multiple soundings, dissonances, resonances, rhythmic patterns and diasporic relays that have historically animated and continue to enunciate Black life and create new types of archives. Archives that both store and broadcast the Black Sonic. Through these broadcasts, the quietude of slavery and colonialism are disturbed across historical time. Similarly, these broadcasts traverse geographical space and amplify the trans-nationality of Black Lives Matter. Taken together, the Black Sonic underscores the dynamic range of Fred Moten’s “Black phonic substance” and the ways in which Black, brown, femme and queer people from across the African diaspora embody and make shareable its many cadences. The programme includes the work of various sonic and artistic practitioners from African and its diaspora. Rashaad Newsome’s Shade Compositions are the result of the artist’s “casual but extensive ethnographic and linguistic research into global iterations of shade.” Within the piece, shade is a language that is acted out through tone, pitch and gesture that exceed the “word.” Inspired by Newsome’s involvement in New York City’s vogue/ball culture, shade is both a sonic composition and a composition of an underground world of Black-queer life. Rhea Storr and Prof Phanuel Antwi explore how for those who live the frequencies and fiction of empires and self-creation, the orthodoxy of the archive requires poesis and abstraction and posits archival refusal as the heretical act of the pressing of ears to the image peephole through to the somewhere score of the said and unsaid things of everyday life. Ashon Crawley’s writing on Blackness as being an epistemology of feeling “not against thought, but feeling as thought...” – become points of departure for thinking through the different ways in which attending to the affective qualities of the sonic might begin to present opportunities for feeling through Black quotidian experiences.
of marginalising Blackness, Black Sonic asks: If the project of history is one of silence, of the systematic erasure and disappearance of those considered peripheral to the optic fantasy and logo-centrism of ‘civilization’ (read whiteness), then how might the sonic present a uniquely enabling modality for thinking, feeling and performing a different historical imagination? If the fantasy of ‘civilisation’ is sustained by imagining and reimagining relationships with the environment, memory and a set of inherent rules that imbricate whiteness with the sacred, then how does the profane (read Blackness) undertake this task of historical (re)imagination? How do those that face down the catastrophe of history rebuild in its aftermath(s)? Central to this rebuilding is a certain conception of Heritage and Heresy. Here, heritage is not intended as a kind of singular cultural, national or continental identity but as praxis or rather, a set of praxes that operate both in relation to and against the logo-centrism of ‘civilization’. As an expression, Blackness challenges the stability of the sacred-profane dialectic. In so doing, heresy reveals the paradox of the orthodox and enacts the possibility of choice. Through this heritage of praxis, the ordinary crossfades into the extraordinary and the dissolution of the boundary is itself heretical. The words that comprise The Souls of Black Folk (W.E.B Du Bois 1903) are meaningless without the title’s referent Black folk. If logo-centrism posits the word as sacred, these articulations of Blackness (which look beyond the word) become heresy, enacted. Prof Anthony Bogues states: “All heritage is consolidated by a series of discursive power and political power. Heresy challenges that and says: within the consolidation of that tradition or heritage, what are the currents that actually have been counter to what we consider to be the tradition.”
Taking into consideration that many musical traditions are birthed from and often characterised or influenced by movement and migration, the programme considers movement, both at an affective and physical level to explore the different types of mobility afforded to Black folk across varying sonic practices. Zara Julius talks about how we might begin to use frequency as a strategy for survival that aids in revealing and concealing experiences of Black life and maintaining the integrity of sacred rituals. The practice of producing collective soundings (in which hearing is a key component – harmonising demands hearing and
intuition which is marked by feeling), creates communion and marks recognition.
DJ Lynnée Denise’s practice is centred around exploring sonic based knowledge systems. She coined the term ‘DJ Scholarship’, which repositions the role of DJs from being party purveyors to cultural custodians that use music to create space for public dialogue in attempts to transform the understanding of music across the Black Atlantic beyond entertainment and in its social context. Following the online programme, an interactive e-book featuring contributions from artists, curators and DJ scholars included in the programme will be published with Iwalewa Books, as Vol II of a 3-part Imagined New publication series. The Imagined New is made possible in part thanks to a generous grant from the Abrams Foundation.
By Black Sonic we thus mean (or rather, call into play) the
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