|Numinous The Music of Joseph C. Phillips Jr.|
The Numinosum Blog
This post is a first in a series profiling some of the inspirations and thoughts behind the six movements of my composition Changing Same premiering March 16th, 2013 at the Ecstatic Music Festival in New York City.
“[W]e must fight for your life as though it were our own—which it is—and render impassable with our bodies the corridor to the gas chamber. For, if they take you in the morning, they will be coming for us that night.”1
Being a very young kid growing up in the 1970s I was still forming my thoughts about life. But some images from the media stuck out and left an indelible impression on me about the range and diversity in the black world: movies such as Car Wash and The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings and other blaxploitation films (although I didn't know the term then), TV shows such as Soul Train, Good Times, Sanford and Sons, Fat Albert and The Jeffersons, Dr. J, Mohammed Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, the great multi-ethnic Big Red Machine, the Parliament Funkadelic LPs of my parents, and the black cultural movement featuring powerful political figures such as Shirley Chisholm, Harold Washington, and Angela Davis. Even though I was too young to understand exactly who or what she was or about, the image of a full Afro'd Angela Davis speaking was quite iconic to my young mind.
“19” is partly inspired by a number of seemly disparate musical sources: Arnold Schoenberg's Sechs Kleine Klavierstücke opus 19 from 1911 (one of the first Schoenberg pieces I studied and liked, specifically the Maurizio Pollini DG recording--nineteen is also the age when I began studying music as an undergraduate, after two years working toward a biochem major), Curtis Mayfield’s “Little Child Runnin’ Wild” from his seminal score to the 1972 film Superfly, and a hint of the go-go music of Chuck Brown. The emotional timbre of “19” however, is inspired by the activist Angela Davis and her status in the black culture of my youth. Writer James Baldwin's November 19, 1970 “An Open Letter to My Sister, Miss Angela Davis” is stirring in its description of Davis as a soldier in the on-going struggle for racial and social equality and a martyr in the “enormous revolution in black consciousness…[that] means the beginning or the end of America.”2 The letter, while condemning the false arrest of Angela Davis that summer, goes on to describe the contemporary state of racial dynamics in the United States in biting and incisive commentary.
Ecstatic Music Festival
with Imani Uzuri
Saturday March 16th, 2013
Merkin Concert Hall
129 W. 67th Street
(between Broadway and Amsterdam Ave)
Check back as I'll post some more crib notes about the movements from Changing Same.
James Baldwin, “An Open Letter to My Sister, Miss Angela Davis.”
POSTED BY NUMINOUS AT 11:30 AM
To all things that create a sense of wonder and beauty that inspires and enlightens.