100%

Scanned image of the page. Keyboard directions: use + to zoom in, - to zoom out, arrow keys to pan inside the viewer.

Page Options

Download this Issue

Share

Something wrong?

Something wrong with this page? Report problem.

Rights / Permissions

This collection, digitized in collaboration with the Michigan Daily and the Board for Student Publications, contains materials that are protected by copyright law. Access to these materials is provided for non-profit educational and research purposes. If you use an item from this collection, it is your responsibility to consider the work's copyright status and obtain any required permission.

October 02, 1971 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1971-10-02

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Saturday, October 2, 1971

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Page Five

Saturday, October 2, 1971 THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Black Music: Avoiding the

mainstream

BLACK MUSIC IN OUR
C U L T U R E: CURRICULAR
IDEAS ON THE SUBJECTS,
MATERIALS A N D PROB-
LEMS, edited by Dominquie-
Rene de Lerma, Kent State
University Press, $7.50.
By MILTON STEWART
This book presents an excel-
lent opportunity to observe one
of the major psychological prob-
lems obstructing the under-
standing and appreciation of
Afro - American music in many
of today's academic insitutions-
European ethnocentricism. The
main content of the book con-
sists of a collection of the dis-
cussions and talks transcribed
at a seminar entitled "Black
Music in College and University
Curricula" held at Indiana Uni-
versity in 1969. The seminar
grew out of a situation discov-
ered to exist at Indiana Univer-
sity when- a memorial concert
for Martin Luther King, Jr. was
planned and no one could iden-
tify any Black music which was
acceptable to those involved in
planning the concert.
The participants in the semi-
nar included faculty and stu-
dents from Indiana University
along with such notables as
composers William Grant Still

and Hale Smith: author, Eileen
J. Southern; record producer,
John Hammond and others. The
serminar was chaired by Domi-
nique-Rene de Lerma who is
also the chairman of Indiana
University's Black Music Com-
mittee. There was no apparent
outline or plan of direction for
the seminar and it seemed to
rely upon random contributions
from the participants based on
their particular backgrounds.
For example, there was a dis-
cussion entitled, Black Com-
posers and the Avant-Garde
featuring B la c k composers,
Thomas Jefferson Anderson,
Jr., Hale Smith, and Olly Wil-
son. This was followed by a talk
entitled, Negro Dance and its
Influence on Negro Music by
dancer, Verna Arvey (Mrs. Wil-
liam Grant Still). The next con-
tribution was A Composer's
Viewpoint by William , Grant
Still, and so on.
The major weakness of the
seminar, and consequently the
book, was, the failure of the
participants to strive for a defi-
nition of the subject under dis-
cussion, Black music. This
weakness was aggravated by the
fact that most of the Black and
White participants in the semi-
nar were people who seemed to
be committed to the idea of uni-

versal primacy for European
values and approaches to music.
The tenor of the entire semi-
nar laid emphasis on the music
of the Black composer who was
indirectly identified as a Black
person who writes music. It
was just assumed, apparently,
that since a White man writes
in order to compose that a
Black man must use the same
approach if he is to be consid-

best, a peripheral association
with the mass of the Black pop-
ulation and mainstream Black
music. This seminar seemed to
be an attempt to interpret Black
music in terms of European
values and thereby justify the
commitment that most of the
participants, the Blacks at least,
had already made to these val-
ues. This interpretation, of
course, projected people like
Hale Smith and William Grant
'Still to the forefront of Black
music even though there are
probably very few Black Ameri-
cans, who listen to and identify
with their music.
Reality does enter the semi-
nar, however, in A Composer's
Viewpoint when William Grant
Still attempts to explain his
frustration over Leroi Jones'
book,Black Music, which in-
cludes jazz but leaves out "Ne-
gro symphonic music" which
has been represented through-
out the seminar as the most sig-
nificant Black musical expres-
sion. A similar incident occurs
in Problems of Publication and
Recording when John Ham-
mond politely explains that sev-
eral recording companies are
"tremendously interested in the
output of the Black jazz and
popular composer. Less so, I'm
afraid, in the more formal com-
positions of the Blacks, al-
though this will come."
All of this points' to a need
to determine just what we are
talking about when we say
Black music. We cannot accur-
ately or intelligently talk about
one culture in terms of the val-
ues of another one. We must
find out what is important in
Black music and what its own
values and standards are before
we can set up programs and
curricula to deal with it.
This . seminar would have
been much more. successful if
there had been participants
present who had committed
themselves to mainstream Black
music such as: jazz, blues, rhy-
thm and blues,, gospel music,
folk music, etc., and who were
not part of the academic milieu.
The most useful parts of the
book are the appendixes which
contain lists of books, articles,
scores, films,. and recordings of
Black music.

B
0
0
K
S

-Photo by Robert Houston

Ldnguage of

scholarly arrogance

George Steiner, EXTRATER-
RITORIAL: PAPERS ON LIT-
ERATURE AND THE LAN-
GUAGE REVOLUTION. Athe-
neum, $7.95.
By JAMES V. ROMANO
There is a certain hardness in
George Steiner; both in his glos-
sy style of high-blown phrase
and uncommon word, and in his
product which too often has no
relation to literary criticism or
pertinent elucidation and instead
rings of Steiner himself, his
conscience, obsessions, his 'arro-
gant scholarship. The author
rarely leaves the page. Even the
reader averse from biographical
criticism must struggle to un-
derstand him before his work.
In Extraterritorial, a collection
of ten essays, the importance of
recognizing Steiner's cold tem-
per is' greater still, if we are to
evaluate what he means by the
language revolution.
Steiner revealed himself in his
last book, Language and Silence.
Therein, he translates in hyster-
ical tones the peculiar co-exist-
ence of German genius and bar-
barism into a universal "retreat
from the word." What disturb
him profoundly are the destruc-
tion of six million Jews and his
own Jewishness. Despite ration-
alization about his escape from
Nazism, Steiner is haunted by
his own survival. He must ex-
plain himself. In one essay he
does just this, when on the theme
of the wandering Jew, Steiner
talks about his people and lan-
guage: "But a e final 'at home-
ness' may elude us, that uncon-
scious, immemorial i n t i m a c y
which a man has with his native
idiom as he does with the rock,
earth, and ash of his acre. . . .
Language passes through them,
and they shape it almost too
well, like a treasure acquired,
not inalienable. This may be per-
tinent also to the Jewish excel-
lence in music, physics, and
mathematics, whose languages
are international and codes of
pure denotation." Clearly, Stein-
er includes himself in this mixed
statement of lament and wonder.
In his new book, Steiner, with
no reference to his previous
meaning, not only extends the
notion of extraterritoriality to
admit the likes of Nabokov,
Beckett, and Borges, but also
transforms what was originally
personal definition into the core
of a universal languge revolution.
The three writers occupy the
first three essays and illustrate
the "sense of the unhoused,'
the writer as "incessant tour-
ist," as "guest," and the world
as "an 'immense alphbet." The
linguistic virtuosity these auth-
ors , share is unquestioned, but
not all that surprising. There
are many other authors, not to
mention s c h o 1 a r s (including
Steiner himself), for whom the
mastery of several languges is
common and necessary. What
about the three who merit Stein-
er's attention?
Playing with reality until it is
destroyed, and flirting with the
absurd and the insane are among
their common stock. Nabokov
does not leave cold manipulation
at the chess-board; he is a teen-
nician of feint and, as he pre-
faces in his latest Poems and
Problems, of "splendid insincer-
ity." Much criticism of. Borges
notes his cabalistic experiments
with human responsibility, his
mathematical style, and his
tearing' down the old world for

ner's vanguard of current lit-
erature, one must first acknow-
ledge the relevance of linguistic
codes, which are also unhoused,
to the inquiry into man's es-
sence. Steiner would condition
us in this way.
Steiner does not stop with
linguistic codes. Biogenetic and
biosocial systems are also as-
pects of a new literacy. The in-
corporation of science in gen-
eral into our intellectual and
creative realm "must be at-
tempted . . . if we are to emerge
from the drift and boredom of
semi-literacy." At the point
when he defends C. D. Darling-
ton's hypotheses of social evolu-
tion based on racial deviations
from an ideal intelligence, stra-
tified societies, and intelligent
"gene-flow," Steiner reaches
the limits of his recommenda-
tions for humanity.
If we can overlook how an-
noying are the quality of Stein-
er's scholarly arrogance and the
image of him lecturing at us
and proselytizing, let us return
to reading between the lines. We
have argued that Steiner has a
personal affinity to the un-
housed spirit, that being a Jew-
ish "exile" weighs heavily upon
him. Now we see him discuss
human language as a system or
code to be understood with bio-
genetic codes and mathematical
codes as elements of a new lit-
eracy. We see him adapting to
a Platonic mode of linguistics
founded on innate deep struc-
tures and a universal grammar.
What is most alarming, for
Steiner is the very man who has
cautioned us before a g a i n s t
dangerous words, is his vocabu-
lary that comes from the labor-
atory and smells of science. All
that Steiner embraces is hard
and cold.

The "final solution" took six
million human lives. It had
nothing to do with the struc-
ture of language or a game of
chess. Science deprived Steiner
of housing his soul. He has
ultimately resolved the conflict
by identifying with the aggres-
sor, the force that left him in
the cold. Look at Steiner's -own
language and thought carefully.
They are part of his having no
ties. To be extraterritorial is to
avoid the chance of being hurt.
Psychologizing is a poor meth-
od of literary criticism. But
Steiner leaves us no choice. No-
where does he give the sense of
being detached from his own
c o n c e r n s and prejudices. He
should not win our trust easily.
It is unfortunate that this is so,
since his potential is enormous.
Hopefully, his future book. on
the poetics of translation will
mark his own revolution.
Today's Writers . . .
Milton Stewart is a graduate
student in music at the Univer-
sity.
James Romano has reviewed
previously for The Daily and is
a teaching fellow in the Classi-
cal Studies Department.

-Photo by Robert Houston
ered a composer. No attempt
was made to explain the exist-
ence of the bulk of Afro-Ameri-
can music which is composed
extemporaneously during a per-
formance and is often impos-
sible to notate using standard
European notations.
The musicians stressed in this
seminar were those Black mu-
sicians who used the European
tradition as their point of de-
parture even though these mu-
sicians and their music have, at

Ge vQme
kern f
'v cic

e~hl a°
,cs,. pb(t
)nAA
USTIN
dOND

BTHY1OUSEB
TOMORROW 11:00 A.M.
THE EUCHARIST
at 330 MAYNARD ST. (The Alley)
"ONCE THRU A GLASS DARKLY- A
BUT NOW FACE TO FACE" D I
-BREAD, WINE, DANCE, MUSIC AND ALL OF US- 1209 S. Ur
~29S.U

wants to cross too, but his guilt
of losing all those who helped
him know who he was has kept
him in bonds.
That his own Jewishness is in-
volved in defining the extrater-
ritorial can be seen in his re-
marks on Celine, the mad anti-
Semite from' France "Celine's
identification with the histbrical
and local genius of the French
tongue," says Steiner, "was so
much the core of his deranged
being that he must have hued
the unhoused, esperanto trait in
the Jewish sensibility." An in-
teresting observation, t h o u g h
Celine may not have thought
about it in quite that way. But
for Steiner, this does much to
explain Celine's barbarism. More
importantly, this inflames Stein-
er's anger.
After a short discourse on the
presumably extraterritorial na-
ture of chess, Steiner gets to
the heartsof his book-several
essays on language itself, spe-
cifically Chomsky~ and structur-
al linguistics. Man is uniquely
the "language animal." To re-
cognize this and to view in con-
junction language as a "signal-
system" or "the coding and
transmission of ordered infor-
mation" is to define, with Stei-
ner, the language revolution.
Language is man. If we learn
what language is, we therefore
learn what man is. Language
is the key. Linguistics, especial-
ly Chomsky's brand that postu-
lates an unconscious, universal,
deep structure, is the recom-
mended textbook with a few
For the student body:
LEVI'S
CORDUROY
Slim Fits ... $6.98
(Ail Colors)
Bells ......$8.50
DENIM
Bush Jeans . $10.00

corrigenda by Steiner. (Steiner
complains, for example, that
Chomsky poorly handles the
question of language diversity).
Steiner marries structural lin-
guistics to philosophy, psychol-
ogy, and literary criticism. He
calls it "arrogant absurdity" to
ignore linguistics in the study
of literature. To understand the
extraterritorial impulse of Na-
bokov, Borges or Beckett, Stei-
ASIANS, COM
ISSHO
ONE LIFE
Rap Session:
7j
Room 3524 STUDENT
at Jefferson

. .........
..............

ING TOGETHER
YI GONG
TOGETHER
Sunday, Oct..
p.m. on
ACTIVITIES BUILDING
and Thotpson

:: rr:.U_".::_ _":::_..,

FISH

FOWL

&OTHER CREATURES
r-"Z1 3

carry out or by popular demand
NEW FREE DELIVERY SERVICE
7 days a week-5 p.m. 'tili nidnite
WE HAVE
FISH-CHICKEN-SHRIMP-
SCALLOPS-HOT CORNED BEEF-
HOT HAM and CHEESE-
GREA T HAMBURGERS and HOTDOGS
Incredible FRESH DONUTS Every Day
Eat in the comfort of your home
Delicious food preoared by Chef Al Fuhrman

5

0

Back to Top

© 2022 Regents of the University of Michigan