multiliteracyrevolution

Posts Tagged ‘Ornette Coleman’

Free Jazz and Democratic Communication

Posted by nicholaspelafas on June 29, 2011

I lifted this conversation between Jacques Derrida (philosopher) and Ornette Coleman (Jazz musician) from a post over at  The Liberator Blog. (weblog.liberatormagazine.com).

The entire conversation is fascinating for a variety of reasons, but Coleman makes some very interesting points that relate to literacy.  In the same vein as Sun Ra and John Coltrane, Ornette looks at music as a language and the ability to relate to music as a form of literacy or way to create meaning.  He says:

“I’m trying to express a concept according to which you can translate on thing into another.  I think that sound has a much more democratic relationship to information, because you don’t need an alphabet to understand music.”

This incredibly deep statement is important in that it reminds us that music and art represent some of the most core multiliteracy skills that humans have, and perhaps it would be possible to imagine alternate configurations of new literacies outside of speech and the written word.

At its core, literacy is about constructing meanings that relate information and deepen the complexity of one’s understanding of a given topic or subject.  By stating that music can be a more democratic conduit for information exchange, we can be more open to the idea that the way we create meaning is related to the project of creating a more equitable society.  It also suggests that words, and traditional forms of literacy (particularly considering when this dialogue took place) are tied to a power structure that can limit the ways people are able to construct meaning.  The question then becomes, do new literacies sufficiently liberate us from the power structures that plague the old literacies?  And, in what ways does moving away from music and art in schools hinder students’ capacity to adapt and develop new literacies?

more excerpts from the discussion after the jump and the .pdf of the original conversation can be found here……

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