minoritarian + music


minoritarian + music
  ---- by Marcel Swiboda
  African-American and Afro-Caribbean cultures, under certain circumstances, constitute instances of 'minor' culture, and in both cases there have been a substantial number of cultural formations that one could describe as being 'minoritarian'. Among these one might number the following: blues, jazz (traditional, be-bop, electric, free, avant-garde), P-funk, techno, hiphop, all largely developed as part of African-American culture; and ska, roots, reggae and dub, all largely developed as part of AfroCaribbean culture. They constitute instances of minor culture 'under certain circumstances' because their historical development is complex and one cannot locate every development exclusively within minoritarian instances. Sometimes the creative and transformative potential of these formations gives way to the pressures of capitalism or of appropriation as part of the dominant (usually white) cultural formations, pressures which often collectively conspire to exploit or limit this potential. To the extent that any of these cultural developments can be said to constitute instances of the 'minor', it is largely owing to the following reasons.
  Where it is a question of language, the various musical developments listed above are subject to linguistic mediation as part of a language that reinforces dominant culture. In each and every case, this language is English. In order to develop a minor use of this language, minor cultural formations, such as those of Black America, the Caribbean or South London, have all had to find ways of altering or recombining elements from the dominant language in order to render them sonorous, as a means to foregrounding their transformative potential. That is to say that minor cultural formations have had to deterritorialise the English language. This indeed is the first characteristic of a minor cultural formation. For example, consider the work of the African-American writer activist Amiri Baraka and his use of the English language. His writing distorts and exposes the normative, exploitative operations of the dominant language through the way in which he recombines its elements, structured according to an aesthetic derived from jazz music. Alternatively, consider the work of the Jamaican-British dub poet, Linton Kwesi Johnson, combining elements from Jamaican Creole and British English in the production of an oral poetry performed over dub music. When written, his poetry deploys portmanteau combinations of words or parts of words in order to politicise the language. In both these instances, the majoritarian, dominant use of the English language is rendered minor in relation to the musics of the writers' respective cultural milieus, and in each case the language becomes musical, or sonorous in its expressions. Consider the title of Linton Kwesi Johnson's poem Mi Revalueshanary Fren (Linton Kwesi Johnson, Mi Revalueshanary Fren: Selected Poems), written as it is performed with the word 'revolutionary' phonetically rendered in CreoleEnglish as 'revalueshanary' and thereby connoting not only revolution, but also re-evaluation. The manipulation of the relation between the sound of the word and its written inscription is purposely developed to challenge the alienation of ethnic groups as embodied in a dominant language, and to address the specific concerns of these groups in ways that provoke or challenge the oppression expressed in the language's dominating operations. This is minor culture's political function.
  The third and final criterion for assessing how these musically-derived or oriented cultural formations become minor is the extent to which they move beyond the positions of individual subjects or persons towards collective utterance or enunciation. In order to examine this aspect, it is necessary to recall that - for Deleuze and Guattari - enunciation functions collectively in relation to a machinic assemblage of bodies, both human and non-human, for example geological or technological bodies. What all these different bodies have in common is that they operate through the inscription of surfaces: the layers of rock beneath the surface of the earth, the skin and its markings, the striation of the muscles, or the grooves of a record . . . Consider early hiphop culture or 'wildstyle', and its characteristics such as 'bombing' (graffiti) or the isolation of a musical passage ('break' or 'breakdown') by scratching vinyl records, or even the bodies of breakdancers whose moves are only legible in relation to the surfaces on which they dance. These inscriptions and their interacting surfaces at least partially constitute the machinic assemblage of early hiphop. To the extent that these bodies produce utterances or enunciations it is via the MC whose rappin' skills ostensibly mark her out as an individual, and yet their function remains completely tied into the hiphop collective, comprising all the other aspects of the hiphop assemblage. Furthermore, rappin' provides another instance of a strategic or minor deployment of the (American) English language as part of an urban cultural formation.

The Deleuze dictionary. . 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • minoritarian + cinema —    by Constantine Verevis   In Cinema 2: The time image, Deleuze invokes his writing (with Guattari) on Franz Kafka and minor literatures to describe a minor cinema founded in the Third World and its minorities that connects immediately to the… …   The Deleuze dictionary

  • minoritarian + cinema —    by Constantine Verevis   In Cinema 2: The time image, Deleuze invokes his writing (with Guattari) on Franz Kafka and minor literatures to describe a minor cinema founded in the Third World and its minorities that connects immediately to the… …   The Deleuze dictionary

  • minoritarian + music —    by Marcel Swiboda   African American and Afro Caribbean cultures, under certain circumstances, constitute instances of minor culture, and in both cases there have been a substantial number of cultural formations that one could describe as… …   The Deleuze dictionary


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.