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“Sometimes English speakers call sanzas "thumb pianos" because they share the same principles as a piano keyboard: they're digital, in that you get one and only one note from a key on a sanza. About all you can do with a sanza is play repeating rhythmic cycles. It's not an instrument for expressive melody, it's an instrument for melodic rhythm. You play it with your thumbs, which Africans can do with great rhythmic independence between hands, generating a complex hypnotic groove to accompany song and simulate dance. To make it louder, they set it inside a large calabash to resonate the sounds. At this point we have the prototype for the modern Latin dance-band piano player. The guajeo, or repeating rhythmic cell that the piano plays in Cuban dance music, treat the piano as rhythmic percussion in very much the same way the sanza has functioned for--probably--thousands of years. ”—Ned Sublette, Cuba and Its Music. Just started this book and I am loving it. It’s filled with connections like this, observations about how sounds can move across cultures that will change your hearing. I read this and thought immediately of “Strings of Life”, which takes that Latin dance-band piano into yet another realm.
“Because of the well-documented suppression of drums in British North America, many people have been tempted to believe that North American music might have sounded something more like Cuban music had the drums not been taken away. In the opinion of the South Carolinian Dizzy Gillespie, who devoted a good chunk of his adult life learning how to play with the polyrhythms of Cuban music, "After the drums had been outlawed and taken away, our ancestors had to devise other means of expressing themselves. So they started, like in the fields, singing and clapping their hands, and they would hit the hoe on the ground at the same time. We became monorhythmic." There is some truth in that. Had the polyrhythmic traditions of the Dahomeyans, Congos, and others from clave Africa been able to merge, U.S. music would sound very different. And the way that musical ideas entering from Cuba took hold so easily in black America (and vice versa) attests to the commonality of the people. But repression alone can't explain it. There's something more basic here: the people who established the basis of the African American style were less polyrhythmic already in the motherland. The music of griot Africa does not rely on the "time line" (or rhythmic key, or clave), which is necessary to organize polyrhythmic music--and which is universal in forest Africa, the home of the Cuban style. Instead, it uses a kind of upbeat bounce that Americans are very familiar with from jazz and blues, which does not appear in Cuban music. It is, to quote Gerhard Kubik, "characterized by the predominance of pentatonic tuning patters, the absence of the concept of asymmetric time-line patterns, a relatively simple motional structure lacking in complex polyrhythm but using subtle off-beat accent, and the declamatory vocal style with wavy intonation, melisma, raspy voices, heterophony, and so on." In other words, exactly what the rural blues is, and exactly what black Cuban music is not. Moreover, once this style was established in the southern United States, it was locked in place through isolation from the motherland. ”—Ned Sublette, Cuba and Its Music
“The child's version of US history, at least as this writer absorbed it in school, did a very poor job explaining slavery, and certainly never mentioned this [the slave-breeding] aspect of it. Partly that's because slavery is not a subject fit for children. It's embarrassing to have to explain what it consisted of. It gets into things we would prefer children not know about -- middle-aged men fornicating with adolescent girls, women used for breeding purposes, children sired and sold, black men dehumanized, and families routinely shattered.”—Ned Sublette, The World That Made New Orleans: From Spanish Silver to Congo Square.
“I can't claim to shed any light on the forensics of an issue which is as much a Rorschach blot as it is anything else. For me, the question the [Thomas] Jefferson/[Sally] Hemings story brings up is not whether he fathered her children, but why did American historians kick and scream so hard for so long that it couldn't possibly be true? Of course it could be true. Whether Jefferson exercised his option or not, he could have sex with Sally Hemings whenever he wanted. The matter of her consent was irrelevant, because she could not refuse. Because that's what slavery was. When you have legal authority to own another person, and not only another person, but their issue, and their issue's issue, and the right to sell your ownership to anyone else, who does the actual inseminating to produce the issue is a lesser matter. Even the word rape, increasingly used by a new generation of historians to refer to sex between slave owners and slaves, seems inadequate to describe the violation entailed. No one denies that, whoever sired them, Sally Hemings's children, as well as any children her children might have, and their children after them, belonged to [Thomas Jefferson] or whomever he might have sold or willed them to, the same way he might have done with horses. [...] No, we don't know absolutely for certain if Master Tom did impregnate Sally or not. If the matter were tried in a court of law, with a presumption of innocence and an expensive law firm to defend Jefferson (which is how a number of mainstream American historians seem to have seen their role in this case], we might have to let him off the hook for lack of definitive proof. On the other hand, if he were a poor man with substantial circumstantial evidence against him and a public defender, he'd accept a plea bargain, the way some 95 percent of criminal cases in the United States are resolved now, and get off with a guilty plea and a reduced sentence. But then, no one has accused Jefferson of a crime. After all, you can do with your property as you like.”—Ned Sublette, The World That Made New Orleans: From Spanish Silver to Congo Square.
Transmission 03 / October 21 2011
Rapture (take 4) Special inna post-punk disco-not-disco style. Evidently the gods did not appreciate the heathen music played as I’m still here, waiting for the inevitable zombie apocalypse.
(Also, I apologize for the messed up sound during the Throbbing Gristle track…that was an error in the recording from the studio computer, so I wouldn’t have been able to get it out in any regard. Consider it an improvised glitch remix.)
01. Negativland / Michael Jackson / RecRec
02. KONK / Your Life (Dub) / 4th & Broadway
03. Arthur Russell / Tiger Stripes / Sleeping Bag
04. Clandestine & Ned Sublette / Radio Rhythm (Dub) / Sleeping Bag
05. Throbbing Gristle / Hot On The Heels Of Love (Carl Craig Remix) / NovaMute
06. Liquid Liquid / Optimo (Matthew Dear Remix) / Domino
07. The Rapture / How Deep Is Your Love (Emperor Machine Mix) / DFA
08. Tiger & Woods / T&W Lab File #09 / Editainment
09. Bohannon / Wake Up / Phase II
10. The Whispers / Tonight (Beaten Space Probe Edit) / Solar
11. Blondie / Rapture (Extended Mix) / Chrysalis
12. Prosumer & Tama Sumo / Brothers, Sisters / Ostgut Ton
Hip Deep Angola, Part 1: Music and Nation in Luanda
Hip Deep Angola, Part 1: Music and Nation in Luanda by Afropop Worldwide http://bit.ly/PmuHK0
“After the first significant slave rebellion in the New World—in La Española in 1522, at the sugar plantation of Diego Colón (Christopher Columbus’s son), during which Wolof slaves joined forces with Indians—Carlos forbade the importation of Wolofs specifically, of Muslim slaves in general, and, moreover, of all blacks raised in Islamized areas of Africa. The general disinclination of Spain to accept slaves from Islamized regions of Africa during the formative years of Hispano-American society had enormous consequences for the development of music in the New World.5 Lutherans were also...”—Ned Sublette
The World That Made New Orleans
(via Cori Stern)
“In the St. Bartholomew’s Eve massacre of August 24, 1572, some fifteen thousand Protestants were slaughtered in a single night on the orders of the French king Charles IX, following the advice of his mother, Catherine de Medici, and the killing continued across France through October. (For purposes of comparison, the feared Spanish Inquisition is believed to have executed some five thousand people during its centuries of existence.9)”—Ned Sublette
The World That Made New Orleans
(via Cori Stern)