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Numero 26

Primavera 2003 - Anno IX

A cura di: 
Alessandro Portelli

enlightened Musica d'America

enlightened La fase imperiale degli Stati Uniti

enlightened Mark Twain e un’impiccagione nel Nevada 



La fase imperiale degli Stati Uniti - p.5

Marilyn B. Young

Was the war against Iraq something entirely new in America foreign policy, or was it only the most recent development in the making of the American “imperial strategy”? These are the two main questions tackled by the author. Probably, she argues, the two things go together. The new development adds a new (“imperial”) quality to an expensive and acquisitive strategy whose trajectory encompassed two centuries. There is a difference between the “cautious unilateralism” pursued by the Clinton administrations and the “naked, brutal, crusade-like unilateralism” adopted as a national strategy by the George W. Bush presidency.

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Testo a fronte

Mark Twain e un’impiccagione nel Nevada - p.13

Mario Maffi
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Dei canti di dolore - p.17

W.E.B. Du Bois
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Musiche dal Middle Passage: appunti di diario - p.27

Franco Minganti

The essay attempts a minimal cartography of the music inspired by the Middle Passage narrative. Through journal entries that cover moments of the author’s search for performers and works, a common thematic ground emerges, that keeps together Amiri Baraka, Duke Ellington, John Carter, blackmadrid, Hannibal Lokumbe, Wynton Marsalis, Yusef Lateef and many more. Attention is devoted also to rhetorical tropes like the roll call, both in poetry and music, often epitomizing the African diaspora across the Black Atlantic.

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Stephen C. Foster e la nascita della popular music - p.42

Mariano De Simone

At the beginning of the Nineteenth century American music still wavered between the genteel tradition and parlor songs. The rise of popular music breaks with this pattern. The essay is focused on the popular compos - er Stephen Collins Foster who wrote some of the most meaningful pieces of Nineteenth century music and succeeded in blending Anglo-Irish and African American music with Italian opera.

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Blues per Huckleberry - p.52

Robert O’Meally

O’Meally explains how a young black student of the Sixties could appreciate The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, notwithstanding the difficulty in identifying with Jim and the problems concerning Twain’s use of racist words such as “nigger”. He then proposes a reading of Huck Finn as a “blues novel”. Huck is described as a true bluesman, a swinger whose first-person narration is a meditation on a life of trials and tribulations, delivered in a comic mode, through improvisation, while at the same time in a melancholic and unsentimental tone. In addition, classic “blues” themes like hunger, sickness, abandonment, separation and escape are central to the novel.

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“Ah Gits Weary”: la rappresentazione del nero e il tema del fiume - p.68

Candida D'Aprile

The author focuses on the musical Show Boat and on its importance within the evolution of the musical genre from mere entertainment to a form of art as well as to a popular phenomenon. The main purpose is to pinpoint two particular aspects of the show: the stereotyped image of the Negro and the personification of the Mississippi river as it is described in the passages of the novel which inspired the musical Show Boat. Secondly, the Mississippi as it emerges from the song “Ol’ Man River” is compared to other texts where the river has a central role. An answer to the issue of the stereotype is provided either by this comparison or by the performance of two afro-american actors: Jules Bledsoe and mostly Paul Robeson.

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Prima del Rock and Roll: la “musica fasulla” del Giovane Holden - p.84

Alessandro Portelli

There are only two kinds of music in “The Catcher in the Rye”: the phony music Holden hear in clubs and hotels, and the music of and for children: the little boy on the sidewalk, the record for Phoebe, the merry-go-round. The contrast expresses the opposition between the “phony” adult world and the innocence of children, while the gap in the middle indicates the uncertainty of Holden’s adolescence. A musical language giving voice to this particular age group will appear later in the 1950s- but it would be a commercial music that Holden probably would not like either. Also, it is already taking shape in parts of the country and the city – the rural South, African- American Harlem – that are not included in the book’s vision of America.

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Ai tempi del Vietnam: canzoni per fare la guerra (1967) - p.92

Irwin Silber

The article, first published in the 1967 August/ September issue of folk music, juxtaposes newspaper articles and other news items about the Vietnam war with pro-War songs of the time, in order to denounce the unreal - ity of the images and narratives spread by this kind of musical propaganda.

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La pioggia alla fine del tempo. Bob Dylan tra simbolismo e modernismo - p.104

Alessandro Carrera

The rain at the end of time: Bob Dylan between symbolism and modernism Music is an art of time, says Bob Dylan, but if it fails to transcend time, it does not become art. Through a reading of A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall, the essay explores the various influences on Dylan, from folk music to the poems of Rimbaud, e.e.cummings, and Eliot, focusing on Dylan’s relationship with time and the declaration of war that characterizes his career.

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Musica rap e cultura nera oggi - p.116

Tricia Rose

Tricia Rose takes a comprehensive look at rap music: the lyrics, music, cultures, themes, and styles of this highly rhythmic, rhymed storytelling and explores the most relevant issues and debates that surround it. She thoroughly analyzes several facets of the musical genre, providing substantial information about the innovative rhythmic manipulations made possible by the techniques of sampling. The author discusses rap as a unique musical form in which traditional African- based oral traditions, such as toasts, signifying and dozens, fuse with revolutionary music technologies. She points out how “versioning” represents a means to cultural ends, to new contexts in which priorities are shaped and expressed. In this process of technoblack cultural syncretism, a simultaneous exchange takes place: rap music “makes technology oral and technologizes orality”, changing the sound of black music, revising and expanding technological instruments and black cultural priorities.

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