Music Studies

David Garcia’s Listening for Africa Playlist

978-0-8223-6370-5DSC04996Today, David F. Garcia offers a playlist to accompany his new book Listening for Africa: Freedom, Modernity, and the Logic of Black Music’s African Origins. You can save 30% on the paperback with coupon code E17LISTN.

Taking on a topic like the discourse of a music’s origins entails following multiple artistic, disciplinary, and political directions. Of course, setting boundaries helps make such an endeavor feasible but no less massive. In Listening for Africa I look at a group of fascinating individuals, some well known and others not so well known, who from varying perspectives engaged the idea and nature of black music and dance’s African origins. Their reasons for engaging this idea were not merely didactical but rather to change their world. From the Great Depression, Jim Crow, and the rise of Nazism to World War II, the Cold War, and African decolonization, citizens of the modern world invested their place in it drawing from modernity’s promises of freedom through knowledge, art, and work. Only, the realization of freedom for many would be deferred by modernity’s discursive defaults.

The following audio recordings and films are explored in depth in the book. Listen and watch as you read about the individuals depicted in them and their journeys living in their shared modern world, turbulent though it was.

Chapter 1. Analyzing the African Origins of Negro Music and Dance in a Time of Racism, Fascism, and War

“Ag’ya,” Jamaica & Martinique Fieldwork, 1936, video clip #19, filmed by Katherine Dunham. Music Division, Library of Congress.

L’ag’ya, scene 3, the Katherine Dunham Company, Studebaker Theater, Chicago, 1947, filmed by Ann Barzel.

Chapter 2. Listening to Africa in the City, in the Laboratory, and on Record

“Tambó,” Gilberto Valdés y su Orquesta, recorded with Victor (V83315), Havana, 1940.

“Sangre Africana,” Gilberto Valdés y su Orquesta, recorded with Victor (V 83315), Havana, 1940

“Toitica la Negra,” Katherine Dunham and Ensemble, recorded with Decca (40028), New York, 1945.

“Abakuá song,” Harold Courland: Cuba, Eastern and central regions, Afro-Cubans (253.4), Guanabacoa, 1940.

“Elube Chango,” Harold Courland: Cuba, Eastern and central regions, Afro-Cubans (252.4), Havana, 1940.

“Elube Chango,” Casino de la Playa with Miguelito Valdés, recorded with Victor (V 82770), Havana, 1939.

Chapter 3. Embodying Africa against Racial Oppression, Ignorance, and Colonialism

Sanders of the River (London Film Productions, 1935) featuring Paul Robeson as Bozambo. Boat-rowing scene occurs at 1:07:00.

Nabonga (PRC Pictures, 1944). Modupe Paris appears at 14:23 and 15:45.

Chapter 4. Disalienating Movement and Sound from the Pathologies of Freedom and Time

Liberian Suite, Duke Ellington and His Orchestra, Carnegie Hall, New York, 1947.

Film No. 4, Harry Smith, ca. 1950.

“Manteca,” Dizzy Gillespie and His Orchestra, recorded with RCA Victor (47-2860), New York, 1947.

“Guarachi guaro,” Dizzy Gillespie and His Orchestra, recorded with RCA Victor (20-3370), New York, 1948.

Chapter 5. Desiring Africa, or Western Civilization’s Discontents

“Rareza del siglo,” Julio Cueva y su Orquesta, recorded with Victor (23-0677), Havana, 1946.

“José” as performed by Pérez Prado in the film Al son del mambo (Filmadora Chapultepec, 1950).

“Kon-Toma,” Pérez Prado y su Orquesta, recorded with Victor (23-1344), Havana, 1949.

“Qué te pasa, José” as performed by Amalia Aguilar and Silvestre Méndez in Ritmos del Caribe (Compañía Cinematográfica Mexicana, 1950).

Del can can al mambo (Producciones Calderón S.A., 1951). Mambo dancing displaying symptoms of el mal de San Vito occurs at 1:21:53.

Astor Piazzolla and Lalo Schifrin, New York, 1958

978-0-8223-6236-4We’re pleased to share a guest blog post from Matthew Karush, author of the new book Musicians in Transit: Argentina and the Globalization of Popular Music.

In Musicians in Transit, I explore the careers of seven Argentine musicians across the twentieth century. My focus is on how these artists navigated the economic and ideological structures of the global music business. Whether they played tango, folk, jazz, pop, or rock, all of these musicians recorded for multinational companies, performed for foreign audiences and critics, and engaged with foreign genres and musicians. These encounters imposed creative limits, but they also opened up opportunities. In response, Argentine musicians produced innovative music and achieved commercial success while generating new ways of conceptualizing their identities. Their aesthetic and commercial maneuvers both shifted global perceptions of Latin American music and enabled their Argentine fans to reimagine their own relationship to the rest of the world.

The North American travels of tango innovator Astor Piazzolla and jazz pianist and composer Lalo Schifrin provide revealing examples of how Argentine musicians responded to foreign expectations. Coincidentally, Piazzolla and Schifrin followed similar itineraries in the 1950s: both left Buenos Aires for Paris in 1954, returned shortly thereafter, and then moved to New York City in 1958. When they traveled in Europe and the United States, they were both perceived as “Latin,” a quasi-ethnic identity that implied a series of musical stereotypes. This perception exerted a profound impact on the kind of music they would go on to make, although that impact was very different in the two cases.

By the time he moved to New York (or returned there – Piazzolla actually grew up in New York City), Piazzolla was an accomplished tango composer and arranger as well as a performer on the bandoneón, the accordion-like instrument featured in tango bands. In the mid-fifties, he had developed an avant-garde version of the tango, which sounded like this:

This is “Lo que vendrá,” from 1956. It shows Piazzolla trying to infuse tango with the sophistication of both classical music and modern jazz.

Piazzolla was clearly enthusiastic about opening the tango up to foreign influences. In New York, he planned to create a new group that would attract a North American audience by performing a hybrid of jazz and tango. Yet as an Argentine in the United States, Piazzolla was seen as Latin, and musically, Latin meant Cuban drums and rhythms. As a result, Piazzolla’s big break in New York came from Tico Records, a local label that specialized in mambo and other Latin dance genres. Tico paired Piazzolla’s group with a Latin percussion section including Johnny Pacheco, the future salsa innovator.  Here they are playing the Duke Ellington standard, “Sophisticated Lady”:

The choice of material, the vibraphone, and the long bandoneón solo all reveal Piazzolla’s intention to borrow from jazz. But the inclusion of the bongos sets the music against a stereotypical Latin rhythm. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this funny-sounding hybrid failed to find an audience in the US.

Chastened, Piazzolla abandoned his attempt to win over a North American audience and returned to Buenos Aires in 1960. Interestingly, the music he made over the next few years, on the heels of his New York failure, represented his most impressive burst of creativity and innovation and would largely set the template for the rest of his career. His new band was called the Quinteto Nuevo Tango (pictured on the cover of my book). Here it is in 1963 performing Piazzolla’s composition, “Fracanapa”:

As I argue in the book, this music avoided the “fusion” strategy of his New York phase. He was now free of the need to appeal to North American listeners or to fit into the category of Latin music. Inspired by modern jazz, his music sounded like a cosmopolitan version of tango, or as he liked to describe it, “the contemporary music of Buenos Aires.” On the strength of this music, Piazzolla became an icon in Argentina, but he would not achieve a significant audience in the United States until the 1980s.

Lalo Schifrin’s response to the Latin label was very different. Eleven years younger than Piazzolla, Schifrin was a jazz wunderkind with a deep love of bebop and no interest in the tango or in any other Latin American musical genre. Nevertheless, by the mid-1950s, the idea of “Latin jazz,” conceived as a mixture of jazz improvisation with Cuban rhythms, was well established. This category, and the larger one of Latin music, created opportunities for someone like Schifrin, who combined impressive musical skills with Latin American ancestry. Shortly after moving to New York, Schifrin took a job as pianist and arranger for the Latin bandleader Xavier Cugat. Here he is performing with the Cugat band on US television:

The video demonstrates Schifrin’s showmanship, but it also reveals the way he was able to play the role of an authentic practitioner of what the television announcer calls “the modern Latin form.” Similarly, within a couple of years, Schifrin was helping to popularize bossa nova, the Brazilian samba-jazz hybrid, both as the pianist in Dizzy Gillespie’s quintet and as a solo artist:

In late 1963, Schifrin’s career took a definitive turn when he began composing music for movies and TV. His reputation as a Latin music master helped him get his first Hollywood jobs, and many of his early compositions bear the traces of this background. His most famous composition is no exception:

Not only do the bongos give “Mission Impossible” a Latin flavor, but as I argue in the book, the song’s dominant theme plays with listeners’ expectation of the clave, the basic rhythmic cell of Afro-Cuban music. Although Schifrin quickly jettisoned the Latin label and has enjoyed a long career composing in a wide variety of styles, his original reception as a Latin music specialist facilitated his access to US audiences and shaped some of his most influential work.

Piazzolla and Schifrin had opposite experiences in the US: Piazzolla failed to find an audience and quickly returned to Argentina, while Schifrin succeeded and stayed. Nevertheless, they both developed their musical personalities and innovations by grappling with the expectations imposed on them by North Americans.

Use coupon code E16KARUS to save 30% on Musicians in Transit when you order through our website.

New Books in April

Spring is finally here, and what better way to welcome it than a round-up of new and forthcoming books? Here are all the fantastic new books to expect in April.

 Novak & Sakakeeny cover image, 5889-3Keywords in Soundby David Novak and Matt Sakakeeny, defines the field of sound studies and provides a comprehensive conceptual apparatus for why studying sound matters. Each essay includes the keyword’s intellectual history, a discussion of its role in cultural, social and political discourses, and suggestions for possible future research.

Ilan Stavans and Joshua Ellison’s Reclaiming Travel is a provocative meditation on the meaning of travel in the twenty-first century. Eschewing tourism, Stavans and Ellison urge for a rethinking of contemporary travel in order to return it to its roots as a tool for self-discovery and transformation.

Anthropologist Shalini Shankar explores how racial and ethnic differences are Shankar cover image, 5877-0created and commodified through advertisements and marketing in Advertising Diversity. Focusing on Asian American ad firms, she describes the day-to-day process of creating ads and argues that advertising has framed Asian Americans as “model consumers,” thereby legitimizing their presence in American popular culture.

The contributors to Postgenomicsedited by Sarah S. Richardson and Hallam Stevens, assess the changes to the life sciences the Human Genome Project’s completion brought, develop new frameworks for studying the human genome in the postgenomic era, and show how the environment, technology, race, and gender influence the genome and how we think about it.

In Unearthing ConflictFabiana Li examines the politics surrounding the rapid growth of mining in the Peruvian Andes, arguing that anti-mining protests are not only about mining’s negative environmental impacts, but about the legitimization of contested forms of knowledge.

Hochberg cover image, 5887-9In Visual Occupations, Gil Z. Hochberg examines films, photography, painting and literature by Israeli and Palestinian artists. Israel’s greater ability to control what can be seen, how, and from what position drives the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The artists Hochberg studies challenge Israel’s visual and social dominance by creating new ways to see the conflict.

Nancy van Deusen examines over one hundred lawsuits that indio slaves brought to the Spanish court in the mid-sixteenth century to gain their freedom in Global Indios. The category indio was largely constructed during these lawsuits, and van Deusen emphasizes the need to situate colonial indigenous subjects and slavery in a global context.

In Political Landscapes, an environmental history of twentieth-century Mexico, Christopher R. Boyer conceptualizes the forests of Chihuahua and Michoacán as political landscapes. Conflicts among local landowners, the federal government and timber companies politicized these geographies, demonstrating the crucial role that social forces play in the construction of environments.

In Repeating Žižekedited by Agon Hamza, the contributors read the influential and controversial Slavoj Žižek as a Hamza cover image, 5891-6
philosopher. They place his work in the Western philosophical tradition and analyze it using his own theses, concepts, and methods, all while attempting to formalize his thought into a philosophical school.

Challenging Social Inequality, edited by Miguel Carter, is a collection of essays examining the history and contemporary struggles of Brazil’s Landless Rural Workers Movement, the largest social movement in the Americas.

A Look at Theater: An Interview with Tom Sellar

Read the most recent issue of Theater by clicking the image above.

Read the most recent issue of Theater by clicking the image.

Tom Sellar, editor of Theater magazine, recently discussed with us the important topics and debates to which the magazine has contributed, future special issues, and how he sees the magazine developing in the next several years. As an undergrad, Tom used to read back copies of the magazine in used bookstores near his college campus and decided then that the magazine was “a debate about theater that I wanted to participate in.” He began his tenure at Theater in 1994 and was appointed editor of the magazine in 2003. In addition to editing Theater, Tom is also the lead theater critic for the Village Voice.

How do you differentiate yourself from other journals in your area?

We are more readable. We don’t regard ourselves as a strictly academic journal, we are a creative journal, I would say. Although we have some critical content that is scholarly, we are very careful to edit it so that it’s accessible to anyone who is interested in the subject matter. You don’t need a PhD in cultural theory to know what these ten-dollar words mean. It’s edited like the New Yorker, so that anybody could read it and get something from it; even if it’s a substantive critical essay, we work with the scholar or author to make sure that it is accessible to a general, non-specialized reader. I think what that means is that a lot of the writing has flair, what the French call élan. Theater has a kind of interesting, stylistic voice that hopefully makes it pleasurable to read. We hope that’s participating in a long tradition of theater criticism. So in any given issue you can find critical essays, interviews with directors or producers or artistic visionaries of one kind or another. There are photo dossiers showing set designs or photos of important productions, and there are reviews of performances, but you might also find manifestos by impassioned artists calling for a new form of theater that doesn’t exist yet. It can be a very inspiring journal to read. It’s there for artistic inspiration and reflection. I want that creative dimension to make it more inviting and readable.

What are the current hot topics in this field?

I think that there is a convergence of disciplines that were formerly separated. It is a debate that’s a little hard to follow if you’re not in the field. Performance Studies and Theater Studies, which were sort of separate fields (Theater Studies was sort of confined to aesthetic theater and its histories while Performance Studies took a more expansive view and anything could be considered a performance–a baseball game, a political protest—and an attendant set of theories were worked out around that anthropological investigation.) Those disciplines are coming together at this moment intellectually, which is very exciting. It’s unclear what the outcome will be. Dramaturgy, the area in the field that is rooted in artistic practice, has been a part of that as well, and that’s what Yale specializes in training, that’s the department our journal is based in. So we’ve been able to draw on those fields, I hope in an inspiring way.

What debates or subjects in the field has the journal significantly contributed to?

ddthe_36_2_coverTheater has a long tradition of being the first journal to publish in English many important and controversial dramatists, including Sarah Kane, a tremendous, incredible artist who died very young, and also the Nobel Prize winner Elfriede Jelinek. We were one of the first and only journals to present her work in English even after she won the Nobel Prize. Her plays were hard to find. You would think the English speaking world would seek them out and want to stage them. I’m very proud of the fact that we’ve been the place where you can find that work– and often you can find it before they win the Nobel Prize! It’s a place where you can discover important ideas about theater from foreign theater cultures. In fact, the New York Times even cited our article about Elfriede Jelinek when they were writing about one of her plays when it premiered in New York. I think as a link or conduit to new ideas in the art form, we’ve always contributed to the creative development of the theater in a very important way.

ddthe_39_3In two recent intellectual debates we’ve also been an important voice. One is about curation and the way that art forms are converging in performance. Also a slightly more esoteric debate has emerged over what has been called “Postdramatic Theater” by the very important German theorist Hans-Thies Lehmann proposing a category of contemporary theater beyond the dramatic, with some of its theatrical vestiges. A lot of people are asking if this is the future of theater. We published a significant response to Lehamnn’s book by another German author, Bernd Stegemann, reflecting on the impact and validity of Lehamann’s proposition that contemporary theater has rejected mimesis and evolved beyond “drama” itself.  Hans-Thies Lehmann’s book is very important, and I’m pleased that we’ve been able to continue the discussion about it.

What are some of the special issues you are most proud of?

ddthe_41_3I’m particularly proud of an edition we did about one of the greatest living stage artists, in my opinion; the Polish director Krystian Lupa, who I think is one of the great artists of the 20th century—and unjustly neglected and misunderstood in the English speaking world. I’ve followed his stage productions for more than a decade now and each one has completely blown my mind. It’s a revolutionary form of acting, a brilliant use of time and space on stage, and there was almost nothing about it in English as I started to look around to learn more. I commissioned first English translations of his writings about the stage, his aesthetic, journals, his essays on the art of acting, mise-en-scene, and design. So we did a special edition which I co-edited with a colleague from Poland in 2012, Piotr Gruszczyński, which is still one of the few English language publications on Lupa’s really important directing work. That’s the kind of project that can be quixotic to attempt; .when the edition comes out, no one knows who he is, but in 25 years, we will be really proud that we did that.

Similarly I’m proud of our Fall 2015 edition, which is a collection of new plays from Brazil, a very important global power on the rise, with which we have little cultural literacy here in the US. I hope that by presenting four new plays in first English translation with contextualizing information about each of those artists, we will be paving the way for more engagement with Brazilian theater. It’s surprisingly hard to find out about the theater there and they have some impressively innovative artists.

Can you tell me a little more about upcoming special issues?

ddthe_44_2In 2014 we did a special edition about the curation of performance, and we’re planning a second issue with curation-themed articles, interviews, and creative dossiers. I think it’s going to be very exciting. We have enjoyed a tremendous response to the first one both in the theater world and the art world. (The art world is interested in how to use performance and the theater world wants new ideas from the art world and thinks that maybe they have some answers. The curators are kind of go-betweens.) The issue will appear in 2016 and I’m hoping that this sequel edition will be more global in scope, perhaps including practitioners in the Middle East and Asia, because the first one was mostly North and South American and European. This will be a chance to look at the different kinds of strategies that people are taking to reinvent the presentation of the performing arts. It’s not just theater; it’s dance, performance art, social-engagement experiments that can’t be described by any single category. There’s generally a feeling that the old ways and old institutional thinking isn’t working anymore and has to be reimagined. Festival and art-organizations’ curators are on the front lines: . They must reinvent the context for their public, for their audience, or these institutions are going to fall by the wayside. So it’s interesting to talk to the pioneers who are leading the way, and I’m hooked. As an editor, I want to talk to all of them. I love doing the interviews, I’ve learned so much from making site visits and seeing what they’re doing and then asking them about it. And I think the interviews have been lively to read.

How do you see the journal developing in the next few years?

I hope that we will be more of a platform for artists and critics and scholars who are engaged with political questions because I think we’re entering a very turbulent political period. I hope that we will engage in the right ways. I hope that we will build on the success of our curation projects to include performance curators in the critical dialogue that we are building–using them more often as authors, presenting more of their work in dossier forms–because I think they are significant cultural agents and I would like to involve them in the published conversation.

Ultimately, as someone who is entering the curation field a little bit on the side, I wonder whether there could be a live component to a journal. If a journal is a convening of people with ideas that relate to each other, organized into the rubric of print or web discussion, is there a live equivalent of that? What if we brought all the artists who work on, say, surveillance themes–or migration issues–together to talk on these topics, as we would in the pages of Theater? If we had an event where their theater projects could be seen side by side, we could really discover some connections. I don’t know what the answer is to this exactly. But as a theater person, I aspire to find a live incarnation of what we already do in print and online.

To subscribe to Theater, visit dukeupress.edu/theater.

New Books in March

It’s March already, and time again for our round-up of new books be coming out this month. We have quite a list this time around!

Olsson cover image, 5804-6In Hitchcock à la Carte, a study of Alfred Hitchcock’s two television series, Jan Olsson demonstrates how Hitchcock created a personal brand built on his large body, gastronomical proclivities, and the manipulation of bodies and food, which allowed him to mark his creative oeuvre as strictly his own.

In It’s Been Beautiful, Gayle Wald examines Soul!, the first African American black variety television show on public television, which between 1968 and 1973 was instrumental in expressing the diversity of black popular culture, thought and politics, as well as helping to create the notion of black community.

South Side GirlsMarcia Chatelain recasts Chicago’s Great Migration through the lens of black girlhood in South Side Girls. She argues that the construction of black girlhood in Chicago between 1910 and 1940 reflected the black community’s anxieties about urbanization and its meaning for racial progress, as well as responses to major events and social crises.

Ilan Stavans and Joshua Ellison’s Reclaiming Travel is a provocative meditation on the meaning of travel in the twenty-first century. Eschewing tourism, Stavans and Ellison urge for a rethinking of contemporary travel in order to return it to its roots as a tool for self-discovery and transformation.

Keywords in Sound, edited by David Novak and Matt Sakakeeny, defines the field of sound studies and provides a comprehensive conceptual apparatus for why studying sound matters. Each essay includes the keyword’s intellectual history, a discussion of its role in cultural, social and political discourses, and suggestions for possible future research.

Wang cover image, 5890-9In Legions of Boom, Oliver Wang chronicles the history of the San Francisco Bay Area Filipino American mobile DJ scene of the late 1970s through the mid-1990s. He shows how DJ crews helped unify the Bay Area’s Filipino American community, gave its members social status and brotherhood, and drew huge crowds.

Colin Milburn examines how nanotechnology research has developed in relation to video games, allowing for the creation of new technologies that enable the transformation of scientific speculation and video game fantasy into reality in Mondo Nano.

Interdisciplinary in design and concept, Speculation, Now, edited by Vyjayanthi Venuturupalli Rao, with Prem Krishnamurthy and Carin Kuoni, illuminates unexpected convergences between images, concepts, and language.

The contributors to Plastic Materialities, edited by Brenna Bhandar and Jonathan Goldberg-Hiller, explore the ways in which Catherine Malabou’s new materialism and concept of plasticity can provide new insights into issues of race, colonialism, subjectivity, science, social order, sovereignty and justice. This collection also includes three new essays by Malabou and an interview.

Newly back in print, Normal Life, by Dean Spade, sets forth a politic that goes beyond the quest for mere legal inclusion, and is an urgent call for justice and trans liberation, and the radical transformations it will require.

Starosielski cover image, 5755-1Nicole Starosielski examines undersea communication cable network in The Undersea Network, bringing it to the surface of media scholarship and making visible the “wireless” network’s materiality. She argues that the network is inextricably linked to historical and political factors and that it is precarious, rural, aquatic, territorially entrench and semi-centralized.

Using the influential and controversial Writing Culture as a point of departure, the thirteen essays in Writing Culture and the Life of Anthropology, edited by Orin Starn, consider anthropology’s past, document the current state of the field, and outline its future possibilities.

The Limits of Okinawa, by Wendy Matsumura, traces the emergence of a sense of Okinawan difference, showing how local and mainland capitalists, intellectuals, and politicians attempted to resolve clashes with labor by appealing to the idea of a unified Okinawan community.

Fabiana Li examines the politics surrounding the rapid growth of mining in the Peruvian Andes, arguing that anti-mining protests are not only about mining’s negative environmental impacts, but about the legitimization of contested forms of knowledge in Unearthing Conflict.

Ferguson cover image, 5886-2James Ferguson examines the rise of social welfare programs in southern Africa in Give a Man a Fish in which states give cash payments to their low income citizens. These programs, Ferguson argues, offer new opportunities for political mobilization and inspire new ways to think about issues of production, distribution, markets, labor and unemployment.

In Broadcasting Modernity, Yeidy M. Rivero shows how commercial Cuban television, which only existed from 1950-1960, was instrumental in the creation and representation of Cuba’s identity as a modern and Western nation-state.

Gavilan Sanchez cover image, 5851-0When Rains Became Floods is the stunning autobiography of Lurgio Gavilán Sánchez, who as a child soldier fought for both the Peruvian guerilla insurgency Shining Path and the Peruvian military during the Peruvian Civil War. After escaping the war, he became a Franciscan priest.

Brunoby Robert Gay, is the story of a Brazilian navy corporal turned drug dealer, who after being imprisoned became the leader of one of Brazil’s biggest criminal factions, the Comando Vermelho. Bruno’s story provides insights into the Brazilian drug trade, prison life, and explains the epidemic of violence in Rio’s favelas.