Musicians' Migratory Patterns: The African Drum as Symbol in Early America: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Musicians' Migratory Patterns: The African Drum as Symbol in Early America

1st Edition

By Christopher Johnson


152 pages

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Hardback: 9780367136260
pub: 2019-03-31
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Musicians’ Migratory Patterns: The African Drum as Symbol in Early America questions the ban that was placed on the African drum in early America. It shows the functional use of the drum for celebrations, weddings, funerals, religious ceremonies, and nonviolent communication. The assumption that "drums and horns" were used to communicate in slave revolts is undone in this study. Rather, this volume seeks to consider the "social place" of the drum for both blacks and whites of the time, using the writings of Europeans and colonial-era Americans, the accounts of African American free persons and slaves, the period instruments, and numerous illustrations of paintings and sculpture.

The image of the drum was effectively appropriated by Europeans and Americans who wrote about African American culture, particularly in the nineteenth century, and re-appropriated by African American poets and painters in the early twentieth century who recreated a positive nationalist view of their African past. Throughout human history, cultural objects have been banned by one group to be used another, objects that include books, religious artifacts, and ways of dress. This study unlocks a metaphor that is at the root of racial bias—the idea of what is primitive—while offering a fresh approach by promoting the construct of multiple-points-of-view for this social-historical presentation.

Table of Contents

Chapter One Introduction / Chapter Two Observers of Culture / Chapter Three Performance Practices / Chapter Four The Drum’s Prohibition through Time / Chapter Five Surrogates: Juba, Shouts & Rhythm Instruments / Chapter Six Epilogue

About the Author

Christopher Johnson has his Ph.D. from NYU and was in the graduate program of the History of American Civilization at Harvard University. He is currently at the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts (IDSVA), Portland, ME.

About the Series

CMS Cultural Expressions in Music

Created in 2009, Cultural Expressions in Music began as a series of monographs that sought to promote and share the diversity of perspectives, cultures, experiences, philosophies, and contributions of The College Music Society’s membership and the music community at large. This series has now entered a new phase. The volumes published under this rubric follow the tenets of geo-musicology, an interdisciplinary outreach of recent coinage, which integrates musical expression, geo-political thinking, and migratory movement of musicians, musical genres, styles, repertoire, and practices. The monographs and edited collections in the series urge readers worldwide to reflect, musically and culturally, upon one of the most pressing issues of our time: immigration.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MUSIC / General