A college chief gets his knuckles rapped for dissing rap music

A college chief gets his knuckles rapped for dissing rap music


norman lebrecht

July 23, 2018

An distinguished figure at the State University of New York has been reprimanded for voicing an opinion that rap is not ‘real music.’

Gerald Benjamin, director of the Benjamin Center (which is named after him) on SUNY’s New Paltz campus, told the New York Times, ‘People like us, people in rural New York, we are not people who respond to this part of American culture.’ The Times quoted him as saying he did not consider rap to be ‘real music’ and whipped up a little media storm.

This drew an swift rebuke from SUNY:

And an apology from poor old Dr Benjamin:

‘I have worked at SUNY New Paltz for fifty years in several capacities, and have a deep attachment to the school and the diverse community we have built here… I am therefore very sorry for any unintended distress caused by my remarks…. These remarks have been condemned as racist. I had no racist intent but understand the impact of those remarks, and regret having made them..’

So much for academic freedom of speech.




  • John Rook says:

    Yet more halfwits hell-bent on painting themselves as victims. Dr. Benjamin, we salute you.

  • V.Lind says:

    I’d like to see the original article in which Dr.Benjamin was quoted. Certainly any academic should be able to diss rap music — he is quite right that it is not real music. It is a means of communication of extraordinary importance and astonishing longevity and needs study to determine why, but any person with two working ears is entitled to state that it is not “real music.”

    However, I’m not sure it is fair to accuse SUNY of restricting his academic freedom over another cited remark. ‘People like us, people in rural New York, we are not people who respond to this part of American culture.’ That is a remark that goes beyond aesthetic critique. “People like us” is a bit condescending, as is “this part of American culture,” let alone the view that the former are “not people who respond” to the latter. The whole thing is most infelicitously phrased, not up to a high academic standard. Based on his apology, he did not mean harm through these clumsy phrases. He was probably just trying to say “rap doesn’t play well around here — we’re middle-aged, white and conservative and rural and we don’t have much experience of the ‘hood and the street.” (And it ain’t real music anyway).

  • V.Lind says:

    Hmmmm. Here’s the article — took a little searching:


    Mr. Benjamin also said, “Is a guy who makes a rap album the kind of guy who lives here in rural New York and reflects our lifestyle and values?”

    There is a political campaign going on and Benjamin is allied to the opponent of the former rapper.

    There may be more than a little racism in all this after all, and not just yet another crowd with wounded feelings. Mr. Benjamin’s worldview looks mighty white.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Music is not ‘white’ and rap is not music, obviously, but used as black protest ‘music’ and thus in itself racist and confirming prejudices. You don’t have to be racist to reject that ‘culture’ as a deplorable part of American ‘culture’. As we know, it spreads everywhere where racism rises its ugly head, as recently in Germany where a couple of thugs used it to express antisemitic hatred.

  • Caravaggio says:

    Good for him. But the professor could have prevented some of the blow up by omitting the “people like us” business and simply declaring the genre to be what it is: (c)rap. No need to walk on eggshells about that.

  • José says:

    Rap and pop music = monkey business.

  • william osborne says:

    Chauvinism is defined as an invidious attachment to groups. The prof’s comments hint at exactly that.

    From a larger, more general perspective, I wonder why music creates a stronger sense of personal and communal identification than any other art form? You can dislike a painting, or a whole school of painting, and no one cares, but if you dislike the music they like, you are defined as “the other,” you become suspect, an outsider, someone they can’t harmonize with. These impulses might help explain why the symphony orchestra became so closely associated with the rise of cultural nationalism in the 19th century.

    I worry that the pop-music-industrial-complex is using this human propensity of msuical self-definition to suppress opposition to its products. A dislike for rap is quick to be labeled racist. It is in some cases, but clearly not in a lot of others. The accusations sometimes become opportunistic and specious.

    I also think of the comments of Wynton Marsalis, a renowned, black jazz musician, who dislikes rap. He objects to its misogyny, and the way black on black violence is used as a measure of authenticity in some forms of gangsta. In some forms of gangsta, self-destructive black behavior becomes a form of white entertainment. Marsalis has described this as a new form of the minstrel. Not sure that’s true, but it’s an interesting idea from an authoritative voice in the black community.

    • John Borstlap says:

      “…… why the symphony orchestra became so closely associated with the rise of cultural nationalism in the 19th century.” ??? That is a tendentious and questionable statement. The symphony orchestra developed on its own accord, and where it was used as a nationalist symbol (where and when, exactly?) that has nothing to do with the medium itself.

      • william osborne says:

        To name a few nationalist orchestra composers (some to a larger degree than others: Smetana, Dvorak, Janacek, Grieg, Sibelius, Bartok, Kodaly, Albeniz, de Falla, Grnados, Carolos Chavez, Villa-Lobos, Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Copland, Ives, Verdi, Respighi, Weber, Wagner, Brahms.

        On the other hand, I realize how elephants can hide in cherry trees because they have red eyes……..

        Orchestras themselves are also utilized for these purposes, usually under the rubric of cultural diplomacy. This book is about two notable examples from an unfortunate time in history:


        • John Borstlap says:

          This book is about an extreme example. One cannot generalize on the basis of this story. The whole of European societies were strongly politicized from WW I onwards, also in France, for instance. That is why it is better to have the EU.

      • william osborne says:

        And I shouldn’t leave out Mussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov and Borodin.

        • John Borstlap says:

          Of course everybody knows about the inspirations of these composers. But is such inspiration ‘nationalist’? Drawing upon local musical traditions is not in itself ‘nationalist’ – was the international Italian influence in the 17th and 18th century nationalist, when there did not even exist an Italian state? Was the effort of 17C French government to stimulate typical French musical traditions nationalist? May it not simply have been a reasonable protection of local tastes? After all, while Louis XIV was a very nationalist ruler, there were no purely political gains to be had by French music, other than contributing to the ‘gloire’ of the nation, but is that nationalist? I think two different things are confused here: the normal inspiration of local traditions and appropriation by the state for POLITICAL purposes. They should not be thrown on the same heap of political evil. The good thing of (art-) music is that it easily crosses borders and can be understood and appreciated everywhere. So, even the most ‘Russian’ works by Mussorgsky are part of the world heritage of music and not a tool of politics, whatever mr Putin would want to do with it.

  • Robert Holmén says:

    I had not heard of the distinguished composer Gerald Benjamin prior to this and wondered what sort music he wrote. Turns out, he doesn’t.

    He’s a political science teacher, not a musician at all. His opinion on music has as much merit as any other old guy shaking his fist at the neighborhood kids.

    After all the preposterous noise that has been dropped on concert hall audiences as “new music” in the past 60 years, for anyone to now turn around and attack rap as not musical enough does appear as arbitrary and hypocritical.

    Rap music more than meets the extremely low bar (and I do mean LOW) set by modern academics and music theorists.

    After setting the bar low so that no-talent university professors could be “composers” too, they are alarmed that anyone outside their privileged circle of NEA grant-getters is being recognized as one too.

  • John McLaughlin Williams says:

    With all respect, John Bostlap, you don’t seem to know anything about rap music. It is music, absolutely, and like all music, it can cover that gamut of the shared human experience, including aspects that may be objectionable to some. Like all music, it is the product of a particular people and reflects their particular concerns. Its vibrancy and fertility are ultimately confirmed by its widespread acceptance in cultures far beyond that of its origin. I daresay that I more acquainted with actual Hip Hop than you ever want to be and am in a much better position to describe it fairly beyond mere opinion. So, please exercise caution in throwing around words such as “racist” in describing this or any music. There are those who (just as wrongly) use such terms to describe Beethoven simply because of his origin and its reflection in the aesthetic of his compositions. Dead White guys and all…

    • Carl DiOrio says:

      I’m a pop-knowledgeable sort who hears similarly extravagant claims often. But until Kanye et al. commit their noodling to sheet music, hip-hop — however “musical” — will not, and should not, be taken seriously.

      • John McLaughlin Williams says:

        Carl, I said nothing about Hip Hop being taken seriously; I said that it is unequivocably music. How it is “taken” is strictly personal.

      • Greg says:

        “But until Kanye et al. commit their noodling to sheet music, hip-hop — however “musical” — will not, and should not, be taken seriously.”

        I don’t mean to take the side of rap or hip hop because as both a professional musician and a parent I find them loathsome, wanton and degenerate. However, I would take exception to the idea that music needs to be committed to sheet music to be taken seriously. That premise totally discounts jazz improvisation. Perhaps this isn’t the forum to defend jazz, but I never thought rap would be discussed here, either.

        • Carl DiOrio says:

          Absolutely agree that jazz is a wonderful art form. The improv at the heart of jazz is most spontaneous in live performance. Once committed to a recording, it is regularly also committed to note-by-note transcriptions that devoted followers love to analyze and play.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Rap, hiphop etc. is music in the sense that a 2-year old child’s drawing is ‘personal expression’, but with the added possibility of expressing the worst possible human emotions. If we talk about music as an art form, including its simple form: entertainment music, then all those primitive concoctions parading as music fall well below its standards, artistically and especially, in terms of civilizational values. One does not need to be an old white male conservative fogey to understand that……


      • John McLaughlin Williams says:

        John, again, you attempt to make your personal assessment quantify an ultimate artistic judgment. You are certainly welcome to do that, but it is in no way the last word on the subject.

        • John Borstlap says:

          I am not claiming that my word is the last on the subject, and of course there are many people with a profound longing to be liberated from the burden of maturity, civilization, culture, knowledge, history etc. etc. – because it is so much easer to follow appetites and to live like farm animals. The rap/hiphop phenomenon, together with a lot of so-called ‘pop’, is only a reflection of a much wider trend to undo what has been left of a more or less civilized society. The racism inherent in such phenomenae is just awful. As white people may feel shame for the history of slavery and colonialism, blacks may feel deeply embarrassed by the association with such primitive thing.

          It is part of an ongoing and intensifying discussion about Western society, now that its tenets become more and more questioned.

          • John McLaughlin Williams says:

            “…blacks may feel deeply embarrassed by the association with such primitive thing.” What an epic feat of racial assumption that is, not to mention your paternalistic characterization of something of which you literally know nothing as “primitive”. Superior Race, much?

          • Sue says:

            Congratulations on the ongoing courage to speak your mind without hiding behind anonymity, and voicing opinions which are sometimes unpopular. It takes strength of character to do that.

            Dr. Jordan Peterson says “if you’re reading only what you know you’ll never learn anything”. It’s a sentiment worth contemplating.

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    @R Holmén: If no-talent university professors can be “composers” too, why cannot a political science teacher have some presumably well-grounded opinions on music and culture? Maybe he sings in a choir or plays some instrument at home, and in this case he probably knows more om music than most people around.

    @JM Williams: Why is it OK to say ‘dead white guy’ in a derogatory way, but it is forbidden to say [edited] or [edited]?

    • John McLaughlin Williams says:

      R Holmén: I think your characterization of my employed term as derogatory is your personal inference.

      • Ian Pace says:

        If you had said ‘dead Jews’, I think the derogatory implication would be clear, as it is here. And your statement is no better than that one.

        • John McLaughlin Williams says:

          Ian, how you can extrapolate “dead Jews” from the accepted colloquialism referring to much of western culture “dead white guys” is surely an example of a febrile imagination powered in no small part by paranoia.

      • Robert Holmén says:

        I didn’t characterize anything you said. I’m not eve sure what it is I am to have characterized.

  • Anon! A Moose! says:

    “So much for academic freedom of speech.”

    I might be sympathetic if he speech had any academic content. He didn’t critique anything about the genre, he made a comment that would make anyone who felt that rap music was part of their culture feel unwelcome in the area.

    • Anon! A Moose! says:

      (*his* speech)

    • John Borstlap says:

      People who feel that rap is part of their culture deserve to feel unwelcome anywhere. They should grow-up and try to develop some more civilized musical taste. It is nothing to be proud of, and I feel sorry for American blacks who don’t feel it at all part of their culture and feel blemished by association. It is something like people of Jewish descent who feel ashamed that Israel, of all countries, has turned into a racist one.

      • Mark says:

        “people of Jewish descent who feel ashamed that Israel, of all countries, has turned into a racist one”

        Ashamed? No. Angry, disgusted, offended, yes; not ashamed. Just like non-Jews, Jews are human, so some of them will turn out to be [characteristic] just like some of every other identifiable group.

        When we all learn to deal with the individual in front of us, instead of pretending that their group identity requires them to behave/think/emote in generic ways, we’ll be able to delete words ending in -ist from our social vocabulary.

        • John Borstlap says:

          A much attractive ideal…. The tendency of seeing an individual only as representing a group, a tribe, a community, diminishes his/her humanity and is the first step towards inhumanity.

        • Sue says:

          Avert your eyes at Israel helping the ‘white helmuts’ in Syria escape threats to their lives. Jewish people putting their lives on the line in a daring operation to help others in another country. I don’t see ‘Danny Boy’ Barenboim rushing to help!!

      • John McLaughlin Williams says:

        The enormity of your presumptions extend from music you nothing of to an entire people of whom you know less. Because of a genre of music we create, we should be made universally unwelcome? We should grow up and demonstrate “civilized musical taste”? Do you have any idea how that sounds objectively? Clearly, you are beholden go notions of cultural superiority that would have been quite contemporary in Europe eighty years ago. You should crank up your Time Machine, as you have barely joined the 20th century, let alone the 21st. Sir, you betray yourself and everyone here has now seen it.

        • John Borstlap says:

          I know, it’s all difficult isn’t it?

          But seriously, take a deep breath and reflect upon other periods when collective enthusiasm about modernity resulted in not altogether positive developments: the wide-spread and deepening antisemitism in the 2nd half of the 19th century (considered very modern at the time), the general enthusiasm at the prospect of WW I which was seen as a happy opportunity to wipe-out oldfashioned constraints and mores, the collective commitment to dictatorial parties and governments in the twenties and thirties of the 20th century which were seen as progressive solutions to the difficulties of democracy (comparable with movements of today), the collective murders in the Soviet Union and China under enthusiast, modern utopias to get rid of the ‘bourgeoisie’, the wholehearted embrace of islamic government in the Iranian revolution with Khomeiny, or the partition of India in two different countries which resulted in enthusiastic mass killings on the modern prospect of finally a nice muslem state in the region. All these developments were characterized by a collective idea that they were an appropriate expression of modernity, to get rid of some heritage. Trumpism is another such phenomenon. Shall I go on? Often, the ‘attractiveness’ of utopian modernity has blinded numerous people like lemmings on their way to disaster, and this is not some cranky opinion but historical fact which is easily checked. It just needs some reading, instead of listening to rap or hiphop.

          Cultural expressions of the worst inclinations of the human being are signals of civilizational values being eroded, they point towards a wider trend, and as such hiphop / rap has to be understood. That has nothing to do with not understanding one’s own time…. but the opposite. It is not difficult to see that it is the lemmings who live under the glass bell of collective delusion.

          • Anon! A Moose! says:

            “Cultural expressions of the worst inclinations of the human being”

            I get the distinct feeling you’ve only been aware of a small sliver of rap music. Just as not every piece in the classical tradition is the Light Cavalry Overture, not all rap is violent and/or misogynistic. Like Sturgeon’s “Law” says, 90% of everything is crap. There’s great and terrible classical, and great and terrible rap.

            And plenty of music in the classical tradition expresses bad inclinations of humans.

            “People who feel that rap is part of their culture deserve to feel unwelcome anywhere. ”

            I just don’t even.

  • V.Lind says:

    As rap is essentially spoken voiced declamation, almost always to the same rhythm and beat, would someone explain to me how it gets to be taken seriously as “music”? That it is a very important cultural phenomenon I have already acknowledged. If people want to listen to it, that’s their shout. The rest of us, who find it earache-inducing, should perhaps try to take some note of the content, as it is speaking for various communities and groups and has stuck around longer than anyone might have predicted.

    That’s a pop phenomenon: marketing has long since trumped any other aspect of the pop music scene (although some real musical talent does occasionally get through and even stays through). But a lot depends upon “persona” and style and image, and while you sort of had to be able to write music or at least sing it before, rap opens up the stages of the world to people who cannot do either to make their points if they can present themselves interestingly enough (to their target market, which one has to assume is the musically illiterate).

  • Doug says:

    Word of advice to Gerald Benjamin: https://crest.com/en-us/products/whitestrips

    Then again, when he visits the UK he’s considered a Hollywood star.

  • Sharon says:

    I believe none of the bloggers mentioned the context of New Paltz. New Paltz College is part of the State of New York University system. It is in Westchester County, adjacent to New York City. New Paltz was set up as an experimental college which, at least when it was first set up, did not have traditional courses and had a strong emphasis on the arts.
    Bottom line, a public remark like Dr. Benjamin’s which might not have been given any notice if it were printed in the campus newspaper of a predominately white rural college, would naturally be incendiary at New Paltz, especially since it was published in the New York Times as part of an interview. As a political science professor, who had been at the college a long time and presumably understands the political power of media, he should have known better. Good thing he’s tenured.

    • The View from America says:

      Maybe it’s a bad thing he’s tenured …

      • John Rook says:

        Yes, we can’t have anyone offending the moral and intellectual superiority of the Twittersphere…He should be punished for not learning his lines.

  • Scott says:

    Keith Richards says rap is for tone-death people.
    Jerry Garcia said rap is not music.
    Jazz Musician Wynton Marsalis Says Rap Music Is ‘More Damaging Than A Statue of Robert E. Lee’

    From the Examiner:
    Rap the biggest con in history of music
    Canned crap from rap flunkies who can’t sing as they mutter away to a thumping beat – chattering a useless, deviant monologue of prose with an obligatory video of lecherous beauties fastened to the performer, and partying like there’s no tomorrow.

    Rap is an asylum for slightly agitated nobodies, getting restless with their limbs and getting intense and rich on a one-sided, egotistical conversation. Since when did a heavily choreographed troupe with a provocative dance routine and a heavily tattooed commentator ever properly illustrate a song?

    The Economic Times:
    Do you like rap music? You could be a psychopath

    • william osborne says:

      Ironically, reactions this vindictive could suggest rap might have something to it…

      • John mcLaughlin Williams says:

        William, you beat me to it…

        • Ian Pace says:

          No, it is entirely appropriate. And I just hope I never have to see anything again from such hate-fuelled bigots. Both are just as bad as those who blame everything on ‘the Jews’.

          I have seen this argument in debates I have been involved with – when some people let down their guard, their true colour become clear. All such rhetoric has its roots in fascistic thinking, and you are no different.

          • Ian Pace says:

            (This comment should have been below the reply to my comment comparing some sentiments to ‘dead Jews’ above. McLaughlin Williams’ remarks are no different to those, however much he claims immunity on the grounds that such rhetoric has become normalised. It is a shame he is allowed to post here)

  • Ian Pace says:

    ‪One of the things rap achieves is to create academic positions for those with no abilities whatsoever for engaging with music. And who instead teach sub-GCSE sociology, or primary school level English.‬

    In short, it is very popular with academic fakes and charlatans.

    • John McLaughllin Williams says:

      “In short, it is very popular with academic fakes and charlatans.”
      The same has been argued about proponents of the Second Viennese School and other practitioners of various 12-tone techniques. Kind of renders the argument – stupid.

    • John McLaughlin Williams says:

      “In short, it is very popular with academic fakes and charlatans.”
      The same has been argued about proponents of the Second Viennese School and other practitioners of various 12-tone techniques. Kind of renders that argument – stupid.

      • Ian Pace says:

        No-one of whom I am aware who writes on the Aecond Viennese School has anything less than a highly developed set of musical skills. The same could certainly not be said of most who write and lecture on rap.

        • John Borstlap says:

          I don’t agree with the so-called ‘Second Viennese School’. To begin with, it was not a ‘school’, the notion is a fake academic term, a fig leaf to give the music of Schoenberg, Berg and Webern some sort of academic patina as a defense against much critique from practical concert life. And then, the atonal idea (in itself a hughely complex concept with lots of contradictions) was indeed attractive for people with very limited musical talents, since it offered the possibility to write ‘music’ based upon structural methods for which musical talents are hardly required and often merely a barrier. Hence the development of a ‘modern music circuit’ after WW II of which so many people reveal themselves as fools and cynics, and/or aggressive nihilists:


          For academics, the Schoenberg ideas were a gift from heaven because they offered the panorama of infinite explanation, like concept art in the visual arts which has produced oceans of theoretical nonsense. So, there is certainly truth in the idea that when music is treated as a social / racial / gendered / rationalistic thing, it is attractive for academia.

          • Ian Pace says:

            Berg, Webern – and later Boulez, Stockhausen, Barraqué, Pousseur, Nono (and ‘milder’ dodecaphonists such as Dallapiccola or Sessions) all had highly developed aural sensibilities. None of them were simply following a set of rules. I find this palpable when playing any of their work.

          • Shlomo says:

            They were just tools.

            So are you.
            But whose tool are you?

            (Now now… no need for any discontent. You’re a good tool, right?)

          • V.Lind says:

            Bit difficult to deny the musicality of Berg’s violin concerto.

            But on the whole I am with you — my ear does not respond well, to use a Prof. Benjamin-style construction, to much atonal music, though I think the best of it makes an effort to create something new using musical forms (unlike rap — beat is not enough). However as I tend to resist it I do not feel I know it well enough to offer a widespread generalisation. Nonetheless, having sat through some pretty execrable stuff, I find its ardent defenders similar to the kind of people who rave about plain white canvases (untextured, nothing more than paint applied smoothly across a canvas) and similar things while arguing that they have as much merit as anything from Raphael to Monet or Chagall.

          • John Borstlap says:

            To Ian Pace:

            Yes, these people had very good ears, but that is something different from musical talents. Their aural sensibilities enabled them to create sound art where all the efforts went into the material surface of the art form: its sound. But music is more than its sound.

            Alban Berg is a good case in point; he did not really fit into the Schoenbergian utopia, and his Wozzeck is still music, albeit on the edge – it had to express insanity and dissolution, but the music is still pointing towards ‘normal’ music in the background. His later 12-tone music is the result of a hughe effort to combine tonal relationships with a system that was designed to work against them, so: entirely unnecessary. He could have written his violin concerto without that system. But well, there had a myth to be created, a myth of progress and modernity.


  • Daniel G says:

    For those of you who are not familiar with New York 19 where John Faso the Republican congressman is up for re-election against the Democratic challenger Antonio Delgado, this is a mix of urban and rural setting which is geographically larger than the states of Connecticut and Rhode Island combined. I live in this district and have seen increasing incidence of anti-semitism and frequent Confederate Flags flying on homes and cars. Seeking their endorsement, John Faso in the summer of 2016 spoke with a group known as the Oath Keepers which is listed as a hate group by the Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center. The fact that John Faso and his PAC supporters bring up Delgado’s rap music from 2006 is a way to continue to play the race card and incite racism. Please keep in mind that at the same time in 2006 John Faso worked for a lobbyist law firm that was censured by the State Legislature for 5-years for pay-to-play violations. Its a shame a professor at SUNY New Paltz, a public college with over 30% students of color, should say that rap music does not have a place with “People like us” perpetuates the racism prevalent in NY Congressional District 19. I’m not a fan of rap music but for better or worse that is the music that speaks to intercity youth in many urban cities in America which Mr. Delgado was trying to connect with in their language.

  • Greg says:

    The PC Police tell us what comments are now permissible and immediately condemn anyone who doesn’t fall into line with their way of thinking. The larger point here is not whether or not rap or hip-hop is music (though the spirited discussion has been interesting). The real question is whether or not an academic is entitled to express his opinion. Did you catch this little snippet from the university’s letter above:

    “Our support for the First Amendment and the diverse views views of our community does not mean that the institution agrees with all views expressed or that the College affords all views as equivalent.”

    What a load of crap. All views aren’t “equivalent”? Who, other than the Thought Police, gives anyone the authority to determine the equivalency of someone’s opinion? Just shutting up and playing nice is the new demand. Don’t question or speak out against anything you find immoral. Everything goes. Everything is “normal.” Long-held standards of ethics and behavior are passé. We’re so “progressive” now (sarcasm hugely intended). This mantra of being “inclusive” has driven more divisive wedges into our societal fabric than anything I can think of. Evidently if you are a certain race, sex or age you aren’t allowed to be offended and you just have to knuckle under to enlightened PC trendiness.

  • DAVID says:

    Not real music?
    Doesn’t reflect rural American values?
    (in any event, I thought the issue was whether the candidate would state whether these tracks represent his current views. Is that so unreasonable?)



    • Daniel G says:

      It wouldn’t be unreasonable if the Congressman John Faso was not a race-bating politician and has been known to support hate groups like the Oath Keepers in a District that is known for anti-semitism and racism. Unfortunately, NY District 19 has a congressman that doesn’t recognize hate crimes as an issue but supports it. Bringing up the rap music is just a way for him to galvanize his support amongst his racist supporters. I live in this community and I can attest to that is what it is about.
      Congressman Faso has never in his public or private life done anything on a personal level to try to connect with or support intercity youth.

  • Ian Pace says:

    What Benjamin had to say is nothing compared to this, in what is a standard essay (or rather rant) routinely made set reading for students. Many parts of academia are becoming a ‘hostile environment’ for classical musicians.

    ‘To the extent that musicologists concerned largely with the traditions of Western art music were content with a singular canon- any singular canon that took a European-American concert tradition as a given – they were excluding musics, peoples, and cultures. They were, in effect, using the process of disciplining to cover up the racism, colonialism, and sexism that underlie many of the singular canons of the West. They bought into these “-isms” just as surely as they coopted an “-ology.” Canons formed from “Great Men” and “Great Music” forged virtually unassailable categories of self and Other, one to discipline and reduce to singularity, the other to bellitle and impugn. Canon was determined not so much by what it was as by what it was not. It was not the musics of women or people of color; it was not musics that belonged to other cultures and worldviews; it was not forms of expression that resisted authority or insisted that music could empower politics.’

    (Philip Bohlman, ‘Epilogue: Musics and Canons’, in Disciplining Music: Musicology and its Canons, edited Katherine Bergeron and Philip V. Bohlman (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1992), p. 198).

    • John Borstlap says:

      Do we have to conclude that a great work of classical music is automatically implying the thing that it is not, and thus committing a dehumanizing gesture? Thinking such assumptions through, you see that it is nonsensical. ‘This is the colour blue. Therefore, green is unfairly excluded.’ It is simply not true that the ‘canon’ of Western classical music is based, in some ‘underlying’ way, upon exclusion in a political sense: although the notion of a ‘canon’ is in itself much too academic and smells too much of the lamp, the works themselves which have stood the test of time are what they are, for all humanity, ALSO for the many people who did not create them but who may feel inspired by them, including non-Western cultures and communities. The great works of classical music have been written for everybody. Claiming that the Western classical tradition belongs to the top of human achievement, does not mean that there are no other tops of human achievement.

      “They were, in effect, using the process of disciplining to cover up the racism, colonialism, and sexism that underlie many of the singular canons of the West.” A nice example of the suicidal, ignorant, and perverse expressions of cultural relativism, where cultural achievement is evil and any burp from any corner seen as expressing cultural identity and therefore worthwhile in itself, apart from what it is and its artistic quality. You can see why such ‘thinking’ is so attractive: it offers an excuse for lack of talents, lack of creative ideas, and offers some instruments to take revenche on the highlights of history without ever offering a worthy alternative. It is populist resentment clothed in an academic shabby jacket.

      Let’s take some examples. JS Bach wrote his oeuvre within a feudal social structure, did it THUS support the ancien régime? Haydn was given the opportunity to compose freely and undisturbed in the palace of Prince Esterhazy, had his own orchestra so that he could experiment with all kinds of effects, played in chamber music ensembles (including the prince), and enjoyed not only the financial but also the moral and musical support of his boss who was musically literate and a music fanatic. In this way, the feudal prince contributed to an impressive body of works for all humanity to experience. Beethoven had a frustrating relationships with his admirers who were also his patrons, but the 3 princes who gave him a pension so that he could write whatever he wanted, made it possible that B gave the world some of the greatest works ever written. Etc. etc… to turn the thing around and to politicize the music, is not understanding what music is and why it has been written at all.

      To conclude: the ‘democratic’ and ‘fair’ committees who select music prizes for contemporary composers or subsidies / grants, almost without exception produce horrible or mediocre results. Why? Because of group thinking, fairness as an argument, and all kinds of political arguments which have nothing to do with music. When Ludwig II invited the ‘scoundrel’ Wagner to his court to liberate him from material burdens, he acted upon an entirely personal creative impulse that no modern committee would ever have been able to feel.

      Political correctness can only create more havoc in music life than there is already.

  • Simon Scott says:

    Rap,heavy metal etc. Only full time imbeciles call this mucus music.
    We have the great composers;what more can we ask?