Different Drummers

Different Drummers: Rhythm and Race in the Americas

Martin Munro
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: 1
Pages: 296
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1ppx3p
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  • Book Info
    Different Drummers
    Book Description:

    Long a taboo subject among critics, rhythm finally takes center stage in this book's dazzling, wide-ranging examination of diverse black cultures across the New World. Martin Munro’s groundbreaking work traces the central—and contested—role of music in shaping identities, politics, social history, and artistic expression. Starting with enslaved African musicians, Munro takes us to Haiti, Trinidad, the French Caribbean, and to the civil rights era in the United States. Along the way, he highlights such figures as Toussaint Louverture, Jacques Roumain, Jean Price-Mars, The Mighty Sparrow, Aimé Césaire, Edouard Glissant, Joseph Zobel, Daniel Maximin, James Brown, and Amiri Baraka. Bringing to light new connections among black cultures, Munro shows how rhythm has been both a persistent marker of race as well as a dynamic force for change at virtually every major turning point in black New World history.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94740-5
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction: Slaves to the Rhythm
    (pp. 1-23)

    The Burt Lancaster filmThe Swimmercontains a scene in which the white suburbanite protagonist, Ned Merrill, emerges from the woods at the entrance to the home of one of his wealthy friends. At the same time, the friend’s Rolls-Royce car arrives at the gate, and Merrill runs forward to catch a ride up the lengthy driveway. As the car draws up, Merrill calls out the chauffeur’s name (“Steve”), and the car stops. It is only when Merrill moves close to the car that he realizes he had mistaken the chauffeur for his predecessor. “You’re not Steve,” he says. “No,”...

  5. 1 Beating Back Darkness: Rhythm and Revolution in Haiti
    (pp. 24-77)

    In many crucial ways, the history of the modern Caribbean begins in Haiti in 1804, with Jean-Jacques Dessalines’s declaration of independence. It was here that the fallible nature of colonial military power and, more importantly, of colonial ideology in the Caribbean was first exposed. The Haitian Revolution that began in 1791 dealt blows to the notion of innate European, “white” superiority, sending cracks through the colonial edifice that could never be repaired and that, over time, brought the whole enterprise crashing down. The events in Haiti effectively realized the lofty egalitarian ideals of the European Enlightenment: played out on the...

  6. 2 Rhythm, Creolization, and Conflict in Trinidad
    (pp. 78-131)

    As Haiti was assuming its independence and moving into its uncertain postcolonial future, the rest of the colonial Caribbean remained firmly under the yoke of imperialism and slavery. The islands of the Anglophone Caribbean did not become independent until almost 160 years after Dessalines’s declaration. One of the consequences of the Haitian Revolution was that the process of creolization in that country took on an idiosyncratic form: with the influx of Africans and Europeans largely arrested, and with relatively few other immigrant groups subsequently settling in Haiti, creolization there became largely a matter of further syncretizing the African and European...

  7. 3 Rhythm, Music, and Literature in the French Caribbean
    (pp. 132-181)

    As the rhythm of the steelbands was being harnessed to a nascent form of black power in Trinidad, and as Haiti’s musicians and intellectuals were incorporating rhythm as a primary feature of indigenist aesthetics, a similar conception of black rhythm was emerging as a defining aspect of another racial consciousness movement on the small French island of Martinique. During the 1940s, the Negritude movement developed an idea of black culture and black being that held rhythm to be an essential attribute of the black man. Whereas in Trinidad it was in popular music that blackness and rhythm were most extensively...

  8. 4 James Brown, Rhythm, and Black Power
    (pp. 182-213)

    Despite its particular colonial history and the ways in which that history has encouraged a lingering fascination with its former European metropoles, the Caribbean does not exist in isolation from the rest of the Americas. As Daniel Maximin’sL’Isolé soleilshows, there are intricate, sometimes hidden, but nonetheless profound and enduring links between the Caribbean and North America, in particular. Rhythm and music offer some of the most fluid and effective means of connecting the islands with other New World diasporic communities, but politics is another domain in which crosscurrents of influence have shaped history and society in the Caribbean...

  9. Conclusion: Listening to New World History
    (pp. 214-226)

    In a 2006 book on the intellectual history of the Caribbean, author Silvio Torres-Saillant writes critically about the region’s music and questions whether music and musicians, despite their commercial success, actually bring any “discernible benefit” to the region (33). Evoking the historic Peace concert in Jamaica in 1978 when Bob Marley famously summoned political foes Michael Manley and Edward Seaga to the stage to shake hands, Torres-Saillant argues that this was one of the few examples of music and musicians having any significant, albeit short-lived, effect on the sociopolitical reality of a Caribbean country. Taking issue with the general perception...

  10. NOTES
    (pp. 227-250)
  11. REFERENCES
    (pp. 251-268)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 269-280)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 281-281)