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In Soundworks Anthony Reed argues that studying sound requires conceiving it as process and as work. Since the long Black Arts era (ca. 1958–1974), intellectuals, poets, and musicians have defined black sound as radical aesthetic practice. Through their recorded collaborations as well as the accompanying interviews, essays, liner notes, and other media, they continually reinvent black sound conceptually and materially. Soundwork is Reed’s term for that material and conceptual labor of experimental sound practice framed by the institutions of the culture industry and shifting historical contexts. Through analyses of Langston Hughes’s collaboration with Charles Mingus, Amiri Baraka’s work with the New York Art Quartet, Jayne Cortez’s albums with the Firespitters, and the multimedia projects of Archie Shepp, Matana Roberts, Cecil Taylor, and Jeanne Lee, Reed shows that to grasp black sound as a radical philosophical and aesthetic insurgence requires attending to it as the product of material, technical, sensual, and ideological processes.
About the Author
Anthony Reed is Associate Professor of English at Vanderbilt University and author of Freedom Time: The Poetics and Politics of Black Experimental Writing.
Table of ContentsAcknowledgments ix
Introduction. Black Sonic: Textuality 1
1. Voice Prints: Toward a Black Media Concept 23
2. Communities in Transition: A Poetics of Black Communism 61
3. Tomorrow is the Question! Amiri Baraka's Poetics for a Post-Revolutionary Age 103
4. Body/Language: The Semiotics and Poetics of Improvisation and Black Embodiment 143
Coda. No Simple Explanations 181