Music's Influence on Racial Identity Perception

1052 Words3 Pages

Chu Chen
UGS 303
Prof. Seeman
Assignment #3
Music and Racial identities

Race, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is a category of humankind that shares certain distinctive physical traits (“Merriam-Webster” 2016). “The concept of race, as a construct distinguishing one group of humans from another on the basis of shared biological appearances, emerges from a legacy of human-different making that traces across humanity” (Radano and Bohlman 2000: 10). In my opinion, it is inevitable for musicians to subconsciously incorporate their ideas of racial differences into music making. With the influence of mass media, racial differences are communicated through music, which then modifies the pre-existing perceptions of racial identities …show more content…

“Together the matrices of race and music occupied similar position and shared the same spaces in the works of some of the most lasting texts of Enlightenment thought..., by the end of the eighteenth century, music could embody differences and exhibit race…. Just as nature gave birth and form to race, so music exhibited remarkable affinities to nature” (Radano and Bohlman 2000: 14). Radano and Bohlman pointed out that nature is a source of differences; Racial identities, inevitably, exist because of these differences. However, as racial identities are founded on the differences of physical appearances, they are displayed through the differences of music, as music embodies the physical differences of human. Racial differences are magnified through many musical features, including language, tonality and vocal expression. Nonetheless, music is the common ground of different racial identities. “In the racial imagination, music also occupies a position that bridges or overlaps with racial differences. Music fills in the spaces between racial distinctiveness….” (Radano and Bohlman 2000:8) Even though music serves as a medium through which the differences of racial identities are revealed, it glues them

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