Afrofuturism was first coined in 1994 by Mark Dery in his essay “Black to the Future”. Afrofuturism is defined as a cultural aesthetic which combines science fiction, magical realism and African history. In addition, in the 1970s, before the phrase afrofuturism was coined, writers and artists debated whether or not their works were afrofuturist. The term afrofuturist referred to what people in the 1970s believed the future would sound like. Although afrofuturism goes beyond music, we can see an example of this genre in Joseph Leimberg’s album Astral Progressions. Leimberg’s album, Astral Progressions, is a fusion mix of jazz with other forms of music to create psychedelic vibes.
Call and Response is a musical process in African American music wherein a voice or instrument plays something and another responds. While this musical technique is found in many musical cultures around the world—including Western art music, where we talk about “antecedent” and “consequent” phrases—it has a particular significance in Black music. Scholars think of Call and Response as the “master trope” of Black music, a technique that derives from African musical practices and is found in such contexts as work songs, gospel, blues, rhythm and blues, hip hop, and other forms.
The word renaissance literally means “revival” or “rebirth.” The Harlem Renaissance, an event in American history between 1917 and 1935, was a period of revival of the arts, culture, and literature in Harlem, New York. African American talent and expression in the arts and literature flourished during this time. Many famous and talented African American artists, musicians, and writers including Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, and Alain Locke, emerged in Harlem at this time. Locke’s “New Negro” was made popular during the Harlem Renaissance. According to Judith Tick in Music in the USA, William Grant Still’s groundbreaking Afro-American Symphony “embodied the ideals of the Harlem Renaissance and the courageous spirit of the ‘New Negro’.”
Judith Tick, “Music in the USA.” Pages 439-40. Print.
Hillbilly music is a musical genre created in the 1920s by the United States recording industry (centered in New York City) to describe any number of rural, white musical styles. The success of white country music was ushered in by old-time fiddler, Fiddlin’ John Carson, and his successful recording of the song “Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane”.
Carson was the first of many so called “Hillbillies” to be recorded throughout the 1920s. Hillbilly music is interesting to musicologists because of the ways in which it was treated by the recording industry, very similar to the ways in which Black musicians were being treated at that time. Both Hillbilly music and what would come to be known as Race music were successful much to the amazement of the recording industry. New York elites were surprised at how well Hillbilly and Race records were selling, and took a somewhat condescending and patronizing stance toward these styles of music. Artists of both genres were taken advantage of by the recording industry. Interestingly enough, Black musicians who performed music more closely related to country music than the jazz and blues being performed by Black artists were still put in the category of race music, evidencing the inherent racism in the recording industry.
Minimalist music developed in the late 1950s and 1960s, pioneered in America by four composers – LaMonte Young, Philip Glass, Terry Riley, and Steve Reich. In simple terms, minimalist music takes one small idea and turns it into a composition through slight manipulation and repetition. Scholars recognize minimalist music as “maximally repetitive music” with a process (Fink X). This process often includes phasing multiple tapes of the same recording together at slightly different speeds. Many minimalist composers, such as Steve Reich, simply create a process, put it in motion, and do not mess with it any further, letting the piece run its course. Due to its evolutionary process, minimalism pushed the boundaries of music, redefining authenticity.
The narcocorrido is a type of Mexican folk music that focuses on drug trafficking (hence the name, meaning “drug ballad), portraying it in a positive and often heroic light. These songs are extremely popular in Mexico; their popularity often tracks the influence of the drug cartels. Narcocorridos have been around for quite a few decades, although ultimately they grow out of a longer tradition (about a century old) of corrides, or ballads praising revolutionary figures from the Mexican revolution of 1910 or even earlier. While some writers of narcocorridos appear to be supported by cartels, others have been killed after writing ballads that must have upset a cartel leader.
Corridos are songs that deal with the life and experiences that can be found along the Texas-Mexican border. They contain a common theme throughout regarding the racial and political tensions between the “Anglos”, referring to White America, and the Mexicans. These themes play into a broader symbolic relationship between the United States and Mexico, where the U.S. is portrayed as the white oppressor and an imperialist power that the Mexican Heroes aim to subvert by boldly contradicting or breaking the laws of the U.S. Narcos Corridos usually envision these themes through songs about drug trafficking and cartels. Written in the traditional Mexican Folk song style, Narcos Corridos also pose a unique problem for the folk musicians who wrote them. By creating songs about the cartels, they become associated and bound to those cartels and the various risks that come with them.
An example of Narcos Corridos is the song “Contrabando Y Traicion” by Los Tigres Del Norte.
Source: Tick, Judith, and Paul E. Beaudoin. Music in the USA: a documentary companion. Oxford: Oxford U Press, 2008. Print. Chapter 151: Gloria Anzaldua on Vistas y Corridos – My Native Tongue
The National Endowment for the Arts is a government organization created in 1965 that aims to engage the public with the arts and provide opportunities in the arts to those fiscally unable to participate. It has been under heavy criticism throughout its existence and received many budget cuts over the years. Many defenders of the NEA argue it allows for art to be created free from corporate interests and purely by the imagination and expression of the artist. President Trump’s proposed budget would cut all funding to the NEA, along with the National Endowment for the Humanities, and effectively put an end to the long standing organization. The NEA does everything from subsidizing public television, to funding individual art projects, to helping pay for special exhibits at museums around the country.