Eric Wood wrote:
Well it's not really about race. It IS about communities and it's also about economics.
But if we're talking about American music and how it's influenced by the community it comes from and the economic status of the people in that community, then you're probably going to end up using the words "black" and "white," and then people get uncomfortable and whatever.
The point is, a lot of innovations are about cost reduction. That's the big, straight forward, not at all racist point to take away. An orchestra becomes a smaller combo; the whole percussion section reduced to a drum kit. Then the combo gets slowly stripped down until it's just a guitar, bass and drums. Then the band gets replaced by turntables.
With each step along the way, once the new, revolutionary music becomes popular, it gets an influx of money, and then spends an extended time slowly developing, which inevitably means it gets more expensive to produce, and then poor people can't competitively make it anymore. And so then the next revolution comes from poor people stripping down costs and making something that the musical establishment can't wrap their heads around, and therefore can't compete with by throwing money at it.
And it didn't only happen with black americans. Old timey country slowly built up into country swing but then got stripped down into honky tonk. Then it got built back up into Nashville sound, then it got stripped back down into country rock. Early guitar rock built up into prog and arena and glam bombast, and then got stripped down into punk. So it's not a black/white thing.
But it seems like a black/white thing. Because if at some given point in American history 10% of the population was black, but 50% of the popular or important music came from black people, then we wonder if black people are somehow magical musically. But that 50% might actually line up to the percentage of the poor population that was black. And so music proved itself to be meritorious in a land of unequal opportunity. And the story of 20th century music became the story of how the entire world came to embrace and identify with music originally intended for minority teenagers in a segregated society.
And that's a great story, and can't be twisted to say anything negative about anyone, except about the people who ensured it was a segregated society.
Hmm...I think this is an overstatement of a progression that I don't think is demonstrated by music history outside a couple of specific examples.