NYU Black Renaissance Noire NYU Black Renaissance Noire Volume 16.2: Fall 2016 - Page 45

In the construction of a particularized aesthetic , we recognize Word in the creative process of wood carving , quilting , weaving , oratory , performance of instruments , or song and dance , or even the kinesthetic angularity that drives the improvisational mode of vibrant colors and irregular patterns of cloth that signify text , such as in the crossing patterns of the Ashanti Kente Cloth , the dynamic rhythm of multi-colored vertical and horizontal stripes that have found continuity in Pangi Cloth , a fabric construction of the Maroons of Surinam , a continuity that is perhaps not even lost among the Alabamians and Mississippians , who migrate from the rural South to the concrete jungle of Chicago where they assuage the immutable hard-edged urbanity by fortifying themselves in the rhythmic adornment of vibrant , though often discordant , primary-colored Streetwear — Lime Suit , Purple Shirt , Yellow Necktie , Red-Suede Wing-tip Spectators , Wide-brimmed Royal Blue Felt Hat — cutting a path through the uncharitable gazes on the crowded pavement with a deportment of Nommo-inspired self-empowerment , the Country Boy transformed into the spiritual essence of Beauty so potent it causes the critical gaze of denizens to deflect their eyes away from the spectacle .
Unmistakably , there is a distinct difference in what American popular culture has referred to as the “ jungle music ” of Duke Ellington and the Champagne Music of Lawrence Welk . At one time , so-called Jazz was pejoratively referred to as Coon Music . However , it is now anointed as America ’ s Music . No less anomalous , if not otherwise gratuitous , is unesco ’ s 2003 acclamatory recognition of the Moore Towne Maroons , a Jamaican traditional performing arts ensemble of master musicians , drummers , storytellers , craftspeople , herbal healers and spiritualist known throughout the United States and Europe as the Granny Nanny Cultural Group , designating its music as “ Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity .”
Clearly , there is an acute need for a new critical vocabulary to be advanced outside of the conventional wisdom of Eurocentric aesthetic traditions to interpret and evaluate the Africaneity of the expressive products of the African Diaspora . A critical vocabulary generated from an African Diasporic view would reveal how openness of asymmetry might benefit a performance mode more favorably than the closure of symmetry , as witnessed in the construction of the seemingly incongruent musical intentions of Blues and Opera into a dynamic union — as opposed to an artificial fusion — where the Boss of break-rhythm , James Brown , is joined with the Master of perfect-pitch sonority , Luciano Pavarotti , in the performance of an r & b tune , It ’ s A Man ’ s World ( 2006 ).
The expressive modality was established by the repetitive , syncopated ostinato vamp of a philharmonic orchestra , which created a motile space for Brown ’ s strident melody to be met at the bridge with Pavarotti ’ s lyrical improvisational aria without compromising the integrity of either genre , yet jointly inventing a coherent new thing . If a critical model were in place to evaluate the successful arousal of evocative power in the performance , its vocabulary would necessarily have to include , in addition to asymmetry , space , break , improvisation , rhythm and repetition , but also indices such as poly-rhythm , tonal angularity , and the choric / communal element of call-n ’ -response , so as to confirm that it is not contemplation or artistic contrivance that illuminates
beauty , but rather , the activation of Àṣẹ . The beauty of artful expression , in this sense , was not its accessibility to popular taste , but its capacity to awaken the communal spirit , a power manifestation of God / spirit .
Until recently , the gaze of the critical establishment has been focused on color as opposed to practice , ignoring the synergy of performance practices ( including visual , aural and gestural ) among Africans in the Diaspora . It is necessary to shift the gaze and establish a verifiable global legitimacy beyond the limits of color — even when the new cultural practice tends to be bricolage and unverifiable as African — so that the practice is not reductively confined to reactions to oppression or the vitality of the exotic …( as reflected in a specious review in a Toronto , Canada , newspaper for the Classical