We explored today Ellison’s interest in antiphonal forms to link an individual musician/orator/writer with an audience. I wanted to share links to two blog posts that help us grasp this connection more concretely. First, the post I shared on Zoom:
The musical forms brought to the Americas by slaves from west Africa were generally functional: that is, they were used to aid in ritual, work, daily life, and war. Antiphonal singing also facilitated communication across distances. You can hear the antiphonal quality in this work song of the Mbuti people (Congo).
And second, a jazz-centric post from Lincoln Center’s blog. This one is more relevant in some ways, since the IMs performances in chapters 12 and 16 are jazz-like in their improvisiatory riffing, their lack of a “blueprint” as Peetie Wheatstraw has it:
When Dr. Iona Locke joined Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Jazz Academy for a masterclass, she performed a rousing version of the tune “Walk by Faith.” At the end of each sung line, a small ensemble of singers repeated the song’s title, adding power and reflection to every one of Locke’s soulful sentences.