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African-American music - Research Paper Example

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Based on Burton Peretti’s Lift Every Voice, African-American music is indeed “one of the treasures of the United States” whether it be in the form of “spirituals, ragtime, the blues, jazz, rhythm and blues, gospel, soul and hip hop” …
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Download file to see previous pages Based on Burton Peretti’s Lift Every Voice, African-American music is indeed “one of the treasures of the United States” whether it be in the form of “spirituals, ragtime, the blues, jazz, rhythm and blues, gospel, soul and hip hop” African-American music, with its rich African roots, is a showcase of the connection of Africans with the natural and soothing power of music even during the era of slavery (Perreti 7-8). In fact, in as early as 1796, the British physician Mungo Park noticed that among the walking groups of African slaves and free men, there are actually jillikeas, or singing men, known for their “musical talents [that] were frequently exerted either to divert [the walkers’] fatigue or obtain [them] a welcome from strangers” (8). The presence of the jillikeas actually indicates one thing – music has long been used by Africans to freely transcend their physical suffering. It is true that they were slaves and that as slaves, they worked very hard indeed. Nevertheless, music was always there to help them cope with the hardships of slavery and for them to have the mental and emotional freedom to feel what they wanted to feel, and to think about what they wanted to think about, regardless of the physical constraints they were experiencing at that time. Moreover, due to archeological findings and pictorial evidence, one would know that African music was already a rich aspect of the African culture in West Africa. Aside from the fact that prehistoric Africans integrated the sounds of animals and nature into their musical compendium, they also integrated music into their daily life, especially in their most significant rituals (8). The richness of the African culture and their tendency to embed the musical aspect of their culture with their spiritual life somehow gave African music a certain mystical quality that characterizes the depth of contemporary African-American music. Moreover, considering that the first groups of Africans were hunter-gatherers, African music freely evolved from its deep roots and eventually flourished as a result of migration and trading (10). This means that African music was actually more elaborate and richer in nature for it was a combination of the many cultures that the once hunter gatherer Africans absorbed. This richness was also somehow instrumental in showing the whole world how free African-American music is, for whatever was accepted by many parts of the world must certainly have a freedom of flow and movement. Other details of traditional African music also speak of the freedom of the common people. There is, for example, freedom of access to history. The drum-like pots unearthed in Nigeria and dating from the 1100s and the 1200s are still used by the Yoruba peoples at present (10). Also, there is freedom from age, gender and class barriers. For example, tribal African music, from which African-American music was derived, was demonstrative of communal freedom for they are employed in numerous “elaborate singing and playing rituals…that invited all village residents to participate,” and “which gave all the singers a more equal stature in performances” (10). Such performances indeed somehow teach the western world what equality truly means. African-American music is also about the liberation of the sexualized body. As proclaimed during the Renaissance and during the Modern Era, the term “African,” which was used by Nietzsche in his description of Bizet’s Carmen, or of civilization itself as well as of the nature of the Viennese psychiatrist Sigmund Freud, is actually a synonym of “ ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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