Final repost (for now) from the always insightful History is Made at Night blog.
‘The extent to which the music is integrated with the literal meaning in soul is apparent in some of its basic stylistic conventions, the call and response structure, for instance, where a phrase from the lead vocalist – which may not even take a verbal shape – is as often echoed by the band as by other singers. Or the distinctive use of melisma – the concentration of several notes into one syllable – by soul performers. The effect of this technique is often to give the impression that the singer is none too sure that the words exist which could adequately convey the power of what he is feeling. When Jackie Wilson packs more than twenty notes into the word “for” in his version “Danny Boy“, the literal meaning of the song is virtually superseded’ (Ian Hoare, Mighty mights spade and whitey: soul lyrics and black-white crosscurrents, in The Soul Book, edited by Ian Hoare, London: 1975)
Check out the closing bars of this song for the example given – 20 notes for the word ‘for’:
Second in a series of reposts from the always insightful History is Made at Night blog. This entry deals with one of my abiding interests as a scholar, how boundaries of race are maintained, negotiated and challenged in popular culture. It also highlights the power of a “fictional” writing approach to capture the truth of a “non-fictional” events.
‘These were bright new monied times in which society people were encouraged to enjoy the primitive theatrics of those who appeared to be finally understanding that their principal role was now to entertain. Listen. The wail of a trumpet as it screeches crazily towards heaven and then shudders and breaks and falls back to earth where its lament is replaced by the anxious syncopated tap tap tapping of clumsily shod feet beating out their joyous black misery in a tattoo of sweating servitude. Performative bondage’
Dancing in the Dark (2005) by Caryl Phillips is a fictionalised account of the life of Bert Williams (1874-1922), a Bahamas-born performer who became famous on the American stage in the era when black actors were expected to wear ‘blackface’ to conform to white audience’s expectations. (to read more)
First in a series of reposts from the always insightful History is Made at Night blog:
‘A moderate revolution is a contradiction in terms, though a moderate putsch, coup or pronunciamento is not. However limited the ostensible aims of the revolution, the light of the New Jerusalem must shine through the cracks in the masonry of the eternal Establishment which it opens. When the Bastille falls, the normal criteria of what is possible on earth are suspended, and men and women naturally dance in the streets in anticipation of utopia’ (Eric Hobsbawn, ‘Thomas Paine’, New Statesman, 1961)
‘Do as you please. You are free to dance, sing, and celebrate in all squares throughout the night. Muammar Gadhafi is one of you. Dance, sing, rejoice’ (Gadhafi, February 2011)
The festive character of the uprisings sweeping across North Africa and the Middle East has been widely noted (see previous post on Egypt). Just as Hobsbawn wrote of earlier revolutions, everything seems possible as the old regimes crumble and people have literally been dancing, as well as fighting, in the streets. In Libya at the moment it is the fighting that is dominant, hopefully victory and further celebrations won’t be too far behind…. (Check out the rest).