frenchpony (frenchpony) wrote,

  • Music:

Help Me, O Wise Group!

So the summer meanders on, and my projects ripen. I've got the paper for Ravenna pretty much done, and I'll throw a PowerPoint together this evening, just to collect the illustrations into one tidy file. I've also started writing a book review for the university's online graduate music journal. The book in question is a steaming pile of crap; it claims, among other things, that the fact that the Beastie Boys are Jewish somehow exerts enough mystical woo-woo to rescue them from the stigma of being white rappers. I find this claim particularly humorous in light of the fact that two of my (non-Jewish) colleagues responded to this proposition by saying that they hadn't known that the Beastie Boys are Jewish at all!

I'm also looking at ethnographic films for my class this fall. So far, I've got the list of possible choices narrowed down to four, of which I will probably show two or three. The candidates are:

Amandla! A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony, which is about the four-part chorales sung by black South Africans as part of their struggle against apartheid, and which became very popular for choirs in the U.S. and Europe, partly out of solidarity and partly because they're catchy and easy to sing.

Awake, My Soul: The Story of the Sacred Harp, which is a very nicely-made and thoughtful documentary about contemporary shape-note singing, along with the history of the art. It features many people that I know, and I can fit it easily into a two-day unit on Sacred Harp singing that would follow immediately upon the Hyde Park All Day Singing in November.

Genghis Blues, which is about how an American jazz musician named Paul Peña became interested in khoomei (Tuvan throat singin, learned the art from CDs, then traveled to Tuva to compete in their national khoomei contest. It has some lovely and touching moments, and it's also nice because it introduces viewers to khoomei through Peña's perspective, that of someone else learning about it for the first time.

Latcho Drom, which is about the supposed history and varied contemporary practice of Roma music. The segments are ordered to suggest the best guess as to how the Roma arrived in and spread through Europe, the music is lovely, and there's almost no narration; it's one of those brilliant films that tells its story almost entirely through music and imagery. And I'd like to include something on Roma music in this course, because of a broader interest in the music of stateless/transnational peoples.

Given that we have only ten weeks, I probably can't show all these films. Probably two, maybe three if I have a special session. So, I ask you, the wise LJ Collective: which ones would you want to see in a world music class?

Which films should I show? Pick two

Amandla! A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony
Awake, My Soul: The Story of the Sacred Harp
Genghis Blues
Latcho Drom

Just for fun! Does the Beastie Boys' Jewishness really make them something other than white rappers?

Yes! They are problematically white, definitely Other, a bridge between African-American authenticity and white appropriation.
No! They are white rappers, and you'll just have to learn to live with that.
Wait . . . the Beastie Boys are Jewish?
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