Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Musical MeaningToward a Critical History$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Lawrence Kramer

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780520228245

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520228245.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use (for details see www.california.universitypressscholarship.com/page/535/privacy-policy-and-legal-notice).date: 21 September 2018

Chiaroscuro

Chiaroscuro

Coltrane's American Songbook

Chapter:
(p.242) 11 Chiaroscuro
Source:
Musical Meaning
Author(s):

Lawrence Kramer

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520228245.003.0012

As exemplified by the Africanisms of modernist concert music, music is a venue in which this question has historically been raised with particular urgency. This chapter pursues the question of what “blackness” means as an expressive category, and how it relates to blackness as a racial category. In negotiating the space between these socially or racially marked compositions, a concept that has proven useful in negotiating the similar space between works in different media is drawn on. The musical chiaroscuro is one of the issues raised by John Coltrane's landmark album, which seeks to refashion their music into an American songbook of a different color. With African American culture, the paradigmatic example is perhaps the pattern of call and response, a structuring structure that is at once social, religious, ethical, and aesthetic. Debricolage adapts old materials to new uses for reasons of desire, not of need. Instead of assemblage, its basic principle is disassemblage, and what it disassembles are the norms and forms of a dominant culture. Those who have been historically excluded from the privileges of a dominant culture can redefine their relationship to it through such disassemblage, which transforms the instruments of exclusion into a means of self-definition and self-creation. Similar effect occurs in Coltrane's “Summertime.” Debricolage like Coltrane's can be understood as a reaction to the historical collapse of that faith, which tends to survive, where it does survive, only among the groups least affected by exclusion and rejection.

Keywords:   Summertime, John Coltrane, Chiaroscuro, blackness, African American culture, American Songbook

California Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.