  

Four Eras of Tonality/Spirituality

Joachim of Fiore developed a theory of three historical ages, each represented by a personage of the Christian Trinity.  “The Age of the Father, corresponding to the Old Testament, is characterized by obedience of mankind to the Rules of God.  The Age of the Son, between the advent of Christ and 1260, is represented by the New Testament, when Man became the son of God.  The Age of the Holy Spirit, impending (in 1260), when mankind was to come in direct contact with God, reaches the total freedom preached by the Christian message.  The Kingdom of the Holy Spirit, a new dispensation of universal love, would proceed from the Gospel of Christ, but transcend the letter of it.”  

It may be significant that consciousness of the relation between the harmonic triad and the Christian Trinity is evident in writings beginning in the thirteenth century.  Ruland: “Experience of the third is unthinkable without the Christian mysticism of the Middle Ages.  The person of antiquity still experienced the divine outside of himself, in the world and in nature.  Not so in the Middle Ages, when Meister Eckhart’s ‘small spark of the soul’ was experienced entirely in the inwardly-directed devotion of folded hands and in the innermost chambers of the individual soul.  The fourth provided the bridge to this inner shrine of the third.  None of the great masters of western music is imaginable without this inner temple of the third, which provides shelter for both a communion with the highest spirituality, which is the origin of all music, and also for inner personal experience.” (58)

Fifth and third may be analogous to Northrop Frye’s description of the roles of the Word and Spirit, respectively, in the work of the Trinity: “The ‘Word,’ in the New Testament, has associations of division and discrimination (II Timothy 2:15).  Complementing the ‘Word’ is the human-centered impulse to enter into that intelligibility, symbolized by the Spirit…For the New Testament, the Word clarifies, the Spirit unifies, and the the two together create what is the only genuine form of human society, the spiritual kingdom of Jesus’ (Words, 89).  Frye’s descriptions of the Word and Spirit seem to me to be analogous to the relations of the fifth and third intervals of a major chord.  The fifth divides the octave and the third unites the fifth with the fundamental into a three note harmony.  By 1934 Frye was contemplating a BD thesis: “I want to show…that music bears a peculiarly intimate relationship to Christian dogma, besides to the history of Christianity.”  This prospective thesis parrallels my musical representation of Joachim’s historical scheme.

To Joachim’s tripartite historical scheme one could add a fourth age of the Antichrist, characterized in literature by the absence of heroic action and the predominance of irony and satire, and in music by the predominance of the tritone, diabolus in musica, and the absence of reference or resolution to the major chord of nature.  The tritone is prominent in modern classical and jazz, blues, rock, heavy metal, and hip hop music.  

Harp and Psaltery as Cross, Blues Guitar as Devil Box

Wikipedia: The psaltery of Ancient Greece (epigonion) was a harp-like instrument. The word psaltery derives from the Ancient Greek ψαλτήριον (psaltērion), “stringed instrument, psaltery, harp” and that from the verb ψάλλω (psallō), “to touch sharply, to pluck, pull, twitch” and in the case of the strings of musical instruments, “to play a stringed instrument with the fingers, and not with the plectrum.”

“Images of angels performing on cross-shaped psalteries appear frequently in French illuminated manuscripts.  The harp took on this symbol of the Crucifixion as well.” (Robert Quist, The Theme of Music in Northern Renaissance Banquet Scenes, 31)  Eva Hellenius-Oberg: “The harp stands as a symbol for Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, because as Christ’s body was stretched on the cross, so stretch the strings on the harp.” (31)  “The double-edged symbolic nature of the harp – i.e. sinful lust and spiritual enlightenment – also extends to other musical instruments.” (34)  “Christ’s cross was mystically exhibited in the wood and stretched strings of [David’s] harp,and thereby it was the very Passion that was hymned and that overcame the spirit of [Saul].” – Niceta of Remesiana  “About the mystical meaning of the harp, gut is stretched on a harp.  On this instrument the flesh is crucified.” – Augustine of Hippo  “The cross taught all wood to resound His name.  His stretched sinews taught all strings what key is best….Since all music is but three parts [a major chord]…let thy blessed Spirit play a part and make up our defects with his sweet art.” – George Herbert 

“Your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.” (1Cor. 6:19)  “They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven.” (Heb. 8:5)  If the body is a temple, and if the temple or sanctuary is a copy of heaven, therefore the body is a microcosm of heaven.  “I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders.  The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.  He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne.  And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb.  Each one had a harp.” (Rev. 5:6-8)  The keynote, seven-note scale, and twenty-four major and minor keys of the Western tonal system are analogous to the center, seven eyes, and twenty-four harpists of the cosmic throne.  Ruland implicity associates the twenty four major and minor keys of the twelve tones of the cycle of fifths with John’s apocalyptic vision of “twenty-four kingly, crowned, string-playing ‘presbyters'” whose “all-encompassing circle resounds with a song of praise.” (Expanding, 176)  

Seven note scale and twenty four major and minor keys are analogous to seven apertures (eyes, nostrils, ears, and mouth) of the head and twenty four digits (on hands and feet) and limbs of the body.  George Russell: “There is a total of one hundred and forty-four intervals in a chromatic scale, the whole spectrum of equal temperment.” (Technical Appendix, B)  “The sound that I heard was like harpists playing on their harps.  They were singing something like a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders, and no one was able to learn the song except the one hundred forty-four thousand who had been bought from the earth.” (Rev. 14:2-3)

St. Paul: “Do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.  For sin shall not have dominion over you.” (Romans, 6:13-14)  The guitar consists of three main parts, a head (on which the tuning pegs are located), a neck, and a body; together they comprise a cruciform structure, as do churches with a sanctuary or chancel, transept, and nave.  In the film My Big Fat Greek Wedding a mother tells her daughter, “The man is the head, but the woman is the neck, and she can turn the head any way she wants.” 

 Santana @ 1″11: “The real musicians make the ugliest face to create the most beautiful note.”  Compare with Santana at Woodstock (4:00): “I remember that I was under the influence of LSD [or mescaline]….The guitar neck felt like an electric snake that wouldn’t stand still.  That’s why I’m making ugly faces trying to make the snake stand still so I can play it, and inwardly I remember saying over and over, ‘God, I’ll never do this again, ever, if you can just keep me in time and in tune.  That’s all I ask.’  That was my first mantra.”  By 2011 Santana’s memory had distorted his first mantra 42 years earlier: “To this day my chant is the same – ‘I am that I am.  I am the light’ – and that’s what I chant if I feel myself scattered, pulling away from my core, if I feel the Universal Tone separating into different notes.  I need all that I am to hit that one note and be in tune.” (The Universal Tone, 336)  Santana claims that an angel called Metatron told him: “You will be inside the radio frequency for the purpose of connecting the molecules with the light.” 

Iain Chambers: “LSD distorts and rearranges the original referent (‘reality’), often to the degree of temporarily blotting it out and imposing an alternative order of sensations.” (Urban Rhythms, note 27, 238)  Ben Ratliff: “LSD commonly encourages the user to see the ideal of life as cooperative and nonhierarchical.” (Coltrane, 155)  Ratliff: “Coltrane’s loud and dense late-period music cannot be separated from the path toward racial tolerance and absolute worldwide human equality.” (171)  This idea of equality is at odds with the tripartite structure of Coltrane’s saxophone, described by his second wife Alice in Ebony magazine: “he liked to draw an analogy between mankind and his horn, explaining that one group might represent the upper register, another the mid-range and yet another the deeper notes, but that it took all to make the whole.” (Kahn, 234)  This contradiction might account for Coltrane’s aversion to the fundamental tone of his diatonic major key ‘Christian’ songs, such as Dear Lord, Welcome, and After the Rain, and his affinity for the keynote of his minor key blues songs.  “Coltrane’s practicing from harp books – probably Carlos Salzedo’s Modern Study of the Harp – led him toward extravagant and rapid arpeggios and scale patterns.” (Ratliff, 44)  “The critic Ira Gitler, right around this time, in the liner (43) notes to Coltrane’s 1958 Soultrane LP on Prestige, had called this kind of playing ‘sheets of sound.’” (44)

From Larry Neal’s 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)

Paul Garon: “The ‘Devil’s music’ is the denunciation of everything religion stands for and the glorification of everything religion condemns.  The blues singer could say, as the black surrealist poet Aimé Césaire (1939) said in his Return to My Native Land, speaking for all those of African descent throughout the world, ‘I have assassinated God with my laziness with my words with my gestures with my obscene songs’ (Blues and the Poetic Spirit, 76).  “The blues is uncompromisingly atheistic.  It has no interest in the systems of divine reward and punishment: it holds out for ‘paradise now’.” (136)  Michael Bane: “You could sing gospel or the blues, but never both.  The blues belonged to the Devil with his high-rollin’ ways and high-yellow women, and if you sang his music, the door to the Lord’s house was shut to you.  That’s how it was in 1905 and that’s how it is today.” (White Boy Singin’ the Blues, 38)  Ma Rainey: “My daddy was a preacher in a sanctified church, and he wouldn’t have no blues singing in his house.” (66) 

Ruland: “What makes the tritone a diabolus, which is how J.S. Bach experienced it, is that it dissolves the threshold between inner world and outer world and permits the untransformed inner world to work into the outer world.  Earlier (p. 57f.) we drew the boundary between inner world and outer exactly there, between fourth and fifth.  The impulse of my untempered inner nature to realize itself in the outer world arrogantly and without undergoing transformation is one side of the devil.” (96)

Pre-Christian music focusses on the fundamental, as in a drone.  Early Christian music focusses on the fundamental, fifth, and fourth, as in parallel organum.  The acceptance of the third, beginning in the late Middle Ages, accords with the experience of the divine within.  In our post-Christian era the normalization of the tritone in contemporary musical genres, such as heavy metal and hip hop, accords with the experience of the diabolical within.  Perhaps there is a parallel between the histories of Western literature and music.

harp2  harp1  guitar-hero-guitar-hero-24059011-800-600 guitar-hero-iii-cover-image

The Ironic Guitar Hero

Northrop Frye offers an account of the history of European literature in his Theory of Modes, from Anatomy of Criticism.

FIRST ESSAY: Historical Criticism: Theory of Modes

Fictional Modes: Introduction

Fictions may be classified by the hero’s power of action, which may be greater than ours, less, or roughly the same. Thus: 

1. If superior in kind both to other men and to the environment of other men, the hero is a divine being, and the story about him will be a myth in the common sense of a story about a god.  Such stories have an important place in literature, but are as a rule found outside the normal literary categories.

2. If superior in degree to other men and to his environment, the hero is the typical hero of romance, whose actions are marvellous but who is himself identified as a human being.  The hero of romance moves in a world in which the ordinary laws of nature are slightly suspended: prodigies of courage and endurance, unnatural to us, are natural to him, and enchanted weapons, talking animals, terrifying ogres and witches, and talismans of miraculous power violate no rule of probability once the postulates of romance have been established.  Here we have moved from myth, properly so called, into legend, folk tale, marchen, and their literary affiliates and derivatives.

3. If superior in degree to other men but not to his natural environment, the hero is a leader.  He has authority, passions, and powers of expression far greater than ours, but what he does is subject both to social criticism and to the order of nature.  This is the hero of the high mimetic mode, of most epic and tragedy.

4. If superior neither to other men nor to his environment, the hero is one of us: we respond to a sense of his common humanity, and demand from the poet the same canons of probability that we find in our own experience.  This gives us the hero of the low mimetic mode, of most comedy and of realistic fiction.  “High” and “low” have no connotations of comparative value, but are purely diagrammatic, as they are when they refer to Biblical critics or Anglicans.  On this level the difficulty in retaining the word “hero,” which has a more limited meaning among the preceding modes, occasionally strikes an author.  Thackeray thus feels obliged to call Vanity Fair a novel without a hero.

5. If inferior in power or intelligence to ourselves, so that we have the sense of looking down on a scene of bondage, frustration, or absurdity, the hero belongs to the ironic mode.  This is still true when the reader feels that he is or might be in the same situation, as the situation is being judged by the norms of a greater freedom.

Looking over this table, we can see that European fiction, during the last fifteen centuries, has steadily moved its center of gravity down the list.  In the pre-medieval period literature is closely attached to Christian, late Classical, Celtic, or Teutonic myths.  If Christianity had not been both an imported myth and a devourer of rival ones, this phase of Western literature would be easier to isolate.  In the form in which we possess it, most of it has already moved into the category of romance.  Romance divides into two main forms: a secular form dealing with chivalry and knight-errantry, and a religious form devoted to legends of saints.  Both lean heavily on miraculous violations of natural law for their interest as stories.  Fictions of romance dominate literature until the cult of the prince and the courtier in the Renaissance brings the high mimetic mode into the foreground.  The characteristics of this mode are most clearly seen in the genres of drama, particularly tragedy, and national epic.  Then a new kind of middle-class culture introduces the low mimetic, which predominates in English literature from Defoe’s time to the end of the nineteenth century.  In French literature it begins and ends about fifty years earlier.  During the last hundred years, most serious fiction has tended increasingly to be ironic in mode.”  Frank Zappa: “I think that if a person doesn’t feel cynical then they’re out of phase with the 20th century.  Being cynical is the only way to deal with modern civilization — you can’t just swallow it whole.”

During the last hundred years, some serious and popular music has tended increasingly to be discordant in mode, filled with flatted fifths.  The guitar hero of the ironic phase is inferior in part because of displaying preferences for inferior and discordant tonal structures.  Frye’s description of the ironic literary hero as “inferior in…intelligence to ourselves, so that we have the sense of looking down on a scene of bondage, frustration, or absurdity,” may be analogous to cacophonous composers and discordant strummers performing to awestruck audiences and perplexed patrons – for examples, Max and 99’s response to The Sacred Cows and sundry scenes from Spinal Tap.  The guitarist as anti-hero employs the devil’s interval as a tonal norm.

In his account of the phases of the mythoi in the Anatomy of Criticism Frye writes, “A somewhat forbidding piece of symmetry turns up in our argument at this point, which seems to have some literary analogy to the circle of fifths in music.”  Frye’s special interest was in piano music of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.  He was attracted to this music, he told Ian Alexander, “because of the rather simplified, rather square-cut tunes.  The music expresses to me the kind of sanity which is the front entrance, so to speak, of a very profound serenity.  I have cultivated composers who are not as well-known or famous as Schubert, like Clementi and Hummel and Dussek, because they seem to me to be eminently composers of sanity, which I find is very important in my general emotional stability.” 

My intuition is that Frye had Coltrane in mind when describing jazz in the 1960’s as sounding “like a demon trying to get born but not succeeding.”  This intuition is confirmed by lines of Amiri Baraka: “But Trane clawed at the limits of cool / slandered sanity / with his tryin’ to be born / raging / shit.” (AM/TRAK)  Jazz from hell or purgatorial jazz?  Eric Nisenson: “jazz musicians used to be thought of as being eccentric or even crazy (there is even an old expression, ‘Crazy as a jazz musician’).  Because through jazz they came to accept the far side of their selves and to be unafraid of being exactly who they were and not what society said they should be.” (Blue: the Murder of Jazz, 246)  Jerry Doucette repeats this view in his lyric: “Mamma let that boy play some rock-n-roll, jazz is much too crazy, he can play it when he’s old.”  In his contrasting views of classical and jazz music Frye may have been perpetuating what Sander Gilman refers to as “[t]he commonplace nineteenth-century association of blackness and madness.” (Difference and Pathology, 140)  

Jones/Baraka: “If Bessie Smith had killed some white-people she wouldn’t have needed that music….All of them.  Crazy niggers turning their backs on sanity.  When all it needs is that simple act.  Murder.  Just murder!  Would make us all sane.” (Dutchman)  A. Robert Lee comments: “The play spoke the unspoken, surmised, some said urged, that only unrestrained militancy would truly eradicate America’s ancestral colour prejudice.  Admirers saw commitment backed up by a radical force of invention.  Detractors spoke of black hatred.” (Designs of Blackness, 152) 

Griffin and Washington: “John Coltrane and Elvin Jones played [239] with a force that was sonically equal to that of the rock bands of the era.  They were much like guitarists who followed Jimi Hendrix’s lead with distortion and electronic feedback, creating the noise that spoke against the sentimental norms of yesterday.” (Clawing at the Limits of Cool, 239-40)  Griffin and Washington: “Also, it should be noted that rock and roll owes a lot to Elvin Jones’s drumming and Coltrane’s energetic playing with multiphonics and overblowing.” (242)  Are Frye’s composers of sanity and demons trying to get born musical analogies of his literary conception of high mimetic and ironic heroes, respectively?

The Jungian Black Shadow, Black in Psychoanalysis, “The Great Canadian Shadow of denial,” and the European and American Shadow of Blackness

The Jungian Black Shadow

Wikipediia: “‘Everyone carries a shadow,’ Jung wrote, ‘and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.’  It may be (in part) one’s link to more primitive animal instincts, which are superseded during early childhood by the conscious mind.  According to Jung, the shadow, in being instinctive and irrational, is prone to psychological projection, in which a perceived personal inferiority is recognised as a perceived moral deficiency in someone else.  Jung writes that if these projections remain hidden, ‘The projection-making factor (the Shadow archetype) then has a free hand and can realize its object–if it has one–or bring about some other situation characteristic of its power.’   These projections insulate and harm individuals by acting as a constantly thickening veil of illusion between the ego and the real world.”

Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette: “If the Ego is a photograph, the Shadow is its negative.” (The Lover Within, 39)  Moore and Gillette: “Jung believed withdrawing a projection of the Shadow and owning it as a part of ourselves requires enormous moral courage.  He also believed that what we will not face within our psyche we will be forced to confront in the outer world.  So, if we can claim our Shadow’s qualities, and learn from them, we defuse much of the interpersonal conflict we would otherwise encounter.  People who have served as the screens for our Shadow’s projections become less odious, and more human.  At the same time, we experience ourselves as richer, more complex, and more powerful individuals.” (40)

Black in Psychoanalysis

Richard H. King cites Franz Fanon: “’Jewish racism is no different from Negro racism.’” (from Race, Culture, and the Intellectuals, 261)  King: “But in ‘The Negro and Psychopathology,’ he claims that while the Jew is ‘attacked in his religious identity, in his history, in his race, in his relations [263] with his ancestors and with his posterity,’ it is ‘in his corporeality that the Negro is attacked.  It is as a concrete personality that he is lynched.  It is as an actual being that he is a threat.’….Anti-Semitism, as Fanon observes, sees the Jew as an ‘intellectual danger’ while the Negro is a ‘biological danger,’ though he adds later that ‘[b]oth of us stand for evil.’” (264)  

King describes “white racism and anti-Semitism” as “the two most important forms of prejudice in the modern West.  One way to describe the differences between them is to use terms borrowed from psychoanalysis.” (311)  Anti-Semitism “is often accompanied by paranoia, phobias about pollution, and disturbances of superego functioning.  Color racism, on the other hand, mimics hysterical character traits of acting out or projecting repressed desires onto ‘lower’ people, and is linked with id-related imagery.” (311)  King: “Another way to draw the difference between anti-Semitism and racism, at least in America, is to say that the anti-Semite fears castration, of being denied potency, while the color-coded racist fears uncontrolled desire, which suggests a preemptive castration of the black male.” (note 7, 376)  In a letter to the Zionist executive on Dec. 17, 1938, David Ben-Gurion stated: “Zionism accepts anti-Semitism as the natural, normal attitude of the non-Jewish world toward the Jew. It does not consider it as a distorted, perverted phenomenon.“

Paul Garon cites psychoanalyst Dr. A. Esman (1951), who suggests “how the bourgeoisie defends itself against jazz in much the same manner as the individual defends himself against anxiety: by ‘reinforced repressions and denial.  Many intellectuals rationalized their defenses by regarding jazz as an “inferior” form of music, a “popular diversion”, unworthy of consideration by those whose interest lay in the realm of the fine arts’.  To Esman, jazz represents ‘the id drives that the super-ego of the bourgeois culture sought to repress’.” (Blues and the Poetic Spirit, 59)  Garon comments on this passage: “It should surprise no one, then, to find that young whites, infuriated not only by their parents’ alienation and bourgeois mentality but also by their attempts to inflict this predominant mode of mental servility on the children as well, would be attracted by jazz and blues.” (60)

Garon quotes “the psychoanalyst Richard Sterba (1947): ‘The male Negro as he appeared in dreams of white people…often had to be recognized as representative of the dreamer’s father, particularly the father at night or in his nocturnal activities’ (416).” (Blues and the Poetic Spirit, 54)  Garon notes “that the blues’ affinity for the night is retained also in the most revolutionary currents in jazz – as evidenced in the bebop of the ‘40s, when two of the leading works were Night in Tunisia and ‘Round Midnight, as well as in the more recent innovations associated with John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor and others.” (note 7, 110)  Jerome Harris cites Stanley Crouch: “’When the Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung came to this [American] country he observed that white people walked, talked and laughed like Negroes’ (Crouch 1996:171).” (Jazz on the Global Stage, in The African Diaspora, note 30, 128)  Crouch mentions “yellow-loving Negro women who once said of men [Miles Davis’] color: ‘I’ve already got me one shadow, I don’t need two.’” (Considering Genius, 43)

“The Great Canadian Shadow of denial”

Jung’s black shadow contrasts with the white shadow described in the transcript of a keynote speech by Charlie Smith, editor of the Vancouver weekly Georgia Straight, which later appeared as an article titled “Canada’s White Supremacist History.”  “The Swiss psychologist Carl Jung talked about the concept of the ‘shadow’—which is the part of ourselves that we won’t acknowledge.  We bury this in our unconscious mind and deny, deny, deny that this exists.  Canada’s shadow, in a Jungian sense, is its collective refusal to truly and honestly acknowledge that white supremacy over several generations took this country on a very damaging detour.

Some people still actually believe that Canada used to be a white country—with a few aboriginal people of course.  But then Pierre Trudeau changed the dynamics by promoting multiculturalism.  And that’s when things changed.  No.  That’s not the truth at all.  Canada used to be a diverse country.  Then it was hijacked for a very long time by white supremacy.  And then Pierre Trudeau moved the pendulum back to where it previously stood by sharply reducing racism in the immigration legislation.”

Smith mentions “The Great Canadian Shadow of denial.”  Then he implicates the government and the RCMP, and the shadow becomes “this Great Canadian Shadow of collective denial about our white supremacist history….This prevailing attitude, this Great Canadian Shadow.”  Is the shadow historical or “prevailing,” and what makes it so “Great”?  Does it bear any relation to “the great white death urge” mentioned by Lattany, above, or to Bob and Doug McKenzie’s Great White North?  Eh?  If North America is “such a Puritan culture,” as Stroumboulopoulose claims above, and if Hacker correctly equates Puritanism with whiteness (Two Nations, 13), therefore North American culture is white supremacist.  “White supremacy arrived with the Puritans.” (The Handbook of Race and Adult Education, 109)

Canada didn’t seem like a white country when I went to the elegant lounge of the Hotel Vancouver and heard Wes Mackey play the blues, or went to the equally elegant Pan Pacific Hotel lounge and heard a white band performing black funk, reggae, and hip-hop music, or walked down Granville Street and heard a black reggae band coming from a nightclub, or walked into the wrong restaurant on Granville Street to meet a friend as a white blues band got ready to start.  Or went to Granville Island on Canada Day and saw Celso Machado go through the motions (he seemed bored, as though entertaining children) while performing Afro-Brazilian music.  Or entered one of Vancouver’s two country bars to find a trio playing a blues song (ironically there is a blues bar across the street).  Surely these experiences offer evidence that Canada is not a white supremacist country.  Ignatiev: “One of the effects of white supremacy is that it represses the cultures of Afro-Americans and other peoples of color.” (Interview, from Race Traitor, 290)  In terms of power Howard Schneider finds: “In a nation that prides itself on diversity and visualizes its society as a [332] ‘mosaic’ of equal pieces, the distribution of political, social and economic influence is still largely held by those of European heritage.” (For Many Immigrants, Canada’s Racial ‘Mosaic’ Pales at Top; from Racism: A Global Reader, 332-33)

Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.: “Why is Brazil so racist when it’s the second largest black nation in the world after Nigeria? …Was racial democracy ever anything more than official propaganda intended to keep black people in their place? (Black in Latin America, Brazil: A Racial Paradise; 43:10)  Francisco Bethencourt mentions “the proverb ‘Brazil is hell for the blacks, purgatory for the whites, and paradise for the malattoes.’” (Racisms, 192)  Gates: “Without acknowledging where each of us has come from, what’s the foundation upon which a multicultural society rests?  In both Mexico and Peru black history and culture have been traditionally undervalued and black people continue to be discriminated against.” (Black in Mexico and Peru, 50:20)  Gates: “Since freedom of speech never has been one of Fidel Castro’s strong suits, declaring that racism exists can be judged a seditious criticism of the government.  After all, didn’t socialism end racism? (Black in Cuba, 48:30)  

David Horowitz: “Cuba is an island prison, a land of regime-in[434]duced poverty, misery, and human oppression greater by far than under the old regime it replaced.” (Illusions, 434-35)  Horowitz: “The documentary…about Cuba…called Improper Conduct…focused on the Cuban government’s brutal treatment of homosexuals as a metaphor for its treatment of all social and political deviants.” (Hating Whitey, 220)  Ronald Radosh, during a “tour of the Havana General Psychiatric Hospital,” “saw an obviously energetic and totally sane young man teaching patients how to paint.  He seemed to know English, so I asked him how he was able to deal with those patients who were clearly mentally unbalanced.  He laughed nervously and replied, ‘I’m a patient myself.’  I didn’t understand.  Then he said, ‘I’m a homosexual, and that is why I’m confined here.’” (Commies, 126)  Radosh cites one of the doctors: “’We are proud,’ he told us, ‘that in our institution, we have a larger proportion of hospital inmates who have been lobotomized than any other mental hospital in the world.’  Lobotomy, he assured us, did wonders for their behavior and state of well-being.  Indeed, he told us that a huge percentage of those incarcerated were in fact recipients of these lobotomies.  We were flabbergasted….Castro loyalist Suzanne Ross…shot us all a contemptuous look, and said harshly, ‘We have to understand that there are differences between capitalist lobotomies and socialist lobotomies.’” (127)  

Doug Christie asked Canadians: “What are we, lobotomized idiots, that we only have to accept the point of view of the ‘majority’?  Or are we free, should we be free, to think of views that are not majority views?” (The Zundel Trial and Free Speech, 7)  Oriana Fallaci: “Lobotomy is a mental castration very similar to sexual castration.  It consists in severing the nerve pathways which control cerebral processes like the testicular cords control the testicles.  When you get a lobotomy you stop thinking.  When you get a castration you stop having sexual desires.  In both cases you become a docile instrument in the hand of your mutilator.”‘ (The Forece of Reason, 257)

The European and American Shadow of Blackness

Smith’s white shadow transvalues the Jungian shadow as interpreted by Franz Fanon in his book Black Skin, White Masks.  Fanon: “European civilization is characterized by the presence, at the heart of what Jung calls the collective unconscious, of an archetype: an expression of bad instincts, of the darkness inherent in every ego, of the uncivilized savage and the black man who slumbers in every white man.”  (164)  “Jung regularly assimilates the outsider with darkness and baser instincts.” (167)  “Moral consciousness implies a kind of split, a fracture of consciousness between a dark and a light side.  Moral standards require the black, the dark, and the black man to be eliminated from this consciousness.  A black man, therefore, is constantly struggling against his own image.”  (170) 

Fanon: “Each individual must lay the blame for his base agencies and instincts on the wicked genie of the culture to which he belongs (we have seen that this is the black man).  This collective guilt is borne by what is commonly called the scapegoat.  However, the scapegoat for white society, which is based on the myths of progress, civilization, [170] liberalism, education, enlightenment, and refinement, will be precisely the force that opposes the expansion and triumph of these myths.  This oppositional brute force is provided by the black man.” (170-71)

According to Robert Bly, “the shadow, which is aptly acknowledged in the European psyche, is relatively ignored by Americans.  Unlike other cultures, we do not like to peer directly at the darkness that lies within.  Instead we project our shadows onto fiction, the movies, or the criminal elements in the world.  Even the shadow artists in America are often met with hostility or disdain, especially when the subject offends our moral and religious values.  The shadow artist is readily condemned, an unpatriotic pariah that spoils our fantasies and dreams.” (Shadow: Searching for the Hidden Self, 5)  This American condemnation may relate to the observation of William Carlos Williams: “The United States has no sense of tragedy because Americans hate losers.” (In the American Grain; from Crouch, Notes of a Hanging Judge, 202)  E. L. Doctorow: “Communism is the philosophy of losers.” (The Book of Daniel)

However, Henry Lopez, in White by Law, perceives a perpetuation of the European shadow of blackness in American history.  “Franz Fanon gives some indication of how deeply Blackness is tied to badness and Whiteness to goodness:

In Europe, the black man is the symbol of Evil….The torturer is the black man, Satan is black, one talks of shadows, when one is dirty one is black – whether one is thinking of physical dirtiness or of moral dirtiness.  It would be astonishing, if the trouble were taken to bring them all together, to see the vast number of [173] expressions that make the black man the equivalent of sin.  In Europe, whether concretely or symbolically, the black man stands for the bad side of the character….Blackness, darkness, shadow, shades, night, the labyrinths of the earth, abysmal depths, blacken someone’s reputation; and, on the other side, the bright look of innocence, the white dove of peace, magical, heavenly light. [Black Skin, White Masks, 188-89]’

Tied into a double helix of good and bad, it may prove impossible to retain White and Black as racial terms absent their destructive normative meanings.  No matter how carefully elaborated, White race-consciousness runs the high risk of furthering the ugly racial patterns of superiority and inferiority so painstakingly fashioned throughout [American] history.” (173-74)

bell hooks traces these patterns in American racial ideology.  “Andrew Hacker makes it clear in Two Nations that the vast majority of white Americans believe that ‘members of the black race represent an inferior strain of the human species.’  He adds: ‘In this view, Africans – and Americans who trace their origins to that continent – are seen as languishing at a lower evolutionary level than members of other races.’” (Killing Rage, 200)  Hacker: “Most whites who call themselves conservatives hold this view, and proclaim it when they are sure of their company.  Most liberals and those further to the left deny that present racial disparities are based on genetic inheritance.  If they harbor doubts, they keep them to themselves.” (Two Nations, 24)  

Compare with Nicholas Wade’s A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History: “Racism is a surprisingly modern concept, the word first appearing in the Oxford English Dictionary only in 1910.  Before that, ethnic prejudice existed in profusion and still does.  The ancient Greeks applied the word barbarian to anyone who didn’t speak Greek.  China has long called itself the Central Kingdom, regarding as barbarians all who live outside its borders.  The click-speaking bushmen of the Kalahari Desert divide the world into Jul’hoansi, or ‘real people,’ such as themselves, and Iohm, a category that includes other Africans, Europeans and inedible animals such as predators.” (17)

Wade: “The central premise of racism, which distinguishes it from ethnic prejudice, is the notion of an ordered hierarchy of races in which some are superior to others.  The superior race is assumed to enjoy the right to rule others because of its inherent qualities.

Besides superiority, racism also connotes the idea of immutability, thought once to reside in the blood and now in the genes.  Racists are concerned about intermarriage (‘the purity of the blood’) lest it erode the basis of their race’s superiority.” (17)

Wade mentions “Joseph-Arthur Comte de Gobineau’s book An Essay on the Inequality of Human Races, published in 1853-55.  Gobineau was a French aristocrat and diplomat, not a scientist, and a friend and correspondent of de Tocqueville.  His book was a philosophical attempt to explain the rise and fall of nations, based essentially on the idea of racial purity.  He assumed there were three races recognized by the skin colors of white, yellow and black.  A pure race might conquer its neighbors, but as it interbred with them, it would lose its edge and risk being conquered in turn.  The reason, Gobineau supposed, was that interbreeding leads to degeneracy.  The superior race, Gobineau wrote, was that of the Indo-Europeans, or Aryans, and their continuance in the Greek, Roman and European Empires.” (19) 

Wade: “The physical anthropologists best acquainted with race are those [69] who do forensics.  Human skulls fall into three distinctive shapes, which reflect their owners’ degree of ancestry in the three main races, Caucasian, East Asian and African….By taking just a few measurements, physical anthropologists can tell police departments the race of a skull’s former owner with better than 80% accuracy.  This ability has occasioned some anguish among those persuaded by [anthropologist Ashley] Montagu that human races shouldn’t be acknowledged.  How could they identify a skull’s race so accurately if race doesn’t exist?  ‘That forensic anthropologists place our field’s stamp of approval on the traditional and unscientific concept of race each time we make such a judgment is a problem for which I see no easy solution,’ wrote one physical anthropologist.  His suggestion was to obfuscate, by retaining the concept but substituting a euphemism for the world race, such as ancestry.  This advice has been followed by a wide range of researchers who, while retaining the necessary concept of race, refer to it in print with bland periphrases like ‘population structure’ or ‘population stratification.’  As for the actual DNA elements now used by biologists to assign people to their race, or races if of mixed parentage, these are known discreetly as AIMs, or ancestry informative markers.” (69-70)

Wade: “the idea that there could be meaningful genetic differences between human groups is fiercely resisted by many researchers.  They cling to the idea that the mind is a blank slate on which only culture, not genetics, can write, and dismiss the possibility that evolution could have effected any recent change in the human mind.  They reject the proposal that any human behavior, let alone intelligence, has a genetic basis.  They make accusations of racism against anyone who suggests that cognitive capacities might differ between human population groups.  All these positions are shaped by leftist and Marxist political dogma, not by science.  Nonetheless, most scholars will not enter this territory from lively fear of being demonized by their follow academics.” (201)  

Cornell West: “the very notion that black people are human beings is a revolutionary notion for the modern West.  It cuts against the grain that was always there….Josephine Baker in the 1920s wrote in her memoirs that ‘the very idea of America makes me shake.  It makes me tremble and it gives me nightmares.’  I don’t know of too many other people who could say that about America, because America is the land of opportunity.  People from all around the world have looked to America for opportunity.  Marcus Garvey was leading 3 million black people out of America in the 1920s.  That is how deep the perception was of America’s Egypt – cutting against the grain.  Forcing America to see itself in a very different light.” (Prophetic Thought in Postmodern Times, 66-67)  West: “racism….certainly has something to do with sexual desire, because as we know racism is inseparable from certain sexual perceptions and certain perceptions of black bodies.  And so notions of purity and impurity are very important….In this case black bodies are an impurity and that is one of the reasons why interracial sex is often at the center of the white mind in terms of interracial inter-[77]action. (77-78)

West: “The idea of taking black people seriously in the life of the mind is a very new notion for white people, so they have to get used to it.  Now it’s true that among white progressives it’s a bit more distributed than among the larger white society, but they suffer from the disease too.” (116)  West: “if black people have learned anything in America, it is that America is a profoundly conservative country, even given all of its commitments to experimentation and improvisation.  And by conservative, what I mean is, conservative in terms of its unwillingness to give up its racism.” (152)  David Horowitz describes West as holding one “of the highest paid and most prestigious university chairs in America, despite [his] widely recognized intellectual mediocrity.” (Hating Whitey, 75)  Horowitz later describes West as “an intellectual of modest talents whose skin color has catapulted him into academic stardom with a six-figure income at Harvard.” (182)

Hacker: “America is inherently a ‘white’ country: in character, in structure, in culture.” (Two Nations: Black and White, Separate, Hostile, Unequal, 4)  “In many respects, other groups find themselves sitting as spectators, while the two prominent players try to work out how or whether they can coexist with one another.” (xii)  “‘White’ and ‘black’….refer to the ‘Caucasian’ and ‘Negroid’ races….In its basic meaning, ‘white’ denotes European antecedents, while ‘black’ stands for Africa.” (7)  “Europeans who colonized the western hemisphere sought to recreate it in their image, and to transform North and South America into ‘white’ continents.” (7)  “To be white is to be ‘civlized,’ which brings acceptance and imposition of sexual constraints.” (62)  “As James Baldwin has pointed out, white people need the presence of black people as a reminder of what providence has spared them from becoming….In the eyes of white Americans, being black encapsulates your identity.  No other racial or national origin is seen as having so pervasive a personality or character.” (30) 

Juan F. Perea comments on this passage: “According to Hacker, then, Blackness serves a crucial function in enabling Whites to define themselves as privileged and superior, while racial attributes of other minoriies do not serve this function.” (The Black/White Paradigm of Race; from Critical Race Studies, 347)  According to Perea, Toni Morrison “seems to accept Hacker’s view that all non-Blacks are (or will be) the enemies of Blacks as they Americanize and assimilate.” (351)  

“In her essay ‘On the Backs of Blacks,’ Morrison describes the hatred of blacks as the defining, final, necessary step in the Americanization of immigrants.  ‘It is the act of racial contempt [banishing a competing black shoe-shiner] that transforms this charming Greek into an entitled white.’  Morrison sees Blacks as persistently victimized by Americanizing processes, always forced to ‘the lowest level of the racial hierarchy.’  The struggles of immigrants, according to Morrison, ‘are persistently framed as struggles between recent arrivals and blacks.  In race talk the move into mainstream America always means buying into the notion of American blacks as the real aliens.  Whatever the ethnicity or nationality of the immigrant, his nemesis is understood to be African American.’ 

Morrison is right that American ‘Whiteness’ is often achieved through distancing from Blacks.  Latino/as participate in the paradigm by engaging in racism against blacks or darker skinned members of Latino/a communities.” (350)  “Taken together, these views [of Hacker and Morrison] pose serious problems for Latinos/as.  First, Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans, like all U.S.-born Latinos/as, are not immigrants.  Mexicans occupied the Southwest long before the United States ever found them.  Second, this utopian view of immigrant assimilation takes no account of the systemic racism which afflicts Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans.  It serves White writers like Hacker because they can perpetuate the view that the United States has only a single race problem – the traditional binary problem of the White relationship with Blacks – rather than a more complex set of racisms that, if recognized, would demonstrate that racism is much more systemic and pervasive than is usuallly admitted.” (351)

Noel Ignatiev and John Garvey side with Hacker when stating, “in our view the U.S. displays not a ‘spectrum of racial constructions’ but a ‘bipolar, black/white model.’  Much of the controversy over the status of the ‘new immigrants’ from Asia and what is called Latin America consists of efforts to determine who will be ‘white’ in the twenty-first century.” (Editor’s Reply; from Race Traitor, 275)  In an interview Ignatiev stated: “I think that the line between black and white determines race in this country, and all groups get defined in relation to that line.  Don’t forget, I am using black and white as political, not cultural, categories.” (Interview, 291)  Cornell West describes America as “a chronically racist society….in America human beings define themselves…in terms of whiteness and blackness.” (Prophetic Reflections, 206)  Jesse Jackson at the Million Man March: “Now we have the burden of two Americas: one half slave and one half free.”  Adolph Hitler: “The fact that the American union feels itself to be a Nordic-Germanic state and not at all an international mishmash of peoples can moreover seem the way in which the immigration quotas for the European peoples are allotted.” (Hitler’s Second Book, 118)

Richard H. King notes a differing view of race in America: “by the mid-1990s, David Hollinger had concluded that the white-black racial binary had been replaced by a five-sided racial-ethnic relationship among European Americans, African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and Hispanics.  Indeed, cultural ‘hybridity,’ a concept that lies somewhere between the ‘melting pot’ and the ‘multicultural’ models has become the most interesting way of describing contemporary American culture and society.” (Race, Culture, and the Intellectuals, 304) 

If King is correct then contemporary American views on race would be moving closer to a South American view, described by Kevin Reilly: “One anthropologist, Claude Levi-Strauss, argues that all people have believed themselves superior….Eskimos, for instance, tell a story about the Great Being creating a colorless people called ‘white men’ before getting the ingredients right for the perfect in-nu, the ancestors of the Eskimos.  A similar North American legend recounts how the Great Spirit had to create man three times.  The first time the creation was not baked long enough and came out white.  The second time the oven was too hot, and man came out burnt black.  Finally, the Great Spirit created the perfect golden human being.  Myths like this, according to Levi-Strauss, suggest that racism is virtually universal.” (Racism: A Global Reader, 120)  

Reilly: “North Americans persisted in the belief (despite the evidence of their eyes) that there were only two racial types: pure whites and the others.  South Americans recognized that there were many, and they encouraged the miscegenation which created many different racial categories between lily white and jet black.” (139)  A. Robert Lee: “Bill Clinton’s greatly trumpeted speech on race at the University of California, San Diego in June 1997 [199] added the presidential voice, yet his working terms could not have been more narrow, even redundant.  For he, like others, continues to see the contending forces, actually and figuratively, as broadly of two camps: white and black. 

Who better, however, than the ever augmenting number of ‘mixed’ Americans, born at the ethnic-racial seams, to step through or round that paradigm?  For by parentage, or memory, or culture, or by the individual race in the mirror, cannot their perspective be considered broader, more richly eclectic, even more American?” (Designs of Blackness, 199-200) 

Perea: “It is interesting to note the similarity between Malcolm X’s sense that mixed-race people introduced ‘confusion’ into the otherwise clear structures of Black and White, and Andrew Hacker’s sense that Hispanics introduce ‘incoherence’ into the otherwise ‘clear’ vision of Black and White races that Hacker describes in such depth.  These observations suggest one reason for the continued adherence to a Black/White paradigm despite its inadequacy: The paradigm does simplify and makes racial problems more readily understood than if we began to grapple with them in their full complexity.” (note 27, 353)  Perea: “Describing Asian Americans, Latinos/as, and other immigrant groups, Hacker writes that: ‘Members of all these ‘intermediate groups’ have been allowed to put a visible distance between themselves and black Americans.  Put most simply, none of the presumptions of inferiority associated with Africa and slavery are imposed on these other ethnicities.'” (347)

Hacker: “Many if not most whites see themselves as belonging to a superior human strain.  Needless to say, almost all denounce ‘master race’ theories, and separate themselves from open bigots….all who are granted admission to The White Club are deemed to be equal members.  Gone are the days when it was common to speak of ‘white trash’ or refer to lesser stocks.  Whites now stick together.  They have something in common: that all stand far apart from blacks….white parents are not producing enough babies to sustain their race.  Thus the Club is willing to co-opt new members, as it did with other marginal groups in the past.  Now being considered are persons once called ‘Orientals,’ who may be said to be being groomed as probationary whites.  This may be why we no longer speak of a ‘yellow’ race.  Hispanics are also candidates, so long as they downplay their Latin origins.” (Foreword, The Coming, xii)  “The United States may have styled itself as a melting pot.  But from the very outset, one strain of humanity was denied a future of full acceptance and assimilation.  Africans were brought here for a purpose, and it was not to become citizens.  Despite a war and eman[xii]cipation, and a century of legislation, the ancestors of slaves are still seen as not quite on a par with other Americans.” (xii-xiii)

Horowitz describes Harvard Law School professor Derrick Bell Jr. as a “black racist” and a “product of the Communist left.”  Bell, Jr.: “It is time – as a currently popular colloquialism puts it – to ‘Get Real’ about race and the persistence of racism in America.  The very visible social and economic progress made by some African Americans can no longer obscure the increasingly dismal demographics that reflect the status of most of those whose forebears in this country were slaves.  Statistics on poverty, unemployment, and income support the growing concern that the slow racial advances of the 1960s and 1970s have ended, and retrogression is well under way.

Perhaps Thomas Jefferson had it right after all.  When musing on the future of Africans in this country, he expressed the view that blacks should be free, but he was certain that ‘the two races, equally free, cannot live in the same government.’  Jefferson suspected that blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are ‘inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind.’  Such differences prompted Jefferson to warn that ‘[i]f the legal barriers between the races were torn down, but no provision made for their separation, “convulsions” would ensue, which would “probably never end but in the extermination of the one or the other race.”’

Jefferson’s views were widely shared.  In his summary of how the Constitution’s framers came to include recognition and protection of human slavery in a document that was committed to the protection of individual liberties, Professor Staughton Lynd wrote: ‘Even the most liberal of the Founding Fathers were unable to imagine a society in which whites and Negroes would live together as fellow-citizens.  Honor and intellectual consistency drove them to favor abolition; personal distaste, to fear it.’” (After We’re Gone: Prudent Speculations on America in a Post-Racial Epoch, 2; from Critical Race Theory)

Noel Ignatiev: “White supremacy was not a flaw in American democracy but part of its definition, and the development of democracy in the Jacksonian period cannot be understood without reference to white supremacy.  As it became the pillar of the Democratic Party, Jeffersonian reservations over slavery and willingness to entertain notions of natural human equality (expressed in his Notes on Virginia) gave way to militant racial ideology.” (How the Irish Became White, 68)

From the Connecticut Colonization Society in 1828: “’In every part of the United States, there is a broad and impassible line of demarcation between every man who has one drop of African blood in his veins, and every other class in the community.  The habits, the feelings, all the prejudices of society – prejudices which neither refinement, nor argument, nor education, nor religion itself can subdue – mark the people of colour, whether bond or free, as the subjects of a degradation inevitable and incurable,  The African in this country belongs by birth to the lowest station in society; and from that station he can never rise, be his talents, his enterprise, his virtues what they may.’” (Noel Ignatiev, How the Irish Became White, 97)

Henry Louis Gates Jr.: “By midpoint in the nineteenth century, ideas of irresistible racial differences were commonly held: when Abraham Lincoln invited a small group of black leaders to the White House in 1862 to share with them his ideas about returning all blacks in America to Africa, his argument turned upon these ‘natural’ differences.  ‘You and we are different races,’ he said.  ‘We have between us a broader difference than exists between any other two races.’  Since this sense of difference was never to be bridged, Lincoln concluded, the slaves and the ex-slaves should be returned to their own.” (Loose Canons, 46)  

Lerone Bennett Jr. cites Lincoln “at Charleston Illinois, on September 18, 1858, during the Lincoln-Douglas debates….’I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races; I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters of the free Negroes, or jurors, or qualifying them to hold office, or having them marry with white people.  I will say in addition that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which, I suppose, will forever forbid the two races living together upon terms of social and political equality; and inasmuch as they cannot so live, that while they do remain together, there must be the position of the superiors and the inferiors; and that I, as much as any other man, am in favor of the superior being assigned to the white man.’” (The Negro Mood, 98) 

Lincoln: “There is a natural disgust in the minds of nearly all white people to the idea of an indiscriminate amalgamation of the white and black races….A separation of the races is the only perfect preventive of amalgamation….(Debate with Stephen Douglas, Springfield, Illinois, June 22, 1857)

Negro equality!  Fudge!!  How long, in the government of a God great enough to make and maintain this universe, shall there continue knaves to vend, and fools to gulp so low a piece of demagoguism as this? (From Fragments: Notes for Speeches, September 1859)” (from Redneck Manifesto, 218)

In his book, White by Law, Haney Lopez argues for the dismantling of Whiteness.  “Whiteness is the source and maintaining force of the systems of meaning that position some as superior and others as subordinate.  In this violent context, Whites should renounce their privileged racial status.  They should do so, however, not simply out of guilt or any sense of self-deprecation, but because the edifice of Whiteness stands at the heart of racial inequality in America.  Whiteness in its current incarnation necessitates and perpetuates patterns of superiority and inferiority.  To move from society’s present injustices to any future of racial equality will require the disassembly of Whiteness.” (31) 

“When confronted with the falsity of White identity, Whites tend not to abandon [32] Whiteness, but to embrace and protect it.  The value of Whiteness to Whites almost certainly ensures the continuation of a White self-regard predicated on racial superiority” (33)  Lopez argues “that Whites should consciously work against their racial identity.” (33)

Lopez: “Self-consciously abandoning Whiteness is the only means by which Whites can know themselves, their place in society, and others.  This knowledge, of course, must come at the high price of relinquishing the privileges of Whiteness and of acknowledging one’s role in maintaining such privileges.  These costs, however, are inseverably a part of self-knowledge, more an argument for than against abandoning Whiteness.  ‘Whites must come to terms with their whiteness by recognizing, not their guilt and blameworthiness for racism past and present, but that which is much more difficult to face: their own idealized, self-fashioned identity as a narcissistic fantasy and nothing more.’ [Richard Ford, Urban Space and the Color Line: The Consequences of Demarcation and Disorientation in the Postmodern Metropolis, 9]  Only by abandoning this fantastic identity can those currently constructed as White hope to understand themselves and others as people.

Beyond its existential importance, however, there is a far more pressing reason for the deconstruction of Whiteness.  Whiteness exists as the linchpin for the systems of racial meaning in the United States.  Whiteness is the norm around which other races are constructed; its existence depends upon the mythologies and material inequalities that sustain the current racial system.  The maintenance of Whiteness necessitates the conceptual existence of Blacks, Latinos, Native Americans, and other races as tropes of inferiority against which Whiteness can be measured and valued.  Its continuation also requires the preservation of the social inequalities that every day testify to White superiority.  David Roediger asserts that ‘the questions of why people think they are white and of whether they might quit thinking so’ are the ‘most neglected aspects of race in America.’  [Towards the Abolition of Whiteness, 13]  These questions are also the most pressing aspects of race today.  Racial equality may well be impossible until Whiteness is disarmed.  Only the complete disassembly of Whiteness will allow the disman[187]tlement of the racial systems of meaning that have grown up in our society over the past centuries and thus permit the end of racism and the emergence of a society in which race does not serve as a proxy for human worth.  All who are interested in racial justice must concern themselves with remaking the bounds and nature of Whiteness, for this category stands at the vortex of race in America.  However, Whites’ assistance in this endeavor is particularly crucial, because they exercise the great bulk of the tremendous power necessary to construct and maintain Whiteness.  The goal of White race-consciousness should be the disassembly of Whiteness. 

How the meaning systems that constitute Whiteness might be altered, and what affect this would ultimately have on society, remain open questions.  Whiteness is so deeply a part of our society it is impossible to know even whether Whiteness can be dismantled.  Nevertheless, efforts to challenge Whiteness are already underway.” (White by Law, 187-88)

Lopez: “[D]irect efforts to challenge Whiteness have been undertaken outside of academia.  One of the most intriguing is a periodical entitled Race Traitor: A Journal of the New Abolitionism, published under the slogan ‘Treason to Whiteness is Loyalty to Humanity.’  Dedicated to achieving racial justice through dismantling Whiteness, this journal offers specific pointers on how to be a ‘race traitor,’ defined as ‘someone who is nominally classified as white, but who defies the rules of whiteness so flagrantly as to jeopardize his or her ability to draw upon the privileges of white skin’ [Treason to Whiteness Is Loyalty to Humanity: An Interview with Noel Ignatiev of Race Traitor Magazine, The Blast!, June/July 1994] ” (189)  “Whiteness demands that all Whites denigrate, at least passively, those constructed as non-White.  It is only through this iterated denigration, this constant reinforcement by Whites of the lines between ‘us’ and ‘them,’ that the boundaries of Whiteness can be maintained.  If enough seemingly White people were to reject such differentiation by claiming to be among the ‘them,’ the ‘us’ at the base of White identity would collapse.  By [189] actively pursuing this agenda, Race Traitor represents the potential for deconstructing Whiteness” (189-90)

Lopez: “Howard Winant, a leading proponent of the social constructionist theory of race, offers an extreme evaluation of the implications of a totally raceless future:

‘The five-hundred year domination of the globe by Europe and its inheritors is the historical context in which racial concepts of difference have attained their present status as fundamental concepts of human identity and inequality.  To imagine the end [194] of race is thus to contemplate the liquidation of Western civilization.’” (Racial Conditions: Politics, Theory, Comparisons, 88-89; from White by Law, 194-95)

However, my historical musings concern aesthetics and not ethnicity, and are intended to inspire assimilation to the concord of nature’s original chord – the major triad.  I am not concerned with ethnic opinions and racial prejudices, but rather with natural musical laws and scientific acoustical facts relating to concord and discord.  

Race Traitor

Cornell West refers to the magazine, Race Traitor, as “‘the most visionary courageous journal in America.'” (from Unholy Alliance, 48)  Noel Ignatiev and John Garvey: “we know how devilishly difficult it is for individuals to escape whiteness….But we also know that when there comes into being a critical mass of people who, though they look white, have ceased to act white, the white race will undergo fission, and former whites will be able to take part in building a new human community.” (Race Traitor, 37)

According to Jan Clausen, “Adrienne Rich’s famous essay ‘Disloyal to Civilization’…in effect maintains, in terms I find theoretically problematic, that white women’s experience within patriarchy renders them natural ‘race traitors’.” (Letters; from Race Traitor, 271)  Linda Martin Alcoff develops this notion in her essay History is a Lesson: What Should White People Do?  Alcoff asks: “what is it to acknowledge one’s whiteness?  Is it to acknowledge that one is inherently tied to structures of domination and oppression, that one is irrevocably on the wrong side?  In other words, can the acknowledgment of whiteness produce only self-criticism, even shame and self-loathing?  Is it possible to feel okay about being white?”  

Alcoff concludes: “Perhaps white identity needs to develop its own version of ‘double consciousness’….for whites, double consciousness requires an everpresent acknowledgment of the historical legacy of white identity constructions in the persistent structures of inequality and exploitation, as well as a newly awakened memory of the many white traitors to white privilege who have struggled to contribute to the building of an inclusive human community.  The Michelangelos stand beside the Christopher Columbuses, and Noam Chomskys next to the Pat Buchanans.  The legacy of European-based cultures is a complicated one.  It is better approached through a two-sided analysis than an argument that obscures either its positive or negative aspects.  White representations within multiculturalism must then be similarly dialectical, retrieving from obscurity the history of white antiracism even while providing a detailed account of colonialism and its many cultural effects.”

Joel Gilbert: “From the moment I was born I knew my father hated me, but I knew my mother loved me.” (Who Lost an American?; from Race Traitor, 44)  “He’d beat me every day, for anything from not cleaning a dish properly to not getting a grade in school.  After the physical beating was over, the emotional abuse would start.  He would tell me that he loved me and that I was a bad kid, and that he didn’t want to do what he had to do, but he did it because he loved me.  So I was very confused about myself, and what this man represented to me.  I didn’t understand who gave him the authority to treat me the way he did.  And that whole time he was taking us to church each week.  He was a devout Christian.  To this day he seems like the nicest person you could meet, in public.  But behind closed doors, he’s a monster.

I had always been rebellious in school.  When I moved in with my father that rebellion continued.” (46)

“I could have become a full-fledged Nazi.  I was ready for it.  If there had been some group around I could have joined, I would have.  What turned me around?” (49)  “I bought Soul on Ice by Eldridge Cleaver, and read that, and I was starting to get into the Black Power movement, and my mom asked me if I had ever read Malcolm X….From there I considered myself a black nationalist.  I started looking for people who were like Malcolm X.” (50)  “I don’t represent whiteness anymore, and so there’s no way I can gentrify anything.  For the most part I feel at home with black people.  I’ve got plenty of black inside me.  And I think most of the whiteness I grew up with has washed away.” (55)  “I’d like to establish contact with other people around the country who feel the same way I do.  Race Traitor has already helped me do that.”(56)  “I want to destroy this so-called white society….The kid this society gave birth to and tried to socialize has rebelled.” (57)

Phil Rubio: “Eldridge Cleaver, in Soul on Ice, and Abbie Hoffman, in Soon To Be A Major Motion Picture, noted that long hair, strange clothes, language, political protest, music, and [153] drug use, exposed young white hippies to treatment previously reserved for blacks, and were also their ‘tools of rebellion.’  This rebellion, wrote Cleaver, was ‘America’s attempt to unite its Mind with its Body, to save its soul.’” (Crossover Dreams: the ‘Exceptional White’ in Popular Culture; from Race Traitor, 153-54) 

Noel Ignatiev and John Garvey: “we believe that race is not a biological but a social fact, constructed through history.  The white race consists of those people who partake of the privileges of the white skin in this society….when whites reject their racial identity, they take a big step toward becoming human.  But may that step not entail, for many, some engagement with blackness, perhaps even an identification as ‘black’?  Recent experience, in this country and elsewhere, would indicate that it does.” (Editors’ Reply; from Race Traitor, 279)

Bigby: “There is a historic ‘race treason’ that’s being practiced.  It can’t be organized because it either happens or it doesn’t (I’m talking specifically about mixed couples), but this isn’t even being addressed by ‘race traitors.’  Mixed child-rearing/coupleism is even very conscious, at times, in my neighborhood.  An example: I arrived at the drop-in center I worked at to find the place up in arms.  The focus of everyone’s rage was a woman whose way of dealing with her days is deep christianity, usually tolerated.  That day she stepped on the wrong toes.  She had apparently made her feelings on mixed couples known to the mixed couple sitting beside her and by the time I arrived the young black woman – one-half of the couple she was referring to – was ready to tear the Christian’s head off.  This sentiment spread to everyone there, the single native father and the kid, who this week was hip-hop looking, was screaming blood murder and something about his black grandma.” (Devil’s Advocate; from Race Traitor, 281)

Rebecca Randall Gilbert: “I wrote for a copy [of Race Traitor] strictly on account of the excellent title.  Beats n-lover by a mile, at least.  I want it as a T-shirt.  The [285] shirt I have on now says ANCESTOR WORSHIP NOT DEAD YET – HONOR THE SOURCE.  I found out most human ancestors are African.” (Spirits Alive; from Race Traitor, 285-86)

Noel Ignatiev: “Whiteness is nothing but an expression of race privilege….Politically, whiteness is the willingness to seek a comfortable place within the system of race privilege.  Blackness means total, implacable, and relentless opposition to that system.  To the extent so-called whites oppose the race line, repudiating their own race privileges and jeopardizing their own standing in the white race, they can be said to have washed away their whiteness and taken in some blackness.”” (Interview; from Race Traitor, 289)

Ignatiev: “for many, the rejection of whiteness seems to entail some engagement with Afro-American culture, because that is the first cultural expression of resistance they encounter, and it speaks powerfully to them….For us, black and white are political categories, separate from, although not unrelated to, culture.  One of the effects of white supremacy is that it represses the cultures of Afro-Americans and other peoples of color.”  (Interview, 290)

Ignatiev: “Chinese….have been defined as an ethic group, indeed the ‘model minority,’ as shown by the high rate of social mobility among them, the high proportion of marriages with European-Americans, and the presence among them of a substantial number of capitalists who do not operate within a segregated market – all in contrast to the situation of Afro-Americans.” (Interview, 292)  Ignatiev: “It would be good if people could forget that they are white.” (292)  However, Clarence Page describes “[T]he ‘forgetting of race’” as “a liberal fantasy.” (Color, 264)  

Page: “Black students at the University of Iowa complain that white social life on campus tends to be centered around beer kegs while black social life tends to be centered around music and dancing, and never the twain shall meet.” (265)  Page: “Every Friday evening you can see the young professionals and postgraduates line up at two bars at Seventeenth and L streets….One bar’s crowd is white.  The other’s is black….Laura Blumenfeld, a Washington Post reporter, asked the patrons of both bars about the irony of their social apartheid….’You spend the whole day being diverse,’ said one young white woman at the white bar.  ‘They dance over there, don’t they?’ said another.  ‘It’s Friday and game is over,’ a forty-year old black woman said.  The ‘game,’ she said, was ‘assimilation in a white world.’  Having been through ‘BS’ all week, she said, ‘You don’t want to be stared at now.’” (28-9) 

Black Feeling 

My academic approach to music is primarily technical and analytical, comparing the ways in which races and cultures employ notes, in melodies and harmonies, and rhythms.  However, some Afro-American musicians insist that their music must be evaluated in terms of feeling.  Perhaps this non-technical and emotional criteria could be regarded as an Afrocentric approach to black music.  According to Frantz Fanon, “Emotion is Negro as reason is Greek.” (Black Skin, White Masks, 106)  Gustave Eichtal: “The black seems to me to be the woman race among the human family, as the white is the male race…the black…is possessed to the highest degree of the qualities of the heart, the affections, and the sentiments of the home; he is a man of interiors.  Like the woman, he has a passionate love for dressing up, dancing, singing.” (from Christopher Miller, Blank Darkness, 122)  Robert E. Park: “The Negro is primarily an artist, loving life for its own sake….He is, so to speak, the lady among the races.”

Trumpeter Charles Moore states that fellow (?) jazz trumpeter “Don Ellis has finally shown himself for what he really is: a white….His review of The John Coltrane Quartet Plays shows the white’s utter contempt for black creativity.  The white’s ability to condescendingly dismiss black music as ‘filigree or decoration’…The white man always has to relate the black’s music to the same old tired European standards & modes.  I won’t even bother to try to explain the music of the black to Ellis because he quite obviously cannot even understand the fundamental feelings from which this music was created.  The white even in his most infinitesimal sexually-fantasized masochistic stages obviously cannot understand & feel pain and suffering…The white’s mind still, even in ’66, seeks to castrate the black’s music and write it off in the form of European-based technical criticism and control – white control…The feeling of this music is more important to me than the technical matters; a feeling that you, Mr. Ellis, have insulted, thereby declaring yourself as another of my many white enemies.  And for that, along with your ideals and artifacts from ancient history, you must die.'” (from Ben Ratliff’s Coltrane: The Story of a Sound, 164)  

In his review Ellis took Coltrane to task: “In a great bulk of Coltrane’s work we get a good deal of filigree or decoration (in the form of continuous scales performed at a rapid velocity) but very little ‘meat’ or positive strong statements or ideas.  It is like he is playing chorus after chorus, solo after solo on only one idea – that of continually varying scale patterns and arpeggios.  It is the artists’ job to be sensitive to the fine line to where a continuing effect is building interest but if carried any further will lose its interest.  It is a basic fact of life (psychologically and physiologically) that any one thing repeated for too long a time without variation becomes boring.”

Free jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman is more moderate in his discussion of music, race, and feeling.  “’I think black people in America have a superior sense when it comes to expressing their own convictions through music.  Most whites tend to think that it’s below their dignity to just show suffering and just show any other meaning that has to do with feeling and not with technique or analysis or whatever you call it.’” (Four Jazz Lives, 142)  Gary Giddins describes Coleman as “a musician who effortlessly pitches his notes in the cracks, as it were, of the tempered scale with unerring intervallic consistency.” (Rhythm-a-ning: Jazz Tradition and Innovation in the ‘80s, 242-43)  Coleman: “’Many people apparently don’t trust their reactions to art or to music unless there is a verbal explanation for it.  In music, the only thing that matters is whether you feel it or not.  You can’t intellectualize music; to reduce it analytically often is to reduce it to nothing very important.  It is only in terms of emotional response that I can judge whether what we are doing is successful or not.’” (Freedom Sounds, 285)

Coleman: “‘The only thing that can change sound is emotion.  Other stuff just gets in the way and makes it sound like noise.  But emotion actually changes sound.   Which means that emotion is ten times more pure than sound….in the emotion of human beings, sound is growing: in revolutions, in purpose, and most of all, in freedom.  A person can say a word that they know what it means without you knowing what it means, and speak to you in a way that you get a meaning from it.’” (Ornette Coleman: In His Own Language; Jazz Times)

Coleman’s verbal analogy could put a new spin on the notion of a diabolus in musica.  It’s not so much the note that you play, but the intent and emotion behind the note.  A conflict or debate can arrive at a constructive conclusion, as discordant music can be theraputic if it is resolved.  As Miles Davis eloquently expresses, “The note is only 20 percent.  The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent.”  Loren Goldner cites Miles Davis’ Autobiography: “’Another thing I found strange after living and playing in New York was that a lot of black musicians didn’t know anything about music theory …A lot of the old guys thought that if you went to school it would make you play like you were white.  Or, if you learned something from theory, you would lose the feeling in your playing….I wanted to see what was going on in all of music.  Knowledge is freedom and ignorance is slavery and I just couldn’t believe someone could be that close to freedom and not take advantage of it.  I have never understood why black people didn’t take advantage of all the shit they can.  It’s like a ghetto mentality telling people they aren’t supposed to do certain things, that those things are only reserved for white people. [my emphasis]’” (The Only Race; from Race Traitor, 277)

Composer George Antheil, from The Negro on the Spiral: “From 1920 to 1925 we see one definite trend….the new note of the Congo….It is black….Rhythmically it comes from the groins, the hips and the sexual organs and not…from the breast, the brain, the ears, and eyes of the white races.”  (Nancy Cunard, ed., Negro: An Anthology, 214)  “The African ‘sound’ in music is…a marked tendency towards the ‘black’ on the pianoforte.” (215)  “Like wildfire the Negro patch spread everywhere in Europe….Waking up one morning somewhere around 1925, the musical world of Europe became alarmed at its racial problem…Thereupon came the reaction.  Every time a white composer was caught consorting with Negro music he was promptly run off and musically lynched; after a vigorous year of campaigning Europe sat back and told itself that Negro music was no more.  Still, papal decrees continued to be issued against jazz; dancing approximated more and more to the St. Vitus sickness; people went back to the old music and found out they could not even listen to it.  They treated the situation as a sickness; special cliniques were founded; still people recommenced writing music as if nothing had happened….For look where we may today beneath this classical music…we find the note…the technic…the aesthetic of the Congo…all the more important and [216] insidious in its influence because now it is more deeply hidden but now everywhere present.  It would seem outwardly as if this tremendous mulattoism has become absorbed and taken into our European music for whatever it is worth….The Negro is not absorbed, but absorbs.  Even though a white might lay with an octoroon of the whitest color, still after one or two white children a child absolutely black might be born.  Europe has been impregnated, and impregnated deeply.  We need no longer be surprised by our dark children.  Music will no longer be all the white keys of the piano, but will have keys of ebony as well.” (216-217)  

The ebony keys relative to the ivory keys of the diatonic scale in C major include the blue notes in the key of C – minor third, flatted fifth, and minor seventh.  Amdee (Anthony Hamilton of the Watts Prophets): “I was always into spiritual things.  Richard [Dedeaux] and I went to Shelly’s Manne Hole one night, all three of us then.  We went to see Roland Kirk.  We was the only black folks in there, and he said, ‘Baby, I’m gonna play a tune for you all and it’s called blackness.  I ain’t gonna play nothing but the black keys on the piano.’  He was playing horns and all this stuff, and all of a sudden, he just leapt up, he took all his instruments and started throwing all his instruments into the back of the baby grand piano, and then he took the chair and started smashing, and we just jumped up – he was having a hard time ‘cause he was blind – so we ran up….And we ran up there and helped him.  We were just wrassling, smashed the chair until it was just splinters.  The manager was like ‘Goddamn it’, he never forgot that.  Rahsaan (Roland Kirk) was like, ‘Don’t be mad at me baby, I’m just a old blind man.’” (It’s Not About a Salary…, 117)

Iain Chambers describes “a telling disorientation for our ears as the blues singer stretches and slides over those intervals (‘blue notes’) we are accustomed to expect.  Such a sensation of ‘foreignness’ is the most recognizable aural trait of the blues and Afro-American music in pop – the slides, slurs, bent, ‘dirty’ and uncertain notes.” (Urban Rhythms, 10)  Chambers: “Afro-American music consistently resorts to tactile adjectives to describe its effects: ‘hot’, ‘funky’, ‘feeling’.  The music does not obey the narrow sequential logic, so akin to writing, of a beginning, middle and end.” (12)

James Baldwin offers a thesis concerning the original motivation for the creation of jazz: “jazz began … to checkmate the European notion of the world.… [T]here is a very great deal in the world which Europe does not or cannot see: in the very same way that the European musical scale cannot transcribe – cannot write down, does not understand: the notes, or the price of this music.” (James Baldwin, 1979, 326; Chambers, 153)  Baldwin: “White Americans do not believe in death, and this is why the darkness of my skin so intimidates them.” (Down at the Cross: Letter from a Region in my Mind, The Fire Next Time, 106)  “The white man’s unadmitted – and apparently, to him, unspeakable – private fears and longings are projected onto the Negro.  The only way he can be released from the Negro’s tyrannical power over him is to consent, in effect, to become black himself to become a part of that suffering and dancing country that he now watches wistfully from the heights of his lonely power and, armed with spiritual traveller’s checks, visits surreptitiously after dark.” (110)  

Richard H. King: “Whites, asserted Baldwin in a radio roundtable in 1961, have ‘always avoided knowing things – I’m afraid you have to call them tragic or black or deep or mysterious or inexorable – which are the very bottom of life.’” (Modernization and Dominated Cultures; Race, Culture, and the Intellectuals, 1940-1970, 147)  “The childish refusal of whites to face the facts of black life and their own lives indicated a kind of willed innocence.” (149)

Eric Charry: “In response to a dominant European philosophical tradition that privileges the mind over the body, African writers and others of African descent have valorized the visceral and emotional aspects of their cultures.  But valorizing these aspects to the point of considering them as defining marks of African-ness – and yielding rational thought as a mark of European-ness – in effect endorses the mind/body dichotomy and reinforces racial stereotypes that deny the full range of human potentiality to all peoples.  As Nigerian writer Wole Soyinka, a critic of negritude, has noted,

To Descartes’ ‘I think, therefore, I am,’ they [negritude writers] responded on behalf of the black man: ‘I feel, therefore I am.’  Rationalism is essentially European, they claimed; the black man is emotive and intuitive.  He is not a man of technology, but a man of the dance, of rhythm and song.

This simplified view of the black man’s world did not pass without its challengers however, and even the early Negritudinists soon found themselves compelled to begin to modify their position. (Soyinka 1988: 180)” (Introduction, The Beat of My Drum, 18)  Senghor: “We [Africans] feel, therefore we are.”

The White Negro

LeRoi Jones observes: “It was a lateral and reciprocal identification the young white American intellectual, artist, and Bohemian of the forties and fifties made with the Negro, attempting, with varying degrees of success, to reap some emotional benefit from the similarity of their positions in American society.” (Blues People, 231)  “The new philosophy of racial role reversal was transcribed by many popular hipster authors of the time.  Norman Mailer’s 1957 pamphlet, entitled “The White Negro,” has become the paradigmatic example of hipster ideology.  Mailer describes hipsters as individuals “with a middle-class background (who) attempt to put down their whiteness and adopt what they believe is the carefree, spontaneous, cool lifestyle of Negro hipsters: their manner of speaking and language, their use of milder narcotics, their appreciation of jazz and the blues, and their supposed concern with the good orgasm.”  The poet Rimbaud accused the French aristocracy of his day: “Vous êtes de faux nègres.”

Roger Kimball notes that “one reason that the hipster [of Mailer’s White Negro] adores jazz: ‘jazz,’ Mailer tells us, ‘is orgasm, it is the music of orgasm, good orgasm and bad, and so it spoke across a nation.’  The hipster’s quest ‘for absolute sexual freedom’ entails the necessity of ‘becoming a sexual outlaw.’

It is not only sexual morality that the hipster discards. 

‘Hip abdicates from any conventional moral responsibility because it would argue that the results of our actions are unforeseeable, and so we cannot know if we do good or bad….The only Hip morality…is to do what one feels whenever and wherever it is possible, and…to be engaged in one primal battle; to open the limits of the possible for oneself, for oneself alone, because that is one’s need.’” (The Long March, 79)

King: “New York intellectual, Anatole Broyard (1920-1990), wrote a fascinating – and neglected – piece in 1950…,’Portrait of the Inauthentic Negro,’ identifying types of black inauthenticity, including ‘minstrelization’ (roughly Uncle Tom-ing) and ‘romanticization’ (acting out positive white fantasies of exoticism and eroticism), the acceptance of white stereotypes (as in the ‘bad nigger’), the cultivation of an image of brutishness and its opposite, the cultivation of a kind of effeminate prissiness.  In some ways, Broyard’s essay now reads like a preemptive strike against the notion of the ‘White Negro’ that Mailer proposed in the 1957 essay of the same name.  There Mailer imagines a type of white man, the hipster, who imitates blacks, who themselves are thought to be sexually freer and existentially closer to the ‘edge’ than middle-class whites.  In Broyard’s terms, however, Mailer’s hipster is doubly inauthentic – he is a white man imitating a black man, who is himself imitating the white man’s stereotype of a black man.” (Race, Culture, and the Intellectuals, 65)

Paul Gilroy expands Mailer’s notion of the hipster when interpreting Richard Wright’s character Cross Damon in The Outsider as a symbol of modern Man.  “He went into an ill-lighted tavern that reeked of disinfectant and sat in a rear booth and listened to the radio pour forth a demonical jazz music that linked itself with his sense of homelessness.  The strains of blue and sensual notes were akin to him not only by virtue of their having been created by black men, but because they had come out of the hearts of men who had been rejected and yet who still lived and shared the lives of their rejectors.  Those notes possessed the frightened ecstasy of the unrepentant and sent his feelings tumbling and coagulating in a mood of joyful abandonment.” (111)  

Gilroy: “More than any other book of Wright’s, The Outsider elaborates a view of blackness and the relational ideologies of race and racism which support it, not as fixed and stable historical identities to be celebrated, overcome, or even deconstructed, but as metaphysical conditions of the modern world’s existence that arise with, and perhaps out of, the overcoming of religious morality.  The book represents Wright’s first attempt to account for the correspondences and connections which joined the everyday lifeworld of African-Americans to the visceral anxieties precipitated in modern European philosophy and letters by the collapse of religious sensibility in general and the experience of twentieth-century life in particular.  For Wright the decisive break in western consciousness which modernity identifies was defined by the collapse of a religious understanding of the world.” (Black Atlantic, 160)  

Wright’s view accords with George Steiner’s reference to a “contract”, which “is broken for the first time, in any thorough and consequent sense, in European, Central European and Russian culture and speculative consciousness during the decades from the 1870s to the 1930s.  It is this break of the covenant between word and world which constitutes one of the very few genuine revolutions of spirit in Western history and which defines modernity itself” (Presences, 93).  On account of this spiritual revolution Steiner divides Western history into two phases: “the first, which extended from the beginnings of recorded history and propositional utterance (in the pre-Socratics) to the later nineteenth century, is that of the Logos, of the saying of being.  The second phase is that which comes after.”  Ratzinger describes the musical consequences of this second phase: “when the religious ground is cut away from under music, then…music and indeed art itself are threatened” (Problems, 216).

LeRoi Jones: “When the moderns, the beboppers, showed up to restore jazz, in some sense, to its original separateness, to drag it outside the mainstream of American culture again, most middle-class Negroes (as most Americans) were stuck; they had passed, for the most part, completely into the Platonic citizenship.  The willfully harsh, anti-assimilationist sound of bebop fell on deaf or horrified ears.”  (Blues People, 181-82)  The flatted fifth became the most important interval in bebop. 

Joachim Berendt: “The term rhythm and blues was [213] only introduced in the late forties.  Up to then, the term was race records. This label made it clear that for fifty years black music had been played in a ghetto that was noticed by the white world only indirectly at best.” (213-14)  “Since the midfifties, the blues has penetrated popular music to a degree unimaginable up to then.  First, black rhythm ‘n’ blues – the rocking music of the black South and of the Northern ghettos – led into rock ‘n’ roll….By 1963 the best of rhythm ‘n’ blues had become so closely linked to the mainstream of American popular music that Billboard magazine temporarily suspended separate listings of ‘Rhythm and Blues’ and ‘Pop.’ (213)

“The stream of black music flowing into white rock and pop music became wider and wider, in fact, so wide that there was no, or almost no, difference anymore between black and white popular music.  ‘Funkiness’ became the fashionable be-all of commercial rock music during the seventies; funk, though, came from the black ghetto and the blues – like rap and hip-hop ten years later.” (215)  “It has been said that the Beatles and Bob Dylan changed the musical and social consciousness of a whole generation.  In this context, it is important to realize that this change of consciousness is based on the blues and would have been impossible without it.  British guitarist Eric Clapton made this very clear when he said, “’Rock is like a battery. Every so often you have to go back to the blues and recharge.’” (214)  The blues chord contains a tritone, as between B and F in a G7 chord.  “The musical standards of the world of popular music demolished in the process were the symbols of the moral, social, and political standards of the bourgeois world that had created the old pop music.  These standards were the real target of the new movement.” (214)  The cadence, an aural symbol of spiritual regeneration whereby the blues chord resolves to the major chord, was demolished.

Hip Hop and Blackness

Referring to hip-hop culture, Paul Gilroy makes the following observation: “An amplified and exaggerated masculinity has become the boastful centerpiece of a culture of compensation that self-consciously salves the misery of the disempowered and subordinated.” (Black Atlantic, 85)  White Five Percenter Michael Knight quotes Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad: “At his final Savior’s Day celebration in 1974, Elijah’s address had revealed the very fine line between Nation of Islam and Five Percent Nation of Islam teachings – a line that, for many continued to blur: ‘Every time you look at a black man, you’re looking at God….for 43 years, I have been teaching that God is man!’” (the Five, 141)  “’In a lot of ways, hip-hop is the Five Percent.’ the RZA” (Five, 177)  “The language of Five Percenters became the language of early rap….to call someone ‘G,’ which is now read as ‘gansta,’ represented God in the Supreme Alphabets, as Rakim brings to light in ‘No Competition: ‘I’m God G is the seventh letter made.’” (178)

Over a country-style fiddle sample in the brief segment that introduces Public Enemy’s ‘A Letter to the N.Y. Post,’ a white man speaking in a genial Southern accent describes himself as a member of the Ku Klux Klan and offers the following remarks: ‘I’d like to express our deepest gratitude at the destruction of the inferior nigger race, and I’m especially pleased to report it’s destroying itself without our help.’  I find the context of these racist remarks ironic, for I think that Public Enemy undermines the values of blacks when employing inferior tonal structures according to natural laws of harmony to get their message across.  Gardell: “Perhaps more than any other hip-hop group, Public Enemy has been pivotal in spreading the NOI creed to Blackamerican youths.  Beginning with their second album, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, their lyrics have the sound of pumped-up black Islamic lectures.  Chuck D, the ideologist of Public Enemy, says he puts rhythm to the essential teachings of Minister Farrakhan and turns them into rap music.” (297)  Gary Herman notes that Public Enemy “continued to adhere to the Nation of Islam’s distinctly stratified view of the US’s ‘racial war’, and the dogmatic view that ‘the White Man is the Devil’.” (Babylon, 281)

Public Enemy’s song Fear of Black Planet begins and ends with what sounds like a saxophone playing a three note riff outlining a tritone: Db, Eb, A, Eb.  At the beginning of the song this riff is played over the voice of a rapper stating the song title in response to the question, ‘What’s your latest hit, brother?’  At the end of the song the riff is played over a collage of voices uttering the words ‘people are,’ ‘fear,’ and ‘black.’  Public Enemy’s song Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos combines a bluesy bass riff in F with a synth keyboard riff over B, Bb, Ab – b5, 4, b3.  The song Can’t Truss It has a bass riff establishing Bb as the key center with a trumpet sample sounding the riff E, Ab, Bb – b5, b7, 1.

Rose notes: “The outstanding technical feature of the Western classical music tradition is tonal functional har[65]mony.  Tonal functional harmony is based upon clear, definite pitches and logical relations between them; on the forward drive toward resolution of a musical sequence that leads to a final resolution: the final perfect cadence.  The development of tonal harmony critically confined the range of possible tones to twelve tones within each octave arranged in only one of two possible ways, major and minor.  It also restricted the rhythmic complexity of European music.  In place of freedom with respect to accent and measure, European music focused rhythmic activity onto strong and weak beats in order to prepare and resolve harmonic dissonance.  Furthermore, as Christopher Small has argued, Western classical tonal harmony is structurally less tolerant of ‘acoustically illogical and unclear sounds, sound not susceptible to total control.’” (65-66)

Rose: “Hank Shocklee defends rap producers’ approach to music and explains the reasons for the antagonism between rap producrs and formally trained musicians: ‘We don’t like musicians. We don’t respect musicians.  The reason why is because they look at people who do rap as people who don’t have any knowledge.  As a matter of fact, it’s quite the opposite. We have a better sense of music, a better concept of music, of where it’s going, of what it can do….In dealing with rap, you have to [81] be innocent and ignorant of music.  Trained musicians are not ignorant to music, and they cannot be innocent to it…For example, certain keys have to go together because you have this training and it makes musical sense to you.  We might use a black key and white key together playing together because it works for a particular part.  A musician will go, “No those are the wrong keys.  The tones are clashing.”  We don’t look at it that way….music is nothing but organized noise.  You can take anything – street sounds, us talking, whatever you want – and make it music by organizing it.  That’s still our philosophy, to show people that this thing you call music is a lot broader than you think it is.’” (81-82)

Rose comments: “Shocklee’s oppostion between knowledge and innocence is a bit misleading.  He is really referring to the differences between formal Western and black musical priorities as they are worked out, ofthen contentiously, in the creative realm and in the marketplace.  Shocklee’ innocence is his lack of formal Western musical training.  For Shocklee, ‘training’ is formal Western training, and trained musicians use ‘knowledge’ about a particular tradition to produce a particular arrangement of sounds that in turn produce particular effects.  He, too, employs ‘knowledge’ and musical strategies, not innocent (value-free) ones, but strategies commonly found in black musical traditions that often involve different cultural priorities.  When he claims that to understand or deal with rap music you mus be innocent, he suggests that a commitmnet to formal Western musical priorities must be abandonded, or at the very [82] least interrogated and revised, especially as they are articulated in the rules of sound production and reproduction.” (82-83)

“In Eric B & Rakim’s ‘Follow the Leader,’ the chorus – ‘follow the leader Rakim a say’ – is recited in staccato repetition to reinforce the identity of the performer.  Examples of such naming are endless.  Rap lyrics are closely linked with the author; unlike traditional Western notions of composition in which the composer’s text is in a separate sphere from that of the performer, rap lyrics are the voice of the composer and the performer…..The content of a rap rhyme is sometimes so specific to its creator that to perform someone else’s rhyme requires that references to its creator be rewritten.  The significance of naming in rap is exemplified by a re-vision of L.L. Cool J.’s 1986 hit ‘I’m Bad.’ In ‘Bad,’ L.L. brags that he is the best rapper in the history of rap and at a climax point instructs his fans to ‘forget Oreos eat Cool J. cookies.’” (Noise, 87)

Eric B & Rakim’s Follow the Leader begins with a two riff bass line of C, Db, Eb, and C, Eb, C, Db, which seems to establish Eb as the key.  This line is followed by a flute riff of Bb, G, F#, then a horn blast of Db, Eb, Db, and a sustained string sound of Eb.  The combined notes outline a Eb Hendrix chord.

“Rap producers are not so much deliberately working against the cultural logic of Western classical music as they are [95] working within and among distinctly black practices, articulating stylistic and compositional priorities found in black cultures in the diaspora.” (95-96)  “Paris, a San Francisco-based rapper whose nickname is P-dog, directs his neo-Black Panther position specifically at ideological fissures and points of contradiction: P-dog commin’ up, I’m straight low / Pro-black and it ain’t no joke / Commin’ straight from the mob that broke shit last time, / Now I’m back with a brand new sick rhyme. [102] / So, black, check time and tempo / Revolution ain’t never been simple’

Submerged in winding, dark, low, bass lines, ‘The Devil Made Me Do It’ locates Paris’s anger as a response to white colonialism and positions him as a ‘low’ (read underground) voice backed up by a street mob whose commitment is explicitly pro-black and nationalist.  A self-proclaimed supporter of the revived and revised Oakland-based Black Panther movement, Paris (whose logo is also a black panther) locates himself as a direct descendent of the black panther ‘mob that broke shit last time’ but who offers a revised text for the nineties.  Paris’s opening line, ‘this is a warning’ and subsequent assertion, ‘So don’t ask next time I start this, the devil made me do it,’ along with his direct address to blacks ‘so, black, check time and tempo’ is another double play.  Paris, a member of the Nation of Islam (NOI) is referring to the familiar NOI cry, ‘Do you know what time it is?  It’s nation time!’ and the ‘time and tempo’ based nature of his electronic, digital musical production.  Later, he makes more explicit the link he forges between his divinely inspired digitally coded music and the military style of NOI programs: P-dog with a gift from heaven, tempo 116.7 / Keeps you locked in time with the program / When I get wild I’ll pile on the dope jams.” (102-03)

The “winding, dark, low, bass lines” in ‘The Devil Made Me Do It’ consist of Eb, Gb, Ab, B, Ab – 1, b3, 4, b5, 4.  Rose mentions that “there are critical differences between the attacks made against black youth expression and white youth expression.  The terms of the assault on rap music, for example, are part of a long-standing sociologically based discourse that considers black influences a cultural threat to American society.  Consequently, rappers, their fans, and black youths in general are constructed as conconspirators in the spread of black cultural influence.  For the antirock organizations, heavy metal is a ‘threat to the fiber of American society,’ but the fans (e.g., ‘our children’) are victims of its influence.  Unlike heavy metal’s victims, rap fans are the youngest representatives of a black presence whose cultural difference is preceived as an internal threat to America’s cultural development.  They victimize us.” (130)  

Rose observes that “responses to rap music bear a striking resemblance to the New York City cabaret laws instituted in the 1920s in response to jazz music.  A wide range of licensing and zoning laws, many of which remained in effect until the late 1980s, restricted the places where jazz could be played and how it could be played.  These laws were attached ot moral anxieties regarding black cultural effects and were in part intended to protect white patrons from jazz’s ‘immoral influences.’  They defined and contained the kind of jazz that could be played by restricting the use of certain licensing policies that favored more established and mainstream jazz-club owners and prevented a number of prominent musicians with minor criminal records from obtaining cabaret cards.” (133)  These statements recall Rose’s assertion that “contemporary popular music” is “all but overrun by Afrodiasporic sounds and multicultural hybrids of them.  Instead, and perhaps because of, the blackening of the popular taste…” (65)  Recall, also, the blues origins of heavy metal.  Princeton University professor Imani Perry has noted, “there is a sonic preference for blackness, the sounds of blackness, but there is a visual preference for whiteness in our culture.”

After the Rap and Rain: Deconstructing the L.A. Rebellion

The Chicago Surrealist Group: “Sons and daughters of the Watts rebels of ’65, grandsons and granddaughters of the zootsuiters and beboppers of the ‘40s, the L.A. rebels rapped to one and all that nothing less than a complete transformation of social relations can create a life worth living.” (Three Days that Shook the New World Order: the Los Angeles Rebellion of 1992; from Race Traitor, 104)

The Chicago Surrealist Group praises “the revolutionary lucidity and daring of the hip-hop community, and insurgent working-class young people generally, who were of course the heart and soul of the rebellion.

Contrary to those who profess to see nothing but illiteracy and ignorance in the ‘younger generation,’ we argue that America’s poorest teenagers, most of them high-school dropouts, are in many and fundamental ways far wiser than those who want them kept in school to prepare for (non-existent) jobs.  If the best way to learn is by doing, the first thing is to decide what is to be done.  There is every reason to believe that in some seventy-two hours of popular, creative destruction, L.A.’s insurgent population learned more than they did in all the years they spent confined in classrooms.  Almost in passing, therefore, they proposed the only workable solution to the much-discussed crisis of American education.

That the hip-hoppers and dropouts have much to learn is obvious, but they also have much to teach.  It would be wrong to minimize the inevitable confusion and, in some cases, outright misogyny and anti-Korean hysteria, that afflict the hip-hop community and the rappers who are its best-known public expression.  It is nonethe-[110]less crucial to recognize in this community, and its music, the emergence of a rebellious pride, a conscious rejection of dominant values and the institutions that uphold them, and, above all, a new radical self-awareness rooted in the growing mass consciousness that revolutionary change is possible.  The self-organization of these kids in X-caps has helped set the stage for nothing less than the creation of a free society.

In hilarious contrast to the grim puritanism and ‘realistic’ rhetoric of the Left, L.A.’s new urban guerrillas insisted on having a good time.  Queried by reporters as to why they were looting, many replied: ‘Because it’s fun!’  A front-page May first Chicago Tribune photo is captioned: ‘Looters laugh while they carry away all they can.’  Ironically, the banner headline above it reads: ‘A nightmare of violence in L.A.’  One class’s nightmare is another’s pleasant dream.” (Three Days, 110-111)

”those who have nothing to lose continue to offer us fresh fruit from the Tree of Life.” (Three Days, 112)  Cornell West called the riot a “’monumental upheaval [that] was a multi-racial, trans-class, and largely male display of justified social rage.’” (from Hating Whitey, 46)

Gerald Early: “Coltrane is mentioned more in socially conscious rap music than any other jazz musician.” (Miles Davis and American Culture, 15)  The fourth and final section of Three Days titled After the Rain, the name of a John Coltrane composition, features a quote from the saxophonist: “’We are always searching.  I think that now we are at the point of finding.’” (117)  This quote is followed by the assertion: “The long-range significance of the L.A. rebellion cannot be appreciated apart from the global ecological crisis.” (117) 

“Those who are farthest from the administration of power, no matter how powerless they often feel, retain always the power to disrupt and therefore, potentially, the power to overturn the entire repressive order.

In the solidarity of all those who are outside existing power relations lies our only chance or vanquishing the ecocidal magamachine.  Coming at a time when the infrastructures of America’s cities are on the verge of collapse, the L.A. rebellion has opened exciting possibilities for the development of heretofore undreamed-of combat alliances that could cut across and even destroy the debilitating barriers set up by short-sighted and self-serving ‘single-issue’ groups.” (119)  The Group describes Malcolm X as “the favorite author of the L.A. rebels.” (119)  “Such new connections, however unthinkable to believers in dogmas, are the inevitable fruit of the revolutionary imagination.  If the L.A. rebels drew inspiration from the poetry of rap, the rebellion itself remains a crucial factor in renew[119]ing the practice of poetry everywhere, as a revolutionary activity.” (119-120)

This section concludes with a statement, “The struggle for wilderness is inseparable from the struggle for a free society, which is inseparable from the struggle against racism, whiteness, and imperialism, which is inseparable from the struggle for the liberation of women, which is inseparable from the struggle for sexual freedom, which is inseparable from the struggle to emancipate labor and abolish work, which is inseparable from the struggle against war, which is inseparable from the struggle to live poetic lives and, more generally, to do as we please.  The enemies, today, are those who try to separate these struggles.” (120)

After the Rain

The first two phrases of Coltrane’s After the Rain begin and end with the fifith, following the pattern of Welcome.  The third phrase descends to the root note in a low octave.  Alice Coltrane told Ebony magazine: ‘He liked to draw an analogy between mankind and his horn, explaining that one group might represent the upper register, another the mid-range and yet another the deeper notes, but that it took all to make the whole.'” (Kahn, 234)  I wonder if his seeming antipathy towards high octaves of the fundamental tone have racial and / or metaphysical significance.  The second section of the melody begins and ends with the fifth tone.

Having just listened to After the Rain I absolutely hear a discomfort with the fundamental tone.  In the first verse he precedes the tonic with a low fifth and mixes the tonic with a trill from major seventh to tonic.  In the second verse he again precedes the tonic with a low fifth, but after briefly playing the tonic, he plays a high fifth followed by a major seventh and then a major sixth.  In the third verse he yet again precedes the tonic with a low fifth and a high third, but after briefly playing the tonic he slurs down to a major seventh.  The final melodic note is a low fifth.  I think that Coltrane’s phrase, “Through the storm and after the rain,” may have been inspired by the line, “Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me,” from the hymn, Abide with Me, which Coltrane recorded with Monk in 1957.  

Coltrane ends the melody of all of his major key songs, above, on the fifth tone.  What I hear in his music is that the blues and minor keys are compassionate; they can relate to pain and suffering, and darkness.  The major key is bright and clear, perhaps analogous to a symbolically white deity; I sense that Coltrane was uncomfortable with this tonal center of his songs in major keys for metaphysical reasons.  I can hear the pain in his tone suggesting that he felt unworthy in the presence of the fundamental tone of his major key songs, as though he were a child before an unapproachable father.  He plays his major key songs in a way that suggests that he doesn’t believe that the keynote loves him, or that he doesn’t love the keynote. 

Coltrane: “I admit I don’t love the beat, in the strict sense.  At this phase I feel I need the beat somewhere, but I don’t really care about the straight 4/4 at all – though this is just a personal feeling.  In a rhythm section I like propulsion and a feeling of buoyancy, which fits under and around the horn, and has a lift to it.  A sense of the pulse, rather than the beat, can take you out of a stodgy approach.” (Kitty Grime, 1961, C on C, 120)  Gil Scott-Heron states, “the rhythms of heaven absorbed him.”  Coltrane distinguishes his natural feeling for the minor with new and purified feelings and a welcome feeling of peace that is the consequence of struggle; Welcome is in a major key.  How does this contrast between a natural feeling for the minor and purified feeling for major correspond with his personal feeling of aversion to the straight and stodgy 4/4?  

Abide With Me

(Coltrane recorded this hymn with Thelonius Monk in 1957, the year of his spiritual awakening; some of the lines appear to have inspired Coltrane’s poem from A Love Supreme and the phrase, after the rain.)

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O thou who changest not, abide with me.

I need thy presence every passing hour.
What but thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who, like thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears not bitterness.
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if thou abide with me.

Hold thou thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven’s morning breaks, and Earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

Free At Last 

“He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.” (Hebrews 2:14-15)

Many musicians associate the flatted fifth with blackness.  Hip-hop artists, heavy metal musicians, Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell, Lenny Breau, Sonny Greenwich…  Paul Gilroy: “Contemporary studies of black vernacular culture are just as silent as the hip-hop literature about the concept of freedom and its political and metaphysical significance.  This is puzzling given the complex historical con[191]nections between slavery and freedom that are evident in the forms black culture assumed, and the ways it was engaged by its producers and its users.” (Against Race, 191-92)

Gilroy connects this silence with his assertion “that biopolitics specifies that the person is identified only in terms of the body.  The very best that this change precipitates is a principled anti-Christian confrontation with the idea that life continues after death.  This refusal of religious antidotes to death is often described as nihilism.  In these circumstances, the desire to be free is closely linked with the desire to be seen to be free and with the pursuit of an individual and embodied intensity of experience that contrasts sharply with the collective and spiritual forms of immortality esteemed in times gone by.” (196)  

“The centrality of gender to black popular cultures can also be analyzed as an alternative articulation of freedom that associates autonomous agency with sexual desire and promotes the symbolic exercise of power in the special domain that sexuality provides.” (197)  “Other racialized discourses that would qualify and therefore contest [the] representative status [of sexual themes] have fallen silent as the distance between the profane vernacular and sacred and spiritual concerns has increased.  The biopolitical focus terminates any conception of the mind/body dualism and ends the modernist aspirations toward racial uplift that were once figured through the language of public-political citizenship.  The body [197]…is now all there is.  The Notorious BIG’s moving and disturbing ‘Suicidal Thoughts‘ presents the decision to take one’s own life as the culmination of these grim conditions.” (197-98)  The flatted fifth features in this disturbing ditty.  

Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream “to transform the jangling discords of [society] into a beautiful symphony.”  King ended his famous speech with the words of a Negro spiritual.  Here’s the second chorus: “I’m free, free at last / And I’m free, from my past, and I’m free / Free from sin, and I’m free / And I ain’t going back again / Shackles had me down but He gave me a new sound.”  I have a dream that the “new sound” of nature’s original and perfect chord, the major triad, will become the sonic representation of a renewed, transfigured, and brightened hue that will overrun popular taste.