Nuevos negros, nuevos sonidos : freedom songs, soul y funk en Estados Unidos, 1955-1979


Fernández, Sandra

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368 p.


Atribución-NoComercial-SinDerivadas 2.0 Genérica (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)






Between the mid-Fifties and late Seventies it took place a complex process of struggle and political mobilization, economic, social and cultural developments in the United States that found in AfricanAmerican leadership one of its key players. New political practices, new discourses, new artistic and cultural objects influenced American social life; their presence was felt in an unprecedented economic, cultural and social visibility that changed the racial landscape, affecting black men and black women as political and rights subjects, workers, consumers and cultural agents, reshaping the intrarracial map in an unusual direction of differentiation and producing a polyphony of African American voices (Marable, 1984; Winant, 2001; Zinn, 1965). In that polyphony, new expressions of black popular music had a significant role. The freedom songs, soul and funks, as absolutely unique creations of these two decade, were fundamental musical presences, widespread and massive. They reorganized ideas and discourses on black music, altered racial stereotypes and built experiences, perceptions and representations of the black condition which inscribed as subjective, cultural and political backgrounds. This research analyzes those new expressions of black popular music in order to understand the ways in which those led, resonated and turned audible changes in different levels -aesthetics, discoursives, political, media, market- that affected racialized experiences and social relationships.

After characterizing the period 1955-1979 in political and economic terms related to the living conditions of the black population and proposing a set of definitions around popular music, racializations, and black music (Brackett, 2005; Campos Garcia, 2012; Fabbri, 2012; Hall 1984, 1992; Ramsey Jr, 2003; Tagg, 1989) this research displays the analysis of a number of levels (sound, poetic, performative, visual, discoursive, economic and media) through which I propose to understand the characteristcs and modes by which those new genres participated in the social construction of new blackness and what these blackeness were. In that sense, considering this new black music in its multiple frames of production, consumption, uses and appropriations I have constructed my object tracking its complex resonances and audibilities, seeking to understand how those specific musical experiences were involved in an irregular series of clashes, negotiations, exchanges and sense disputes that opened musical, cultural and social areas for the African American experience, reconfiguring the experiences and meanings of blackness and therefore of race relations in America.

For this I identified a number of nuclei in which the freedom songs, soul and funk provided significant changes: 1. the aesthetics and musical inventions (generated as well in the field of militant actions as in the so-called music business); 2. the performances (dances and parties but also political demonstrations); 3. the visual representations of blackness; 4. relations with politics (involving both proximity and articulation as intraracial tensions and the denial of their social value); 5. the links between black music and media (especially record companies, radio and television); 6. the set of a new black market consumption (which exceeded music as object to influence in the "commodification of blackness" as style and consumable image). These nuclei appear in the Chapters and Parts that make this Thesis.

Seeking to satisfy the theoretical and methodological decision to approach music as a social multifaceted artifact, complex and involving sounds, words, bodies, images, practices and discourses (Middleton, 2003), I have constructed an archive consisting of: discs, radio programs, journals specialized in black music and popular music, articles of music criticism, liner notes (ie, the texts accompanying discs), testimonies of artists, publics and diverse agents linked to music (producers, owners of labels, show hosts, DJs, advertising agencies), photographs, cover art, songbooks, subscription cards, TV shows, promotional posters, advertisements and jingles. Working with these materials will allow me to present freedom songs, soul and funk affecting the meanings of racial experiences, holding as hypothesis that, rather than political programs, sterile and unequivocal artifacts of the cultural industry or expressions of a black essence, they propitiated and were conducive of dissimilar and unprecedented African American experiences and presences (aesthetic, political, media, business, cultural) expressing like no other area of culture, tensions between identification and differentiation (Hall, 2003) that defined the black condition during the period. In that sense, the hypothesis just enunciada will be complemented by another which states that the new genres of black popular music were a cultural area of multiple, heterogeneous racializaciones that differentiated blackness, setting a map of representations, experiences and complex expectations. This feature allows me to disable the tendency to see an alleged homogeneity in the culture of the black population and in the very category of black popular music (Adussei, 2002; Kelley, 1987; Stephens, 1984) Hence, the insistence of this research in tracking the freedom songs, soul and funk in their complexities and their dispersions, in its contradictions and ambivalences.

As will be seen, artists, publics, media, market, political activists staged, to varying degrees and in different ways, a process of musical changes through which new black popular musics broke divisions and cultural boundaries hitherto stable or perceived as such: the ones which separated politics from religion and traditions from innovation, the fixed and stereotyped representations about black subjectivity as emotionally simple, poor, homogeneous or hyper-sexualized and the idea of music as an emanation of a compact and undifferentiated community (Moten, 2009). Against the common perception that "blacks account cultural, social and economic homogeneity and intraracial relationships without conflict" (Smith, 2000), the production and consumption of these new musical genres shows that, for the decades investigated, the opposite is true. Hence throughout this Thesis I will present black music not as a territory of clumps but as one of political, racial, gender and class differentiations, as the opportuniy to explore different emotions, affections and sexuality, as a way of aesthetic experimentation, as the tool for the reconfiguration of the market (not only of music but of black blackness consumption and as an object of consumption), and as the redefining the culture of the party and dance.

Table Of Contents

Primera Parte El contexto de los nuevos géneros negros
Capítulo 1. Cambios políticos, novedades económicas y disputas culturales. .De la segregación al Black Power .La diferenciación económica de la población negra .Las batallas culturales
Segunda Parte La música popular como problema de historia
Capítulo 2. Una definición de música popular. .Música y cultura popular .La música popular como producción y experiencia .Sobre la industria cultural y la mercancía .Las politicidades de la música .Tecnologías del sonido y medios de comunicación .Las prácticas de escucha .Los géneros
Capítulo 3. Una definición de música negra. .Racializaciones .Las experiencias afroamericanas .Una definición de música negra
Tercera Parte Una canción puede cambiar tu condición: sonidos, poéticas, performances y prácticas de escucha de las nuevas músicas negras
Capítulo 4. Freedom songs: invención musical en el Movimiento por los Derechos Civiles. .Un nuevo nivel de intensidad de canto .De los himnos a las freedom songs .Fluidez lírica .El canto colectivo
Capítulo 5. Soul: un género llamado Alma. .Un nuevo sonido .Las emociones .Crudeza y suavidad .Puestas en escena, bailes y recitales
Capítulo 6. Funk: un mundo de grooves orgullosos. .Un género patchwork .La fiesta y los bailes funk .El funk y el deterioro social .Armarse un mundo en este mundo
Cuarta Parte Mirar en lo oído: visualidades e imágenes de negritud en la nueva música negra
Capítulo 7. Freedom songs: Música situada, espacios cálidos y línea de combate. .Periódicos cantados
.Momento comunitario .El momento de lucha y la línea de combate
Capítulo 8. El soul y la representación de las diferencias de clase intrarraciales. .La multiplicación soul .Aristócratas: huir del mundo .Dandies y divas: la terrenalidad kitsch .La clase media: casa, cálculo y serenidad. .Los obreros: entre la transición y el orgullo
Capítulo 9. Funk: del ghetto al cosmos y del cosmos al ghetto. .Más separados que iguales .Africanismos .Pimps/hustlers .Sobre la voracidad sexual .La feminización .La Sisterhood funk .Afrofuturismo y misticismos
Quinta Parte La música en. Las nuevas músicas negras y su incidencia en la política, los medios y el mercado de consumo
Capítulo 10. Lo que queremos y lo que creemos. Las nuevas músicas y la política organizada. .La música de Martin Luther King .Los colectivos de cantantes: la experiencia de SNCC Freedom Singers .El nexo interracial: la experiencia de Highlander Folk School .El conflicto intrarracial .La Marcha a Washington desde las freedom songs .El Movimiento por los Derechos Civiles y el Soul .El Black Power y el rechazo de las freedom songs .Sentidos y apropiaciones del soul y el funk: admiración y sospecha .La experiencia de The Lumpen
Capítulo 11. ¿Every nigger is a star? Los medios y las nuevas músicas. .La discografía de las freedom songs .La producción discográfica del soul y el funk .Las radios .La televisión, 1: la exposición marginal de las freedom songs .La televisión, 2: la exposición segregada del soul .El acontecimiento Soul Train
Capítulo 12. Compre negro. La música negra como vía de una nueva mercantilización de la negritud. .La revolución de los consumidores .La música como recurso publicitario .Una negritud consumible
Conclusiones .Recapitulación final .Coda. Tres palabras sobre la música que vino después.
Apéndice gráfico Referencias

Título obtenido

Doctor de la Universidad de Buenos Aires en Ciencias Sociales

Institución otorgante

Universidad de Buenos Aires. Facultad de Ciencias Sociales

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