People of Color in European Art History


  1. [rebloggable by request]

I assume you mean this article on salon.com?
I mean, obviously, I didn’t write it and music isn’t exactly my specialty.
But, as for people don’t have intrinsic knowledge of ancestral musical traditions”,  Beethoven had a father and mother, and his father at least was a musician as well.
The use of language in the article regarding African influences, if it’s meant to be some kind of evidence of his ethnicity, is certainly misplaced, but it’s framed in a relevant way:

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 -1827) was born in Bonn, Germany, but his family originated in Belgium, which was then called Flanders.  Interestingly, his family name, as noble and grand as it sounds, is a Flemish one quaintly and literally meaning “beet garden.”  For over 200 years, Belgium/Flanders had been occupied by Spain.  One need only look at a map to see how close in proximity Southern Spain is to Northern Africa, separated by the Strait of Gibraltar, which, from a geological standpoint, appears to have forged its way through an erstwhile connection between the two terrains. 


Africans had easy access to Spain, the zenith being the 700 year reign of the Moors in that country. (“Moor” comes from Greek/Latin root words meaning “Black” or “dark-skinned.”)  The protracted Black presence in Spain apparently protracted its presence in Belgium/Flanders along with the Spanish.

It seems more like it’s being framed as a regional cultural influence, rather than some creepy “of course he’s got rhythm” kind of grossness.
To ignore the influence of polyglot cultures, regional proximity and historic occupations and say his innovations were “only building off prior European music” seems like a pretty narrow focus, to be quite honest.
The article cites specifically syncopated rhythms in several compositions, and projects it forward into Black music from later eras like Jazz and Gospel. As for citing influence from Northern Africa specifically, especially when speaking on broader terms like “European Music” which obviously shared certain traits as a whole as well, falls short of “offensive and ignorant”. I think framing an article on a Black musician around Black music is relevant and commendable, especially since the author of the article is Black, and I am not.

    [rebloggable by request]

    I assume you mean this article on salon.com?

    I mean, obviously, I didn’t write it and music isn’t exactly my specialty.

    But, as for people don’t have intrinsic knowledge of ancestral musical traditions”,  Beethoven had a father and mother, and his father at least was a musician as well.

    The use of language in the article regarding African influences, if it’s meant to be some kind of evidence of his ethnicity, is certainly misplaced, but it’s framed in a relevant way:

    Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 -1827) was born in Bonn, Germany, but his family originated in Belgium, which was then called Flanders.  Interestingly, his family name, as noble and grand as it sounds, is a Flemish one quaintly and literally meaning “beet garden.”  For over 200 years, Belgium/Flanders had been occupied by Spain.  One need only look at a map to see how close in proximity Southern Spain is to Northern Africa, separated by the Strait of Gibraltar, which, from a geological standpoint, appears to have forged its way through an erstwhile connection between the two terrains. 

    Africans had easy access to Spain, the zenith being the 700 year reign of the Moors in that country. (“Moor” comes from Greek/Latin root words meaning “Black” or “dark-skinned.”)  The protracted Black presence in Spain apparently protracted its presence in Belgium/Flanders along with the Spanish.

    It seems more like it’s being framed as a regional cultural influence, rather than some creepy “of course he’s got rhythm” kind of grossness.

    To ignore the influence of polyglot cultures, regional proximity and historic occupations and say his innovations were “only building off prior European music” seems like a pretty narrow focus, to be quite honest.

    The article cites specifically syncopated rhythms in several compositions, and projects it forward into Black music from later eras like Jazz and Gospel. As for citing influence from Northern Africa specifically, especially when speaking on broader terms like “European Music” which obviously shared certain traits as a whole as well, falls short of “offensive and ignorant”. I think framing an article on a Black musician around Black music is relevant and commendable, especially since the author of the article is Black, and I am not.