The Color of Music | Letters | Chicago Reader

The Color of Music 

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To the editors,

Josh Goldfein's Rock, Etc. piece concerning the stylistic variances between Beck and Ol' Dirty Bastard [January 28] confuses musical analysis with sociology. Specifically, his use of the term "black music" is not only factually incorrect, but surprisingly naive. Goldfein writes, "For 'Get Real Paid' [Beck] cooks up a Miami jeep beat from Afrika Bambaataa's 'Planet Rock.'" If one wants to nitpick the elusive qualities of "white music" versus "black music," that's fine (though hardly, it seems, worth the trouble). However, Goldfein should know that "Planet Rock," in particular, utilizes the 1970s song "Trans Europe Express" by the German band Kraftwerk. Indeed, Arthur Baker, a white man, produced the Bambaataa version and Monica Lynch, a white woman, released it on her Tommy Boy label.

I point out these things not because I think that white people are not getting enough "credit," but because this racial pigeonholing of music in my opinion leads to the very stereotypes that Mr. Goldfein attempts to unveil. As the venerable free drummer Milford Graves said about free jazz: "I don't think we should be calling it 'black' music. If you look all around the world you don't find any music designated by color. What we do call it is the problem."

Best,

Joel Hunt

Logan Square

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