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Improvising Social Resistance

Karl Coulthard

Published: 2010-07-22

This article focuses on Cab Calloway's historic use of uniquely African American forms of expression, such as the dialects of jive and the syllabic improvisation of scat singing. It also suggests that by exploiting the dialectical nature of these forms, Calloway was able to communicate African American issues and experiences without alienating his white audiences or revealing to them the subtle and covert codes of African American identity preservation within white dominated society. Specific song lyrics are analyzed and transcriptions of these songs are provided in an attached appendix.

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...partly because I know that’s the only way that we could solve a creative problem [using improvisation with children ranging in abilities] and what doesn’t work is trying to impose a template on the students who are not able to respond to that template.

– Pauline Oliveros (in working with Abilities First)