What have blacks contributed to our civilization?

Recently I wrote:

And that is all that blacks as an organized community have to contribute to our civilization: endless complaints about white injustice to blacks, and endless demands for the wealth and goods that white people have produced, and that blacks are incapable of producing.

To which a Christian blogger, Johann Happolati, responds:

This is absurd. In music alone (no small thing) blacks have made many enduring contributions to civilization.

To avoid misunderstanding, I should have clarified the difference between civilization and culture. While completely satisfactory definitions of these concepts are not possible, and there is always going to be some overlap between them, they are nevertheless distinct. Civilization refers to the ordering principles and values of a society: law, morality, government, philosophy, religion, science, and technology, as well as art at its higher levels. Culture refers to the expressions of a people, whether at the level of ordinary life, in the sense of manners and morés and what we call a “way of life,” or at the level of the arts and entertainments. Blacks have certainly made contributions to our culture, in the areas of popular music and idiom. They have made virtually no contributions to our civilization.

- end of initial entry -

Johann Happolati writes:

I actually anticipated the distinction between culture and civilization in a later post, and I accept it. I was concerned mainly to correct the apparent suggestion that blacks (collectively) simply have nothing to offer society, and I think it’s important for Christians in particular not to slip into contempt. Culture is, after all, important. But with your new post, I don’t know that there is any very substantial disagreement between us.

LA replies:

Thank you.

At the same time, as I suggested, other definitions of these terms than the ones I gave are possible. Culture could be defined as the formative ethical, spiritual, and aesthetic beliefs of a society. For example, the ancient Greeks believed that nature contains ideal/divine forms, and that man and man’s works can reflect these forms. The Greek hero, and the Parthenon, are both expressions of this ideal. This is an aspect of Greek culture.

Now if culture represents the inner creative beliefs and values of a society, what is civilization? It is the external structure of a society—its laws, government, architecture, technology, economy and so on.

However (not that I want to express contempt toward anyone, but just to complete my last statement), if we use these definitions of culture and civilization, then blacks have made no contributions either to our civilization or to our culture.

LA adds (10:15 p.m.):

On further thought, a definition of culture that excludes blacks from any influence on American culture is obviously inadequate. Their influence on the level of popular culture (by which I mean, not popular entertainment, but idiom, humor, common sensibility, etc.) is significant. Blacks have an earthiness, an immediacy, that whites lack, and this is reflected, for example, in the many expressions they have added to our language. Just now I was thinking about the phrase, “See you later, alligator.” Now I don’t know, but I think it’s probable that that expression was invented by a black man, maybe a jazz musician. A part of the fun of America, the fun of being an American, comes from qualities that blacks have added to our culture.

Yet at the same time, I would say even if there had been no blacks or black influence in America, it would not have removed anything essential from our culture and civilization.

John P. writes:

Johann Happolati wrote:

This is absurd. In music alone (no small thing) blacks have made many enduring contributions to civilization.

This is a very common refrain in defense of black’s cultural inventiveness. You, rightly, point to a difference between culture and civilization. But there is something more to be considered here. I know that you, like most conservatives, enjoy jazz and some pop music, like Dylan. As traditionalists we should look a little deeper at black music. My brother, who is a classically trained musician (and, as the truism goes, is liberal in all things except his own field of excellence where he is deeply traditional), has pointed out to me that jazz is entirely derivative of Western harmony and rhythm, at least until the sixties. Although jazz makes use of common chords (C minor, G7 et al.), something that endears it to conservatives disgusted by XXth Century classical harmonies, it is not Functional Tonal in organization, like Schubert, Bach and even Wagner, it is in fact modal harmony. (I can explain the difference to those who are curious but suffice it to say it is a simpler, less nuanced approach to harmony.) Moreover, performance technique among jazzmen, although higher than pop musicians as a general rule, still falls short of classical standards.

As in all things, there is a hierarchy of excellence. It is, I’m sure, acceptable to enjoy some elements of popular culture but it is important to remember the higher things..

LA replies:

Though I have not listened to nearly as much jazz as I would like (and I’m thinking here mainly of white jazz musicians, but blacks too, who seem to approach their music almost as a spiritual vocation), there is a very advanced culture of jazz in our country. I regard jazz as a completely legitimate and even, with the better jazz, high form of music.

Sage McLaughlin writes:

You say, “I regard jazz as a completely legitimate and even, with the better jazz, high form of music.” I agree. Excellence in the art of jazz requires serious virtuosity, not mere skill.

Jazz is also profoundly American. American blacks are unique as a people, and their contribution to that most American of art forms—some have said the only real American art form—occupies a special place in our culture. W.E.B. Dubois was very nearly right when he said of American blacks that “There is nothing so indigenous, so completely ‘made in America’ as we.” So it is fitting that they made such an important contribution to that truly indigenous form of art, jazz music.

Is it a civilization-scale accomplishment? No. But it is real and significant and worthy of celebration.

Laura Wood writes:

I can’t stand jazz——-all of it, but most especially those long, self-indulgent, boozy, whiny, improvisational riffs. It is, as Richard Weaver said, the music of drunkenness. Unfortunately, we even have to listen to it in stores now. I’m not sure why retailers think we’d be more inclined to buy towels in a nightclub, but they do. [LA replies: Compared to the horrible shapeless self-glorifying female caterwauling that is piped in everywhere today, jazz would be a big improvement.]

“It is only natural,” Weaver said, “that the chief devotees of jazz should be the primitive, the young, and those persons, fairly numerous, it would seem, who take pleasure in the thought of bringing down our civilization. The fact that the subjects of jazz, in so far as it may be said to have subjects, are grossly sexual or farcical—subjects of love without aesthetic distance and subjects of comedy without law of proportion—shows how the soul of modern man craves orgiastic disorder.” (Ideas Have Consequences)

LA replies:

Jazz is not one thing. There are many kinds of jazz. Some I’m sure you would like.

Also, Richard Weaver is almost comically humorless. He’s so censorious about everything, the not-so-bad things along with the seriously bad things, that he tends to justify the liberal description of a conservative as someone in a bad mood, or as someone who doesn’t want anybody to have a good time.

Rick Darby writes:

John P. obviously has a knowledge of musical technique way beyond mine; still, having heard many classical and jazz musicians both live and on recordings, I must question his statement, “Performance technique among jazzmen, although higher than pop musicians as a general rule, still falls short of classical standards.”

First, it’s hard to compare jazz and classical musicians’ technique because jazz playing almost always involves improvisation, even with a big band where they play from charts. Duke Ellington probably exercised the most control over his orchestra of any leader in history, but his soloists could go where their inventiveness took them when their turn came. Classical musicians do not improvise the notes except for ornamentation in period-style performances, and even that tends to follow rules. (Of course classical artists have some freedom concerning tempo, tone, dynamics and so on).

Second, many jazz musicians have phenomenal technique. To cite only two examples, the contemporary pianist Michel Camilo and the great saxophone player John Coltrane. (Yes, I think his playing went a little nuts in his last few years, but through most of his career his solos are a thing to wonder at.) You have to be an extraordinarily dexterous player to have nerve enough to call yourself a jazz musician.

TT writes:

Regarding the issue of blacks and music, while one can appreciate blues, jazz and Motown as significant contributions, it has not been that long and where do we see black music heading? Rap is utterly without merit, a truly degenerate form of music if one can even call it that. And in terms of the larger culture, it has caused much harm with the “attitude” many blacks have including even Trayvon who acting upon his attitude that no honky was going to question him, he decided to fight Zimmerman instead of simply speaking to another human being, and it got him killed. What exactly have blacks added to our culture lately? Have you watched the NBA lately?

LA replies:

Let’s say that in the past blacks added some positive things to our culture (not to our civilization). I agree with you that they have added nothing positive to our culture in a very long time, but only very negative things. It is part of what Paul Kersey calls the Black Undertow.

James P. writes:

You wrote,

If culture represents the inner creative beliefs and values of a society, what is civilization? It is the external structure of a society—its laws, government, architecture, technology, economy and so on … if we use these definitions of culture and civilization, then blacks have made no contributions either to our civilization or to our culture.

Exactly what I was going to say!

The pronoun “our” in “our civilization” and “our culture” is worthy of emphasis. Blacks have their own set of beliefs and values, which are incompatible with ours, and indeed are actively destructive of ours. Left to their own devices, blacks will create external social structures that reflect these beliefs and values—like sub-Saharan Africa and Detroit—in which whites have no place and which whites enter at their peril.

The question arises of whether Leftist whites are part of “our civilization” and “our culture,” even though they are actively trying to destroy our civilization and culture (apropos of which, see Bruce Charlton’s post today). If you argue that Leftist whites have their own culture, separate from ours and hostile to ours, then you could also argue that blacks have made enduring contributions to that set of beliefs and values. The black contributions to our culture and civilization—the traditionalist Western one—are less easy to identify, though no doubt some contributions exist.

Johan Happolati writes:

Your readers may be interested in this excellent survey of the present state of black music.

Patrick H. writes:

Blacks are superb performers, whether as athletes or musicians or public speakers. But performance as such, no matter how skillful, is not culture. Blacks are also excellent mimics, in the sense of true mimicry—not a perfect reproduction, but something recognizably the same thing as what is being mimicked and yet somehow fresh-seeming, new.

I would suggest that black contributions to culture via music be seen in this light. The question is: Have blacks been able to imitate culture—musical culture—sufficiently well to have contributed something new to it?

I think the answer is mixed. Blacks were able to mimic white music harmonically to some degree, and to exceed white music rhythmically (in some sense), altering its feel by incorporating into it their sense of rhythm. (Parenthetically, there is among drummers talk of a definite difference between black and white drummers in their sense of timing. Apparently, white drummers tend to come in ahead of black drummers in relation to the beat by a fairly consistent interval of nineteen one-thousandths of a second. I have no idea if this has been verified scientifically, but I can’t help wondering if this unconscious difference—if it exists—might account for some of the sense of swing or roll we can sense deep within black music.)

But blacks were much less able to imitate whites melodically (again, this is relative to their success in other areas of music). I’m not sure why this is so, but it may be that the composition of melody is somehow creative in the sense of originating something new, and is therefore less susceptible of imitation (or maybe it’s just copyright laws). If I’m right, the development, which is to say debasement, of black music over the decades had a certain inevitability to it. Given their relative lack of harmonic originality and especially of melodic invention, blacks have slowly reverted to musical type. Now the emblematic black music is not harmonically and rhythmically complex jazz, nor deeply expressive soul, nor even the roll in Rock ‘n’ Roll. It is hip-hop, music of incessant rhythmic brutality, devoid of harmonic depth, able to rise to the level of melody only by sampling snatches of (white-composed) popular music. And this sampling is much more a kind of slavish copying than the playful appropriation of white musical idioms by, say, black jazz musicians.

In the end, the question of whether blacks have ever contributed to culture via music may be difficult to answer. But whether blacks are contributing today to culture is clear: they are not. Their inability to extend their powers of mimicry to melody, and the consequent abandonment of melody, shows us the truth of things. Have blacks contributed to culture through music? Maybe. Probably. Somewhat. In the past. For a while. Perhaps.

Not any more. Now it’s just the same old aggression, the same old demand for handouts of valuable white things that blacks are incapable of creating or earning themselves…. We steal your money. Give us more. We rape your women. We want more. We sample your tunes. More. Or else.

My guess is that this will never change. Blacks may have contributed somewhat to musical culture at one time, when there was a white musical culture worth imitating. But they will never contribute again. Blacks have become pure parasites on a white culture itself unable to create anything of value. They are battening on a corpse.

Karl D. writes:

This discussion on black music has brought a question to my mid. Do you think there is such a thing as a Traditional Conservative aesthetic when it comes to the arts? And if so, what would it be? I personally find it a little silly to attach aesthetics to a philosophical way of thinking. When I dabbled with Objectivism I noticed Ayn Rand tried to do it which I thought was ridiculous. But on the other hand there are some pieces of art or art forms that scream out degeneracy. Hip-Hop and soaking a crucifix in urine spring to mind. But for the most part it seems very subjective. I like many forms of music. From classical and jazz to Punk Rock and Heavy Metal. Though some would view that as falling outside the norms of what a traditional conservative would enjoy. Or would they?

LA replies:

“Do you think there is such a thing as a Traditional Conservative aesthetic when it comes to the arts?”

Yes and no. On one hand, there are the timeless qualities of the Good, the True , and the Beautiful, and we could say that any artistic expression that contains or invokes these in some manner fits with something we are calling a traditional conservative aesthetic. On the other hand, art is always new, idiosyncratic, and does not simply fit into an established form. But what about the classical sonata or symphony, someone might ask. The question forgets that when the classical sonata and symphony were being developed, around the 1750s to 1770s, they were something new, there had never been anything like them. So they weren’t simply conforming to some prescribed aesthetic.

So my tentative answer would be, art is a combination of things that were already there—whether eternal things (the good, the true, the beautiful), or things from a particular tradition—and things that are new and original and different. Therefore there is not such a thing as a traditional conservative aesthetic as such. Any high level work of art is a coming together of disparate elements from different sources into a single unity. There is no formula that can account for this.

I don’t know if this is an adequate answer or not, but I suppose it’s the beginning of an answer.

Richard W. writes:

I strongly disagree with a number of your posters who seem to minimize both the amazing beauty and uniqueness of jazz, and the incredible excellence of its greatest musicians. To claim, as Patrick H. does, that black jazz musicians are somehow imitating white music is simply inaccurate. Jazz is fundamentally a black music, though it has been gifted with a number of great white performers in some eras, the greatest innovators and composers have all been black. Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Oscar Peterson, Ornette Coleman, Coleman Hawkins. Perhaps only Benny Goodman, among whites, sits easily among the rank of truly great jazzmen. Which isn’t to dismiss the many great players who have contributed to the music: Charlie Hayden, Red Rodney, Bill Evans, Oscar Pettiford, Stan Getz, John McGloughlin and many others.

To say that jazz lacks melody, again, is simply incorrect. Listen to the incredible compositions of Thelonious Monk, listen to “Round Midnight” or “Straight, No Chaser” or almost any of his amazing set of compositions. They are not remotely like anything by a European composer. Or listen to any of the early works of Ornette Coleman, the incredible plaintive and pure melodies of songs like “Lonely Woman,” “Peace” and “Eventually.”

To understand all that jazz achieved one should listen to the greatest music by Miles Davis and especially John Coltrane. Coltrane’s music is deeply spiritual in the way that some of the greatest classical music is, but it’s perhaps even more impressive, because, as another commentator noted, much of it is improvised. Coltrane’s great masterpiece, “A Love Supreme,” has stood the test of time as a powerful and universal statement about the nature of beauty and the sacred. Here is the first part of “A Love Supreme,” “Acknowledgement.”

I think it is important to give credit where credit is due. Black musicians have not made a passing, imitative contribution to American music, they have stood at the very center and created the greatest music of the 20th century, excepting perhaps Stravinsky. This doesn’t obviate the problems with black culture in the 21st century, but neither do a myriad of dysfunctional blacks running wild in the streets in any way lessen the overwhelming accomplishment of the great black jazz artists of the past century.

BLS writes:

I wish I were more intelligent. This thread is necessary reading. I cannot add to it.

Patrick H. writes:

I was disappointed in Richard W.”s non-response to my comment. I did not claim that “blacks are somehow imitating white music.” I claimed something quite different; that blacks have a great talent for mimicry, and that this talent needs to be considered when assessing black contributions to music.

As for Richard’s other points insofar as they were directed at me: that jazz is “fundamentally a black music” has nothing to do with my point, that its “greatest innovators and composers have all been black,” has nothing to do with my point. As for the things he does charge me with: I did not claim that “jazz lacks melody.” I did not say that there are no songs composed by blacks that have “plaintive” or “pure” melodies. And most of all, I did not claim that blacks have made only a “passing imitative contribution to American music.” As for his ringing endorsement of black jazz as the greatest music of the twentieth century, de gustibus and all, as they used to say. If I were less charitable than I pretend to be—and I am—I might respond to Richard that his endorsement of jazz matters only if you think that twentieth century music was a contribution to culture at all. Since the 20th century was all too often a sustained assault on culture and civilization, including music, Richard’s rating may be less of a rave than he supposes it to be.

I know I should sound less testy, but really! The whole discussion, and my comment, was not about whether jazz music is good or whether I like it or whether black people created it or whether jazz guys can play or whether jazz is just plain better than lots of other music. It was about whether blacks have contributed to culture. The point I was trying, and clearly failing, to convey, is that the black contribution to music—however one judges its significance and worth—has been the product relatively less of melodic originality than of harmonic sophistication, and relatively less of that in turn than of rhythmic inventiveness (inimitably black inventiveness as I thought, mistakenly, I had made clear). And last but not least, that whatever the merits and significance of jazz, the black music of today is not only not a contribution to culture, it is a mindless and degraded assault on the remnants of a culture and civilization itself bereft of creative energy and life.

One last point about Richard’s repeated insistence that I dismissed black music as imitation, I pointedly (I thought) avoided using the word. Instead, I used the word mimicry, and explicitly stated that mimicry is not reproduction, but is the production of “something recognizably the same thing as what is being mimicked and yet somehow fresh-seeming, new.” I also explicitly contrasted the “playful appropriation [not imitation!] of white musical idioms by … black jazz musicians” with the “slavish copying” of sampling in hip-hop.

My conclusion about black contributions to culture was that “blacks may have contributed somewhat to musical culture at one time, when there was a white musical culture worth imitating.” (Ah! So I did use the I-word! Mea culpa!) Richard might very well disagree, and strongly, with that last point, though I must insist that his opinion of jazz music is completely compatible with that point. In any case, I would welcome genuine disagreement from Richard, if only because it would indicate that he had finally troubled himself to read what I actually wrote.

April 25

Matthew H. writes:

To be fair, Africans have only come very late into our civilization if we understand it to mean the ongoing set of cultural, technological and philosophical trends whose origins can be traced to pre-historic Europe. And though we have lived together in some capacity or other for going on five hundred years, during much of that time, in America at least, Africans lived under a particularly oppressive regime of forced servitude. So it is only in the past one hundred years (150 at the most) or so that they have had any real opportunity to contribute at all. Compare this to the 3,000 years or so of Western history.

But even in that short time they have made themselves noticeable, culturally speaking. There is of course, Jazz, an art unimaginable without Black people and one whose most exemplary figures were sons of Africa. One of my favorite performers is Louis Jordan, a performer of great charm and style who stands at the frontier of swing and early rock’n’roll. Then there is the trumpeter Lee Morgan whose long bop pieces capture the nervous energy of America in the Sixties (or what I imagine it to have been) far better than the hippie music with which that decade has become associated. Farther afield, in Africa itself we find performers of great skill and inventiveness such as King Sunny Ade and Fela Kuti, both of Nigeria. Kuti was known for anti-government antics, rarely wearing anything more than a pair of undershorts and for constantly smoking reefer. He is an exemplary modern figure.

I could go on. Many of us could offer a list of members of the African diaspora whose music we have enjoyed. But beyond music, what else is there? Precious little. Langston Hughes? James Baldwin? (Let’s not stoop to talking of peanut butter and the super-soaker.) All right, so they’ve only been around for a hundred years. We’ll give them a pass in theology, mathematics, law, architecture, painting, sculpture and the rest.

But then, we can’t ignore the other side of the ledger. The tens of thousands of white women raped each year by Black males. The once fine neighborhoods Black criminality and just plain blight have rendered uninhabitable. The wholesale destruction of standards that have been extorted in their name. The trillions of dollars in wealth transfers extracted from whites as “payback” for the sins of our ancestors (in gross violation of every Western standard of justice). The imminent wholesale forfeiture of a thousand years of hard-won liberties in order to appease their insatiable demands and those of their predatory leftist champions.

Again, I could go on. Really, is it even arguable that Blacks’ contribution to our civilization has, on balance, been anything but negative? Personally, I would trade you Jazz and rock’n’roll (not to mention professional sports) for spontaneously orderly cities and the liberty Americans once held as their birthright.

But, alas, here we are.

LA replies:

It must also be added that, beyond the question of particular positive or negative contributions by blacks, the very presence of blacks in large numbers in this country has been the principal fuel for the ever-spreading egalitarian tyranny and the ever-intensifying white guilt. As I said in “Why the truth about black dysfunction is so important”:

In my view, the greatest single factor driving whites to national suicide is their false guilt over black inferiority. Because whites believe—as modern liberalism has taught them to believe—that all groups have equal inherent abilities, they also believe that the actual inferiority of blacks in almost every area of accomplishment and behavior must be caused by something bad that the whites are invidiously doing to blacks, or by something good that whites are selfishly refusing to do for blacks. However expressed, it all comes down to the idea that black failure is caused by white racism—the transcendent sin of the modern world. And because black inferiority continues, and is even getting worse, the conclusion is that white racism is continuing, and is even getting worse.

The final result of this woefully mistaken thought process is the paralyzing racial guilt which makes whites feel that they have no right to defend and preserve their civilization, no right to defend and preserve themselves, but that they must instead self-sacrificially open themselves to and empower, not only blacks, but all nonwhites. This self-sacrifice takes numerous forms, including denial of the truth of black anti-white violence, denial of the tyrannical and murderous reality of Islam, and unquestioning acceptance of the mass Third-World immigration that is steadily turning America into a non-European country in which whites and their civilization will be steadily weakened, dispossessed, and destroyed. Therefore, as I began saying in the mid 1990s, if whites could see the truth that blacks’ lesser intelligence and other lesser civilizational abilities are not whites’ fault but are inherent in blacks themselves, it could literally save the country, by freeing whites from their suicidal guilt.

I should add that this problem would exist, even if blacks had entered America voluntarily and not as slaves. The genesis of the problem is not slavery and discrimination; it is (a) the presence in the same society of two populations who have vastly different levels of civilizational capacities, and (2) the blame that is inevitably placed on the more successful group for the inadequacies of the less successful group.

James P. writes:

Most of your respondents, but especially Johann Happolati, Richard W., and Matthew H., are not addressing the basic issue. Yes, blacks were undeniably great jazz musicians. I don’t know enough about music to know whether great jazz is still being produced, or is effectively a dead form. But let us leave that aside, and ask the fundamental question—did jazz music contribute to our civilization? Was it a positive or negative force? If jazz music, however pleasing to the modern ear, attacked our civilization, then we have to regard the black “contribution” of creating “great” jazz as a negative one. Jazz was certainly regarded as a decadent and degenerate art form by pre-World War II traditionalists in America and Germany, and even the Soviet Union, which promoted traditional music. I am inclined to agree with them.

I like rock music myself. Yet I have no doubt at all that the basic purpose and message of rock music is subversive and promotes the Leftist agenda. As the Left is the enemy of civilization, anything that promotes the Left’s agenda does not contribute to civilization, but to its downfall.

Matthew H. writes:

James P. makes a good point which is very much, as it were, lurking in the shadows of this discussion. My definition of culture is: Those creative products of a particular society that serve to nurture, edify, strengthen it. It recognizes Culture as being related to words like Agriculture, Cultivate and, by extension, Husbandry, Guardianship and so on.

In this view the value of jazz is indeed suspect; Rock music even more so. Both forms may be seen as soundtracks for personal and societal dissipation. Both came up when when white Americans were so successful and pre-eminent they felt they could afford the luxury of a century or so of “kicking back.” We no longer can.

Hip-Hop, Blacks’ most recent “cultural contribution”, goes a step further. It reminds me of Joan Didion’s classic essay, Slouching Towards Bethlehem, about San Francisco in the “summer of love.” She draws a portrait of a “scene” where starry-eyed young middle class fools had their natural mental and spiritual defenses dissolved by LSD. This was quickly followed by an influx of hardened drug pushers who, meeting no resistance, effectively took over.

In many ways our society is like those starry-eyed fools. Chasing dreams of “equality” and “inclusiveness” we have lowered our defenses to the point where we will permit our own young to fill their minds with the aggressively violent and stultifying poundings and chantings of “rap.” Now we see this spirit regularly erupting onto our streets aided and abetted by our highest institutions.

Even at it’s best, it seems the Black genius tends toward destruction. And yet, like the young fools in the 1960s drawn to the long-dead “love” scene by Scott McKenzie’s “If You’re Going To San Francisco (Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair)” middle America is still being lulled to its destruction by the siren songs of egalitarianism and white guilt.

April 26

Philip N. writes:

I don’t believe anyone has brought up this metric of contributions to civilization:

According to Wikipedia:

Nobel Prizes have been awarded to over 800 individuals, of whom 15 have been Black.

Blacks have been the recipients of three of the categories: Peace, Literature and Economics.

No black person has yet been honored with a Nobel Prize for achievements in the fields of physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine.

On Wed, Apr 25, 2012 at 11:47 PM, Lawrence Auster <auster.vfr@gmail.comwrote:

April 27

Vinteuil writes:

For me, the saddest thing, here, is that so few traditionalist/cultural-conservatives are familiar with the greatest achievements of 20th Century Western music. This leads to gross absurdities like Richard W. (!) elevating “A Love Supreme” above all of modern European music (with the possible exception of Stravinsky).

I mean, is he unfamiliar with, say, the 13th Nocturne of Gabriel Faure? Or the Larghetto from Sir Edward Elgar’s 2nd Symphony? Or the 7th Symphony of Jean Sibelius? Or the 4th String Quartet of Bela Bartok? Or Frank Martin’s Petite Symphonie Concertante? Or the Finale of the 6th Symphony of Serge Prokofiev? Or the 10th Symphony of Eduard Tubin? Or the 4th Prelude & Fugue from Dmitri Shostakovich’s set of 24? Or the 8th Symphony of Vagn Holmboe?

Or, quite literally, hundreds of other things that I can think of, just off the top of my head?

In comparison to works like these, Coltrane’s stuff is, at best, as Laura Woods so aptly put it, “the music of drunkenness.”

Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 24, 2012 10:56 AM | Send

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