Get Black Orpheus: Music in African American Fiction from the PDF

By Saadi A. Simawe

ISBN-10: 0203904419

ISBN-13: 9780203904411

ISBN-10: 0815331231

ISBN-13: 9780815331230

In twentieth-century African American fiction, song has been increased to the extent of faith basically due to its Orphic, magical energy to unsettle oppressive realities, to free up the soul and to create, no less than briefly, a medium of freedom. This assortment explores literary invocations of tune from the Harlem Renaissance to Toni Morrison.

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Extra info for Black Orpheus: Music in African American Fiction from the Harlem Renaissance to Toni Morrison (Garland Reference Library of the Humanities)

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A strictly materialist analysis would pursue the substance of this claim in brain physiology and neuropsychology, studies of the way that the human brain perceives and is affected by music. There is indeed strong and abundant evidence that hearing and processing instrumental music (without words) are primarily functions of the right cerebral hemisphere of the brain. 5 Other evidence suggests, conversely, that hearing and playing music not only result from but may powerfully alter brain function and reconstruct the brain’s neural physiology, particularly in early childhood, when the brain’s “neuronal architecture” is still under construction (Churchland 1988, 96).

For marginalized communities in the West, particularly White women and African Americans, music has repeatedly functioned as such a language. 3 Still, even though these writers invoke music in order to compose a different voice, (an)Other, resistant language, they often do so in terms that recuperate precisely the assumptions and values they have set out to resist. This happens in part because such invocations and praises of music are in the same key as the broader, post-Enlightenment critique of rationalism and dualism in which they are sung.

These properties manifest, in general, what I have been calling the logic of supplementarity, a doubleness that takes various expressive forms: • words (lyrics) with double or multiple referents • tonalities (or “keys”) that can unlock one emotional response alongside or within another • harmonics that literalize supplementarity—evoking, at least in this context, a sense of being in more than one place at a time, of placing and re-placing the singer • rhythms that (similarly) literalize supplementarity with respect to time—permitting a sense of simultaneity Gonna march away in the gold band In the army by ’n by, Gonna march away in the gold band In the army by ’n by, Sinner, what you going do that day?

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Black Orpheus: Music in African American Fiction from the Harlem Renaissance to Toni Morrison (Garland Reference Library of the Humanities) by Saadi A. Simawe


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