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Duke Ellington: The Music's "Great Spirit" (Fortsetzung) Teil 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5

     The ancient pentatonic is African... The Old World and The Blues. Duke, the pianist, is insinuatingly black-key based. But he uses the white keys as part of the whole, all related more organically. The sharps and flats are part of one integrated scale (as the Twelve-Tone composers demonstrated to some extent). So that "minors" and "majors" express each other as dialectical relationships existing as a living whole.
     One wonders did Duke ever discuss with Paul Robeson the profound research Robeson did, internationally, on the relationship of the world wide existence of the ancient pentatonic and the later diatonic "tempered" scale Europe created with its ascendance (ca 15th c) and the resulting segregated piano. The very existence of the White/Black key segregation, exclusion from the diatonic as "flat" or "sharp", of what? These sharps and flats actually speak of the historic existence and ancientness of the Pentatonic Scale (Blues) as found throughout ancient world cultures, from Africa to Russia to Mexico, &c.
     The European Diatonic scale is a psychosocial privileging of notes over others, as a fixed "tempered" scale. Actually, the black notes are the ancient vowels of speech, of languages, the five senses (5+5) the hands, the feet, the organs on the face of the senses.
     The music speaks, sings, as a totality of its own historic actuality, the confirmation of all the aspects of which it is composed. In other words, it is what it tells about. The refusal, in 1967, by the Pulitzer Prize committee to give the Pulitzer to Duke, after its own music judges had selected him, is just another bizarre proof that the U.S has never been a democracy. Just as the same embarrassing national chauvinism enabled "great musical minds" like Irving Mills and John Hammond and to pass judgement that Duke had betrayed "Jazz" when he began to produce the extended masterworks and suites. Or Downbeat and Metronome writing in the 40's that the emergence of Bird, Diz, Monk, &c signaled the "death" of the music, giving their records "No Stars" initially, and then years later, to save the unface they had left, re-reviewed the records!
     Still it goes on, with frequent NY Times writers like Richard Sudhalter contributing such gems of national chauvinism as saying that the music did not originate in the Afro American community, as a vector of that culture, but was actually co-created by white musicians. Certainly, Mr. Sudhalter is entitled to his opinion, but in the context of the historic racism and national oppression under which Black people have suffered in the U.S., and the fact that there are yet no major newspapers in the country in which a black writer is featured writing about Jazz, such tedious subjectivism as Sudhalter's seems only another shell from the scatter gun of white nationalism, Black national oppression and racism! (Let us imagine there was no a major newspaper with a featured Euro-American writer writing on European concert music!)

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