Various authors have varyingly explored the origins of the blues, as a genre, possibly because of its influence in modern-day music world. In fact, the blues significantly influence today’s music scene and it is common to find other music genres borrowing from the blues in terms of style, tunes, as well as other features. Nevertheless, the blues have emerged as a widespread genre since its inception in the United States in the early 19th century. It is believed to belong to the popular (commonly referred to as pop music) style of music. In addition, it is associated with African-American culture. This paper looks into the work of two authors (R. Palmer and W. Barlow) by comparing and contrasting their views about the origin of the blues as
Blues music originated in the cotton fields of the southern United States where the majority of the slave hands were put to work. “The earliest folk-blues were sung by nameless African-Americans living and working in the South’s cotton belt in the early 1880’s and 1890’s- in particular, the region from the Mississippi Delta to East Texas”(Barlow 3). It was believed that this began as a call and response style, which matured into the work song. From that standpoint, after the release of the slaves, the work song then matured into their Spirituals, and later was introduced to the whites through black-faced Minstrel of Medicine shows (How the Blues Overview). As the music matured and became more renowned, its influence became prominent in the music styles of the time, and in the intertwining relationships between the races. “The music was a unique and cultural offering that whites could not deny. It was something new and intriguing to whites that shed a new light on blacks and their place in American culture and society”(Overview). The music did not seem to have the same color restrictions as the music previously performed. It drew blacks and whites together in a place where everyone could leave the Jim Crow laws at the door (Overview). This offered a new and beneficial lifestyle for the blacks as well as the whites. Maybe the interest was that the white people had found a new talent to exploit and from which to make easy money, or perhaps, maybe it was because the whites genuinely understood the cultural significance in the music and respected this talent of the black race enough to overcome racial and cultural differences.
The Blues is a music genre also known as a uniquely American art form.The main influences of the Blues music genre were the economic structures of the USA that kept African Americans for majority locked in illiteracy and poverty, especially in the dusty corners of the Deep South of the United States. It was the endless struggle that helped shape much of the Early blues tradition. The blues style was developed from African American roots and traditions.
Different from other forms of music, blues was only recorded by memory and passed down through generations through live performances. The blues began in the North Mississippi Delta post Civil War times. It was heavily influenced by African roots, field hollers, ballads, church music and rhythmic dance tunes called jump-ups. This eventually developed into music that was set up in a call-and- response way so that the singer would sing a line and he would then respond with his guitar.
Blues music grew up in the Mississippi Delta and more often than not, started directly in the fields. Blues music started as a way for slaves to express their emotions with each other. It was common for slaves to talk to each other in a rhythmic style so they were the only ones that could understand. For example, the slaves might sing to each other about the location of their boss. This was the common style of Blues Music for quite some time until Blind Lemon Jefferson rose to stardom. Lemon Jefferson was instrumental in the progression of country blues. His free-flowing style revolutionized Blues Music. Lemon Jefferson was considered by many to be the founder of Texas Blues. Jefferson was the spark that gave African American men a chance at
Blues music is popular because of the characteristics it contains, for example, the musical form of the style. The simple but “expressive ‘microtonal’ pitch inflections, a three-line textual stanza of the form AAB, and a 12-measure form.” The pitch inflections or expressive notes are called “blue notes.” These notes were not found in the Western major and minor scale systems but did derive from the African musical practice. The form of the blues music was distinct from Western music because of the incorporation of African American musical practices; therefore, validating Amiri Baraka’s assessment of blues being the product of African American experiences and
In the beginning of the documentary someone says “Not very much of songs that negro got from whites because negro people always was the singing type of people” (John Jeremy). Blues is a genre. Blues music originated from African-Americans on plantations in the South. Blues incorporated spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts, chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads(Wikimedia Foundation). One man bought
The blues emerged as a distinct African-American musical form in the early twentieth century. It typically employed a twelve-bar framework and three-lined stanzas; its roots are based in early African-American songs, such as field hollers and work songs, and generally have a melancholy mood. The blues can be divided into many sub-genres, including Classical, Country, and Urban. The purpose of this paper is to focus on the careers of two of Classical blues most influential and legendary singers: Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith.
For Stanley, the blues tell the stories of the African-American community. Some of the stories talk about the harshness of their lives, but they also talk about the good times they had. [People] play the blues to get rid of the blues not to get them." (Lamb, 1). When people play or even listen to the blues, they are letting all of their worries go. They are not worrying about their job, the bills, or their kids. They are just trying to enjoy the moment when the blues are playing. The blues are some people's release from the stresses of their lives.
Roy, W. (2010). Reds, whites, and blues social movements, folk music, and race in the United States. Princeton: Princeton University Press.