Duke Ellington’s Black, Brown and Beige: A Tone Parallel to the History of the American Negro, which premiered at Carnegie Hall on January 23, 1943, is one of the earliest examples of how African American musicians have used music to provide addenda, correctives or counterpoints to official versions of American history and to write themselves into the national narrative. In addition to programmatic music, which makes its connections to history explicit through text, artists can resort to an extensive array of musical devices which are inherently historical. Musical quotations (eg samples) and song covers allow for a layering of time frames and subjectivities which can be used for comment, contradiction, parody or appropriation.
This presentation will explore the historiographical uses of music in the work of two contemporary African American artists - Rhiannon Giddens and Jon Batiste - and show how their musical dialog with such symbols of Americanness as the banjo or the “Star-Spangled Banner” can be considered as statements of black citizenship.
Contact: Monica Manolescu, manoles(at)unistra(dot)fr