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White music

Related: European music - classical - harmony

Subgenres: Italo disco - New Wave

Artists: Kraftwerk - Giorgio Moroder

Compare: black music

Computer World (1981) - Kraftwerk [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]


Interesting music is made where 'black music' meets 'white music'. Most Caribbean music has come to contain European as well as African elements, but even where the European influence is strong, you can still hear that African beat - the distinctive flow and shuffle which makes the music so good to dance to. This combination of Africa and Europe is perhaps the reason why Lee Perry's has a larger following in the 'white' West.

Reggae is a product of the union of West African rythms and European melody and harmony.

An early mention of the concept of white music is Philip Tagg's Open Letter about 'Black Music', 'Afro-American Music' and 'European Music':

'Black music' is much more common than 'white music', probably for the same sort of reasons that expressions like 'women's history' or 'women's music' would cause far fewer eyebrows to be raised than 'men's history' or 'men's music' (if ever the latter were ever to be used at all in our part of the world). Such terms are relative to the hegemony of the culture of their user, so 'men's music' and 'white music' will sound stranger in a culture dominated by white males than 'women's music' or 'black music': they are the exception and we are the rule. They need identification cards, we don't.-- Philip Tagg, 1989

Kraftwerk: a black romance with white music

Numbers Kraftwerk, the showroom dummies who caused Bambaata to scratch his head and say, "'Scuse the expression, this is some weird shit". For "Planet Rock", Bam used the melody from "Trans Europe Express". Over the distinctive 808 beat, the effect was spectral. The idea of making music from pocket calculators appealed to kids accustomed to scratching vinyl. --David Toop

According to Spin editor Simon Reynold's well-researched book about the global dance-music scene, "Generation Ecstasy," a Euro fascination swept through Detroit in the '80s, elevating continental acts such as Front 242, Depeche Mode, and Meat Beat Manifesto as well as new-wave American groups such as Devo, the B-52's and Talking Heads to star status. The Euro attitude can best be summed up in the title of a recent song by Underground Resistance: "Afrogermanic."

(Of course, Detroit wasn't the only scene influenced by Kraftwerk. New York hip-hoppers like Afrika Bambaataa, the Miami bass scene of 2 Live Crew and 69 Boyz, and the early L.A. rap of N.W.A. and Ice-T also would take a few cues from the Germans. But much of the Detroit crew — which fused the hard math of the European avant-garde with the future-funk of black America — plumbed deeper into Kraftwerk's essence.)

Black and white music


To me, making a tape is like writing a letter—there's a lot of erasing and rethinking and starting again. A good compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do. You've got to kick off with a corker, to hold the attention (I started with "Got to Get You Off My Mind," but then realized that she might not get any further than track one, side one if I delivered what she wanted straightaway, so I buried it in the middle of side two), and then you've got to up it a notch, or cool it a notch, and you can't have white music and black music together, unless the white music sounds like black music, and you can't have two tracks by the same artist side by side, unless you've done the whole thing in pairs and...oh, there are loads of rules. -- Nick Hornby via High Fidelity (1995) via http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mix_tapes#History

Elvis Presley
The location is Memphis, a true melting pot of all sorts of music: both black music (blues, rhythm & blues, gospel) and white music (country & western, hillbilly). --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elvis_Presley's_Sun_recordings#Elvis_and_Sun_Records [Sept 2005]

For various reasons, techno is seen by the American mainstream, even among African-Americans, as "white" music, even though its originators and many of its producers are Black. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Techno_music [Sept 2005]

See also: black music - white music - music

New wave

I mean in a way as much as I disliked most disco, one thing I do find distressing in the new wave scene is the racism that just absolutely refuses to recognise any black music besides (ha ha) Reggae, you know cause that’s hip. --Lester Bangs

The uneasy relationship between rock and disco

Only by killing disco could rock affirm its threatened masculinity and restore the holy dyad of cold brew and undemanding sex partners. Disco bashing became a major preoccupation in 1977. At the moment when Saturday Night Fever and Studio 54 achieved zeitgeist status, rock rediscovered a rage it had been lacking since the '60s, but this time the enemy was a culture with "plastic" and "mindless" (read effeminate) musical tastes. Examined in light of the ensuing political backlash, it's clear that the slogan of this movement--"Disco Sucks!"--was the first cry of the angry white male. --Peter Braunstein [June 1998]

Blue-eyed soul

Blue-eyed soul refers to soul and R&B music performed and sung by white musicians. The term first came into play during the mid-'60s, when acts like the Righteous Brothers had hits with soulful songs like "You Lost That Loving Feeling." Throughout the late '60s, blue-eyed soul thrived, as acts like the Rascals, the Boxtops, Mitch Ryder, Tony Joe White, and Roy Head had a series of hits. During the '70s, blue-eyed soul continued to be successful, as acts like Hall & Oates, Robert Palmer, Average White Band, Boz Scaggs, and David Bowie updated the blue-eyed soul formula. -- allmusic.com

Blue-eyed soul is a term used to describe soul music performed by white people. It is (strictly speaking) a misnomer: the musician does not have to have blue eyes. Here, "blue-eyed" is synonymous with Caucasian. It is also a misnomer in that it's not a discrete style of music; the meaning of "Blue-eyed soul" has changed over the past forty years, and involves at least three different, distinct groups of artists: --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue-eyed_soul [Mar 2006]


  • No Wave --the American answer to new wave
  • Brian Eno --musical philosophy
  • Arthur Russell --white dance music
  • Andy Sojka --from London, label boss, jazz funk composer
  • Manu Chao --the voice of Europe
  • Shep Pettibone --Madonna's producer
  • Francis Grasso --DJ, recently deceased
  • Serge Gainsbourg --the dirty mouth of French pop
  • Francois Kevorkian--European in New York
  • Manuel Gottsching E2-E4!!!
  • Giorgio Moroder
  • Telex 'Moscow Disco'
  • Marc Moulin
  • Lou De Prijck 'Que Tal America', The Two Man Sound

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