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Langston Hughes. Interplay, bebop & hip hop

Adriano Elia

Abstract


In Langston Hughes’s poetics, the blues assumed a cathartic role in facing adversities, taking the shape of both a declaration of sorrow as well as of a therapy helping to relieve it, often by weakening its tragic elements through irony. To this purpose, Hughes wrote poems that could reproduce the rhythms, melodies and harmonies of the blues, using the music as an accompaniment to his suggestive poetic readings. This paper addresses the interaction of poetry and music in some of Hughes’s works. In particular, we shall focus on the one hand on the issue of the interplay between poet, musicians and public, and on the other on the influence exerted by his readings on a contemporary movement such as hip hop, revealing itself both in formal terms – rhythmic and syncopated lyrics, ideal to be read aloud – and in content, encouraging an assertive ethics aimed at the development of a form of art freed from the white dominant culture.


Keywords


Langston Hughes; Poetry; Interplay; Bebop; Hip hop.

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/ling-2020-001-elia

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