On Beauty and Function: Applying African Aesthetics to Blues Sounds in Motion

By:
Dr. Melanie Bratcher
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Focused on the concept of a whole African artistic and cultural value system, this presenter argues that aesthetic analysis of African American song performance illuminates a plethora of African values that promote positive cultural transformation and continuity. Tracing manifestations of African artistic sensibilities through the vocal expressiveness of a selected Blues singer, the author connects these sensibilities to aesthetic behaviors that promote values of beauty, goodness, righteousness, and even badness. African dance senses and canons are paramount to a visceral understanding of "sound in motion" and thus to a more culturally centered perception of beauty and function in African-derived artistic products. The analyses that frame this presentation make it clear that the African aesthetic is 1) the keeper of Pan African cultural values, traditions and philosophies, and 2) a dynamic, flexible and highly creative mode of describing and determining beauty through function.


Keywords: Aesthetics, Philosophical premises in art analysis, Culturally centered analysis, Art as Propoganda
Stream: Arts Agendas, Analysing Artforms, Meaning and Representation
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr. Melanie Bratcher

Assistant Professor, African & African American Studies, The University of Oklahoma
USA

My research interests are firmly rooted within the fields of African aesthetics and culture. I concentrate on questions of cultural, that is, philosophical continuity in traditional, neo-traditional, and contemporary song and dance forms in Pan African contexts. My ongoing research agenda revolves around the documentation of aesthetic features, principles and behaviors in the dance and music of Africa, worldwide. Cultural/artistic preservation and presentation is the goal. As an artist and scholar, my research pursuits are grounded in the African philosophy of “Art as Propaganda”. Drawing from the ritual, folk, and theatrical dramas (histories) of African peoples, my studies and activism are aimed at forging a spirit/value/aesthetic-based paradigm of social change that embodies cultural dynamism and embraces cultural traditions. Consequently, the research agenda has two branches: 1) research for written publication, and 2) research for theatrical publication. The latter, artistic branch primarily fosters my commitment to service and community outreach in local, national and international settings. An Oklahoma native, my community activism and interests include educational presentations on African culture, dance and music, particularly in underpriviledged communities.

Ref: A06P0235