Music

[In Blues People, LeRoi] Jones has a simple story to tell: Negro music came to America as a pure art only to be corrupted very time it touched white culture and, in contrast, to be enriched by those few musicians who preserved its post-African character. This thesis provides him with the simplest criteria for his judgments: "Swing" is bad because while society accepted and imitated it; Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane are good because they affirm that jazz is separate from Western music; the Modern Jazz Quartet is best when least classical, etc. Anyone familiar with jazz history can write the rest of the argument. Precisely because Jones's evaluations are so consistently based upon racial factors (and are often wrong, as with the Modern Jazz Quartet), one doubts if he has much musical taste at all.

On Innovative Music(ian)s (1989)

Just as the devices of art often make religion or religious feeling accessible to nonbelievers--that is one reason we have for treasuring Bach's St. Matthew Passion or Mozart's Requiem--so electronic techniques, in their other worldliness, can increase the tone of sacredness.

Preface to The Gospels/Die Evangelien (1990)

Too often nowadays, in concerts of even contemporary music in the classical tradition, amplified sound is loud, very loud, I guess meaning to signify seriousness, passion, audacity, technical moxie, or lord knows what. In rock concerts, I recall, loudness was meant to affect one's body to move to the beat. To my aging mind, however, in more austere venues, loud music is just loud.

Skeptical Essays (2010)