The Enchantress asked me about the musical significance of the backbeat and why the depth of its apprehension seems so apparently bound to culture.
As I was answering her, I got to wondering about its historical origins (we know with considerable certainty, for example, that it didn't issue from Germany; but whence, then?). My initial google query ("origins of the backbeat," what else?) led me to this unhelpful but moderately amusing discussion:
The argument that the backbeat "originated" in pagan Africa fails to consider where the Africans learned the beat from. We do not know whether they adapted it from Egypt, Summeria, Ur, etc. It is even possible that this beat was used to worship Jehovah when Noah and his family got off the ark.
In other words, we know it existed in Africa, but did they think up the beat on their own (possible), did Satan personally deliver this beat to them (possible), or did they adapt it from some other culture (probable)? If they did adapt it from some other culture, who is to say whether or not that culture was righteous, or what the "original" use of the backbeat was?
Good questions all. And here I'd thought it was only certain harmonic intervals that were diabolic. Next it'll be time signatures. (Thank goodness 6/6/6 is a theoretical impossibility...)