Debate and Discussion

Is Beethoven Black??
Jules at 3:21PM, Nov. 1, 2008
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I just heard recently that the classical music composer Beethoven had african-american heritage, and then I found this:

http://www.africawithin.com/kwaku/beethoven.htm

about him being having a Muslim-African mother (Moor)..

*Is this accurate?
*Did anyone already know about this at all, am I just really late?
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:11PM
ozoneocean at 7:02PM, Nov. 1, 2008
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Sounds unlikely, but anything's possible. I have heard that he was rather swarthy.
It'd be interesting to get some more sources on this.

BTW, Moors were really a Berber/Arab people (from and around Morocco). The idea that they were much darker skinned is a historical misinterpretation: they were swarthier and darker haired than the Europeans they conquered. The Europeans wrote about the darker looks because it contrasted so much with their own. Much later on we get the racist term of “Blackamoor” to describe dark skinned (swarthy to very dark and all shades in between), peoples from all over Africa, not anywhere specific- much like the racist term “ching-chong” was used for people from all over Eastern and south east Asia, not just China. ;)

 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:32PM
DAJB at 1:56AM, Nov. 2, 2008
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This sounds very unlikely to me. I guess it's possible that there may have been some North African blood in his ancestry but even the article quoted casts doubt on that. I'm afraid this seems like yet another attempt to re-write history by someone with an axe to grind.

What will be really cool, will be when people (of all colours) simply say: “who cares what colour he (or any other famous person) was?” His music is all that matters.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:03PM
Faliat at 7:48AM, Nov. 2, 2008
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Mixed race AND deaf?

Poor guy.

Call that jumped up metal rod a knife?
Watch mine go straight through a kevlar table, and if it dunt do the same to a certain gaixan's skull in my immediate vicinity after, I GET A F*****G REFUND! BUKKO, AH?!

- Rekkiy (NerveWire)
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:25PM
NickGuy at 8:04AM, Nov. 2, 2008
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Beethoven black? that would explain his mad MC skillz, yo.

“Kung Fu Komix IS…hardcore martial art action all the way. 8/10” -Harkovast
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last edited on July 14, 2011 2:15PM
bravo1102 at 3:01PM, Nov. 2, 2008
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Swarthy and “black a a moor” was also used to describe Italians and Spaniards from areas where if you go back 1200 years or so were invaded and settled by Moors, Berbers etc. So If he had ancestors from Mediterranean countries that could explain it. The only way to be certain would be run genetic tests on his DNA.

OT but interesting anecdote: When the Hessian soldiers returned to Germany after the American Revolution they brought with them several hundred freed black slaves they had enlisted in their regiments as musicians, camp followers and soldiers.

They intermarried and within two generations had vanished into the general population.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:33AM
NickGuy at 3:27PM, Nov. 2, 2008
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bravo1102
They intermarried and within two generations had vanished into the general population.

and thats how it should be….im so sick of hearing people say “im full blooded this or that”….just mix it up already, damn.

“Kung Fu Komix IS…hardcore martial art action all the way. 8/10” -Harkovast
“Kung Fu Komix is that rare comic that is made with heart and love of the medium, and it delivers” -Zenstrive
“Kung Fu Komix is…so awesome” -threeeyeswurm
“Kung Fu Komix is..told with all the stupid exuberance of the genre it parodies” -The Real Macabre
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:15PM
ozoneocean at 6:16PM, Nov. 2, 2008
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bravo1102
Swarthy and “black a a moor” was also used to describe Italians and Spaniards from areas where if you go back 1200 years or so were invaded and settled by Moors, Berbers etc.
“Blackamoor” was a pretty general term for anyone who was even olive skinned in Europe for a very long while. Indeed, some of the various versions for the origin of my own name “Morris” are believed to have been from “Moor-like”.

The idea of “mixed race” as a term is quite repugnant really, in that no one is “mixed race”, we're all one. As Nickguy sort of says from the “fullblooded” perspective. There are no races, it's a shame we label people with that artificial cultural stigma.

Perhaps Beethoven did have some North African heritage. It's not beyond the bounds of possibility and I wouldn't dismiss it out of hand. Paintings of him as a boy show him quite pale, and all sculptures and paintings of him show rather northern European features. Maybe the frowning brow isn't? I don't know, but it's not too valid a way to go by appearances, either contemporary descriptions or the artistic imagery because they're all just impressions based on the expectation and experience of the viewer at the time (and after). You'd have to look at lineage if you were really interested. And that's a bit fuzzy… But I still wouldn't discount it totally.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:32PM
Ironscarfs Ghost at 6:42PM, Nov. 2, 2008
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He was a soul brother alright. Even clasically trained players can't hide the backbeats on that 5th symphony:
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=zhcR1ZS2hVo
Er……..boo!
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:03PM
NickGuy at 7:56AM, Nov. 3, 2008
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thats what im sayin! If you listen closely you can almost hear him going “BRASS YOU BETTER CHECK YOURSELVES BEFORE YOU WRECK YOURSELVES!”


EDIT: i just simultaneously play beethoven's 9th symphony part 2 coupled with cam'ron's oh boy…sounded pretty much exactly the same.

“Kung Fu Komix IS…hardcore martial art action all the way. 8/10” -Harkovast
“Kung Fu Komix is that rare comic that is made with heart and love of the medium, and it delivers” -Zenstrive
“Kung Fu Komix is…so awesome” -threeeyeswurm
“Kung Fu Komix is..told with all the stupid exuberance of the genre it parodies” -The Real Macabre
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:15PM
bravo1102 at 8:33AM, Nov. 3, 2008
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So Lugwig Von- got a deep tan…

The whole “beat” music thing is part and parcel of the racist tagging of blacks during “Jim Crow” and the fond memories of ante-bellum “Happy, dancing, musical nigger slaves” in the post-Reconstruction South. (several great studies of this have come out in recent years and how it ruled American perceptions of blacks until the 1950-60s)

(I do not use the “n” word lightly, it is how it was stated once upon a time with all the derision that now offensive term infers)
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:33AM
Ironscarfs Ghost at 9:54AM, Nov. 3, 2008
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Bravo1102
The whole “beat” music thing is part and parcel of the racist tagging of blacks during “Jim Crow”
Beat music as I understand it is a type of music played by white British bands in the early to mid 1960's, unless you're talking about the ‘beat movement’ as exemplified by jack Kerouac and others in 1950's America. Can you be more specific?
Er……..boo!
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:03PM
DAJB at 11:27PM, Nov. 3, 2008
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Hey - maybe he was white but just blacked up when he was playing banjo down by the Mississippi riverboats. I guess that could have confused one or two of his contemporaries …!
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:03PM
ozoneocean at 4:03PM, Nov. 4, 2008
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Ironscarfs Ghost
Bravo1102
The whole “beat” music thing is part and parcel of the racist tagging of blacks during “Jim Crow”
Beat music as I understand it is a type of music played by white British bands in the early to mid 1960's, unless you're talking about the ‘beat movement’ as exemplified by jack Kerouac and others in 1950's America. Can you be more specific?
No, he's talking about beats in music, as you know.

I suppose that comes from people looking at the origins of Rock and roll and deciding that the prime contribution of African Americans came from the drum based music of Africa, which is pretty strange really since most African American music before Rock and Roll wasn't characterised by the preponderance of a strong beat. It does seem like racialist interpretation; the idea that African people were more primitive with their music so what they contributed was from their “primitive” tribal origins… Which wasn't really what happened. The contribution was the more complicated and interesting styles of Jazz and blues… There's the rhythm there, but it's much more than that.

Actually most simple, popular, catchy music from many places in the world has always had a good regular beat- popular folk dancing music
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:32PM
Ironscarfs Ghost at 5:49PM, Nov. 4, 2008
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Ozoneocean
No, he's talking about beats in music, as you know.

I suppose that comes from people looking at the origins of Rock and roll and deciding that the prime contribution of African Americans came from the drum based music of Africa, which is pretty strange really since most African American music before Rock and Roll wasn't characterised by the preponderance of a strong beat. It does seem like racialist interpretation; the idea that African people were more primitive with their music so what they contributed was from their “primitive” tribal origins… Which wasn't really what happened. The contribution was the more complicated and interesting styles of Jazz and blues… There's the rhythm there, but it's much more than that.

Actually most simple, popular, catchy music from many places in the world has always had a good regular beat- popular folk dancing music
Ah yes, you knew I knew and I knew you'd know I knew. Knowing me and knowing you, it's probably the best we could do.

Actually I think you're making the fundamental error made by white analysts and musicologists since the days of empire: that rhythm, especially with regard to the musical innovations of the African continent, is somehow primitive; less sophisticated and ‘civilised’ that it's European cousin, harmony. I use the word rhythm because, as you correctly pointed out, a beat, or simple meter, is a component of most forms of folk music. Rhythm is the subdivision of that beat into endless and endlessly evolving musical statements that play with and against the beat in various ways.

Without getting into the technical specifics, the rhythmic forms that evolved in Africa and were exported to the rest of the planet by, in many cases, infamous means, were far from primitive and capable of infinite variety. The prime contribution of African Americans is the combination of that rhythmic heritage with the European innovations of harmony. For example, a Charlie Parker solo may contain extraordinary harmonic sophistication, but what seperates it from a work of Debussy is it's rhythmic elements.

To this day, as they did throughout the 20th century, African Americans continue to develop new forms of music by this means. I do not know of any black person ( and most of the persons I know are black) who feels anything other than pride in this heritage. When George Clinton recorded Uncle Jam Wants You in 1979, he posthulated a black version of the American military in which ‘groove manouvers’ and ‘funkin’ for Uncle Jam were the prime directives. This was humour, but with a deeply serious intent: the reclamation of the black experience from the dismissive hands of it's white detractors. It was an attack on, not the product of, Jim Crow.

In short, the descendants of Africa took white music and taught it how to rag, stomp, get up, get down, swing, shuffle, honky tonk, bop and freak out. Jim Crow would like you to believe that this is not the case.

Edit: the ‘strong beat’ of rock'n'roll that you mentioned is a simplification for white ears of it's rhythmically more complex black predecessor, rhythm and blues.
Er……..boo!
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:03PM
bravo1102 at 6:02PM, Nov. 4, 2008
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In the African-American case the beat went from dancing to a rhythym used for repetitive labor. These rhythyms were also used for religious worship which included the few joys that a black slave could have. The masters thought the slaves were happy because they danced and sang, when more likely they were trying to forget (and the words often cursed their masters. Wonder why the favorite gospel songs were about the Exodus?). The masters liked the entertainment from their happy niggers and that lasted after the Civil war and became minstrel and gospel. Put extremely simplistically gospel music led to Blues and Minstrel to jazz.

To one of European ancestry accustomed to the music of 18th-19th century Europe the working rhythyms of the field hands was “primitive” and “base” They felt the same way about the folk music various European groups like the Scotch-Irish, Mediterranean peoples, Eastern Europeans etc.

Ludwig Von's music is very European. His beats are very reminiscent of the main music of his time; martial marching music of the armies of the Napoleonic Wars. He was right in the middle of it. In fact one of the themes in one of of his symphonies is very similar to one marching tune of Le Grande Armee
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:33AM
ozoneocean at 10:57PM, Nov. 4, 2008
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Oh, I never claimed the rhythmic music was primitive, I was characterising the typical view of the peoples and their cultures, I wouldn't characterise the people s or their cultures that way myself because I don't think of them as primitive :)

For the rest, fir enough, but this:
Ironscarfs Ghost
To this day, as they did throughout the 20th century, African Americans continue to develop new forms of music by this means.
Wha? Are you saying the beat is in their genes? :)

We know this is cultural and geographic, not to do with skin tone, -except by cultural association. African Americans are no longer such a defined subgroup in that country. They're a part of the whole now, the culture their ansestors bought across is part of the culture and history of the whole country now. Can it really be said that, as a group “African Americans continue develop new forms of music…” as some sort of a solid movement? isn't it rather that these people are just another part of contemporary culture and the music industry like all the others, developing music YES, but not as African Americans, but "Americans".
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:32PM
Ironscarfs Ghost at 4:03AM, Nov. 6, 2008
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Ozoneocean
Wha? Are you saying the beat is in their genes?

No, you're right of course; we're talking about a cultural, not a genetic heritage.:)
Ozoneocean
Can it really be said that, as a group “African Americans continue develop new forms of music…” as some sort of a solid movement? isn't it rather that these people are just another part of contemporary culture and the music industry like all the others, developing music YES, but not as African Americans, but “Americans”.
On this point I would have to differ. The measure I would use is this: can you walk into your record store, or log on to your virtual record store, look at the categories presented to you and be able to say with some degree of certainty which music is considered to be of black or white origin? I think you could.

I'm not saying that a white artist such as Eminem can't be accepted or succesful in ‘black’ music, or that a black artist such as Beethoven (;)) can't be succesful in ‘white’ music, but the categories exist and are almost universally understood. Is this a bad thing? I can't say. Do black Americans consider themselves to be African Americans? I can't answer that either, but I do know that white and black listeners can be largely dentified as one or the other by their music collections.
It's a polarisation that, if anything, seems more defined now to me than it did in the recent past.

And yes, I am saying that ‘black’ music continues to originate new forms of popular music, whilst ‘white’ music is largely celebrating old ones at present. As to whether we should all get together and just make ‘music’, well artistic output is a reflection of, amongst other things, social conditions and we have a few other issues to resolve on that score first. If black artists reflect the black experience in their music, is that really a bad thing, even if some would prefer not to hear about it?
Er……..boo!
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:03PM
deletedbyrequest03 at 11:32PM, Nov. 15, 2008
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I do listen to classical music, but I can't be too sure if Beethoven is black. Why? Because none of us saw him. The person that wrote that article never saw him. In fact, our entire history may be a lie and we don't know it.

This year, school's full of BS!!!
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:05PM

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