His mother later married, and he was adopted by his stepfather David Baldwin. Although he was intelligent and obedient both at home and in school, he was never accepted the way that his siblings were. Because of this, his literary works often contain similar situations where one child is favored over another. Furthermore, Baldwin also suffered many of the misfortunes and alienation that the characters of the story underwent.
In the city, it permeates everything. In that soundscape, there is music, and if one truly listens, within that music there are stories. When I was a young girl my father lectured at Columbia, and for a brief time we lived in a small apartment off th street in Harlem.
It was in Harlem I learned to appreciate street music. Improvisational impromptu hip-hop erupted from every corner. On the train, young men rapped and improvised, telling their stories in melodic lyrics imposed over the sound of the subway moving along the tracks.
Closing my eyes, I could feel the vibrating rhythm of the train rising through the soles of my feet, and I could hear the melodies of the voices and the surrounding conversations — all those stories blending into one sound.
Over the years I spent time studying music, learning classical piano and attempting to teach myself guitar. In struggling to compose and perform music, I learned to appreciate improvisational hip-hop composition on a structural level — taking note of its origins in the rich history of jazz, the hard jazz of the forties and fifties.
The melody is underlined with repeated bass tones, and it is then electrified by the improvised rising harmonies of saxophone and trumpet.
Rising above that steadying sound are the bright harmonizing melodies of conversations between sax and trumpet — all riding along over that composed melodic train of rhythm.
Charlie Parker was a new breed of musician, taking from the old standards and improvising upon them, giving jazz a new voice.
Baldwin uses music as a lens or controlling metaphor to examine questions of heritage, race, the African-American experience, and societal limitations and expectations.
He composes a story that functions structurally like a jazz tune. Employing the basic components of compositional structure including: While music is of great importance to the story, interpretations of how Baldwin uses music as a metaphor or otherwise has been a rather murky area of study, with varying ideas of what role Baldwin intended the music to play within the piece.
Separating the two in such a way does not illuminate their overall use and importance in the story. Baldwin was a lover of music and a singer, and I believe that he knew what he was doing in bringing together what Albert refers to separately as the blues motif and the jazz motif.
Baldwin pulls into the story varied musical allusions and metaphors. By incorporating gospel, hymns, and blues metaphor as influences on jazz, and in creating a compositional tune structure for the story, he ties together the history of the evolution of jazz with the history of the African-American experience into an all-encompassing form.
Other literary critics, for example Susanna Lee and Suzy Bernstein-Goldman, have looked at the symbolic use of music and have considered musical structure within the story, but like Albert have also separated each use of musical metaphor or structural element into divided camps, and contracted or confined interpretations that do not fully examine the role of music in the story.
Lee discusses the jazz harmonies of connection and disconnection in the story, looking at correlations between music, narrative, and social theory. She argues that the narrative form mimics the interplay of jazz harmonies embodied by the two brothers, and that there is a connection between how the narrator and Sonny interact with one another through those harmonies, connecting and interacting with the history of the black community through jazz.
However, Lee focuses only on the harmonies, she does not consider the overall form of a jazz tune structure.
She does not fully reconcile the overall use of metaphor and musical allusion within the story and their connection to a larger history and community of peoples, and not just the Harlem community. Bernstein-Goldman however, implies that Baldwin may have adopted a compositional tune structure for his story.
Bernstein-Goldman discusses the theme of music in the piece, but she does not discuss jazz specifically. Yet, it is almost impossible to talk about the story without bringing up jazz.Sep 22, · Short Story Review — Sonny’s Blues by James Baldwin Posted by zimmermanbri on September 22, · 1 Comment James Baldwin was one of the most brilliant and influential writers of the midth century.
Sonny's Blues is a short story about manhood, brotherhood, music, freedom, drugs, dreams and fantasies, and their crossing with the reality.
It is about the limitations and prejudgements of society: it is hard, nearly impossible, to pursue dreams/5. "Sonny’s Blues" is a short story by James Baldwin that was first published in Sonny's Blues Quotes.
Want to Read saving ― James Baldwin, Sonny's Blues.
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3 likes. Like “In a moment someone will get up and turn on the light. Then the old folks will remember the children and they won’t talk anymore that day.
And when light fills the room, the child is filled with darkness. Oct 22, · Short Story Saturdays are a new segment on the channel where, every Saturday for the rest of the year, I'll be talking about a famous short story and how it makes me feel things.
Sonny’s Blues is a short story by New York-raised writer James Baldwin, whose works mostly deal with racial and sexual discrimination in 20th-century America. The story, based off Baldwin’s brother of the same name, is set in Harlem, New York in , a time when racism raged and poverty prevailed.