Ashvarya: Bridging South America and the United States in Black Music Research Author(s): Gerard Béhague

Béhague, Gerard. “Bridging South America and the United States in Black Music Research.” Black Music Research Journal 22.1 (2002): 1-5. Web.

Basic difficulties with such a criterion of classification are that stratification is not fixed and stable; sociocultural or ethnic identity can vary considerably in time and space…Boundaries and borders are clearly related to the question of identity and must be rethought with special attention to the various factors that contributed to forge an old or contemporary identity (Behague,1). Culture and traditions evolve with time. Identity is fluid in nature rather than fixed. Lemonade is an attempt not only to break but also question the concept of identity. In the song Freedom, an African woman is dressed in a ballerina’s outfit. She is petite and probably fulfills the ‘ideal image’ of a Ballerina. In the entire album and especially this song, we see the systemic injustices and racism that prevailed in the United States of America, dating from the period to Slavery till the present being represented by various examples.

We have not, however, accumulated enough empiric knowledge of the vast music corpora of the continent to allow meaningful and comprehensive cross-cultural comparisons among music cultures that share a common ethnohistory but have developed different cultural expressions (Behauge 2). The stratification of time and space in the album Lemonade in simple words function to be symbols of class identity. It is inclusive of practices- musical and performative, which still hold good in both rural and urban settings.

The first step in the crusade to bridge the two traditions requires a con- sideration of the few apparent similarities and numerous differences of the wide-ranging cultural experiences of North and South Americans of black ancestry-chronologically, geographically, and musically. (Behauge 3). Gilbert Chase in his book Guide to the Music of Latin America (1962 ) talks about the richness of Spanish-American music in Latin American but fails to mention the importance of Black Americans in Latin America, which constitutes of the Caribbean culture as well.

… No attention has been paid to a comparative study of the relative presence of African “retentions” or “reinterpretations” in the area of expressive culture among various countries of the American continent.(Behauge 4). Beyonce, in her album shows different aspects of the Black American culture. We see women dressed differently as and when the album progresses. Women are dressed in ethnic to modern wear, which represents the diversity that exists in the African culture itself.




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