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DigSound and Music in Hip Culture$
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Phil Ford

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199939916

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199939916.001.0001

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Sound Become Holy (the Beats)

Sound Become Holy (the Beats)

(p.84) 3 Sound Become Holy (the Beats)

Phil Ford

Oxford University Press

Chapter 3 focuses on an unpublished cache of the Beats’ acetate recordings from 1949 to 1951. These acetates capture John Clellon Holmes, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and their friends experimenting with various combinations of music and their own words. They include the Beats’ attempts at vocal jazz improvisation, and in particular some attempts at emulating Lennie Tristano's early free jazz. These early recordings are experiments in reconciling sounded experience with verbal meaning. The Beats seemed to believe that recordings could close the gap between experience and representation, but these early recordings cannot bear the weight of this belief and offer an opportunity to consider the current of melancholy running beneath the Beats’ impossible project of capturing the evanescent traces of life itself in their imaginative works.

Keywords:   Tristano, Kerouac, Ginsberg, John Clellon Holmes, Acetates [or Recording], Improvisation

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