BHSU Geek Speak Lecture examines fascist themes in music 

SPEARFISH — Join Black Hills State University assistant professor of history Dr. Alex Lang at 4 p.m. Thursday, April 25 for the final faculty-led Geek Speak lecture of the semester titled, “Noise-Makers: Fascists and Music.” During the lecture, Lang will discuss how fascist themes are conveyed in modern and historic music. All Geek Speak lectures are held in Jonas 110 and are open to the public.

German philosopher Walter Benjamin remarked that fascism turned politics into art. And music was no exception. Lang says that even today, fascism is explicitly present in various sub-genres of European metal and punk music.

For the purpose of his lecture, Lang defines fascism as an alternative to socialism, liberalism and traditional conservatism.

According to historians, fascism has long been identified as a political movement that relies heavily on art and aesthetics ranging from film to painting to styles of clothing.

 “Fascism is very reliant on the construction of myths and narratives that offer some kind of meaning to people in a time of crisis,” Lang explains.

Focusing on the importance of music, Lang plans to discuss composers like Richard Wagner, Carl Orff, and Italian futurists, and will share excerpts to explore how music could communicate facism. The association of Nazism and Hitler with Wagner is famous, but the history of fascist and music goes far beyond German opera.

One of the Italian futurist pieces Lang plans to discuss is the popular “Faccetta Nera” by Renato Micheli. The title translates literally to “Little Black Face,” and refers to forms of fascist racism throughout. The lyrics tell a story of a little girl who is fleeing her country to break free from slavery and live a better life.

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