Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Metzer, David. “Black and White: Quotations in Duke Ellington’s ‘Black and Tan Fantasy.’” In Quotation and Cultural Meaning in Twentieth-Century Music, 47-68. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Duke Ellington and Bubber Miley’s 1927 composition Black and Tan Fantasy exhibits a variety of contrasting idioms, adopting stylistic elements from blues and jazz, as well as quotations from a well-known spiritual and one from Chopin’s second piano sonata. The concept of “signifying,” put forth by Henry Louis Gates Jr., illuminates a fundamental strategy for quotation in jazz: repetition and revision. The intersection of these strategies in Black and Tan Fantasy is expressed both on the level of quotation and on deeper levels within the borrowed material of the piece. For example, the spiritual Hosanna, quoted in the opening phrases, is in turn a revision of Stephen Adams’s The Holy City. The tensions between old and new, black and white, and secular and sacred that result from Ellington and Miley’s juxtaposition of styles and sentiments generate sophisticated instances of ironic play. This ironic play can subsequently be seen as participating in the ongoing tradition of troping in African American art-culture, as described by Gates.

Works: Duke Ellington and Bubber Miley: Black and Tan Fantasy; King Oliver and his Creole Jazz Band: Chimes Blues (62-63); Johnny Dodd: Weary City (62-63); Felix Arndt: Desecration Rag (63-64).

Sources: Anonymous (Spiritual): Hosanna (51-52); Chopin: Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat Minor, Op. 35 (51-53, 63-68); Stephen Adams: The Holy City (51-53, 58-67).

Index Classifications: 1900s, Jazz

Contributed by: Molly Covington

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