24 May, 2020

Instauration (an Article From It)

Posted by Socrates in Instauration magazine, music, Socrates at 12:57 pm | Permanent Link

Wilmot Robertson (1915-2005), who was the author of the popular 1973 book “The Dispossessed Majority,” was the editor/publisher of the “underground” pro-White magazine Instauration (“restoring”), which was published monthly from 1975 to 2000.

This article is from Instauration, March 1980.

MUSIC AND RACE

Long regarded as the special culture of Southern rednecks, country music has grown extremely popular in the last decade in urban and suburban neighborhoods outside the South. One reason is that the lyrics are good reflections of Majority racial attitudes.

The racial dynamics are quite obvious. With the exception of Charley Pride, there are few black country performers. Many white performers openly supported George Wallace in his political campaigns. While wide publicity is given to white liberals like John Denver and Kris Kristofferson (the latter supported a black in a recent Mississippi election), typical country performers tend to be Majority boosters, in contrast to the minority racists who dominate “city” music.

An article in Nation in early 1970 entitled “Singing to Silent America” said:

“Current conditions and events have always been an inspiration for country and western songs. In the 1920s, there were songs about specific floods and railroad accidents; today, there are songs about airline hijacking and mining disasters. Country songs have also interpreted conditions and events. In World War Two the repertory was strongly patriotic; in the 1930s it mirrored the frustration of the depression. Today, the themes of country music unmistakably mirror the fears and reactions of silent America…Music trade publications in recent months have talked of a “musical backlash” on Top 40 popular radio stations. Records by black artists are not getting much play these days on such stations, a major reason being that the white station managers feel that their predominately white audiences are made uncomfortable by the musical “soul” sound of the ghetto…The themes appearing in country music are another such signal. Those who can see the advantage of being an “Okie from Muskogee” are not just the long-time clients of country music — those who drive trucks, work the mines and farms — but factory hands, mortgage payers, salesmen, and commuters. Songs like “Okie” are a comforting musical antidote to student protest, black militancy, and serious debate on the war.”

That country music is a basically Anglo-Saxon creation was shown by British musicologist Cecil Sharp, who devoted his life to discovering, recording, arranging and publishing the native songs and dances of Britain and then carried his investigations to America.

Composer and critic Daniel Gregory Mason writes:

“Sharp [discovered] in the Appalachian mountains and other rural districts little affected by civilization, many survivals of songs brought from England generations ago. His publications contain curious examples of songs less corrupted by time in America than in England, or differently corrupted here. Just as the Anglo-Saxons in America are the core element in the American Majority, country music has become a unifying factor in bringing the diverse elements of that majority together. It is not clear yet, however, whether this is a revival of our culture or a last ditch stand.”

Valid criticism of country music, as much a sign of a healthy culture as creative work, has virtually vanished today. A volume of essays by Daniel Gregory Mason, entitled The Dilemma of American Music and written several decades ago, is rewarding reading for anyone interested in understanding our musical heritage.

The head of the music department at Columbia University, which in the 1920s was a far different place than the minority baboonery it is today, Mason bluntly shows us where he stands by noting:

“Although it is impossible nowadays [1924] to mention American music without hearing someone murmur, as if in echo, “jazz,” there is, as a matter of fact, a great deal more…than “pep,” “punch,” and “kick” and we have a number of composers of competent technical skill and distinctive personality who have no commerce with the ragtime jerk.”

Mason also notes the impossibility of fusing different cultures:

“Study Henry Gilbert’s Negroes in his “Comedy Overture on Negro Themes”: not full-blooded, you will observe, but half-breeds-quadroons-octoroons — descended by some repellent miscegenation from Beethoven and Mendelssohn.”

Of the love of great music, one of his principal concerns, Mason writes, it

“may never be awakened at all in children who hear nothing but popular music produced wholesale. In such unfortunates there will either be complete indifference to music or at most a response to the crude nerve stimulant of jazz. Such people are the robots of a mechanized and dehumanized musical world.”

Finally, in what is probably the best criticism of jazz to date, Mason says:

“Jazz is the doggerel of music. It is the sing song that the schoolboy repeats mechanically before he becomes sensitive to refined cadence. It is not, accurately speaking, rhythm at all, but only a meter, a monotonous repetition of short stereotyped figures. For precisely this reason it is popular with listless, inattentive, easily distracted people, incapable of the effort required to grasp the more complex symmetries of real music. If I am so dull that I cannot recognize a rhythm unless it kicks me in the solar plexus at every beat, my favorite music will be jazz, just as my favorite poetry will be “the boy stood on the burning deck” or its equivalent. If I possess, moreover, the conceit of the dull, I can easily go on to rationalize my preference into a canon of universal excellence, and affirm that jazz is the only music for all true Americans. And if I have also the hostility of the dull to distinction, the desire to pull everything above me down to my own dead level of mediocrity that seems to be a part of our American gregariousness, I can complete my aesthetics by “jazzing” up whatever genuine music may happen to come in my way. With Paul Whiteman I can render Chopin indistinguishable from Gershwin, I can reduce Beethoven to terms of Irving Berlin, and like some perverse tonal Burbank, I can trans-form MacDowell’s “Wild Rose” into a red cabbage.”

What Mason was really saying was that the Schonberg 12-tone school produces music for the mind, jazz produces music for the emotions, but the great music of the West is music for the spirit.


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