The Low-Down Brown Get-Down (2020)
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PDF Score: $50
The end of the 60s into and through the 70s saw the era of the
“blaxploitation” film – a genre of filmmaking aimed at African-American
audiences which put us in leading roles of stories that often followed antiestablishment plots. These films were often controversial due to their
exaggerated bravado, hypersexuality, and violence. Noticing the lucrative potential of blaxploitation films, Hollywood began to market these films to a wider audience. Though low budget, they possessed an exciting, raw, soulful quality unlike any other genre up until that time, and from these films were born some of the most iconic characters (Shaft, Dolemite, Foxy Brown, and Cleopatra Jones, to name a few) and soundtracks ever created, written by some of the biggest names in African-American popular folk music of the day and since, including Issac Hayes, Curtis Mayfield, James Brown, and Marvin Gaye.
The Low-Down Brown Get-Down is the soundtrack for a nonexistent
blaxploitation film. It pulls from various sounds and styles of African-American folk music, such as funk, R&B, soul, early hip hop, the blues, and even film noir to stitch together its “scenes.” The title pulls from and is inspired by “post-jive” African-American Vernacular English
(AAVE). The word “Brown” in the title, in addition to its reference to none other than the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, whose most-famous licks and bass lines pepper the intro and recur throughout the piece, also refers to the melanin of the people who created these sounds.
This piece unapologetically struts, bops, grooves, slides, shimmies, head bangs, and soul claps its way straight through its thrilling “chase scene” finale. It was my intention with the creation of this piece to go full steam ahead on bringing African-American folk music to the concert stage to take its place amongst all other types of folk music that have found a comfortable home in this arena. May this work push back against notions of “sophistication,” “appropriateness,” and “respectability” that have been codified in the concert music setting for a century and more.