NYU Black Renaissance Noire Winter 2014 - Page 171

BLACK RENAISSANCE NOIRE Today’s soaring travel costs now severely curtail long-established bands’ abilities to reach distant community parades. Diminishing public funding has disrupted and even eliminated respected school music programs, which have historically furnished a fertile ground for America’s new musicians. Marching band numbers have plummeted from thousands to a few hundred in a decade. Continuity of this indispensable centuries-old musical heritage is gravely threatened. 169 Their rhythmic repetitions of form and tone are finely structured articulations of the black tradition, which transform the bands’ creative fire and ignite a perfect response. The crowd triumphantly demands the whole story, the ancient story as a path to the future. It’s fanfare, not a floor show. It’s an elegant, ritualized, witty village pageant, a reminder that culture’s song is something we carry with us all the time. The black marching band series’ timing is crucial.