Rock Guitar MusicGuitar Rock Music
Whitey guitar music. Ideologies for the rock
Although some critics have been emancipated for several decades, so-called skirtism - the naive and reactionary cult of skirt authenticity - remains the most widespread ideology in the minds of musicians and journalists. More transversal: The society pages of established artists and critics as well as bloggers and hobby musicians are teeming with miserable nostalgic complaints that regret a mythological Gold Era of rock (for many the decade 65 - 75) and vulgarly invade new teenage idols, Caribbean stars, rappers, DJs, car tuners and talentshows.
Actually, we are living an extraordinary season for pop music. The production and distribution of music products has reached a scale that was unimaginable until a few years ago, both quantitatively and qualitatively. The globalization of markets on the one hand and the transformation of the means of production and their use on the other have completely reshaped the world music scene, in which we find clear signs of the more general restructuring of transnational capitalism, its multipolar emergence and the resulting crisis of American cultural imperialism.
Recently, we have seen the world's first hits of Asian origin (an example of which is the single "Gangnam Style" by PSY from 2012) and a huge process of tropicalization, which has shifted the focus of the music industry to Central and South America and relativized the weight of the USA and Europe.
After all, the rockist's notstalgia for the seventies is nothing more than the notstalgia for a season in which music production - quantitative and qualitative, I repeat, not even comparable to today's - reflects the political, economic and military hegemony of the United States. And his desire to return to authentic rock - as any musicologist knows there never was - is certainly no less desperate and tragicomic than Donald Trump's "America First!" cry.
Rock is the guardian of a tradition, of a world that disappears to be preserved in heroic niches by musicians and listeners who cultivate "real music" and keep it alive - against everything and everyone - who "played with real instruments and not with machines", who "sincerely", "made with body and soul and not according to market statistics" and other stupid things like these.
This feeling is particularly ridiculous when one considers one of the most interesting aspects of the recent development of pop music, namely that the light music of the twentieth century has by no means disappeared in the new millennium, but has undergone a process of multiplication and dissemination. Musical genres whose parable seemed destined to be consumed within a decade within a limited geographical range - rhythm, Blues, Bluegrass, rocksteady, Beats, Irishwolk, Progressive Rock, to name but a few - have reached planetary distribution.
Briefly, there have never been so many progressive rock musicians as today. One could say that it is the contemporary version of a spontaneous ideology that runs through the entire history of popular music from the 19th century to the present day. Suffice it to read what musicians and commentators wrote at the beginning of the century when they tore their robes against the advent of recording techniques that would lead to the death of live music, the only authentic experience of musical enjoyment, and to the affirmation of the terrible "conserved music" as John Philip Sousa defined it ("The MACE OF) Mechanical Music", Appleton's Magazine, 8, 1906, 278-284).
However, there is one aspect that makes it politically relevant, and that is the correspondence of its creation and development with the great process of racializing rock. In fact, after a decade - 55/65 - characterized by an unprecedented degree of interraciality in artistic production, we have experienced a sudden and almost complete "whitening" of rock.
Rock'n'roll - which up to the age of 65 contained a variety of styles, from surfing to soul, in which the African-American matrix was always palpable - became, with the loss of the "role" in a few years, a music that was almost exclusively played by whites, dominated by the phallic centrality of the electric guitarist.
For this reason some contemporary scientists define rock from the 70s as guitar music. TRUQUESTI Jack Hamilton, AUTOJUST AROUND MINNIGHT. Harvard University Press, 2016), which examined in detail the relationship between rock and race in the second half of the 20th century.
As Hamilton tells us when Hendrix died in 1970, a famous obituary described him as "a man in the strange rock world". Not only was the color of the guitarist's skin an element of great fascination during his tragically short season of celebrity for fans of this music once known as "rock and roll".
Already at the end of the sixties the hypervisibility of the Hendrix breed confirmed a racial imagination of rock, which veiled its African-American dimension in very fast times, so that on the day of his death the idea of a black boy playing an electric solo guitar was considered eccentric.
The deeply reactionary nature of rock culture, however, exploded on July 12, 1979, when tens of thousands of rock supporters invaded Chicago's Comiskey Park to experience the unfavorable discography of rock culture, discography, and the music of the band. Each of them brought with them one or more records of record music for destruction, in a great collective ritual that today is considered one of the saddest and most stupid sides in the history of music.
The " Disco To Do " movement was a racist and homophobic reaction to the success of disco music, a genre that was largely interracial and in stark contrast to the machism that characterised rock music. The truth was that what seemed to be the end of disco music at the time marked the beginning of the end of the Principality of Rock in music.
As a symbol of the final conclusion of the bleaching process, Hamilton ironically mentions the famous Back to the Future sequence, a Hollywood 1985-blockbuster that changed the historical course a great deal: Chuck Berry's "Sound" was retrospectively invented by a white adolescent with Van Halen in his pocket.
In 2011, when a famous New York Classic Rock station conducted a poll of listeners to create a Top 1043, a ranking of the best rock songs of all time, only 22 - 2% - were recorded by African American artists, sixteen of them by the last Jimi Hendrix, the only black artist whose place in the hagiography of rock music is beyond question.
In the meantime, however, rock had long since lost its central position in the empire of popular music, while other genres had conquered ever larger parts of the world market. This includes hip-hop, the most successful African-American music of all time, in which we find the whole history of rock and roll and disco music.
We' ll talk about that in the next episode, which will be dedicated to the relationship between rock and African American music.